Infectious Bronchitis?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by MrsCluckysMum, Nov 20, 2013.

  1. MrsCluckysMum

    MrsCluckysMum New Egg

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    I'm completely new to this site and pretty new to chickens, having adopted 5 red hens about 3 months ago. They were all apparently healthy and happy (or so their previous owner said) but I've been wondering for a while why I've only been getting one or two eggs a day.

    I originally thought that they were just stressed at their new surroundings, but they have settled in and always have plenty of food and water, along with as much space as we can give them... and yet their laying still hasn't picked up. Their eggs have also been subject to a high number of abnormalities. Out of the average of 10 we get a week, 1 or 2 will have thin shells that break in the nesting box, 2 or 3 will have wrinkled/ corrugated shells and maybe 1 or 2 will be produced with a darker brown nobbly bit. They all have a bit of a strange albumen that I can only describe as having 2 layers - one that comes out normally and one, a few mm thick that clings to the inside of the shell.

    The internet (haha) seems to suggest that the only thing that can produce all these egg problems is infectious bronchitis. Would you say this could be the case?

    If so, what is the best course of action? I'm not overly sentimental about them as pets (they're meant to be layers, not pets!) and can only assume that all 5 chickens are affected. Would medication cure them and get them laying properly again or is there no real hope and I should just look to, er, replacing them?
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    If it was IB, once they've survived, they are immune but carriers. The entire flock will be affected. There really isn't a treatment at this point. The ovary damage is permanent.
    Their light laying is also likely due to the short days.
    Since they're not all laying and they're having some issues, I'd be careful of their nutrition.
    It would be best to give them an all flock grower or finisher feed that is lower in calcium. And provide oyster shell on the side in a separate container. The birds laying will choose to eat it, normally when the egg enters the shell gland. The larger particle size is more effective at providing the calcium when it's needed than the calcium in a layer feed. It stays in the upper digestive tract longer and contacts the intestine calcium absorption points while the bird is sleeping.

    If they're otherwise healthy, they'll all start laying when days lengthen in the new year.

    Do you know how old they are? As birds age they take longer breaks each year.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2013
  3. MrsCluckysMum

    MrsCluckysMum New Egg

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    Thanks for the response!

    I think the previous owner said she'd had them for 18 months, so I'd probably put them at the 2-year-old mark. I've had them since the summer and they've been pretty consistent in [not] egg-laying throughout. There's clearly one who produces wrinkled eggs and another who produces generally good eggs, unless they're too thin-shelled and another, who *once* produced a white egg.

    They've got a steady supply of good quality layers pellets, supplemented with mixed corn strewn around their run and a separate pot of grit to pick from... and a daily supply of greenery. I'm not sure that nutrition could be an issue, or rather, I'm not sure that there's much more I could do to provide them with more of a suitable diet.

    Some of them have also lost a fair amount of feathers, which I'm told is due to a yearly moult.

    Who'd have thought it could be so tricky?!
     
  4. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    It's not so tricky once you've spent a couple years with them and know their traits and needs.

    Some people Just raise them for about 18 months to get the first flush of eggs and swap them out for young birds at that point.
    From about 5 months to their second autumn they lay like gangbusters. Then they molt during which time they don't lay. That can be from 1-4 months. Some breeds pick right up after molt others wait till days start getting longer. Spring and summer are normally quite good.
    They can lay for 10 years or more, they just lay fewer every year. The eggs do get bigger over time.
    The IB can influence their future laying. Recovered birds don't lay as well or at all. But it may not have been IB at all.

    Nutrition is an issue for a number of reasons.
    Switching to a higher protein grower feed IMHO is in order. Feathers are about 90% protein and providing high quality protein(balanced amino acids) will give them the building blocks to make them faster.
    The other important point is that layer feed contains 4% calcium to build egg shells for birds that are actively laying. Grower feed contains 1%. If they aren't actively laying 4% of the diet is excessive, has to be excreted by the kidneys, causes kidney stones, gout, block urinary tract and kill the birds. Birds that have renal disease may not lay well or at all.

    ETA

    http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/ps/ps02900.pdf
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2013
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  5. MrsCluckysMum

    MrsCluckysMum New Egg

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    Thanks a million for all those Top Tips... all massively insightful. I'll go and get some of the growers pellets and treat the chickies over the winter. I have to say that the eggs they do lay are really quite large.

    On a similar note - the last question - if I get a couple more chickens at some point, what should I do to make sure they don't get IB? Or does it matter? Or would it be best avoiding getting more chickens with a previously-infected flock?

    Many, many thanks!
     
  6. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    Chicken canoe gave you some excellent advice. Your hens do sound as though they have had IB from the sound of the wrinkled eggs, and they can have runny whites as well. What some don't realize is that when hens get this after they are mostly grown (about 4-5 months,) they usually don't have many lingering symptoms compared to younger chicks who may suffer permanent kidney or reproductive damage. So the later a chicken gets IB, the less symptoms and damage occur. I have also read where IB carriers are only carriers for up to a year. So, getting a few new older pullets next summer might be the thing to do, or wait a little later to get chicks.
     
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