How to cull my entire flock of 60+ chickens?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by DanielKYantis, Aug 20, 2015.

  1. DanielKYantis

    DanielKYantis Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm new to chickens. Got my first 14 hens (production reds) and 2 roosters (true reds) about 6 months ago. They were all about 4 months old when purchased them. Then added 27 chicks of several breeds (ameraucanas, barred plymouth rocks and true reds)... then 10 more welsummer chicks... then a few more... you get the picture! I was hooked and loving it.

    All was good, life with the birds was great... started getting plenty of eggs and just sitting with the birds was soooo relaxing. We named several of them and so on.

    A couple months ago I got 13 adult birds from Callahan's in Austin. 3 were real pretty birds but they just didn't know what breed they were. I asked everyone and the manager even came out and said he wasn't sure (I think they got them from a local farmer maybe).

    He gave me a really great deal on them because he said they had been there a long time and were starting to pick at each other. They were loosing feathers on their backs. I asked if they had mites or were sick but was told that they just needed to get out of the small holding pen they had been in for way too long... so I got 13 of them (9 were true reds and 3 were unknown, 1 was a cornish hen that i didn't mean to get).

    After having them for about a week I noticed the new birds were sneezing and coughing. A few days later they were gurgling and had labored breathing. I looked on the forums and found out about Tylon and gave them shots for a few days. They got better but I noticed my other birds starting getting sick!

    AND NOW MY ENTIRE FLOCK IS SICK!

    I didn't know about quarantine procedures. I just didn't know at first. I've now been fighting a battle to get all my birds better. Shots every night. they get better then others get sick and it spreads all over again... shots for a few nights and they get better - then a few weeks later it starts again!

    So now I'm facing the reality that I have to kill the entire flock. My wife is very upset and I just don't know if I can do it. I don't even know HOW to kill them.

    I've read that I have to clean the pen with bleach and get rid of all the hay I use on the ground. The birds are in a run of 80 foot by 16 foot with a roosting house at one end. I also have laying boxes I made out of milk crates.

    Is there anything I can do to keep the birds? What are my options?
    If not, how do I cull them?
     
  2. MrsBrooke

    MrsBrooke Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am so very sorry to hear of your troubles.

    It sounds like a bird may have been a carrier of a respiratory disease when you brought them in, and they've now spread it to the rest of your flock. My heart goes out to you.

    I feel it would be very important to know what you're dealing with first. I would take one of the birds to the vet and have a blood test done to determine what they have.

    If it is Infectious Bronchitis, that can be treated and, with some good flock management, can be eliminated from your flock.

    If it is mycoplasma (MG/MS), it's another story entirely. MG stays with a bird for life, and can spread quickly with no symptoms shown. You can keep a closed flock (no birds leave your flock) and treat as symptoms appear, or you can cull and start over.

    Before culling your flock, have one tested. If it's IB, that's manageable... But there's no sense in killing a bird if you don't have to.

    As for culling, there are a few ways to do it. Traffic cone with the pointed end cut down to make the opening bigger, insert chicken, and cut its jugular. It goes to sleep with little fighting. You can get a chopping block and a sharp axe, too.

    But! First thing first... Have a test done. :) I hope for good news!!

    MrsB
     
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  3. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict

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    Welcome to BYC. It's a shame that those last birds were probably the carriers of the respiratory disease that you are dealing with. Mrs. Brooke's recommendation of getting a sick bird tested is very good--or you could sacrifice one sick one to send to your state vet for a necropsy. Some states will do it at no cost, while others charge, but they will sometimes euthanize the chicken for you. Since you have had so many sick, it could be infectious bronchitis which makes chickens carriers for up to a year. MG, coryza, ILT, are some of the others that make carriers for life, and they can also be secondary infections of bronchitis. Here is a good link about the common diseases, and a link for your state vet:
    http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ps044
    http://www.usaha.org/Portals/6/StateAnimalHealthOfficials.pdf
     
  4. DanielKYantis

    DanielKYantis Out Of The Brooder

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    Austin, Texas
    Thank you for the responses. I spent some time looking at the above links and a few others... I also called several local vets and even the state vet. It seems the state vet will only test for Avian Flu and Marek's and 1 other that was not on my list of suspected causes. He told me that based on the symptoms I told him he thought it would be best to have my local vet take a look at a sick bird first.

    So I called 3 local vets that deal with chickens and it will cost me about $70 for the visit and $60 for a Mycoplasma test. However the costs can go up from there if additional testing is needed. She even said that bacterial tests will cost more. I'm about out of money right now so the open ended cost worries me.

    After looking at the charts and the various respiratory sicknesses that affect chickens - I don't think its Mycoplasma. My birds do not show swollen faces or wattles. I feel more sure it is Infectious bronchitis i'm dealing with.

    Eggcessive - you said Infectious bronchitis can stick around for a year. Are you saying I could master this? They do not become carries for like if it is Infectious bronchitis? I'll eventually get a test done just may be a month.

    So assume for a bit it is Infectious bronchitis... it's just a waiting game. There is a vaccine but does it keep reinfecting the same birds or will it take it's turn until eventually all the birds build up an immunity? As long as I don't hatch chicks or buy new birds, will this eventually stop spreading, then wait a year or more and my birds will no longer be carriers?

    Thank you MrsB. I see that you also say that IB can be eliminated.
     
  5. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict

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    Keep in mind that all of these diseases have different strains in different parts of the country or world. Like flu viruses, you must vaccinate for the right strain, and then vaccinations have to be repeated at specific intervals. MG has mild strains that look like infectious bronchitis (IB.) Even coryza can have a mild strain. I would still get one tested, but it needs to be a sick one at the time, since there can be false negatives. Here is a link for national testing centers: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/nahln/downloads/all_nahln_lab_list.pdf
    If your flock has only IB, then once the illness stops going through your flock (which could take weeks or months,) then if you don't get new chickens or breed any for a year, then the disease should disappear. Here are some more article to read about diseases:
    http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/p...view_of_infectious_bronchitis_in_poultry.html
    http://www.thepoultrysite.com/diseaseinfo/78/infectious-bronchitis-ib/
    http://www.poultryhub.org/health/disease/types-of-disease/infectious-bronchitis/
    http://umaine.edu/livestock/poultry/mycoplasma-gallisepticum-faq/
    http://www.thepoultrysite.com/disea...tion-mg-chronic-respiratory-disease-chickens/
     
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  6. Chickerdoodle13

    Chickerdoodle13 The truth is out there...

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    I would consider culling one bird with symptoms (preferably the worst one) and send that to your state animal health diagnostic center for a necropsy (instructions for submitting birds should be on their website). During the necropsy, you can ask for samples to be submitted for all those diseases. In NJ, a necropsy runs about $60, but in many states it is free.

    At this point, it is impossible to tell what your birds may have from symptoms alone, but some respiratory diseases are easily treated.
     
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  7. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member Project Manager

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    Welcome to BYC!

    Necropsy is a good idea, and if funds are limited, explain that to the lab and see if they have any grants in place to help cover this. Another option would be treating with Baytril, but it is banned for use in poultry, so that's something you would need to research very carefully before using it.

    Baytril ban info:
    http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/2005/ucm108467.htm

    -Kathy
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2015
  8. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member Project Manager

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    1 person likes this.
  9. MrsBrooke

    MrsBrooke Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Austin is, what, 2-ish hours away from College Station? Hop, skip, and a jump. :)

    I would definitely give them a call and see what help, if any, they could offer you.

    MrsB
     
  10. DanielKYantis

    DanielKYantis Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 9, 2015
    Austin, Texas
    WOW!
    Thank you for your responses.

    I called Texas A&M and they gave me another number for Gonzales office (A&M). I spoke with a doctor there and he has agreed to take 5 of my birds and get samples (keeping the birds alive). The charges for all the test will be less than $25 - wow this is excellent!

    So Monday morning i'm taking a trip to A&M in Gonzales (he was leaving today by noon).
    I will keep you all updated! Gonzales is only 1 hour from me.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2015

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