Just kind of discouraged. Horrible update: post 29, I think. So sad.

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by augustwest, Jan 10, 2011.

  1. augustwest

    augustwest Chirping

    Nov 24, 2010
    North central mass
    New to chickens. I have a small (and getting smaller) backyard flock in Mass. I have a nice small coop that my husband built. It's 4X7, raised up, fully insulated little thing. It's great, actually- he made all kinds of panels that can be removed in the summer so that it gets loads of ventilation- it has a little window in it for sunlight in the winter and eve vents. Even the nest boxes are insulated. He used hardware cloth and we have a little covered run that can be closed in for emergencies. The run on the small side, 12X4 maybe, but it's not really used. We've been happy to have it available a few times, though.

    The coop is in our fenced in back yard- about 200 feet by 30 feet maybe. 6 foot fences that seem to keep the chickens in now that we've found all the escapes. It's a nice set up, I think. We free range when we are home. We have an acre and good neighbors. The coop is right outside our walkout basement door. Love that, too.

    I've lost so many chickens, though, that I am ready to say forget it all. Details:

    3 PR pullets born in April. We had to cull one in November- unknown illness. Maybe egg bound.
    1 production red pullet- disappeared in September. Hawk? Coyote?
    2 EE pullets born in May. One died yesterday after this LONG illness. I tried everything. She wasted away. It really drained me.
    2 bantams born in June. One was killed by our cat as a 2 week old (totally my fault), we put one to sleep after the vet thought that she had poisoning of some sort- August.
    1 frizzle pullet- disappeared. We suspect hawk. October.
    1 silkie pullet- doing great
    1 silkie roo, just added- doing great.

    So, we've lost SIX of our 11 chickens over the course of 8 months. 3 to predators and 3 to unknown illnesses. We have 2 PR hens and 1 EE hen left with our silly silkie roo and pullet. NO ONE is laying anything. 1 EE and 1 PR are doing a little mini molt, so they look like crap. The rooster is great and has helped keep the ladies in line. Our silkie pullet is the outsider- and the roo has kept her from being beaten up. It's really amazing how he acts as peace-keeper and keeps those bossy hens in line.

    Not only did losing this EE hen just kill me (I tried so hard- I even gave her sub Q fluids), but I STUPIDLY put a remote thermometer in the coop last night. My car said it was 25 degrees out this am... the coop was 23 degrees!!!!!! I do have a water warmer in there now. So, at least the water is OK. But, my little silkie sleeps all alone in a nest box. Poor thing.

    Sorry this got so long-

    Can someone tell me that these loses are normal and that I should keep going? We LOVED our eggs (for the 4 months we got them) and we LOVE watching the chickens enjoy the yard. I'm OK with the egg break and don't want to add light. But, is all this loss what we should expect?

    Like I said, I just need a pick me up. This forum has been great and really re-charged me in the past. I need another boost!

    Last edited: Jan 11, 2011

  2. theoldchick

    theoldchick The Chicken Whisperer Premium Member 8 Years

    May 11, 2010
    The breeds you mention are challenging to raise. Might want to try a more hardy breed of chicken-one more suitable to cold conditions. Try purchasing from a local breeder whose stock is most likely able to survive the conditions you describe. Don't feel bad. Even the most experienced chicken keepers have difficult months of keeping their stock alive.
  3. TriciaHowe

    TriciaHowe Mother Hen

    Nov 11, 2008
    Trenton, FL
    I am sorry for your losses. [​IMG]
    I would suggest though that if the birds seem to be having the same symptoms that you can send one off for a necropsy and find out what your illness is. This could be very helpful to you in the future. One of your birds could be a carrier of something and passing it on. I am in North Fl. and have a totally open coop (no walls, all wire with tarp over half for rain/mud control). We have been down into the lower teens with windchill into the single digits this winter and I haven't lost a one. Honestly, 23* isn't that bad.....I have small frizzles up to large Orps.
    Please don't give up....I know it can be hard when you loose so many from such a small flock. Maybe you could get some chicks this spring? A little "cheep" therapy as the bumper sticker says [​IMG]
  4. mener6896

    mener6896 Songster

    Apr 21, 2009
    Noblesville, IN
    I'm sorry to say, that sometimes things happen. My flock was once up to 65 chickens, now down to 40. If you want to protect from hawks though, you might want to make sure they are in a very secure run if you aren't out to watch them. We have hawk issues too, but only let them out to free range when we can be out there, and even that isn't a guarantee. Our hawk once had a lot of my girls (including my roo) cornered under some bushes. We had to throw walnut at it to get it to fly away (they're protected in our area)

    If you truly love your chickens, don't give up, just develop a tough skin. I cried after losing my first chickens, and I still get very sad, but it's a part of life. It just add to the fun of hatching more eggs [​IMG]

  5. augustwest

    augustwest Chirping

    Nov 24, 2010
    North central mass
    I am totally shocked that these are challenging breeds! I had no idea. Can you elaborate? I know that the silkies are, well, silly. BUT, I just love them both. But, the EE and PR are a challenge? Hearing that actually makes me feel better.

    I did have my vet do a necropsy on the bantam that she thinks was poisoned. She had marek's symptoms and I FREAKED OUT. But, she was negative for that. She was a tiny, tiny bantam and the vet thought that she had some toxicity.... we suspect some old bark multch that we had in the area that we kept her in when we were intergrating her. Maybe it was moldly? That chicken also ate her weight in snails and slugs that were living in the bark multch and bushes. Vet reminded me that too much of a good thing can cause problems. We've since moved that pen, of course.

    The other 2 hens had different symptoms and we did consider sending this last one out. Certainly if we lose another, we will. My vet is a good friend and she keeps telling me that chickens are fragile. [​IMG]

    Thanks for reminding me that 23 isn't that cold. I know that it's ok, but darn it!! Why is it colder in my coop than outside!??!?? I should never have put that thermometer in the coop. Clearly. [​IMG]

    Thanks guys. I needed a hug.
  6. mener6896

    mener6896 Songster

    Apr 21, 2009
    Noblesville, IN
    the EE and PR should've been okay, they are somewhat pretty sturdy (at least mine are) Most of my chickens are considered heavies, and I still have issues. I just went out to the coop and had a bunch of frozen eggs [​IMG] Guess someone forgot to collect last night...with that said, it's pretty cold here, and most of my chickens are choosing to be outside. I even have heat lamps in the coop!! Crazy birds!! [​IMG]
  7. shellyga

    shellyga Songster

    Oct 23, 2010
    I know that losing chickens is hard.. we went from 7 down to three in several separte predator attacks BEFORE they free ranged during the day.. we think bobcat squeezed through the covering in one corner of the coop..we moved the coop, reinforced the top and allow them to free range during the day.. locked in at night and the yard patrolled by our dogs at night... I know that we will lose some to hawks -- just a fact.. so far it hasn't happened.

    Do not give up on chickens as they bring SO much enjoyment. We found a local seller and brought home 10 (three grown hens and 7 pullets) to start the rebuilding process.. I have since found my newest obsession.. HATCHING..lol..

    I currently have Buff Orpingtons and love them.. nice large birds.. have many more breeds "in the works" because I wanted the variety.. Good luck and keep us posted.


  8. LaurelRidgeDreams

    LaurelRidgeDreams Songster

    Jan 23, 2010
    Mountains of NC
    Quote:I feel your pain. I've lost two of the original 8 pullets we got them last May. Right now, I have one with watery diarrhea and no idea why. I will say that I don't think 23 degrees is an issue. It was 4 degrees in our coop yesterday morning and 22 degrees right now. The chickens are fine as long as there is no draft.

    What were the symptoms of the ones that have died? Someone should be able to help you.

    So sorry
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2011
  9. EweSheep

    EweSheep Flock Mistress

    Jan 12, 2007
    Land of Lincoln
    It is part of having chickens! You will face some losses but not more than what is normally yours for unknown reasons.

    If you had losses, for two or more chickens having the same symptoms, it would worry me and if you can afford it, vet care or neurospy and find out what's ailing your flock.

    If it was egg bound or egg peridonitis, it could be genetics, more common in hatchery stock. Production was the number one thing they have in mind. Speckledhen's posts has revealed some of her theories why her birds were dying. There is absolutely nothing you can do about it except just making them comfortable in their last days of life or cull or butcher them so you don't prolong their sufferings any more than they are.

    Most breeds are hardier than others, it depends on what you have. Silkies may not be the brightest bulb in the chickendom but you have to have extra care to make sure they get out of the elements like rain or snow. Their feathers are not made for that kind of thing.

    Sometimes mold in feed or table scraps can make them very ill. Be picky in what you are feeding them when you suspect whats going on with them. Inspect each and all feeds you get, make sure there are no wet spots, or sitting in the warehouse for a long time, check expiration dates.

    My birds weathered thru the below degrees temps with no problems, as long there is no drafts in the coop, nor it is so tight weathered that sweat would appear on the walls, not a good idea. Vents, yes. Fresh water, yes. Sometimes a bit of love, like warm oatmeal before going to bed, can help them get thru the night.

    Even the best chicken owner would have some losses too!

  10. terrilhb

    terrilhb Songster

    Dec 11, 2010
    Don't give up. We got 27 chickens in July. New to chickens then too. A week after we got them a snake got in and ate one. Then in October a dog broke into our chicken coop and killed 12 of my hens. Did not even eat them. Just killed them. It is so disheartining but the ones you have left will give you enjoyment. Good luck and don't quit. [​IMG]

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by