Hope This Saves A Turkey From Blackhead

rfwombat

In the Brooder
10 Years
Mar 3, 2009
45
6
24
Humboldt County
Another turkey saved by cayenne!

We have raised turkeys with chickens and ducks for three years with no illnesses or deaths or any problems. We use organic apple cider vinegar in all their waterers and organic feed that contains live earth humate, kelp meal, and DE. We believe the ACV and the kelp and DE in the feed keep our birds in great health! But 3 weeks ago, we allowed our 5 week old meat chickens to mingle with the turkey flock for some additional pasture time.

A week after the flocks started co-mingling, one of our 11 week old Golden Narragansett jakes started spending his days in the nest box with his mother (who is broody again). When I took him out, he seemed unable to stand or unable to balance himself. I would place him in the yard where he would sit and eat the grass around him and then struggle to stand and eventually make his way back into the nest box with his mother. He didn't have diarrhea, but the normally white streak in the stool was a sulfur yellow color.

After checking BYC I figured out that it was blackhead and made plans to cull him and watch the rest of my flock get sick and die as well. I was completely heartbroken since my turkeys are my favorite birds. I can't imagine not raising them now that I've had them for 3 years and have been able to parent hatch 4 clutches so far this year! Our breeding turkeys were our greatest success this year and I thought we were going to lose them all.

Treatment day 1:
I found this thread about cayenne and decided to try it instead of culling the jake. The day we started treatment, I saw the first sulfur diarrhea from him. We dosed the turkey feed with about 1/4 cup of all natural cayenne to 10 lbs. of feed. We also mixed a teaspoon of cayenne into a cup of water and gave each turkey poult a large dropper full (about a tablespoon) every 3 days. So we were dosing the feed and giving them cayenne straight down the gullet. We also dosed the feed of the meat chickens to try and stop the blackhead at the source. And of course, the flocks are no longer co-mingling (although the turkeys still range with our egg flock of 8 chickens).

Treatment day 2:
A second poult started to become lethargic and spent the day in the nest box with momma and sick jake. We sprinkled extra cayenne in the feed.

Treatment day 3:
The second poult was no longer lethargic and the original sick jake no longer had diarrhea. We gave a second dose of liquid cayenne to all the turkey poults.

Every day we saw more and more improvement in the sick jake, and it was fast improvement! No other poults became sick but we continued the liquid cayenne every three days for 3 weeks. Now there is no sign of sickness in any of the poults!

Thank you Melanie, you saved my turkeys!! I had to share this success story in the hopes that others will try it too instead of culling. There is hope!!
 

Jocasta

Songster
8 Years
Apr 8, 2011
330
10
111
When I first mentioned a few days ago that I thought my turkeys might have blackhead, I was made to feel like an idiot because it's "all a load of hype". Sounds like there's plenty of people experiencing it first hand.

I so wish that more people had come forward BEFORE I put my turkeys out with my chickens because everyone made it sound like there was no biggie and it was all just some unjustified hype. I did however know there was a risk so I need to take responsibility for that.

My ten week old poults all have blackhead. I have been trawling through webpage after webpage trying to find some other explanation for the lethargy, the ruffled feathers, loss of condition and primarily the sulphur coloured stools. Was drawing a blank and went out to check the birds this morning to discover the head of one of the four was a dark blue. They are all still alive but the stools have gotten softer. I think the only reason they made it thus far was because I read something pretty vague about cider vinegar and cayenne a few days ago. I figured it was worth a shot as there's not a hope in hell of finding a poultry vet around here, and even less a chance of finding a drug to cure blackhead in such young birds.

I came on here to put a post up along the lines of "anyone starting out with turkeys, please beware that blackhead is a REAL risk when running them with chickens, a risk I wish I hadn't taken", but came across this post instead! I can't say yet if this post has saved any more turkeys as a) my birds are much younger than any of the ones already mentioned on here and I'm not sure if it's worth holding out any hope and b) it's still early days, but what I can say is that I have a little hope and have significantly upped the ratio of cayenne in their feed.

Thanks so much for this thread. I so hope to be able to come back to it in a week or so with further good news. Will also be seeing if I can get hold of some metronidazole in the interim (I'm in the UK and drugs over here are much harder to come by). Thanks again x
 

Klorinth

Songster
11 Years
Mar 3, 2008
146
8
119
Winnipeg, Manitoba
I'm confused as to why people find the use of Cayenne difficult to accept.

Think about what happens to your mouth, stomach, or even just your skin if you put a bunch of cayenne on it. Take a really hot pepper and rub the juice on the inside of your wrist. If you leave it there you will get a mild burn. Think about the burn you get in your mouth.

Now imagine being a single celled organism that is swimming in a pool of cayenne juice.

I don't know about you , but I don't think I would last all that long before I'd be dead.

There is a reason why our animals eat the things they eat. They do treat themselves with some stuff. Hot peppers being eaten by wild turkeys is one of those instances.
 

ivan3

spurredon
12 Years
Jan 27, 2007
4,511
216
291
BOCOMO
Jocasta wrote:

When I first mentioned a few days ago that I thought my turkeys might have blackhead, I was made to feel like an idiot because it's "all a load of hype". Sounds like there's plenty of people experiencing it first hand.

I so wish that more people had come forward BEFORE I put my turkeys out with my chickens because everyone made it sound like there was no biggie and it was all just some unjustified hype. I did however know there was a risk so I need to take responsibility for that.

My ten week old poults all have blackhead. I have been trawling through webpage after webpage trying to find some other explanation for the lethargy, the ruffled feathers, loss of condition and primarily the sulphur coloured stools. Was drawing a blank and went out to check the birds this morning to discover the head of one of the four was a dark blue. They are all still alive but the stools have gotten softer. I think the only reason they made it thus far was because I read something pretty vague about cider vinegar and cayenne a few days ago. I figured it was worth a shot as there's not a hope in hell of finding a poultry vet around here, and even less a chance of finding a drug to cure blackhead in such young birds.

I came on here to put a post up along the lines of "anyone starting out with turkeys, please beware that blackhead is a REAL risk when running them with chickens, a risk I wish I hadn't taken", but came across this post instead! I can't say yet if this post has saved any more turkeys as a) my birds are much younger than any of the ones already mentioned on here and I'm not sure if it's worth holding out any hope and b) it's still early days, but what I can say is that I have a little hope and have significantly upped the ratio of cayenne in their feed.

Thanks so much for this thread. I so hope to be able to come back to it in a week or so with further good news. Will also be seeing if I can get hold of some metronidazole in the interim (I'm in the UK and drugs over here are much harder to come by). Thanks again x

It is all about location: Southern U.S. (humid/warm-hot) has greater incidence than North (cooler). Greater incidence in areas where commercial poultry operations used to be (though only slightly greater than surrounding region). Areas with large population of Wild Turkey/Pheasant slightly higher. If the offending `Protozoa' is in the soil then, yes, chickens can end up being asymptomatic vectors though, if it is in the soil, the turks can come into contact without assistance of chickens (chickens simply amplify the potential for transmission).
Only reported outbreak here, in Missouri, in past 10yr. was at a commercial operation where the turks were kept out-of-doors (probably moved in through wild bird droppings). Of the Wild Turkeys tested in 2003, only 12 birds were found infected, Statewide. Though I'm certain there are more cases that go unreported, those folks at the feedstore/neighbors who keep turks/DNR Field Agent have had nothing to report during the last 6yrs, in this County. I've only read, on BYC turk forum, of one case confirmed by testing/one case verified by necroscopy (obvious liver lesions) and three cases where no definitive diagnosis was made - but the clinical signs `appeared' consistent with disease and Flagyl (Metronidazole)/Dimetridazole (when it was still available) was used as treatment and may/may not have effected the cure.

You are in the U.K. where Histomoniasis is more prevalent (across the Channel it is even worse - Belgium, for instance). Without researching one's location/region assessment of relative risk devolves into something of a `cwapshoot' (re: Blackhead) to keep chooks with turks.

Blackhead is a worldwide disease in farmed turkeys and is endemic in the UK with a small number of incidents being diagnosed each year mainly in smaller flocks.

http://archive.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/farmanimal/diseases/atoz/blackhead/

However, early, regular worming schedule with a med that wipes out all offenders (Valbazen) will go a long way minimizing exposure even if the offender & allies/chooks are present.

Capsaicin apparently exerts dose/age/duration differential effects on Salmonella E. colonization.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16404994
http://www.pjbs.org/ijps/fin887.pdf
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7980284

5% vinegar (any type) will decrease bacterial load in upper GI tract (`good' and `bad' bacteria) it is added to the water of poultry, a few days before slaughter (commercial operations), in order to decrease occurrence of `tainting' of meat during processing.

If any turks lose their battle, you can check the liver/ceca for something of a definitive diagnosis by comparing the liver with shots from this thread: https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=529870&p=1
Check
with MD/friends/agreeable druggist to see if you can get Flagyl (prescription/or someone has some leftover/or slip a fiver to the pharmacist).
Best of luck!​
 
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Jocasta

Songster
8 Years
Apr 8, 2011
330
10
111
Quote:
It is all about location: Southern U.S. (humid/warm-hot) has greater incidence than North (cooler). Greater incidence in areas where commercial poultry operations used to be (though only slightly greater than surrounding region). Areas with large population of Wild Turkey/Pheasant slightly higher. If the offending `Protozoa' is in the soil then, yes, chickens can end up being asymptomatic vectors though, if it is in the soil, the turks can come into contact without assistance of chickens (chickens simply amplify the potential for transmission).
Only reported outbreak here, in Missouri, in past 10yr. was at a commercial operation where the turks were kept out-of-doors (probably moved in through wild bird droppings). Of the Wild Turkeys tested in 2003, only 12 birds were found infected, Statewide. Though I'm certain there are more cases that go unreported, those folks at the feedstore/neighbors who keep turks/DNR Field Agent have had nothing to report during the last 6yrs, in this County. I've only read, on BYC turk forum, of one case confirmed by testing/one case verified by necroscopy (obvious liver lesions) and three cases where no definitive diagnosis was made - but the clinical signs `appeared' consistent with disease and Flagyl (Metronidazole)/Dimetridazole (when it was still available) was used as treatment and may/may not have effected the cure.

You are in the U.K. where Histomoniasis is more prevalent (across the Channel it is even worse - Belgium, for instance). Without researching one's location/region assessment of relative risk devolves into something of a `cwapshoot' (re: Blackhead) to keep chooks with turks.

Blackhead is a worldwide disease in farmed turkeys and is endemic in the UK with a small number of incidents being diagnosed each year mainly in smaller flocks.

http://archive.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/farmanimal/diseases/atoz/blackhead/

However, early, regular worming schedule with a med that wipes out all offenders (Valbazen) will go a long way minimizing exposure even if the offender & allies/chooks are present.

Capsaicin apparently exerts dose/age/duration differential effects on Salmonella E. colonization.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16404994
http://www.pjbs.org/ijps/fin887.pdf
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7980284

5% vinegar (any type) will decrease bacterial load in upper GI tract (`good' and `bad' bacteria) it is added to the water of poultry, a few days before slaughter (commercial operations), in order to decrease occurrence of `tainting' of meat during processing.

If any turks lose their battle, you can check the liver/ceca for something of a definitive diagnosis by comparing the liver with shots from this thread: https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=529870&p=1
Check
with MD/friends/agreeable druggist to see if you can get Flagyl (prescription/or someone has some leftover/or slip a fiver to the pharmacist).
Best of luck!​

Thanks. I was thinking of getting metronidazole from the GP claiming it to be for me (I've had it before to treat an issue that comes up from time to time) so figure that may well be worth a shot. I think I get 400mg tablets. I could easily cut them up.

One of my turkeys is looking much better today but three are still looking very dark in the head region. All of them look much more energetic than they did when I first noticed they were ill. There's more sulphur coloured stools. It's just going to be a waiting game I guess. I'll do what I can but ultimately it's out of my hands.

As for researching, I have a poultry farm a mile from my house, I checked with them. There is a exhibition "living museam" that houses turkeys and chickens together, I checked with them. I called my environmental agency, and also spoke with the woman who sold me the turkey eggs (she had chickens and turkeys together). All of whom had had no knowledge of any local incidence of blackhead. I did my research. It's just poop luck
sad.png


I wish I'd kept the little guys off the ground for longer and learned about cayenne as a preventative before them actually contracting it. I syringe fed them cayenne and water last night before bed and will continue to do so.

Does anyone know, if the metronidazole does treat the illness and they pull through, how likely is the cayenne to keep it at bay and avoid future incidence?

I first noticed their loss of condition quite some days ago and they are still with us. They have all continued to eat and drink so I'm not loosing all hope just yet - trying to stay realistic though.

Thanks again.
 

steveec

Hatching
8 Years
Jul 18, 2011
2
0
6
hi, my names steve and iv got 2 chicks and a 4 week old turkey living together in a 20 by 15 foot pen. I have just been reading about blackhead and am quite worried. I think i will begin adding cayane peper to their crumb and water. Thanks for the advice.
smile.png
 

Jocasta

Songster
8 Years
Apr 8, 2011
330
10
111
Just a quick question. Someone mentioned metronidazole as a treatment. If this is a cure, why isn't it more widely known considering how easy it is to come by metronidazole?

I've started my turkeys on this today and will let everyone know how I get on.

If anyone can shed any light on this I'd be grateful to hear it
smile.png
 

ivan3

spurredon
12 Years
Jan 27, 2007
4,511
216
291
BOCOMO
Jocasta wrote: Just a quick question. Someone mentioned metronidazole as a treatment. If this is a cure, why isn't it more widely known considering how easy it is to come by metronidazole?

Because it hasn't been approved for use in Poultry (E.U./U.S.). Dimetridazole, the formerly approved med, and same class as Metronidazole, was nixed owing to its being a `potential' carcinogen (actual risk? let me count the billions of pounds of bird flesh I'd have to consume in order for the cancer to appear before the senile dementia caused me to lose count...).

Flagyl (Metronidazole) is widely used in humans, doubt that will be banned and, off-label vet. use in turks is the next best thing to Dimetridazole and certainly more effective than the arsenicals.

Hx on arsenicals: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2128407/pdf/851.pdf

in
vitro testing of Dimetridazole/Metronidazole, etc. in `killing' times: http://ps.fass.org/cgi/reprint/81/8/1122
 

chickenzoo

Emu Hugger
12 Years
Mar 10, 2008
9,364
210
341
a bumpy dirt road in Florida
Yes metronidazole or Fishzole is another form often used for pet fish, is also a good treatment for Blackhead..... but it is nice that the Cayenne is working for you guys... You can also use Safeguard as a prevenative for Blackhead. give to chickens and Turkey. It helps kill the host of the protozoan.
 
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