Help! Leg sores are now bleeding and moving through my whole flock.

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by tvpitz, Nov 7, 2007.

  1. tvpitz

    tvpitz Hatching

    Nov 7, 2007
    Hi. I'm in dry Southern California. I have eight hens. They live in an in a fenced coop, 10 ft. by 10 ft. Dry shavings. All are less 6 to 12 months old. They are developing dark "bruises on their legs and feet. Then it breaks open, blood comes out, cannibalism starts, then lameness and mutilation.
    I've searched online, and read the "chicken books".
    Have you seen this? What's the cure?
    Chickens are eating well, and drinking well, but their feet are a mess.
    [email protected]
  2. OkapisRule

    OkapisRule Songster

    Oct 24, 2007
    Northern georgia
    I'm not sure, [​IMG] but people on this website are helpful and nice and they probably will know. posting pictures might also help.

    By the way, welcome to BYC! Up at the top, you can click profile and then click on the tabs on the side like personality to change your picture by your name (a.k.a. avatar). you can also change your signature by typing in the box below avatar and clicking submit. Here's what a signature looks like.\\/
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2007
  3. dlhunicorn

    dlhunicorn Human Encyclopedia

    Jan 11, 2007
    have you checked for any discoloration under the wings? A deficiency of vit K might be involved:

    and possibly:


    Gangrenous dermatitis (GD) sometimes seems to occur almost spontaneously in birds 4-8 weeks of age. GD is also known as “gangrenous cellulitis,” “wing rot” or “red leg.” GD usually starts with the appearance of small pimples on the skin, soon progressing to involve large areas. Birds with GD have moist raw or dark areas where the underlying muscles are exposed. The breast, wings, rump and abdomen are most commonly involved. Blood-tinged fluid may be found beneath the skin. Fluid can be jelly-like in consistency. The liver and spleen may be swollen and dark with spots or blotches. However, since the disease can be very acute, birds are often just found dead.

    For gangrenous dermatitis (GD) to occur in a large population of birds, generally three things are required:

    Some type of injury to the skin,
    The disease causing organism (Clostridium or other species) in sufficient number to cause the disease, and Some type of immune suppression.

    Generally, there are enough hazards (e.g., chicken toenails) around to cause injury and infection. Nevertheless, it is advisable to survey facilities and eliminate the obvious hazards to reduce the chances of injury. In addition, there has been speculation that some of the slow feathering modern strains of birds (particularly male broilers) are more susceptible to GD because their skin is less protected due to the lack of feathers. However, no data to date have linked slow feathering birds to increased incidence of GD.

    The bacteria involved in GD are Clostridium septicum, Clostridium perfringens or Staphylococcus aureus. The milder forms of GD are generally associated with Staphylococcus aureus. When GD is caused by Clostridium, mortality is generally rapid and high. These organisms may also cause the disease in combination.

    Clostridium species are spore formers generally found in soil, but can be found in feed, feces, dust and any number of other places. Since Clostridium are very durable and able to survive extremely harsh conditions, it is unlikely that they will ever be completely eliminated from commercial animal facilities. The strategy with Clostridium (and other disease organisms) is to keep the organism numbers as low as possible so that when animals are exposed, the chances of recovery are enhanced.

    Immune competent birds generally are not affected by GD. Therefore, the appearance of GD may be related to exposure to immunosuppressive viruses, such as infectious bursal disease (IBD). Although any number of viruses are capable of immune suppression, kits are not available for all that are present. Mycotoxins in the feed can also cause immune suppression. Immunity can also be compromised when birds are in stressful situations such as crowding or heat.

    Prevention of Outbreaks
    The birds we currently raise appear to be much more susceptible to stressors than earlier broiler strains. Something as simple as an electrical storm occurring can result in an outbreak of hysteria in the flock leading to an increase of cuts and scratches. Other factors associated with hysteria or nervousness in a flock could be longer day length, increased light intensity, light restriction programs and low dietary sodium levels.

    Management problems that could contribute to flock hysteria include feed outages, pileups due to predators entering the house, improper fan cycling, flashing lights and/or loud sudden noises. In addition, protruding nails, wires or other sharp objects at bird level should be removed to prevent scratches or cuts on birds. As a general rule, any alteration in management which reduces stress or reduces the possibility of a wound will reduce the probability of having a GD outbreak.

    To keep conditions in the poultry production environment such that growth of the organism is discouraged, the following must be done:

    Remove dead birds often.
    Maintain a house environment that is as dry as is practical (environments that are too dry will encourage respiratory diseases).
    Keep equipment as clean as possible (particularly open type waterers).
    Prevent other animals from entering the house... this includes domestic animals, wild animals (including birds) and humans.
    Management of Outbreaks
    While the course of GD is unpredictable, taking some action may prevent the disease from growing worse. However, hasty attempts to control the spread or severity of the disease should be avoided since each treatment could have long-term consequences.

    One method of reducing the incidence of GD following a break is the use of iodine disinfectant in the water. One gallon of 1.75 percent solution of iodine disinfectant is mixed with 6 gallons of water to make a stock solution. The stock solution is then given to the birds at a rate of 1 ounce per gallon of water consumed. The solution is provided to birds every other day for three times. In other words, birds are to consume iodine treated water a total of three times. This treatment is most effective when administered immediately after the onset of an outbreak or when an outbreak is expected (A. Rossi, personal communication). ....................


    After an outbreak, a complete clean-out, scrubbing and disinfection of houses is generally best so that spore counts are reduced. It is also advisable to test the pH of soil on the floor of farms with chronic GD problems. Frequently, soil is alkaline on such farms and, thus, should be adjusted to neutral or slightly acid. The feed handling system should also be cleaned following on outbreak, since moldy feed can reduce immunity leading to the onset of the disease.

    When GD is recurrent on farms, IBD titers should be checked to ensure that adequate immunity exists. If IBD titers are inadequate, IBD control programs should be re-evaluated and intensified. Better IBD control has, in some cases, resulted in a lower incidence of GD outbreaks.

    There is no known link between lower incidence of GD and elevated levels of fat soluble vitamins (e.g., A, D, E, and K). However, the addition of elevated levels of fat soluble vitamins may enhance immunity as well as skin integrity. Therefore, fat soluble vitamins might be given to birds on farms with chronic problems. However, it should be clearly understood that fat soluble vitamins can accumulate in the tissues and can be toxic if given in high doses or over a prolonged period of time. Thus, if water soluble packs of vitamins A, D, E and K are used, they should be provided at half the recommended dose for three days and then clean water for four days. This dosage of vitamins should be repeated for the first three weeks to ensure that birds have adequate vitamin reserves when the disease challenge comes.
    Source: University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service - Reproduced June 2004
    (see also the links at the end of the article )

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