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Help me identify the "SILENT KILLER" PLEASE!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by MamaManda, Jan 14, 2016.

  1. MamaManda

    MamaManda Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop
    I have a flock of about 28 hens. I am loosing one about every week. Up to 6 in the last month and a half, and about 4 over the previous 3 months. None of the chickens have any signs of illness whatsoever. They all suddenly stopped laying around the end of July. My 2 roosters (about 8-10 months old) suddenly stopped crowing at the same time, and haven't made a peep since.

    When I lost the first one suddenly, I found mites on her during the inspection, and after a closer look at everyone else, found that one of my roosters, which I brought home from a feed store about a month before was LADEN with them. (I checked him over well before I brought him home and never saw any, but I'm thinking I missed them.) So we went through 2 very thorough (one week apart) treatments of Sevin, on every bird, and the entire coop.

    Waited to see the eggs return, and nothing. Wormed them, twice, according to instructions. Still nothing, and still dying mysteriously. I have researched all I can find, and nothing matches. They are all visibly healthy and well fed. I would love input from anyone who may know what is up with my birds. I can't believe this is just a case of Sudden death syndrome, as its happening too frequently.

    AGES: Most are 10 months old and had begun laying frequently at 5-6 months old. About 8 are 3 years old. All heavy/full size breeds.

    FEED: Scratch and Peck Organic 16% layer and Organic, soy free, whole grain scratch.
    Free fed Oyster shell (Also in feed)
    Mostly organic table scraps, daily.
    Probiotic water supplement in addition to plain yogurt as a treat about once a month.

    HOUSING: Completely free range until last March, now in an enclosed 20x30' run, (due to stinking Bald Eagles) and huge coop, free ranging occasionally.

    SYMPTOMS: No breathing issues, no egg binding, crops are fine, good weights, They've been treated for mites, and worms. No neurological symptoms before death, no ruffled feathers, some lethargy noticed in 2, they were isolated, and well cared for, but did not recover. Most birds have been found dead first thing in the morning, under the roost. A couple in the run.

    THE OTHER THING: About 2 years ago, while living at another home, I brought home 2 non-hatchery lavender Ameraucanas from a local breeder. One died of apparent neurological disfunction, but survived in this state for some time, inside, with care, unable to walk or stand, before dying. She was sent for necropsy, which came back positive for Mareks. I lost 2 more birds with the same kind of symptoms, but the rest survived. About a year later, I had a Mama hatch out chicks, all which survived, and we moved, bringing our chickens along. I purchased 30 chicks last spring, all which were vaccinated for Mareks. I kept them in isolation for as long as possible, before introducing them to the older flock, to help their chances of survival, and combined flocks at about 3 1/2 months of age. They were all healthy and happy until about 7 to 8 months of age, and around the same time I brought a seemingly healthy rooster home.

    If you have ANY input at all, I would be grateful for a response. I am now dreading going to feed in the morning, wondering who I might find dead next.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2016
  2. artsyrobin

    artsyrobin Artful Wings

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    basic- what did you worm with? that can be an issue if the wrong wormer is used
     
  3. MamaManda

    MamaManda Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 2, 2011
    SW Washington
    My Coop
    Pig Swig Piperazine, exactly as read on label. But they were dying before that. I wormed them about 4 weeks ago.
     
  4. artsyrobin

    artsyrobin Artful Wings

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    Muskogee OK
    ok, that only gets roundworm- i'd go with safeguard

    [​IMG]







    or valbazen- .50 cc large fowl, .25 cc small fowl repeat in ten days

    [​IMG]
     
  5. MamaManda

    MamaManda Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop
    Ok, thanks artsyrobin. I will definitely give it a shot. I'm going to be very surprised if it's worms. Wouldn't they be thin, or have any other symptoms? I've examined poop too...looks healthy, no worms. Would I see them? I'm wondering if I should get a vet to do a fecal test?

    Do you think this would make a rooster stop crowing?
     
  6. artsyrobin

    artsyrobin Artful Wings

    9,766
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    Mar 1, 2009
    Muskogee OK
     
  7. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    You may have more than one thing going on. The next time you lose a bird, send it to one of the following labs for necropsy. Better yet, once one appears lethargic, get it there for a humane euthanasia and necropsy. The fresher the bird the more conclusive.
    We can guess all we want but with few symptoms you won't know what killed the birds without definitive lab work.
    55

    Washington

    Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory
    Bustad Hall, Rm 155-N
    Pullman, Washington 99164
    Phone: 509-335-9696 Fax 509-335-7424
    AI, BSE, CSF, CWD*, FMD, ISA, ND, PRV, SCRAPIE, IAV-S*, VHS*
    56

    Washington

    Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, Avian Health and Food Safety Laboratory, Puyallup
    2607 W Pioneer
    Puyallup, WA 98371-4919 Phone 253-445-4537 Fax 253-445-4544

    You didn't say if the birds that died were your 10 month or 3 year birds.
    July would be very early in the year for the entire flock of 2 age groups to stop laying. If what was ailing them had been resolved, the short days would prevent them from commencing lay at this point.

    The mites can have weakened the birds.
    Like artsyrobin said, your first step would be to have fecals read. I never worm unless a fecal sample tells me the chickens have a heavy load of worms and what kind they have.

    2 things I suspect are marek's and gout. Both can kill suddenly with no symptoms.

    You've had Marek's before (and in reality it is everywhere) and infected chickens continue to be carriers and infect others regardless of vaccination status.

    That doesn't really explain the dearth of eggs.
    You have been feeding layer feed (with oyster shell mixed in) for a long time.
    Visceral gout can cause laying to cease. It can also cause sudden death with no symptoms.
    Birds not actively building egg shells (that includes roosters) shouldn't be getting the 4% calcium in layer feed, let alone adding oyster shell to the feed. There's no telling what that act brings the % up to. There are 6 kidney segments in a chicken and they can seem healthy and even continue to lay with only 2 functioning segments. A necropsy will easily determine if there is kidney damage.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  8. Acornewell

    Acornewell Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am dealing with a similar situation. I de-wormed my entire flock with Wazine in October. I am thinking they need de-wormed again. and I am trying to figure out which would be best to use.

    PS-my dog vomited up worms yesterday! I am totally creeped out by all of this.
     
  9. MamaManda

    MamaManda Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 2, 2011
    SW Washington
    My Coop
     
  10. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Looks like you have thought this through. I'm quite sure you have since you've been dealing with it for so long.

    Shipping is always by USPS. It is expensive and you need a special approved box for them which can be pricey. If you want to go that route I can give you a source for the cheapest approved boxes. It may be cheaper to drive it there with today's gas prices. I once drove a sick hen to our state lab for euthanasia and lab work, 6 hours round trip. She had cancer but it was worth the drive and the $85 fee to know I didn't have a disease in a flock of extremely rare birds. All states vary on price. Some are free.

    Both age groups means there is something going on either disease or management wise.

    I think you'll find the labs I posted will be much cheaper on a fecal sample. I couldn't even find a vet among the hundreds locally that would do it. I had to drive an hour one way into Illinois for a vet that would read a sample without "seeing the patient".

    Most people don't think of gout since there rarely are symptoms, just sudden death. They just throw up their hands and don't do a necropsy. That can be done at home.
    I can post a link to pictures of kidneys affected by too high calcium intake if you wish. It has been documented in broiler breeder flocks where roosters are on the same ration that they die at 4 times the rate of hens because of kidney damage.

    I wouldn't give up on chickens, even if you lose more birds. Some breeds and strains are resistant and breeding for resistance can preclude vaccinating.]
    People that buy new birds yearly or so may want to vaccinate. I never have. Keep up your biosecurity habits.

    In your first post you said you were feeding "Scratch and Peck Organic 16% layer and Organic, soy free, whole grain scratch.
    Free fed Oyster shell (Also in feed)"
    I assumed that to mean you were adding oyster shell to your feed.
    Of course there is a calcium source in feed. It is 4% in layer feed and 1% in all other feed.
    People with roosters and non layers usually give an all flock feed or grower making sure to always provide oyster shell in a separate container.
    You can switch to a non-layer feed now since you have no layers.

    Kidney damage from excess calcium is non-reversible. All you can do is make sure clean water is always available and provide a low calcium feed.

    Hope this helps.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2016

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