Is There a Humane Way to Euthanize?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Lynn, Dec 6, 2008.

  1. Lynn

    Lynn In the Brooder

    Nov 9, 2008
    After researching my poor Joe's symptoms, I'm afraid that he may be suffering from Marek's. The thread by Wermfud, ~~*HEN lethargic, yellow diarrhea, swollen chest: HELP SAVE A LIFE?*~~ 11/05/08 was of immense help. Sadly, however, it appears my Joe is suffering the same condition. ...If it turns out to be so (I am still trying to treat him, hoping it is not), and have him indoors where he is warm and dry.

    But, I don't want him to suffer, and if and when I am certain death seems likely, what is the best way to do this? Is there a drug I could give him? I don't have the option of shooting, and not even sure I could even if I did.

    We had a neighbor when I was little who used to give sick birds (rescues from nests that we kids would bring her to nurse), when it appeared there was no hope, she would give them a dropperful of whiskey. She told us that it was a "last resort" medicine and that it would either cure them or kill them. I realize now that the first part (curing) was just to make it easier on us, and I think was actually her way of euthanizing.

    if there is something I could do that was similar... but something I could be certain would be swift and effective and painless... please... someone please help me if you have any advice. I would really appreciate it. I am trying to get myself as prepared as possible...

    Thank you everyone,

  2. jvls1942

    jvls1942 Crowing 9 Years

    Oct 16, 2008
    what do you do when you butcher chickens?? do it the same way..
    either way should be as quick and humanely done..

  3. redhead83402

    redhead83402 Songster

    Apr 9, 2008
    Try holding your roo upside down by the feet. It will calm him and help deaden any pain. It sort of gives the chicken a ~dulled~ head, so that they do not feel so much. Or oyu could try laying him on his back. That sort of puts a chicken to sleep, it calms them as well. I hope this helps you. I am sorry you are losing your friend. I wish I could help you more ~
  4. Lynn

    Lynn In the Brooder

    Nov 9, 2008
    That's just the thing. I don't butcher. I just can't do it... it isn't a judgment thing, as I do eat chicken. I just am too squeamish and can't stand blood, etc. ...I can handle illness and nursing, and even first aid for bloody stuff--so I could've been a nurse--but could never be a doctor! Just can't do anything invasive. Just can't. I need a non "invasive" way. Painless... I would use the alcohol that my neighbor used, if I knew it worked, how much, etc...

  5. allaboutdemchicks

    allaboutdemchicks Chapel Farms

    Sep 13, 2008
    Jemison, AL
    Try engine starting fluid (ether). Simply spray it on a paper towel and place it and the chicken in a small closed trash can with a lid.

    Do watch the others for similar symptoms. I am sorry for your loss and hope there is none to follow. Claudia
  6. Lynn

    Lynn In the Brooder

    Nov 9, 2008
    Thank you, Claudia... that does sound painless! Is that the stuff in a spray can? Have you actually used this method, and is there any way to know how much is enough? I guess if it is not enough, they have not been in any pain... they just go to sleep. I can do this.

    At least the good news is that according to UC Davis, Marek's is not contagious! (contrary to what I and most people believed). This is from the thread by Wermfud:

    "I called UC Davis today (the place you can have free post-mortem exams and diagnoses in California), the "sick bird" hot line (they are closed on weekends).

    "They are 99% sure it's Marek's Disease. They get a lot of calls about these symptoms and every time there is an exam it confirms Marek's.

    "This is the really confusing part.
    "This is a top veterinary learning hospital, one of the best in the country. They say it is not contagious (contrary to much of the info you see on the web) and there is no vaccine.

    "She was vaccinated at a day old for Marek's and New Castle. It turns out this vaccine only prevents the tumors and paralysis of Marek's, not the disease. This is good to know.

    "They say it happens to older birds; their liver shuts down, they get lethargic, won't eat, and will die. Nothing can be done about it, there is no treatment. I have two options: 1. put her out of her misery or 2. keep her comfortable till she passes."

    So I do have one small glimmer of good news... that the rest of my chickens and ducks are probably ok. And, so far, that seems to be the case.

    THANK YOU so much, Claudia...

  7. The ether euthanizing will make the bird sqiurm alot. They are basically suffocating and know it.

    If you have a friend with horses, ask them for Acepromazine. You can also get a bottle at your local vet. They usually will give it to you if you tell them what it is for.

    I use 1/2 cc per pound injected in the breast. I use a diabetic needle and you can find needles at your local feed store.
  8. Blondie

    Blondie Songster

    Please don't use the lighter fluid method!!!! [​IMG] There was a post last year where someone tried it and it just tortured the poor chicken for 1/2 an hour and it didn't even work. The woman who posted it was so distraught.


    PS. My husband just uses the 22 at close range. It's fast and they don't even know what hit them.

    Sorry for what you are going through. We just had to euthanize 4 chickens a couple of weeks ago. [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  9. eggchel

    eggchel Crowing Premium Member

    Dec 26, 2006
    Both Coasts
    Im not saying that Wermfud is wrong, but that there must have been some miscommunication or misunderstanding. Ive had birds necropsied at UCDavis lab and they have told me the Maraks is so common and contagious that virtually every bird has been exposed to it. So, unless this is a new discovery about the disease, I would suggest a follow up call to Davis and ask to talk to the head vet, not a tech.

    Here is information on Mareks and Leukosis (which is often confused with Mareks). The sypmtoms of liver failure and emaciation of adult birds sounds more like Leukosis.

    Lymphoid Leukosis
    Characteristically, lymphoid leukosis is a disease of adult chickens; however, the disease appears to be increasing in importance for turkeys and game birds. Although the virus of lymphoid leukosis can produce various responses (blood, bone, lymph), the lymphoid tumor response is the most common.

    The disease is transmitted in a variety of ways. The causative viral agent is passed out of the body of infected birds via eggs and feces. The virus may be transmitted mechanically from infected birds to susceptibles by blood-sucking parasites or by man in such procedures as fowl pox vaccination.

    Lymphoid leukosis characteristically produces lymphoid tumors, particularly in the liver and spleen. The tumors may also affect other visceral organs such as ovary and lungs. Affected birds may die without preliminary symptoms, but the disease usually is chronic in nature and affected birds show loss of appetite, progressive emaciation and diarrhea. Clinically affected birds invariably die. Losses due to the disease are most severe shortly after onset of egg production, but losses will continue for as long as the flock is retained. Total loss may approach twenty percent during the life of a flock.

    Clinical diagnosis of lymphoid leukosis is based upon flock history and disease manifestations. The lymphoid disease cannot be readily distinguished from the visceral response to Marek's disease; however, there are some features that aid in differential diagnosis.

    There is no treatment for lymphoid leukosis. Although the disease cannot be prevented completely, there are certain steps that can be taken to help control the level of infection within a flock. Some steps are:

    * Buy resistant strains of birds since genetic resistance is a deterrent,
    * Brood in isolation and do not mix birds of different ages, especially through six weeks of age,
    * Keep the incubator clean and disinfected,
    * Control blood-sucking parasites,
    * Good care, limiting stress, and adequate ration will be of benefit.

    Marek's Disease (Visceral Leukosis)
    Marek's disease is characteristically a disease of young chickens but older birds can also be affected. In contrast to the lymphoid leukosis tumor response, Marek's disease may be observed in more diverse locations.

    Marek's disease is caused by a virus belonging to the Herpes virus group. Much is known about the transmission of the virus; however, it appears that the virus is concentrated in the feather follicles and shed in the dander (sloughed skin and feather cells). The virus has a long survival time in dander since viable virus can be isolated from houses that have been depopulated for many months.

    The usual mode of transmission is by aerosols containing infected dander and dust. Young birds are most susceptible to infection by Marek's disease; however, since the incubation period is short, clinical symptoms can appear much earlier than in the case with lymphoid leukosis.

    Marek's disease may produce a variety of clinical responses, all lymphoid in character. These are acute visceral, neural, ocular, skin or combinations of the responses that can be seen.

    Marek's of the visceral type is characterized by widespread involvement with lesions commonly seen in gonads, liver, spleen, kidney and occasionally heart, lungs and muscles. The disease is often acute, with apparently healthy birds dying very rapidly with massive internal tumors. The disease may appear in broiler-age birds but the most severe losses occur in replacement pullet flocks prior to onset of egg production.

    The neural type of Marek's is typified by progressive paralysis of the wings, legs and neck. Loss of body weight, anemia, labored respiration and diarrhea are common symptom. If lesions are present, they are confined to the nerve trunks and plexes enervating the paralyzed extremities. Frequently no gross lesions can be observed.

    Ocular (eye) leukosis or "gray-eye" is usually seen in early maturity. Morbidity and mortality are usually low but may approach twenty-five percent in some flocks. It is characterized by the spotty depigmentation or diffuse graying of the iris in the eye. The pupil develops an irregular shape and fails to react to light. Emaciation diarrhea and death follow.

    Skin leukosis produces the most severe losses in broilers. The losses result from high condemnations at the processing plant. Enlargement of the feather follicles due to accumulations of lymphocytes is the typical lesion. This is the most infective virus since it is produced in the regions of the feather follicles and is shed with the skin dander.

    Acute Marek's disease can be extremely rapid in its course, producing mortality in apparently healthy birds. However, in some cases the lesions may regress and clinically affected birds may make complete recoveries.

    Diagnosis is based upon flock history and disease manifestations. Accurate diagnosis may depend on results of laboratory procedures. As is the case with lymphoid leukosis, there is no treatment for Marek's disease.

    A vaccine is available that is extremely effective (90% +) in the prevention of Marek's disease. It is administered to day-old chickens as a subcutaneous injection while the birds are in the hatchery. Use of the vaccine requires strict accordance with manufacturer's recommendations in a sterile environment.​
  10. Lynn

    Lynn In the Brooder

    Nov 9, 2008
    Oh dear! Thank you for the warnings! I do have a friend with horses, so maybe the Acepromazine is the better route, Rimshoes. Blondie, my husband and I are both weenies... it's strange, but neither of us would be able to shoot our animals. Either of us could shoot a predator attacking one, but not a trusting friend. I know we need to get over this... and we will, I'm sure... but we just are not there yet. In the meantime... we need an alternative (the weenie way out, I guess).

    I'll call the vet and ask them I suppose, either for acepromazine or some other recommendation. Too bad about the ether, though... it seemed like such a good idea. Ether is so painless, and just go to sleep. I'm surprised at the way it backfires! Monday, I'll all the vet. I just hope I don't need something beforehand...


    By the way, I'm no longer certain it's Marek's... all the research I've been doing seems to describe it a little differently than the thread I referenced here... Joe's symptoms really sound like the symptoms, though, in that earlier thread. I'm very confused...

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