Hens are waisting away

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by calkal, Dec 3, 2016.

  1. calkal

    calkal New Egg

    Mar 21, 2013
    Concord Twp, Oh
    I am fairly new to chickens. I started with 20 hens and 4 roosters about 2 years ago and am down to 13 hens. They have a diet of layer food, supplemented with fresh ground sirloin once a week, and sunflower seeds in the winter months to get them thru the cold weather. I also supplement them with fresh kale, fruits and vegetables year round. Seems I lose most of them in the cooler weather, and not over the summer. They seem to get lethargic, start to get picked on by the others. They start to lose weight. Their comb pales. I separate them from the flock, make sure they are warm, dry, well fed. They seem to eat for a few days, then their appetite drops off. They die on about the 3rd day. When they pass, they have lost lots of weight. They have little stool and it is watery with no blood. I seem to lose one every few months. I bought them from a reputable hatchery as chicks. I had then vaccinated and fed them medicated feed as chicks. I worm them every fall using the fresh pumpkin and squash method. I haven't lost any roosters, who house with the hens. I am heart broken, and at a loss for the deaths. Does anyone have any ideas?
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2016
  2. coach723

    coach723 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 12, 2015
    North Florida
    There are many possibilities.
    Two suggestions.....get a fecal float test done to check for worms. Most vets will do this even if they don't see chickens. Worms are a very common cause of weight loss, and you may or may not see evidence in the droppings. The worm load in the environment can vary greatly from place to place, and from season to season. I personally have found natural worming methods to be woefully ineffective in my environment. They are fine to use for prevention, but once a worm infection happens they aren't effective. I use Safeguard (fenbendazole) and Valbazen (albendazole) mostly. If you have a worm issue then once a year may not be frequent enough, you may need to do spring and fall.
    I worm 3 to 4 times a year due to my climate.

    Second, if you lose another bird, get a necropsy done. This will tell you for sure what the cause was. It's much easier to move forward when you know what you are dealing with.

    Hopefully others will have other ideas. Best of luck.
    3 people like this.
  3. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Chicken Obsessed

    Hi, welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    Sorry for your troubles. [​IMG]

    A necropsy is a great suggestion. They can be done for pretty cheap if not free in many locations.

    What breed is it that you are losing? Some of the high production breeds are known to die off at a couple of years.

    You state it happens in the summer.... could be heat related, or maybe something growing in your pasture. Have you ever checked for symptoms of egg binding? Have you sought answers during the decline of the hen from fellow BYCers who might ask good diagnostic question at the time?

    I haven't lost a bird yet to natural causes. But I would want to know if it was something going on in my flock, that just isn't normal. A fecal float at my vet is $15. It may or may not give you answers but would be worth a try.
  4. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Your mention of "fresh ground sirloin" raised a flag. Another was that the deaths occur more in warm weather than cold. Pathogens in meat would multiply to the extreme under warm conditions.

    Do you cook it before feeding it to your chickens? E-coli is a very common pathogen in meat, but it rarely affects us because it's destroyed by thorough cooking. If you're feeding the meat raw, chances are your hens are being overwhelmed by the pathogen.

    Another cause of deaths in chickens is the botulism toxin. Again, it's more prevalent in warmer weather. It exists everywhere, and the botulism toxin can become a problem in compost piles that are very wet and don't get turned over enough. If your chickens spend a lot of time on a compost pile, this could be a possible source of a pathogen that can kill, especially if you're used to putting a lot of kitchen garbage which includes meat and also coop and run refuse which includes spoiled, moldy feed, in the compost.

    I urge a necropsy also. You will discover with a high degree of certainty what is killing your flock.
    1 person likes this.
  5. First off.......Pumpkin does not worm Chickens.......

    Chickens need age appropriate diets in order to produce and survive.....Disease in Chickens is a given.....They all carry something...Stress brings it out in flocks or is brought in.....Complex system with Chickens.......

    Scraps/treats are no good for Chickens.....5% of daily intake...Meaning a Tablespoon per Bird........

  6. calkal

    calkal New Egg

    Mar 21, 2013
    Concord Twp, Oh
    After reading more I thought maybe worms too. Local tractor supply stores don't have the meds recommended. They said because of new FDA regulations starting Jan 1. I have placed an order on Amazon and have my fingers crossed. Thanks for the help.
  7. calkal

    calkal New Egg

    Mar 21, 2013
    Concord Twp, Oh
    Sorry, I got it backwards... I corrected my post. I don't lose the girls in the summer. Just when it starts to cool off. We only have 1 Vet in a 100 mile radius that will see a sick chicken. I have had 3 of the girls in... and all three have died. He wasn't sure what was wrong. I asked about the Necro. He won't do it. Closest place is 3 hrs away at the closest Vet school. I would need to make an appointment with them, and the cost is over $100. I took the girls to the Vet thinking egg bound. He did an internal exam and didn't know if that was the problem or not. I have Buff Orpington's, started with 12 down to 6. and Barred Rocks starting with 8 down to 7. The girls are banded, so I know their ages. Losing both older and younger. I give the girls raw ground beef. They each get about 1/2 tbs and eat it directly from my hand. No leftovers... nothing on the ground. I give them the meat because they ate all the worms, snakes, mice in the area. then they started chasing the chipmunks. Since the sirloin... they quit the critter attacks. We are in an area with eagle nests, so they don't free range. Cyclone fenced covered yards. No compose piles. Since I just read the pumpkin isn't a good wormer.. I think that may be my problem. Thanks to you all for your suggestions and support.
  8. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Chicken Obsessed

    A simple fecal float will tell you if your problem is worm load, usually $15 at my vet. Especially since you don't range, worm load can be higher in confined areas. Get it done on the very next bird you notice acting that way.

    I would be cooking any meat before I gave it to them. Yes in the wild they may eat raw stuff but it hasn't been cross contaminated with peoples hands and grinders and all that. All though they peck at poo to, so I don't know. Why go with sirloin when it is pricey instead of chuck or round?

    Having them go after everything in your area would be a plus for me as long as they aren't going after each other or feather eating.

    Are the sunflower seeds you're using Black Oil? Corn is hot when it digest, so you might give that on really cold night before bed. You must be careful not to diminish your nutrients in your feed though.

    FYI, medicated feed has a thiamine blocker (amprolium) which starves out cocci and is not an antibiotic. Cocci is always present but only becomes an issue when there is an over growth. Same for worms actually, it's only a problem when there are too many. Does it also get wet when it starts to cool off? Even older birds can get it and are treated with Corid, but can be confirmed through the fecal float.

    Personally, I would switch to a higher protein feed with around 20% like Purina Flock Raiser (just as an example), and offer oyster shell on the side since it has only 1% calcium verses 4% in layer. You should technically be offering OS on the side even with layer. I hardly went through any when I fed layer but didn't realize why. Now I know. But OS is cheap, so why pay for it as part of the feed? That would mean 4% of every bag is OS which is 2 pounds out of 50. So in reality you are only getting 48 pounds of feed. And 49.5 #s in raiser... I never even thought about it like that before. [​IMG] Yes, I use the Purina but because that is what is available to me. I have no brand loyalty and would probably use new country organics if I could afford to.

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