Emaciated Chickens

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by KatelinLeger, Jan 29, 2017.

  1. KatelinLeger

    KatelinLeger New Egg

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    Good evening y'all! I've always been a frequent flyer on Backyard Chickens, but never joined. I come to you all today and am asking for your honest opinions. I have had chickens my whole life, both coop chickens and free range. Recently someone called animal control on an "animal welfare concern." I am not new to having to deal with animal control, as we've had large and small livestock, and as the city encroaches closer and closer, the new comers who do not know farming call in their concerns. It can be an inconvenience, but I have really never minded animal control coming out.

    I'll apologize here as this is getting ready to get lengthy, but I want anyone reading to have a good background on me.

    About two years ago we rescued six alpaca from an alpaca farmer who was elderly and decided to rehome his alpaca as he could no longer care for them. One of the alpaca began showing signs of neurological problems. Using forums and talking to other alpaca farmers, it became clear quickly that she had a brain worm. I did not call in a vet. I immediately started treatment. Her neurological problems progressed to where she was unable to get up unassisted. My husband and I continued medical treatment, penned her by herself, and did daily muscle massages and stretches. We would stand her up several times a day and assist her with walking. At the same time we rescued a jersey calf who had been pulled from her mother at one and a half weeks old. A farm hand pulled her saying she was a bull calf. I could tell she needed help so we took her. She would NOT drink milk replacer and she would not drink from a bottle. (This is why they were getting rid of her. She was an unneeded bull calf that would not take a bottle on a large scale production farm.) She was so weak that when I put tension on the lead rope on her halter she fell over and would not get up. I tried everything short of a feeding tube to get her to drink the replacer. She would graze and she would drink water on her own. We sold a few chickens to someone who wanted a small flock for a good sized chicken tractor. Long story short, they saw a thin calf and a down alpaca and called animal control. Animal control came out, listened to what I had to say. They wanted me to euthanize the alpaca and told me the calf was emaciated. I told them I would not put the alpaca down. She was bright, alert, eating, drinking, and was trying to regain the ability to walk. She cooperated when we stood her up and you could tell she was trying to walk. She had a huge parasol she laid under, it was summer, and she had just been shorn. When it rained we took her in the barn. They were upset I would not euthanize her. IMHO, if she was going to fight for her life and not give up, I could not give up on her. I explained that a jersey calf is lean, they are a low body fat calf, and that she was thinner than she should be, and all the supplements and care she was getting. They said I needed to bring a vet out immediately, or they would bring out a state vet and I would have to pay for it. I called my vet and he came out. His prognosis for the alpaca was not good. He did agree with my brain worm diagnosis and said my medical and physical therapy regiment was perfect. He said we would reevaluate in two weeks. The calf he said was lucky to be alive and praised us highly for everything we were doing. We had plenty of chickens then and there was no mention of them having anything wrong w them. Nutshell outcome: animal control and the vet came every two weeks to check on the alpaca. Not only did she FULLY recover, but apparently she was pregnant, didn't lose the baby and delivered the baby with no problems after she regained mobility. The calf continued to grow and put on weight and is now a dairy calf at a homesteaders farm.

    Fast forward two incident free years. Animal Control left a notice on my door, "Welfare Concern." Ok, no big deal. They'll come in and if they see something they don't like, we fix it. I totally forgot to call them the next day. Day 2, get home, 2nd notice. This one was much more severe. Just about every box was checked off. Inadequate shelter, inadequate food and water, and dogs constantly barking. I have a barn that is always open with plenty of nest boxes and even a few plastic dog boxes, all of which, and the floor, covered in straw. Three chicken coops, all with doors and roost poles, and straw in the bottom. I had 18 acres and NO NEIGHBORS. My dogs only bark when something is going on, or someone is in the yard. If they did bark constantly, no one could hear them. I have an underground spring that comes to the surface 100 yards from the coops. They have several water buckets that are cleaned regularly and are filled three times a day as needed. I was going through 50+ lbs in chicken feed every two days. My husband built a stand for a water barrel that is kept hot. Winter weather and fighting icy buckets I have always hated. Several times a day we would carry 150°F water in a 5 gal bucket around to the water buckets and the homemade duck pond to not only de-ice, but we added enough hot water to make the water in the buckets warm. It took awhile for ice to form. I had 2 rabbits in a cage. I would drop their water bottle in the hot bucket as it filled, and it was then warm by the time the hot bucket was full. Rabbit hutch has a split floor, removable wood bottom and wire bottom. They had a nest box with straw and the bottom of the cage itself was covered with straw. End Day 2.
    Day 3 I called the animal control officer in the morning, while I was at work. She wanted to meet same day, but I could not get off work before her shift ended. We scheduled to meet on Day 4.
    When I arrived home on Day 3, the officer was in my driveway. She barred me from my property saying she was waiting on "some paperwork and backup." Another AC officer and a Sheriff deputy arrived. I was told to remain in my vehicle. Officer #1 comes to my truck and tells me she has a warrant to search my property and all outbuildings and asked me a series of questions about what was on the farm. I remained calm, courteous, and compliant. She then advised me she was going to start looking around and asked if that was ok. I said ok. She asked me if I was voluntarily agreeing to have my property searched. I said No, you said you had a warrant. Her response was "I don't have a paper copy." I told her she needed one, since she already said she had one, and I needed to see it before this went any further. End game? They got the warrant and took all of my animals except one dog. They are now hitting me w cruelty charges for each animal. The say their vet scored some of my birds as a 1-Emaciated. NOT POSSIBLE.

    Now, I am not looking for legal advice, I am looking for input from a poultry expert. Is it possible for an emaciated chicken to have full and beautiful feathers, no internal or external parasites, no signs of sickness, and be walking and talking like a healthy bird? I know my birds and I know what it takes to maintain a flock. These birds were friendly, and even free ranged were handled often, as they would come right to you and allow you to pick them up. I was going to have my own vet or expert do an exam on the birds, but every single bird but 5 roosters were adopted out in less than 7 days. I've seen underfed poultry, and they look bad. These looked and still look fantastic. I would also like to bring an expert in with me in court, but am having trouble locating one in my area that I can actually contact. I've found several, but no contact info.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. whoop whoop

    whoop whoop Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Welcome Katelin,I am so sorry you are having problems. I maybe wrong here but do you have any vindictive neighbours, I know you say you don't have neighbours but maybe someone is after your land and causing problems, because obviously someone is reporting you.

    I think what you have done with all the 'rescue' animals is wonderful and you really care and go to a lot of trouble. If I was you I would write to the local newspaper and put your case out there, because it seems really odd that authorities can just take healthy animals like that. If you put your location up then someone from the same area who also belongs to BYC will be abe to help you.

    It all sounds very fishy to me - I can only wish you good luck and don't give up -[​IMG]
     
  3. IdyllwildAcres

    IdyllwildAcres Overrun With Chickens

    Is there in validity to the charges? Why did they say inadequate shelter and food? How many animals did they take from you? It seems to me that AC has better things to do than take well fed and cared for animals away from people, do you think you made it worse by putting them off a few days? I agree it seems fishy...

    Good luck

    Gary
     
  4. MiddleWoods

    MiddleWoods Just Hatched

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    Just wow. I hope you get this sorted out. It sounds odd to me too.
     
  5. theoldchick

    theoldchick The Chicken Whisperer Premium Member

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    Once you get under the radar of animal control you will have to make changes in order to continue owning animals. Rescuing animals is a time consuming and money eating hobby. You must be able to provide proper facilities for the animals you have. I've had to say no to many unwanted animals despite having the 'space' for the needy. Working in the veterinary business has left me with exposure to people who are animal hoarders. I admire these folks as they have always responded to their innate love of animals. They can't say no and eventually they end up under the radar of animal control. Usually the first thing that gets attention is the condition of the facilities. Not all grazing animals can be simply put in a pasture and allowed to do their thing. They do need protection from the weather and space to do their thing. Alpacas need certain nutrients to survive. Horses need certain nutrients to survive. Goats need certain nutrients to survive. Chickens needs certain nutrients to survive. You can't feed alpaca feed to a goat or goat feed to a horse. And chickens can't survive on only scratch feed.

    Most animal collectors don't have the money to supply the proper nutrients for the species they have. They have a tendency to feed 'all-stock' feed that might fill the belly but not supply what the animal needs to survive. Often malnourished animals will display neurological signs and no amount of deworming will work because the basic nutrients the animals need simply can't be met with poor quality food. All animals need protein and minerals to survive. And every species has their own formula that nature created so they can survive in a particular environmental niche.

    So, to answer your question: yes you can have emaciated animals who are well fed. They are simply being fed the wrong thing. Usually the protein needs are not being met and thus they will have muscle wasting problems. Certain lack (or too much) of minerals will cause the kidneys to fail and result in an emaciated animal.

    And also certain diseases will cause poor muscles tone: liver/kidney failure and metabolic diseases are a few to be aware of.

    Remember, if you want to save animals you must at times say no. I had to learn to do this and while I can't say I saved them all I can say with pride I saved a few. And those few got it all.




    [​IMG]
     
  6. KatelinLeger

    KatelinLeger New Egg

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    Thank you all for responding. Yes, someone does want the land, but they do not want to pay what the landlord is asking as a sell price. The county put the story in the paper after they issued arrest warrants and I was released on a pr bond. The only "inadequate shelter" portion I could get them to comment on was my rabbit hutch. Wire flooring is considered inadequate here, even if the holes are too small for bunny toes to fit through. If you disregard the wire portion of their cage then yes, the remainder w the wood floor would be too small. They were upset that I did not call right away, and to be honest, in the past I may have had to argue w them for a bit, but in the end it has always been no big deal.
    I do not feed all stock feed nor try and have them survive on scratch alone. Each animal gets it's own type of feed. The chickens got different types of feed for protein, omegas, we tossed a lot of eggs back to them, suet blocks for chickens, and fruits and veggies. When I had alpaca they had alpaca feed and good quality hay in addition to a 10 acre grazing field. My dogs eat a no grain, no soy, high protein feed. I had a potbelly pig and she ate chow for potbellies. She was very overweight and terrified of people when I got her. Through proper nutrition and training she was down to a good weight and loved most people. She learned quite a few tricks too. Everyone ate three times a day. They loved when we would get the "uglies," fruits and veggies from farmers markets that were bruised or had bad spots. We cut any bad spots out and any pieces that had spoiled would be thrown away. No moldy bits for the crew.
    I had to say no to a lot of people. I took on two horses once to keep them from the block. I knew how much they would require and knew I couldn't maintain them long. Brought them in, good feed, got their bad hooves fixed, etc., and rehomed them both to a riding academy who had the time and resources. I was constantly getting requests to take in more rabbits, more potbelly pigs, dogs, cats, horses, etc. I started to turn them all away. I would give them contact info for other rescue people and groups I worked with, but I couldn't take any more. I was willing to take in chickens and ducks as long as they were healthy. They are expensive and they do take a lot of work, but I took on everyone I could manage. No sense in taking more than you can manage, that puts the poor critters back in a bad situation. Again, any time AC has come out it's been resolved amicably. Sometimes when they came out on a complaint they found the complaint unfounded. I'll do what they want me to do, it's never been a wild or drastic change. I know a couple of the officers by name and they know they are more than welcome to come to the farm whether or not there was a complaint, my gate is always open. When someone would drop off an animal they knew they were welcome to come back and visit and I send pictures and updates.
     
  7. KatelinLeger

    KatelinLeger New Egg

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    [​IMG]

    This is a photo of one of my roos. This is one of the photos AC used on their FB page to advertise my babies as up for adoption. This is 2 or 3 days after they removed them from my property.
     
  8. whoop whoop

    whoop whoop Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Katelin he looks absolutely healthy to me, beautiful and proud. You don't get that in any bird if it's poorly looked after. Something very odd going on, think you should do some P.I. investigations and find out who is doing the reporting for starters. Maybe it's the landlord and can't sell if you have a valid lease so is trying to make life difficult. I wish I was nearer to you I enjoy doing detective work[​IMG]
     
  9. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

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    Welcome to Backyard chickens. I think you need a lawyer. Sure sounds like they are trying to force you to leave.
     
  10. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    He looks in fine condition but he looks like he has some scale mite going on. Chickens can feel emaciated when their breast bones are prominent....depending on the breed, time of year and laying status, it can be difficult to keep them in such condition that the breast bone cannot be felt easily. Leghorns are one such breed.

    I'd request all documentation regarding the charges against you and find out who was judging the condition of your animals and what criteria they were using. Could be you will find the person doing the judging is not fully qualified to do so.

    I'd also find out why they felt the emaciated birds were able to be adopted in such a state...surely if they were so emaciated they had to be taken, they would require some rehab care before going out to the general public?
     

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