is it time to give up on chicken raising...HELP frustrated with deaths

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by ladrholman, Sep 26, 2010.

  1. ladrholman

    ladrholman Songster

    Jul 12, 2010
    I came home today to find my roughly 8 month old Americauna rooster dead in the coop. We had been away for the night, but had a friend checking on them. We are not sure if it was an accidental thing or not. He was below the ladder and his neck felt very long, loose and flimsy (almost like when a bird hits the window). This was very upsetting. We buried Clyde in the chicken cemetery. And that is where the frustration comes. I started with chickens 4 months ago and in that time I have lost 8 of the 30 total birds I have had. I got them all from the same place ( and they don't have any problems to speak of). I have gotten the birds when they are around 2-3 months old. The first chicken I lost I think died of cocci (barred rock hen). Blood, fluffy, weak and then died. I treated the whole flock for this. The next one (RIR hen) seemed similar but not really. No bloody stool, but weak and fluffy. Sick one day gone the next. The next one (Tiny my wonderful little buff orpington en) I came home and the chicken that was healthy and active in the morning was now dead in the corner. Remember none of these birds are old. So far they are all around 3 months old or so. We have a break for a bit now. A few weeks or maybe a month. Then in 24 hours I loose two. One (columbian hen) who was nearing laying age and had been quiet but mostly seemed to be avoiding the roosters. She became weaker one day and gone the next. That morning after burying her I noted my 5 month old Silverlaced Whydnott was looking fluffy and slow. She was normally full of pep. I isolated her and she was dead the next day too. I am very frustrated and feeling like a terrible owner for sure by now. People are telling me they never lose birds but have no answers. Vets don't seem helpful. Not their "area of expertise". Well for about another month everything seems great. Everyone is doing well. But this last week I have buried 3. The first one (an Australorp hen ) did not return to perch last saturday night. I looked everywhere for her. I thought maybe something had gotten her. We live near a river and have hawks and eagles sometimes. Seemed unlikely since she is bigger but no Aussie Girl. About 20-24 hours later she returns in a frantic state. I have no idea where she got to. But she rocked and panted and tried to avoid the other chickens. She ate and drank and perched, but again the next day she was very stressed looking. That afternoon she was dead. Two days later my little columbian I found flattened into the litter but still alive. This little chicken had been active, but had never grown since I had gotten her 3 months prior. I assumed maybe a genetic or failure to thrive. Amazingly she lived for about 12 hours after I found her nearly lifeless in the coop. Died in my arms. And then today my first rooster and the only rooster I meant to have... Clyde!!! So I am feeling like a failure at chicken raising. It does not really seem like a disease since the situations all seem different and the time frame is long for most diseases. They have a wonderful, safe coop with lots of feed and fresh water. They free range in our yard whenever we are home. We do not use any chemicals or pesticides on our property. Can this really just be bad luck or am I overlooking something . I know this seems like quite the story, but that is why I am getting so frustrated. I think I will wait till next spring before I get any new girls for the flock. Any help would be greatly appreciated. [​IMG]
  2. jaimslee4u

    jaimslee4u Songster

    Aug 11, 2009
    Don't give up! Where did you get your chicks from? Could they possible all have come from the same place? It could be all related or like you said it could all be different isolated incidents. Vets can be hit or miss when it comes to poultry. If you find a good avian vet that has a passion for poultry and knowledge consider yourself very lucky! I just got done posting this to another post that I only have 1 bird out of my original flock. Hawk, Dog, Internal Layer, you name it! Don't beat yourself up! Keep going and keep learning as you go.
  3. Nava

    Nava I Got The Naked Neck Blues

    Aug 2, 2009
    Ocala Fl
    Quote:what kind of plants do you have?? some are not good for chickens maybe start there find out what plants they could be eating...
  4. Qi Chicken

    Qi Chicken Songster

    Jul 3, 2009
    I don't know, I'm so sorry you are going through this. I think what I would do is contact the online avian vet. I didn't do the tabulations but it does seem like 3 were probably injuries. (hen that got lost, little one and roo) Check your math for overcrowding (4 square feet per bird inside, 10 square feet per bird outside). Sometimes these things happen and there is nothing you can do. The others were somewhat similar with a very quick decline and fluffed up lethargic. I can't remember his name but I need to contact him too so I will post it here if I find it. From the research I did earlier I think it is 25$ per case. I don't know if you can email/talk multiple times about the same problem for that one 25$ payment or not.

    Don't give up, you've kept 22 alive and well! I would call the vet though as the unexplained deaths keep happening. Could there possibly be toxic plants around?
  5. Gallo del Cielo

    Gallo del Cielo La Gallina Resort & Spa

    May 6, 2010
    My Coop
    Your state may have services that will perform the autopsies free of charge. I would look into that (I've seen people who have posted today that have done this). You need to start by finding out what is killing them. What are their living conditions? How much space do they have? It must be so hard not knowing what to do. Hang in there.
  6. I'm feeling the same way. Just lost my second hen of four I've raised - one died at 6 mos, this one at 15 mos, both unexplained deaths.

    Not sure if I should add to the flock or just give up - 50 per cent loss is not a good track record.

    I don't know about you but I became very attached to mine and it's very traumatic to lose them. With a small flock they are much more like pets than livestock ...
  7. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    You've only had birds a little while, so don't go getting discouraged just yet. You say that the birds all came from the same place and you got them at 2-3 mo.

    Did you get them from a hatchery or a private individual? If a private breeder or just somebody selling chicks, its possible they weren't fed the appropriate feeds when young and are now suffering from organ failures as they age.

    Have you cut open one of these birds and just visualized the internal organs? Sometimes you can get a clue as to what is going on by looking at these...even if you have never looked at something like this before, you can see if the heart has a clot or bruising, the liver is orange and mushy, examine the crop for any extra fluid or soured foods, the gizzard for any metal that may be leaching into their system, or if they have a huge worm load in the intestines.

    Sometimes they just die and you can't tell why. Sometimes you can if you are curious enough to do your own necropsy.

    Whatever the reason, it doesn't sound like one single illness that is taking your flock, so maybe getting rid of this flock and starting over and order from a good hatchery and get some day old chicks. Chicks are fun and a learning experience and any mistakes that are made are all your own and not inherited from someone else.
  8. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Songster

    Mar 31, 2009
    SouthEast Texas
    Oh no! Don't give up!

    Let's just say this: sometimes it takes a little while to get your chicken groove. [​IMG]

    Keep learning and keep working, and you will get it. When i first got chickens, i had no idea what i was doing, and i lost every single one to predators over a period of about 6 months. I was very sad, and i considered giving up on chickens, but i got over how sad i was, and i realized that i kept looking out the window and missing seeing my chickens in the yard, i decided to try again. Right now, i have about 60 chickens, of several ages, and my chicken groove is much better than it used to be. There will always be losses - some you just can't explain, but the biggest part is fun and fulfilling.

    As to your situation, i agree with Beekissed - you might have inherited some problems.

    But more than that, it sounds like you might have lost several to coccidiosis. If that's what got them, they are encountering a different strain or strains of cocci protozoa in your soil than they encountered in their previous home. If this is the case, they will usually get sick between 2 and 4 weeks after they are introduced to the ground at your house. If this is consistent, it sounds like it might be prudent to give new birds a round of Corid at about the 2 weeks mark after coming to your home. I know you don't like chemicals, and i don't either, but Corid is the exception for me. And if they are dying from cocci, maybe you'll want to make an exception there also.

    It sounded like several more were injured somehow - maybe predators? I will tell you how i pretty much solved the predator problem at my house: a good dog. I have never been a "dog person," but i found that when i have outside dogs ranging my property, i don't have predator problems. When i don't have dogs outside, i have predator problems. It can be work (and time) to find and train a dog to protect your property without also being a threat to your chickens, but once you have that beautiful balance, it was all SO worth it. Everyone's situation is different, but that's a thought. It sure helped me.

    Hope you don't give up. [​IMG]
  9. ladrholman

    ladrholman Songster

    Jul 12, 2010
    Thanks. It is nice to hear from others who see the joy in having chickens. Some people just see chickens as livestock. My girls and boys are yard pets. You get attached to them and losing them is really hard. They live in a great pen. It has 2 levels and lots of space (9'x10') base with a top platform. I would post some pics but I can't figure out how. When they are outside the have the run of the yard. Likely nearly an acre or more. I don't know of any plants that could be harming them. But then again I don't know all the plants that could. My breeder is a back yard breeder who has a large flock. She has been very helpful. She has lost some bird over time, but mostly was to predators. She has been raising bird for a number of years. She does keep her birds on medicated feed as breeders are permitted to do so. Could this be hiding problems. Or hiding weakness in the birds. We got the birds later in life as we were not set up yet to have chicks. Maybe we will try this next year. I seem to be the only one having so many issues.

    I have treated the chickens on 2 separate times over the summer for cocci. I have also treated for worms and for fleas and lice. I tried contacting our poultry specialist in the province (from Nova Scotia) but he just told me it was likely bad birds and gave me a website to a ... and I hope it was an error... but to a chicken recipe site. I hope a mistake, otherwise sorta callus. Backyard chicken people here often get the impression from the experts that they are here for the large scale chicken farmers and that we are a nuisance. I have asked a number of vets but they did not seem to know anyone who knew anything. I would greatly appreciate the site for the online avian vet. I have thought about sending a body to them away, but I have also heard from other local backyard people that if they can't figure out what is wrong with the bird they have been known to order a cull of the entire flock, just in case. I did not want to risk this and have birds killed that are fine. I have not had the nerve to open one up myself yet.

    Isn't it necessary to have the bloody stool for cocci? I only saw this in the start. The girls that died later on had no blood, but it was watery. Still had the normal color though.
    Thanks again.
  10. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Songster

    Mar 31, 2009
    SouthEast Texas
    No, it isn't necessary to have bloody stool when it's cocci. However, i would not normally suspect cocci once they have gotten through the first initial break out in the first month of living at your house.

    Keep reading and learning and researching. It will start coming to you. Look into crop issues also, and try to get up the courage for a kitchen necropsy in case you have another unexplained death.

    I have had one or two sudden deaths that appear to be from internal laying or peritonitis. There isn't much you can do if their egg-laying machinery gets messed up.

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