Heirloom breed chickens dying 1 by 1

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by islasunflower, Aug 21, 2014.

  1. islasunflower

    islasunflower Out Of The Brooder

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    Last year I started raising these Old Type Rhode Island Reds. For as hardy as these birds were supposed to be, it seemed like they shocked and died easier than any of my other breeds even at Juvenile age but I was able to raise 12 adults, 1 Rooster and a 11 hens. Since early Spring, I have losing them 1 at a time. They have trouble standing and are very light. At first, I thought maybe they just weren't aggressive enough and weren't getting their share of food. So I started separating them and putting them in cages with free choice food and water. They will eat and lie there for several days but can't stand up. Then they die.
    It's like their balance is off. They will try and stand and it's like 1 leg will go out from under them and they can't get back up. One of them, looked like her head was turned around, it faced her tail, but I think she recovered. none of my other birds are affected. I have Rose comb Leghorns, Arucanas, Barred Rocks and Australorps. We also raise Cayuga ducks and sheep. I have noticed that the rooster is shooting blanks, if he is breeding at all. All of these hens squat to be bred when I walk up. When they lay, their eggs are infertile and very small, barely larger than a banty egg.
    I like these birds, they are beautiful and gentle. I have about 5 left.
    Any ideas? We have been fighting Lungworms with the sheep but again, no other birds are having problems. We have about 30 ducks and about 40 chickens total and a few geese.

    Thanks,
     
  2. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict

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    I also raise the heritage RIR from Fogelly in Arkansas, and mine have been very healthy fertile birds, probably some of the most gentle and non-agressive birds I've seen. It sounds like you could be dealing with some neurological problem such as Mareks, or some type of poisoning (lead or chemical) or botulism. Vitamin deficiencies can also cause lameness. I would probably get a stool sample checked for worms, coccidiosis, and enteritis, if your vet will check one. Then if you lose another, I would get a necropsy done by the state vet, and ask about testing for Mareks. Have you raised chickens before on your property without problems? Here is a link to click on to find contact info for your state vet, so that you can check into how to ship a bird for necropsy: http://agr.wa.gov/FoodAnimal/AnimalHealth/statevets.aspx
     
  3. rbaker0345

    rbaker0345 Big Mamma Brahma

    Ditto on the Mareks. It probably isn't a breed issue. I have read a study indicating that a shot of the mareks vaccine can be given to adult birds to fortify their resistance to mareks and it may even help birds that are symptomatic of mareks. It can't hurt.
     
  4. BantamFan4Life

    BantamFan4Life LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO. Premium Member

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    I'm sorry for your losses! I'm guessing it would be Marek's Disease. What breeds are your other birds? It's very likely that the strain of Rhode Island Reds you have is not genetically resistant to Marek's Disease and your other birds are. Since their is no found treatment, I would recommend to cull or separate the infected birds for good. Unfortunately, Marek's has a high mortality rate of almost 100%. Do you know if your other birds were vaccinated for Marek's Disease? I hope your birds will get well soon!
     
  5. islasunflower

    islasunflower Out Of The Brooder

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    I have 5 Barred Rocks, a few Australorps, 7 newly raised Rose Comb Leghorns, A couple of sex links and about 10 Arucanas. I have also raised about 20 new ducklings to adults hatched out on this property this season. The Reds are the only ones being affected. I think they were vaccinated by the breeder but I will check. The rooster seems perfectly healthy but not doing his job....and I didn't mention it but he still does not crow correctly. He's over a year and still sounds like a new rooster learning to crow. I received a grant from Slow Foods to raise this breed so I got rid of my other roosters because I wanted those hens to be bred only by that type of rooster.

    Thanks for the input
     
  6. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict

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    Do you know what line they are from? Robert Blosl, who unfortunately passed away last year, has a great thread on the heritage reds. That's how I found the hatching eggs I got. Most of those breeders on there will supply hatching eggs in the spring if you make arrangements with them in the fall, because most want to keep this breed alive. What part of the country do you live in? I'm in the southernmost part of Ohio. My RIR supposedly are traced back from Fogel's line to Bates to St. Romaines back to Robert Blosl's mohawk line from what I have read, but since I'm not a breeder, it doesn't really matter. I just want to keep them going since they are such great birds.
     
  7. keesmom

    keesmom Overrun With Chickens

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    I second the necropsy suggestion if you lose any more. Then maybe you can get a definitive answer to what you are up against.
     
  8. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

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    Ditto, too. It does sound like Marek's. Exactly the way my flock experienced it and before I knew why. Be sure to get all new chicks vaccinated and quarantined for at least 3 weeks.

    And Bantamfan4life brings up a very good point. Those chickens especially may have a weaker immune system genetically.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2014
  9. islasunflower

    islasunflower Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for your answer. I notice you have a Keeshond. This is my first year without one in about 27 years.

    I have had birds on this property for 14 years. We even rescued about 80 birds from a person who was neglecting them about 6 years ago, and the about half of what I have are from that rescue. Still alive and old. The Arucanas raise a few young ones every year and I brought a few new ones last year. Will talk to my vet about a stool sample.
     

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