HELP! 3 hens out of my flock have died

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by calichickgirl, Feb 2, 2015.

  1. calichickgirl

    calichickgirl Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 1, 2015
    Yosemite Mts
    I have raised chickens for the last 10 years, with very little issues, minus a few predator problems . This last month we noticed one of our hens was sick, I brought her in the house, treated her with natural remedies but she died a few days later. I started the chickens on bread and corn ( i read that could start them laying in the winter as they had stopped laying for the last few months even with a heat lamp). About 2 weeks after the first hen died, I went out to the hen house and another hen was dead. I wasn't too alarmed because this was an older hen ( she was 7 years old ) but she hadn't been showing any signs of being sick. Yesterday, two weeks after the second hen, a third hen was dead in the hen house. The only one that seemed sick was the first one. They all seem to be healthy. But now I'm freaking out. After the second bird died I completely cleaned out their house and bleached the floor and nesting boxes, waterbowls, and feeding dishes. I saw another post on here similar and someone mentioned worms. Could that be it? Just seems odd to have them die 2 weeks apart. Also should I throw the eggs away ? Could they be contaminated ? I feed them a organic soy free lay food, plus they eat a ton of kitchen scraps. I added new birds to the flock last spring so I don't think that's it. Im going to go put garlic and ACV in the water while I wait for a response !! Please help! :(
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    OK, you have many issues here. I'll start at the beginning of your post.
    You don't mention what the 'natural remedies' were in the second sentence nor what the symptoms were of that first sick hen.
    Bread and corn will do nothing to induce commencement of lay. Both are extremely low in protein and bread is too high in salt. Those things, if they affect laying at all will have a detrimental effect.
    Hens more than 18-24 months will always take a lay break in winter at least during molt and even a while thereafter unless provided an extended period of light.
    A heat lamp will do nothing to increase laying. Temperature (as long as properly acclimated) won't affect laying, day length is the issue, short days just happen to coincide with cold days.
    The cause of the birds that suddenly died with no other symptoms probably is unrelated to the one that appeared sick.
    Especially with the one 7 years old, it could have been kidney damage or gout if you have been feeding layer feed for years even when they're not laying eggs.
    Worms won't kill suddenly.
    The eggs are likely fine. Just cook them thoroughly if you're concerned.

    Whenever one loses multiple birds in short order, it's time for a necropsy. The problem could be so many things and you appear to take care of your birds and before you lose more, it's not time to guess but to have lab work.
    Contact your state poultry lab and find out how the birds need to be delivered. A necropsy is free in some states or not prohibitively expensive in others.
    ACV and garlic, while they have benefits, won't cure anything that will kill chickens.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2015
  3. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    Definitely need to get a bird necropsied as ChickenCanoe said so you will have some answers. Aside from that, if it were my flock I would do the following: Check them all carefully for mites or lice as parasites can weaken birds to the point of death. Same with internal parasites. If your birds have never been dewormed then it's a good thing to start doing. I would also cut way back on all the extra stuff they are eating and cut out the bread and corn completely. Encourage them to eat mostly their chicken feed at this point. Something is definitely going on in your flock and getting the most complete nutrition into them will help while you figure it out.
     
  4. calichickgirl

    calichickgirl Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 1, 2015
    Yosemite Mts
    Thank you, Chicken Canoe for a quick response. The first hen was extremely lethargic and couldn't stand. I Googled for hours and came up with possible "wry neck " . I gave her whatever was suggested for that, TBH, can't remember everything ( mother of 5 .. and it doesn't matter now .. she's dead ) I have always treated my animals with herbs and homeopathy, and if they were going to die it's not likely from the treatment it's because they were too sick to begin with. I do remember giving her Turmeric, as that was recommended, and dropper feeding her water and mashed up tuna and she slept on a heating pad in my bathtub. I probably agve her echinacea and garlic and ACV, but can't remember what else.She lived for 2 days and then died. It was over New Years weekend so I couldn't get her to a vet and we live 2 hours from the nearest vet that sees chickens ( I've taken one !! )
    Yes, I'm aware that hens molt and the light issue. Where we live its really cold at night ( I've used a red heat lamp for ten years in the winter) I had recently read an article about helping them lay by feeding them corn and bread. The bread i feed them is 2 slices of natural sourdough bread for 9 chickens and a handful of corn. And miracle of miracles they started laying within 5 days.. call me crazy.
    I'm not really sure how i would have fed the old hen something besides lay food since they all are in the same pen, but she was a HUGE bird, healthy and then dead the next day.
    I'm just worried because i have to go out of town for a week due to a death in the family and my kids will be taking care of the "farm" .
    I have never done anything extra for the hens but they have always been healthy. I have never lost one, so I'm kinda confused.
    The dead chicken is already disposed of, so I can't have her looked at :(
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2015
  5. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    That's the reason I suggested you contact your state poultry lab to find out how they want a bird sent in advance so you'll be prepared if you lose another. Vets will be more expensive and may or may not provide a complete necropsy, histology, or be equipped to do a radiograph.
    If you're in California, it's free as far as I know. The fresher the specimen, the more conclusive the results.
    This is mine. I hand carried a live sick bird.
    http://vmdl.missouri.edu/tests_avian.html
    Coincidence doesn't indicate cause. I was getting 1 or 2 eggs a day till we hit the winter solstice. Within a week or so more and more hens joined in, even the 6 year old.
    If anything dietary (other than a complete ration) can help induce ovulation, it would be higher protein consisting of a complete complement of amino acids.
    http://www.extension.org/pages/69065/feeding-chickens-for-egg-production
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2015

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