Dying hens

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by MTChick76, Dec 6, 2014.

  1. MTChick76

    MTChick76 New Egg

    6
    0
    7
    Dec 6, 2014
    Hello all,

    While I have read information on this site periodically, I have just created an account.


    If anyone can steer me in a direction where I can figure out what's going on my with hens, that would be great.


    We've had chickens for about 4 years now, with about 20 hens and one fabulous rooster.

    In the last month or so we've lost 4 hens to natural causes (2 were showing strange signs, 2 seemed pretty much completely normal the day before they up and died), and one was so bad off (very bloated, waddling like a penguin when she absolutely had to move. She was still eating but she couldn't lay down because she was so bloated and not feeling well.) that we had to cull her.

    We have two more (one more than the other day) who are acting funny.


    Nearly all of the hens that have died had been kicked off the roost. The most recent one that has shown strange symptoms is just now sleeping off the roost and on the floor.

    I have just today changed their straw/bedding. We've used straw over hay the last couple months....


    any ideas or areas for me to research?
     
  2. Harry Rooster

    Harry Rooster Chillin' With My Peeps

    Just a guess, but how about something that they may be eating? Maybe some sour corn or something like that? I have had many different problems with chickens, which mainly started after my husband brought some strange chickens home from his friends flock, then lots of troubles started, but mine had symptoms like coughing and weird noisy breathing. Yours sounds kind of like they may be getting a hold of something eating it. Are they free range or just stay in the same area all the time? Is there any rotten looking or moldy food laying around. That's just kind of an idea of someplace to start considering, if they haven't been exposed to any sick chickens and are not free range where they could get something that is not good to eat. Hope someone who knows something comes on to help you. Sorry for your losses, I hate that! :(
     
  3. Harry Rooster

    Harry Rooster Chillin' With My Peeps

    As a side note, I have read where you are not supposed to give chickens certain things to eat as it can cause them to have indigestion and that they have not way to get rid of it like people do. Said you weren't supposed to give them beans. I don't know about that but that's what I have read that someone has said. Check if you have been giving them anything different or any types of house food like beans onions ect. That's could be the problem with the bloating that it is like gas. ???
     
  4. Harry Rooster

    Harry Rooster Chillin' With My Peeps

    Welcome!! btw
     
  5. MTChick76

    MTChick76 New Egg

    6
    0
    7
    Dec 6, 2014
    Thank you! I appreciate the feedback, and the welcome.

    I will look into the food they may be getting into. I do feed them all sorts of scraps so it is a possibility that they are getting into food. Our compost pile is next to their coop. They are kind of free range chickens but they haven't been out of their pen much at all lately due to snow and below zero temps.

    I will check it out.
     
  6. Feathyr

    Feathyr Chillin' With My Peeps

    148
    39
    116
    Aug 21, 2014
    Idaho
    First of all, hello and welcome to BYC! Hope you enjoy your time here.

    I'm sorry to hear that you've lost so many birds in such a short amount of time. Could you please provide a better description of how they're behaving? Are there any drooping limbs, breathing changes, abdominal swelling, strangely-colored droppings, etc? The bloated hen you described sounds as though she had egg yolk perotinitis, which can be caused by both genetics and bacteria.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2014
  7. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict

    30,766
    5,148
    561
    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    Sorry for your losses. I agree that the one who had bloating/walked like a penguin could have suffered from egg yolk peritonitis or ascites (fluid in the belly.) A necropsy done by your state vet could give you a cause of death, if the body is fresh and refrigerated, not frozen, and shipped on ice. Straw is not as good a bedding choice as pine shavings since it can bring in mites, but it also can stay wet if spills occur. Mold can be a huge problem and aspergillosis is caused by mold from wet conditions. It can affect the respiratory and many other systems including the liver, intestines, and brain, and in some cases there can be neurological symptoms as well as breathing problems. Botulism is a disease that can kill chickens very quickly, and comes from eating a toxin contained in dead animals, fish, and vegetation (such as those in compost piles.) Symptoms are paralysis of legs, wings, and neck followed by death. Here is a link for finding your state vet if in the US: http://www.usaha.org/Portals/6/StateAnimalHealthOfficials.pdf
     
  8. MTChick76

    MTChick76 New Egg

    6
    0
    7
    Dec 6, 2014
    Thanks again for the responses.

    Only the one chicken was big and bloated, so perhaps she had peritonitis. Two of the others just surprisingly up and died. Now I still have two more acting strange. One of the two has been acting strange for a couple weeks, one just as of the other day.

    By acting strange I mean they no longer sleep on the roosts, but instead stay on the ground. They are drinking a ton of water and still eating their regular chicken feed to some degree. They somewhat stumble around and catch themselves from tipping over with their wings when they do move. They haven't been into the compost pile for about 2 weeks or so because of snow and cold temps. I do give them kitchen scraps, but not so sure that anything in the scraps would have botulism--- but it's possible.

    Aspergillosis is a possibility as we were having trouble with our water freezing (we have a heater, but it's been blowing breakers and we are trying to get that fixed) so I've been leaving a big bowl of water inside their coop since it's been so cold. I know that there has been water spilled on the straw.

    I am going to check on their breathing and for strange colored droppings.

    Thanks again everyone, I appreciate the directions to research.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2014
  9. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict

    30,766
    5,148
    561
    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    One symptom of asperillosis is increased thirst, but there is no treatment except for removing any mold. The neurological form of aspergillosis may cause problems stumbling, but I would also look at Mareks disease as a possibility. Were your chickens vaccinated for Mareks at a hatchery? Most feed stores or breeders don't vaccinate their chicks. Try using an electric 1.5 gallon dog bowl because they only come on when it's about 35 degrees and shut off when the water is about 40 degreesF. Farm stores, Walmart, and TSC sell them. I used to have a metal waterer heater base that would trip my electric breaker in the coop, especially if the ground underneath was damp. It also overheated the water and the chickens wouldn't drink it. Here is a good link about Mareks disease: https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/the-great-big-giant-mareks-disease-faq

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2014
  10. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    The weakness you are describing could be caused by an overload of worms. Have you wormed your flock?
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by