Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Lskellenger, Jan 6, 2014.

  1. Lskellenger

    Lskellenger Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 6, 2014
    Maupin, Oregon
    We are "new" to raising chickens. We have a raised chicken coop inside a large fenced in range area. The coop was built by a reputable designer for up to 16 chickens. Roosting and laying spaces are provided, fir shavings are the current bedding. We feed good quality layer rations. We started with 14 birds, we lost two to predators during a free range day. Then we lost two to what we feel was hypothermia but this is where the questions start...The chickens are closed into their coop every night, in temps of below 30 degrees a heat lamp is provided. water is primarily outside of the coop, unless it is very cold, then water is moved into the coop. The coop is 4x6, sturdily built with a pull out floor for easy cleaning. a two inch gap in the roof line to provide ventilation. The doors do not "seal".
    Yesterday we woke up to a significant drop in temp from the previous night. Although the heat lamp was on, we found one dead hen, and four more in stages of what seemed like hypothermia. We brought them inside to the basement to warm them slowly. We ended up losing all of them. in the very end, they thrashed and seized. We were obviously devastated. The remaining five birds seemed ok. we covered the coop with a blanket and tucked it into the eaves. Left the heat lamp on, it was about 40 degrees outside temp with no wind, so I left the coop door open to allow them to choose to be out or in. We came home from work to two more dead. Shortly after we lost two more. I now have only the rooster, whom had to be brought in for the fear of losing him as well. Please advise! My husband thinks it may be some sort of poison. I feel that it might be to many drafts inside. I don't recollect having this many problems raising chickens growing up. I am extremely upset and do not want to bring more Chickens home until I get this figured out. Is It hypothermia? Can it happen that quickly and can it be avoided? Should I insulate? Do I need a coop that sits on the ground? All deaths occurred in a short time, and ALL birds are free of any visible signs of disease. They were of healthy weight, beautiful plumage, and of different breeds. We love our birds, we want to be good caretakers but want to do it well and succeed with the correct shelter and or feed, Should we "re-home" the rooster in the mean time, we do not want him to e lonely or fall to the same fate. any help is appreciated!! (the hens were about 10 months old and 5 months old)
  2. mpgo4th

    mpgo4th Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 8, 2013
    sounds like an illness to me. 30-40 degrees is nothing to a fully feathered chicken. Mine run around outside with temps in the teens and some of them are 12 weeks old. I think you got an ill bird that gave whatever they had to the rest of the flock. If your remaining birds die inside you'll know thats what it was. Sorry for your loss.
  3. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict

    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    I agree that there is some illness or toxin that is affecting your chickens. I'm not familiar with fur shavings--is that a common bedding in your area? Could it have had something in it? Maybe something with the wood of the coop or stain? Do you live close to neighbors that may have treated their property or had rat poison outside? Lead is a toxin that still exists around old barns and houses, and can kill chickens. Have you put in any knew water lines that have had sealant put into the pipes? Have you checked your feed? A BYCer recently lost many in her flock due to bad feed or feed that have sat on the shelf too long. Sometimes mold spores can invade feed before you notice it. I'm sure you will investigate this, but I would advise you not to use a heat lamp in your coop, unless you have extreme temps below zero. Chickens are very hardy, and don't need the heat if they are in a draft-free dry coop. If they get used to heat, then go outside or the power goes out, they will then have problems with cold. Sorry for all of your losses, and I hope you will try again.
  4. casportpony

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

    Jun 24, 2012
    My Coop
  5. pickinchicken

    pickinchicken Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 5, 2014
    Oh I'm so sorry. I would not give your remaining chicken away bc you would hate for it to give a possible illness to someone else's flock and they have to go through that also. I have a coop that sounds very similar to yours with openings at the top so I covered it with car window screens that had a thin layer of insulation in them. It was quick and easy which I needed bc I was out there doing that in 10 degrees. I think drafts have to be stopped, but I think it does sound more like a disease
  6. Bocktobery 10

    Bocktobery 10 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 8, 2010
    So sorry to hear this happened to you. You have my sympathy.

    I wouldn't think this would be hypothermia. Unless you had major drafts and your birds were wet or soaked with rain before they went to bed, I'd have to say that isn't the problem. Most birds do very well in the cold due to their feathers.

    I did have one of my birds - a tiny hen- almost succumb to hypothermia, but that was only because of me- being stupid and forgetting to check how cold the water was that I was dunking her in. Immediately, I saw she had problems as she was slow and looked very sleepy and uneasy in her walk. Her eyes wanted to close and her skin was cold to the touch. I was trying to cool her off from a very hot day and went way too drastic in dipping her in a vat of water that just came out of a deep cold well. Luckily she survived. I don't think this is your problem here. In fact, I'd agree also that it sounds like poisoning of some sort. Also, usually, if the temp is brought up slowly and steadily (which is sounds like you did) cases of hypothermia do recover well.

    Also in agreement with another poster.... Where did you get the bedding from? I have heard that some bedding can be toxic to chickens. But those were cedar, if I remember correctly, as you stated these were fir (pine, right?) and that should be ok unless something was in it.

    The seizures sounds like poisoning. Perhaps some of the feed was old, wet and grew mold? Maybe they got into something they should not have? Anything in the water? Fertilizer? Rock salt- that stuff that melts ice and snow? That can be poisonous I've heard. (There are non poisonous versions made of that stuff)

    I'd keep your rooster. Bring him inside for a while (if possible) if you are worried about the coop being unsafe. I'd feed him people food ( stuff you know is healthy) until you can figure things out. You can always get new girls for your guy later on. He won't be that lonely. My neighbors who have goats brought home a 'stow-away' bantam rooster that somehow got into his truck when he went to the livestock auction. He seems happy at their place without any ladies around.

    I wish I could be of more help. I wish you the best in this situation and please keep us posted on what happens.

    Crossing my fingers that your roo will live.
  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Seizures can from deathroes associated with anything. Cold not problem.

    How old is feed? Swap out bedding for a known low risk option. How do birds feel weight-wise? If feed good and weight low then consider internal parasites like worms. Look at feces and stir in a bit of water to look for something odd. Whatever problem, quick best to prevent further losses.
  8. Lskellenger

    Lskellenger Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 6, 2014
    Maupin, Oregon
    Thank you all so much for your responses. I feel now that there is enough consensus that it wasn't the cold. Our feed is clean and dry, we did not stock pile so it is never more than a month or so old. We store it in an industrial "knack" box (construction site quality) to keep it dry and free of rodents. The coop is untreated wood, no paint, no stain. The variety of chickens ranged form Delaware to Bard Rock to Amerucana. All weight on the birds were good, they were of good size and seemed active, all eating and drinking and defecating regularly. There was no discharge from nasal cavity, eyes were clear. Their combs had gone purple, a detail of importance I failed to mention earlier, which keeps bringing me back to hypothermia. If, given dry bedding, good feed, a heat lamp and healthy birds, if there was a draft on a 12-15 degree night, would this cause hypothermia? It is just that we had a few "go down" before Christmas, the rooster included, we brought them in and within an hour the combs were turning pink again, and they were starting to "come back". I would think with an illness this would not be the case. In this instance it was not particularly windy, but my husband has told me that the coop door may not have been closed all the way and that one of the girls was in a nesting box pushing on the back door a little so there was a gap. They were not wet, and not scrawny. We are looking at taking one in to the research facility one of you mentioned, than you for that information. This is a great help, thank you all. we have been heart broken
  9. casportpony

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

    Jun 24, 2012
    My Coop
    A purple comb before and/or after death probably has more to do with not getting enough oxygen. You could try to do your own necropsy... I'll understand if you don't want to as I often prefer just to bury my special ones in a nice part of the garden.

    Again, sorry for your loss. [​IMG]

  10. Scott H

    Scott H Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 29, 2012
    Twin Lakes, ID
    My Coop
    Cold is not your problem......read all the threads, like this one, and you will see that additional heat is used only by some in extreme cold. And most use no heat to -30 dg. You are no where close to that. Send your dead chicken off to OSU like Kathy suggested then you will know what killed them. That's the only way you will know.
    Sorry for your losses. It's very sad.

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