Dead 21 week old FBCM pullet

Lesjr883

Songster
May 10, 2018
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South Mississippi
Came home to a dead 21 week old FBCM pullet. No attack. No feathers missing. Just laying in the run dead. They were all good this morning when I went to work. It looks like she dug a hole and payed down in it and died. I know it is a long shot, but does anyone have an idea of why she would have died?
 

rebrascora

Free Ranging
5 Years
Feb 14, 2014
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At that age Marek's disease is a distinct possibility. The disease can have a multitude of different symptoms but can also cause sudden death due to internal tumours with no previous sign of ill health. I was just commenting on another thread where the OP had lost a similar aged bird suddenly with no prior symptoms and they got a necropsy done and Marek's was diagnosed. That really is the only way to know for sure what the cause of death was. Marek's is an extremely common and very widespread disease and particularly affects adolescent chickens due to the surge of hormones as they reach sexual maturity.
 

DobieLover

Easily distracted by chickens
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Jul 23, 2018
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Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine Poultry Research and Diagnostic Lab charges $65 for a necropsy for state residents. Is that an option for you to get an answer for cause of death?
 

Lesjr883

Songster
May 10, 2018
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South Mississippi
Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine Poultry Research and Diagnostic Lab charges $65 for a necropsy for state residents. Is that an option for you to get an answer for cause of death?
Not really. I’m in south Mississippi. It is a good trip to Miss State. Also, I already buried her. If it is Mareks is there anything I can do for the rest of my birds?
 

Eggcessive

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You really cannot worry about Mareks since you did not get a necropsy. Many people lose birds around the time of maturity. It could have been any number of causes such as heart failure, an internal hemorrhage, or egg binding, and others. I would just look your chickens over often, and make sure that all are active, eating, and not acting sick. But if you lose another, especially if it is wasting away or having lameness, you should try to get a necropsy. The body must be refrigerated in a plastic bag, and shipped to your state vte lab after calling them for instructions. Sorry for your loss. Here is a good article that explains Mareks disease:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/the-great-big-giant-mareks-disease-faq.66077/
 

rebrascora

Free Ranging
5 Years
Feb 14, 2014
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Consett Co.Durham. UK
I usually recommend using a good quality poultry vitamin supplement to support their immune system and a probiotic or fermented feed to support their digestive tract. Providing them with plenty of space and good nutrition is important. If it was Marek's, others are likely to have been exposed. Some may already be infected but others will be resistant. The virus will lie dormant in any infected bird(s) until an outbreak is triggered, usually by stress, and what stresses one bird may not stress another, so you do not always see a number of birds all symptomatic at once. It is not even possible to tell which birds are infected until they eventually show symptoms (or die) which can be weeks months or years down the line. Like the human cold sore virus, it is a Herpes Virus and it is not infectious during the dormant phase, but once a bird is symptomatic, it is actively shedding the virus and the main route of transmission is via inhalation of infected dander dust.
Of course it may be that your bird died of something else and unless you have other birds exhibit Marek's symptoms at some point in the future we will never know, but the above suggestions of vitamins and probiotics and keeping them as happy and stress free as possible are simple steps that can only benefit them even if it is not Marek's. There is no cure for the disease itself.... just good management.
 

Lesjr883

Songster
May 10, 2018
123
290
116
South Mississippi
Thanks for the comments. I am new at this and have just started getting a couple eggs. My kids and wife have become very attached and when they die it is hard on them. Where would my birds picked up a virus like this? I have never had chickens before.
 

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