Experienced keeper stumped!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Sterkfarm, Dec 11, 2013.

  1. Sterkfarm

    Sterkfarm Out Of The Brooder

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    May 12, 2013
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    Hi everyone, a mystery illness is killing off my birds. I have a mixed flock ranging from 3 mos to 1 year. Ill go into the coop, find a ruffled, unthrifty, huddled bird almost weightless, with a slight gurgle and no other symptoms, within 24 hours of coming indoors for R&R the gurgling worsens, accompanied by gasping, then dead. I have treated with tylan IM and Oral, but it doesn't seem to help at all. I have also tried treating as coxi (weight loss got me thinking), but sulfa doesn't help either. It seems to affect the smaller, less robust birds. No discharge, no sneezing, no bubbly eyes, no foul smell.
    What on earth?? I keep my coop clean and dry, I don't do deep litter this time of year. I'm in canada so it's always a little chilly (-2,-3 max) in the coop but I have heat lamps (several) to keep the water from freezing and some nice cuddle spots too. I have a commercial exhaust fan constantly on, blowing air out of the coop. The indoor air is clear, dry, no hint of ammonia. What on earth is killing my birds??
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2013
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I don’t know how many you’ve lost or enough about what has gone on with them to even be able to make an intelligent guess. You might look through this and see if you see something.

    http://www.apa-abayouthpoultryclub.... SYMPTOMS FOR DIAGNOSING POULTRY DISEASES.pdf

    Have you opened one up to see what it looks like inside? If it were one or two, maybe they got into some nails or screws, something sharp and pointed that punctured the gizzard when they tried to grind it up. But that is so rare I would not expect that to be the cause if it were many of them. Other than something like that, the only thing I can think of is a disease.

    Have you checked into getting a necropsy? I don’t know how you handle it in Canada. Here we can contact our extension agent to find out what is the best and cheapest way to get someone qualified to do an autopsy on a dead bird. In most states that service is pretty inexpensive, especially if that state has a poultry industry they want to protect. But there are certain ways they want you to handle the bird so it is still fresh enough for them to see what is going on without it deteriorating. You should have someone in government that could advise you. A university agriculture department is another possible source of information.

    Good luck finding what it is.
     
  3. Sterkfarm

    Sterkfarm Out Of The Brooder

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    May 12, 2013
    Milton, ON
    Hi, unfortunately there is nothing there about the wet breathing sound though it is an excellent chart. I also forgot to mention I swabbed the trachea of the first victim and I got mucus, no gapeworms.
    The wheezing is basically my only clue. I attribute the weight loss to generally feeling like crap and being off feed, I think it's one of those 'I've caught it too late' things because no other symptoms present short of making weight guesstimations daily, and by the time I see the fluffing and weightlessness, there's the gurgle. And I've managed to save exactly none, I'm 0/3. I will consider necropsy for sure, up here that's a private affair. In canada backyard poultry is treated very critically, I would bet if something governmental got hold of a disease in a BY flock they'd issue a cull order. A friend of mine called a vet requesting tylan and that's what she was told. !!!
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2013
  4. Sterkfarm

    Sterkfarm Out Of The Brooder

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    May 12, 2013
    Milton, ON
    Anyone? Need ideas...
     
  5. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

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    You can cut open a dead bird and slice vertically through the windpipe looking for gapeworms. Here's a pic:
    [​IMG]
    If you dont see any gapes, most likely you're dealing with a very serious respiratory disease due to the mucus on the swab and ensuing death, what disease(s) are unknown. This is why a necropsy is recommended as Ridgerunner mentioned. At the very least, perhaps you can take a fecal sample to a vet and have them check for worm or cocci oocysts. It's normal to have a few cocci on the microscopic slide, however if it's loaded up...then there's a problem. Perhaps bloodwork can be drawn as well. Keep in mind that internal and external parasites can weaken a birds immune system by sapping their strength which opens the door for all types of diseases to invade their system.
    If in fact it is a respiratory disease; it would be best to cull, disinfect everything and wait about 6 months before repopulating. Birds with respiratory diseases can be treated but are never cured. Survivors remain carriers for life and will spread whatever disease it is to newly introduced birds. If you decide to keep and treat the survivors, you'll have to maintain a closed flock. Also, some diseases can be passed through eggs, no selling or giving away eggs to be hatched.
    Good luck with whatever you decide.
     
  6. Suzierd

    Suzierd Overrun With Chickens

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    You said you have commercial fan blowing constantly in the coop, I would think that would make them sick. It needs to be draft free in the coop in cold weather. Just my thoughts.
     
  7. Sterkfarm

    Sterkfarm Out Of The Brooder

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    May 12, 2013
    Milton, ON
    What I have is a fan blowing OUT of the coop, so effectively sucking out bad/stale air. There is no draft, rather ventilation :)
     
  8. Suzierd

    Suzierd Overrun With Chickens

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    Ok, :thumbsup
     
  9. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

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    I hope that the fan is not also sucking out pathogens and broadcasting them far and wide.

    Here in the States one can take a sick or recently dead chicken to a university with a USDA poultry science department and get a free necropsy preformed by a student or professor.
     
  10. Sterkfarm

    Sterkfarm Out Of The Brooder

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    May 12, 2013
    Milton, ON
    The coop is small, and the fan is small, though it is powerful, there are no more than 60 birds in the coop, it really is a backyard flock operation. The nearest house is 10 acres in either direction and no poultry around for miles. I called the university of Guelph which is arguably the top and only dedicated agricultural/veterinary university here in Canada, necropsies start at $150.00. I'm struggling with that, since that's per bird.
    I looked up ILT tracheal necropsy results, there is a very clear mucus plug, I will check for that today.
     

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