Elise5422

Hatching
May 19, 2017
4
0
9
Belgium
[UPDATE MAY 21 BELOW, PLEASE HELP: Hen is going south]

Hi All.

I'm having a little mystery at home, and I was hoping to maybe get some answers on this website. My parents have 5 laying chickens and had one rooster (all of the Malines breed).

Yesterday, we found our rooster dead in the coop. A few days before we had treated his feet for scaly leg mites, which was an ongoing problem. Because he seemed perfectly healthy the days before, I preformed a necropsy. Before I started I checked his skin and found him infested with mites, which made me think he could have died of anemia. I opened him up an his insides looked fine, except for the heart which had a diameter of roughly 9cm (3.5inches). His crop and gizzard were completely empty, but considering he died in the morning, this might be normal?
I thought chronic anaemia (caused by the mites) could have caused his (very) enlarged heart, and eventually killed him.

We checked our other chickens and saw they also had red mites, so we cleaned out the coop as best as possible, and treated the chicks with the powder. All but one (the lowest in the pecking order), as she is a master at running; so we waited until dark to try and catch her. My father caught her, and I started rubbing in the powder inbetween her feathers. She was fighting it the whole time and really started panicking. My father almost lost her and tried holding her up by the wings in stead. (I know this is not the right way to hold a chick). During the whole process, even before she was held by the wings, she really started looking off.

We put her back in the coop as soon as we saw and she collapsed. She was panting really heavily and couldn't stand up. We put her outside for a bit (to try not to startle the other chicks) and decided to leave her for 10', as I thought she might have been panicking?
When we got back, she was still not the same, but was back on her feet and headed towards the coop. Today she is also not feeling great, she's less feisty as usual.

So here are my questions:
- Could it be that she was panicking and this caused her crisis?
- Was it the way she was held that could have choked her? (I know this is not the right way to hold a chick, but it happened and all we can do now is learn from it and not do it again)
- Is it possible she was also very weakened by mites?
- Should we start worrying about some other infectious diseases?
- 4 of our chickens are also very bold on their backs, we put chicken-saddles on them because we thought it was from the rooster's breeding. Could it have been caused because of the mites in stead?

We had eggs from all of the chickens today.

Thank you very much for any input!
 
Last edited:

BantamLover21

Crowing
7 Years
Jul 24, 2013
23,660
1,558
426
I'm sorry for the loss of your rooster. He may have had an existing heart problem that the stress of the mite infestation worsened, or the mites may have caused the heart problem. Either way, I don't think his problem was a contagious disease.
As for the hen that seemed very weak, there could be multiple causes. She may also have a heart problem/poor circulation that the stress of handling aggravated, leading to lethargy. The mites also likely weakened her. Finally, you may have been constricting her breathing a little if you were holding her tightly. At this point, there isn't much you can do other than watch for further symptoms and try to avoid stressing her out further. Give her a few days of rest, then treat her for mites again.
At this point, I wouldn't worry about infectious diseases. If anything, members of the flock may share a genetic weak-heart problem. I would lean toward mites being the main problem, however, and leading to weakness/anemia.
Bare backs are often caused by overbreeding by roosters. Generally, it is recommended that a rooster have at least 10 hens, to avoid overmating, so the fact that you had only 5 hens may have contributed to the bare backs. Mites can lead to feather loss, too, however, so that may also have led to the bareness. The best thing you can do right now is continue treating the flock for mites.
 

Elise5422

Hatching
May 19, 2017
4
0
9
Belgium
I'm sorry for the loss of your rooster. He may have had an existing heart problem that the stress of the mite infestation worsened, or the mites may have caused the heart problem. Either way, I don't think his problem was a contagious disease.
As for the hen that seemed very weak, there could be multiple causes. She may also have a heart problem/poor circulation that the stress of handling aggravated, leading to lethargy. The mites also likely weakened her. Finally, you may have been constricting her breathing a little if you were holding her tightly. At this point, there isn't much you can do other than watch for further symptoms and try to avoid stressing her out further. Give her a few days of rest, then treat her for mites again.
At this point, I wouldn't worry about infectious diseases. If anything, members of the flock may share a genetic weak-heart problem. I would lean toward mites being the main problem, however, and leading to weakness/anemia.
Bare backs are often caused by overbreeding by roosters. Generally, it is recommended that a rooster have at least 10 hens, to avoid overmating, so the fact that you had only 5 hens may have contributed to the bare backs. Mites can lead to feather loss, too, however, so that may also have led to the bareness. The best thing you can do right now is continue treating the flock for mites.

Hi BantamLover21
Thank you very much for your reply! We'll leave them a bit, and keep treating the mites. We won't be getting another rooster any time soon until the mite problem is solved and the hens are recovered. We'll consider keeping more hens if my parents would look into getting another rooster.
I'll keep you posted :) Thank you very much for the input!
 

Elise5422

Hatching
May 19, 2017
4
0
9
Belgium
Hi all.

That same hen has gone worse. Here's where we're at:

- She's being very lethargic (she's hiding in bushes)
- panting
- her comb is really dark-colored
- started caughing (or what I assume is coughing; see video).
- I don't know if she's having diarrhoea as she's out and about, but I don't see any loose samples in the yard.
- We haven't handled since Thursday evening because of the disaster we had last time (and she's still really panicky). We are still regularly treating the coop for the mites, as well as the more tame hens. We were planning on treating her again today, but not sure where to go now.

I'm really starting to get worried now. Anyone any ideas?
Would she have caught an pneumonia because she was weakened already?
Should I separate her? I'm really lost to even begin coming up with a plan of attack. Any help would be appreciated!

 
Last edited:

Wyorp Rock

🐓 ❤ 🐛
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Sep 20, 2015
37,253
52,607
1,332
Southern N.C. Mountains
It's hard to say if it's a cough or not. Is she continually making that noise - do you hear it when she can't see you or does she make it when you come near?

Since she is a panicky/flighty girl, it will most likely stress her very much to try to catch her during the day. Add some poultry vitamins to the water station that she drinks from.

If she doesn't improve, then you may need to take her off the roost at night. It may be better to gently swaddle her in a towel, this will restrict movement, but yes, giving her behavior before, it will stress her - she will panic and pant.

I'm inclined to tell you to take a wait and see approach. If it's not time to re-treat for mite infestation, I would leave her be and just keep watch on her. If she gets to the point where she is so lethargic that you can approach her and get her easily, then cage her and start to give supportive care.

Just my thoughts.
 

Elise5422

Hatching
May 19, 2017
4
0
9
Belgium
It's hard to say if it's a cough or not. Is she continually making that noise - do you hear it when she can't see you or does she make it when you come near?

Since she is a panicky/flighty girl, it will most likely stress her very much to try to catch her during the day. Add some poultry vitamins to the water station that she drinks from.

If she doesn't improve, then you may need to take her off the roost at night. It may be better to gently swaddle her in a towel, this will restrict movement, but yes, giving her behavior before, it will stress her - she will panic and pant.

I'm inclined to tell you to take a wait and see approach. If it's not time to re-treat for mite infestation, I would leave her be and just keep watch on her. If she gets to the point where she is so lethargic that you can approach her and get her easily, then cage her and start to give supportive care.

Just my thoughts.

Hi Wyorp Rock, thank you for the reply!
She seems to be making the noise when when she's somewhat at ease. When I approach or something is going on, she doesn't, but as soon as she's settled down a bit she's at it again.
Luckily she is still eating and slowly walking about.
I'll add poultry vitamins to all of their water stations (considering the mite infestation I think they could all use it), and see how it goes. I'm indeed a bit reluctant to chase her.
I hope she improves. I'll keep you posted!
 

Wyorp Rock

🐓 ❤ 🐛
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Sep 20, 2015
37,253
52,607
1,332
Southern N.C. Mountains
Hi Wyorp Rock, thank you for the reply!
She seems to be making the noise when when she's somewhat at ease. When I approach or something is going on, she doesn't, but as soon as she's settled down a bit she's at it again.
Luckily she is still eating and slowly walking about.
I'll add poultry vitamins to all of their water stations (considering the mite infestation I think they could all use it), and see how it goes. I'm indeed a bit reluctant to chase her.
I hope she improves. I'll keep you posted!

Since they all had an infestation and may be weakened, give them some beef liver as a treat for a few days. This is packed full of vitamins, tasty and a good source of extra protein as well.

I hope all goes well, keep us posted.
 

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