lessons learned — first time chicken keeping

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by poonam, Jul 12, 2011.

  1. poonam

    poonam Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi folks

    i'm feeling pretty discouraged at the moment with my first time chicken keeping. I wanted to share some lessons that we learned (the hard way) to prevent other first time chicken keepers from making the same mistakes.
    Also, if anybody has advice, please let me know.

    We got some pullets from a person on craigslist (first mistake).

    We didn't know them well, thought they seemed fairly nice, and seemed to care a lot about their chickens. When we went over to their place, I had the instinct that it looked on the dirty side, but not having much experience with how dirty is scary, decided to get the chickens anyway. (second mistake).

    The lady there was in a rush so she wasn't answering our questions well. We were also conscious of the amount of questions we were asking. We were making rash decisions without taking the time to examine the chickens closely and taking her word on the fact that they were a picture of health. (third mistake).

    She did tell us that she also "rescues" chickens, so their flock was a mix of chickens bought from feed-stores, some hatched in their own space, and rescues. We didn't realize the dangers of communicable respiratory diseases between adult chickens that come from unknown sources, so we got 3 chickens from her (fourth mistake).

    As soon as we brought the 3 chickens home, one of them started looking sick. she was sneezing a lot and holding her head down all the time. We didn't know how bad this was, so we kept her in the coop with the others (big mistake).

    We didn't want to start a flock with a sick chicken so we returned her immediately. But not soon enough because one of our others started showing the same signs. She seemed to get better within a few days, so we decided not to worry.

    But our initial intent was to get 4 chickens, so we ended up going to the feed store and getting 2 more two month olds. Brought them back, and boom, they started showing signs of respiratory issues. Constant sneezing that didn't look too bad at first. but now she's constantly blocked up and has a tremendous sinus infection. We tried all we can to nurse them back to health naturally. I don't use many antibiotics in my own body, so i really believed that we could try and help them heal naturally.

    that did not work. Though we have one healthy chicken, the other 3 are a mess. We have taken them to montclair vet hospital (where apparently there is a chicken vet). Hundreds of dollars of money we can't afford, and they still don't know what's going on.

    meanwhile, my research has pointed me to believe that is is CRD (chronic respiratory disease) caused by a mycoplasma bacteria. it is highly contagious and there is no cure. You can treat them with antibiotics, but they will be carriers forever, which means that we can't add any chickens to our flock unless we say goodbye to all remaining chickens. On the backyard chickens forum, folks have mentioned that no amount of disinfecting of the coop and starting over has helped.

    So, now we have 3 sick chickens with this contagious disease + one healthy one who is probably going to be a carrier. One of our little chicks (who we thought was a hen) crowed last week, and so now we have a rooster at hand that no one will take because of the exposure to mycoplasma.

    it is a messy situation.I consider myself to be one of good skills around being self sufficient — but first time access to a yard where i can keep chickens got me excited and I rushed into it, which of course was the biggest mistake. Needless to say Im very discouraged, this has been a very painful process and we still don't have answers on what to do. I love them all but i'm on the verge of wanting to put them down and starting over. I don't want to raise chickens on antibiotics. And I cannot see them suffering without them.

    I would encourage new chicken keepers to do a good amount of research before they keep chickens, and also to be VERY careful where they get their hens from.

    Thank you, i hope this is somewhat useful. If somebody has any ideas on how to handle this mess, i'd greatly appreciate it.

    Poonam
     
  2. nickie

    nickie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wow, and I was bummed that my 10 chicks turned into 8 in the first four weeks. That really stinks for you, sorry, but it does make me feel not quite so silly for my meticulous research on breeds, breeders, hatcheries and care. My husband and friends were making fun of me for months about it and asked why I didn't just look on Craigslist. I hope you come to a decision that you're happy with regarding your chickens.
     
  3. poonam

    poonam Out Of The Brooder

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    May 9, 2011
    Oakland, CA
    I am so happy that you made the right decisions. Well done, and hopefully i can have the opportunity to raise a healthy flock soon.
     
  4. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

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    A tough lesson learned for sure...it hurts the heart and wallet at the same time. You truly dont know if you're dealing with MG unless bloodwork or a necrospy is being performed, nevertheless, you are correct, you are dealing with a CRD...whichever one it is, MG included. If you are not going to cull, I recommend that you treat them with denegard. It is for swine but can be used in chickens. There is no resistance to it and no withdrawal. I recommend that you type "denegard" in the BYC search box and read up on it as I have, sounds like some good meds for what you're dealing with. It can be ordered from QC Supply. Good luck.
     
  5. ChicKat

    ChicKat Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    Poonam,

    I'm so sorry to hear of your dilemma.

    There are no really good answers, of course. With a disease you may want to 'depopulate' your current flock, disinfect and start over entirely. It is good of you to post for the benefit of others, so we can learn from your experience.

    Like you, I got my chickens on Criag's list. Like you, I had health problems after getting them home. Infact I make the joke that I bought the 'sickest chicken in the state'. I am sure that there are good sellers on Criag's list too--- but one would need to be careful.

    What I read prior to getting chickens is that the normal backyard chicken keeper will never really encounter problems as long as you keep them well housed and fed. Mine were well housed and fed and had some health issues. Using this forum, internet research and other sources.. I did have to scramble and got help from our local vets and a 'vet on line' -- and yes, it does cost more than the initial price of the chicken...add in the cost of medications.

    I think I have cleared up most if not all their health problems...and I wish that there was 1. An easy diagnostic source for chicken buyers to insure the purchase of healthy chickens. 2. An easy way such as a blood test to have sellers who are caring able to confirm that the chickens that they sell would not have any disease or be a carrier.

    Sometimes, too, the horror stories about diseases are a little exaggerated. Here is an example. One of my chickens had 'eye worm'. I started research and found that 'this can only be cured with surgery, the chicken may scratch out it's eye, and the infestation may become so bad that the chicken will become blind'-- Perhaps once that was the only solution. Subseqently, I found that the worms can be removed a couple of ways, flushing the eye with saline solution, applying Vet Rx to the upper beak until it drips out the nostrils (bird held upside down) -- and now I have an eye drop that '2 drops cure, 1 drop once-a-month prevents'. I check this chicken, and don't see any further indication that she has eyeworm, and her behavior has changed as well. She is laying and is now about going on 8-months old. Had eye-surgery been the only option, I doubt I would have gone that route. The point I am trying to make is that sometimes vet info is the 'worst case scenario'. And that was just one health problem.

    I don't know a lot about chicken respiratory disease, and I also agree with you that medicated chickens are not desireable, and I think that many folks are quick to dose chickens with a lot of medications. One vet I spoke with told me NOT to medicate the chicken, but to expect that the recovery would take a long time, as long as six weeks. (another health problem on the same pullet that had eye worm--she was the 'sickest chick in the state'.

    Getting back to your situation. If you want chickens for eggs, pets, bug eating and compost contribution--but not showing, breeding or selling, it is possible that you can live with the respiratory problems, that they will actually clear up/improve--and you can keep this flock for a period of time, and then later on depopulate with an all-in, all-out approach. You could depopulate now, and get new chickens and start over a sadder but wiser person--

    Hopefully you only encounter this kind of discouragement one time and go forward from here with more success in the future.
    good luck---and don't give up.
     
  6. nickie

    nickie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wow, well said chickat!
     
  7. poonam

    poonam Out Of The Brooder

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    May 9, 2011
    Oakland, CA
    wow chikcat,

    that was a very beautiful and encouraging reply. Thank you for your comforting words, and I'll remember that this kind of things only makes you wiser. your sweet, wise, wonderful response — so very much appreciated.
     
  8. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

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    ChicKat...just for your information about eyeworm. Eyeworm can cause blindness if not treated quickly. Besides surgery, the ivemectin drops above the eye, the VetRx/saline solution treatments....the best and surest way to rid a chicken of eyeworm is to use valbazen. I'll explain: With eyeworms, the birds eat the worms eggs. The eggs hatch in the crop and the young eyeworm migrates up the esophagus and through the ducts to the eye. First you treat the eyes with valbazen. Dosage is equal amounts of valbazen and water dropped into the eyes. Then you dose the chicken orally 1/2cc with the valbazen. Repeat dosing the eyes and the chicken orally in 10 days. Treating like this gets rid of them in the crop where the eggs are located. Redosing kills the larva that have hatched since the first dosing, ending the worms lifecycle.
     
  9. PtldChick

    PtldChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Does that hurt their eye? I imagine it would at least sting...no damage to the eye from the chemical?

    BTW, where can I get valbazen? I've only fond wazine and piperizine at my local stores - not that I've checked all of them...

    Thanks.
     
  10. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

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    Nov 27, 2008
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Quote:Does that hurt their eye? I imagine it would at least sting...no damage to the eye from the chemical?

    BTW, where can I get valbazen? I've only fond wazine and piperizine at my local stores - not that I've checked all of them...

    Thanks.

    It is albendazole, a liquid wormer, it is diluted with 50/50 water mixture and wont hurt the eye. Valbazen kills all known worms that chickens get. You can order it from Jefferslivestock.com or call them.
     

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