Illness or old age?

PeeWeesndBramah

Hatching
May 31, 2020
4
1
8
Hi!
I have two backyard chickens. A Bramah and a red sex link. They are three years old. The sex link laid about four eggs her first year and then a hawk has been terrorizing them since and she stoped laying eggs. The Brahma has never laid an egg. The vet thinks they are not laying because of stress from the hawk . They eat and drink normally, have plenty of grit and oyster shell, and they get out every day for pickings. About four months ago the sex link’s comb shrunk and became bright red and purple. I noticed her crop was full of fluid so I drained it and treated her for sour crop. She got better and back to her old self again but her comb never went back to what it was before then. She got two more reoccurrences of sour crop and I had to start treating with antibiotics. The vet said she is old, that the way chickens are bred these days to become fast layers, three years old is considered old. Her comb is shrunk more, and she’s became thinner and thinner every day even though she was eating and drinking plenty. I’ve never seen worms or mites. But I treated for both with all natural products. The red sex link looked like she was getting better again but passed away after severe muscle spasms. She was a great pet, we loved her. The Brahma looks healthy, but she has still never laid an egg. Has anyone came across this? I’m wondering if I should’ve done something different to save the sex link, but it doesn’t seem like vets know much about chickens. I appreciate your help!
 

ChickenCanoe

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Nov 23, 2010
32,969
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St. Louis, MO
Most vets don't know much about chickens, even good avian vets.
IMO 3 year old chickens are not old. I know that people say sex-links burn out quickly but if you really consider what they are, they shouldn't. Red sex-links and any sex-link is the result of breeding two very productive breeds to purposely create chicks where one can determine sex at hatch. They tend to be hardier and very productive but given the parent genetics, I don't understand why they shouldn't live as long and be productive long term.
http://www.feathersite.com/Poultry/CGP/Sex-links/BRKMaking.html
A hen is hatched containing all the ova she could ever possibly lay in her lifetime, no matter how long she lives. They don't run out and as long as they are properly fed, they should have as long of a life as their parrentage.
Brahmas aren't known for being very productive.
If you still have the carcass, I would be very interested to know why she died and that would require sending her to your state poultry lab.
What state are you in?
It is common for a hen's comb and wattles to shrink when they are out of lay. It doesn't necessarily mean anything is a problem that's related.
I think I would look long and hard at the total nutrition the hens were getting.
 

PeeWeesndBramah

Hatching
May 31, 2020
4
1
8
Most vets don't know much about chickens, even good avian vets.
IMO 3 year old chickens are not old. I know that people say sex-links burn out quickly but if you really consider what they are, they shouldn't. Red sex-links and any sex-link is the result of breeding two very productive breeds to purposely create chicks where one can determine sex at hatch. They tend to be hardier and very productive but given the parent genetics, I don't understand why they shouldn't live as long and be productive long term.
http://www.feathersite.com/Poultry/CGP/Sex-links/BRKMaking.html
A hen is hatched containing all the ova she could ever possibly lay in her lifetime, no matter how long she lives. They don't run out and as long as they are properly fed, they should have as long of a life as their parrentage.
Brahmas aren't known for being very productive.
If you still have the carcass, I would be very interested to know why she died and that would require sending her to your state poultry lab.
What state are you in?
It is common for a hen's comb and wattles to shrink when they are out of lay. It doesn't necessarily mean anything is a problem that's related.
I think I would look long and hard at the total nutrition the hens were getting.
3A5FF62B-B37F-4FBA-A592-58F943649D04.jpeg

This is what we feed them. I live in Missouri. They get on average 3+ hours a day to pick grass and bugs. Even though they were not laying eggs, they were healthy and happy for 3 years. It wasn’t until about 4 months ago the red sex link got her first case of sour crop and it just kept coming back. She was eating, drinking and pooping just fine but just kept loosing weight and becoming weaker until she passed away. I took her to the vet a couple times and they gave her antibiotics. She was our pet and I don’t want the same to happen to Bramah or any other chickens we get in the future.
 

ChickenCanoe

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Nov 23, 2010
32,969
27,473
1,077
St. Louis, MO
We have two poultry labs in Missouri. I always send my birds to the Mizzou vet school for necropsy.

Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory
University of Missouri
810 E. Campus Loop
Columbia, Missouri 65211-0001
Phone: 573-882-6811

Missouri Department of Agriculture Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory
701 North Miller Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802-6460
Phone: 417-895-6861

The feed has very high quality ingredients however I find those whole grain feeds to not provide the best nutrition unless fermented or at least wetted. The reason is that those whole grains don't provide complete nutrition without all the added vitamins, minerals, fats and amino acids. Those additional ingredients are added as powders and when feeding it dry, the chickens will pick out the tasty morsels and leave behind the powders that contain all those goodies. Once the larger particles are gone, the chickens won't eat that powder (where all the nutrients are). But, if you ferment or wet the feed and mix it up, they get those nutrients with each bite.
I also noticed that the calcium % is quite high, likely too high for any chickens not laying eggs. If they don't have a use for that calcium by building egg shells, it will overload the kidneys.
I also think that if the diet was proper, they wouldn't have a sour crop issue.
Perhaps I'm lucky but after thousands of chickens and over 30 breeds, I've never experienced sour crop.
 

PeeWeesndBramah

Hatching
May 31, 2020
4
1
8
We have two poultry labs in Missouri. I always send my birds to the Mizzou vet school for necropsy.

Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory
University of Missouri
810 E. Campus Loop
Columbia, Missouri 65211-0001
Phone: 573-882-6811

Missouri Department of Agriculture Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory
701 North Miller Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802-6460
Phone: 417-895-6861

The feed has very high quality ingredients however I find those whole grain feeds to not provide the best nutrition unless fermented or at least wetted. The reason is that those whole grains don't provide complete nutrition without all the added vitamins, minerals, fats and amino acids. Those additional ingredients are added as powders and when feeding it dry, the chickens will pick out the tasty morsels and leave behind the powders that contain all those goodies. Once the larger particles are gone, the chickens won't eat that powder (where all the nutrients are). But, if you ferment or wet the feed and mix it up, they get those nutrients with each bite.
I also noticed that the calcium % is quite high, likely too high for any chickens not laying eggs. If they don't have a use for that calcium by building egg shells, it will overload the kidneys.
I also think that if the diet was proper, they wouldn't have a sour crop issue.
Perhaps I'm lucky but after thousands of chickens and over 30 breeds, I've never experienced sour crop.
 

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