Limping chickens and others died

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by emount, Dec 25, 2016.

  1. emount

    emount Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 27, 2016
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    I currently have 14 chickens.

    Over the last few months I have had 2 chickens die from unknown causes. Both were immature pullets. One seemed to waste away over quite a long period until one day she was dead. The other came on more suddenly, over a few days she became less active and then laid down and died.

    Another year old hen seemed like the same thing would happen to her, but I was butchering a bunch of roosters, so I killed her at the same time.

    I also have chickens that are limping.

    A young rooster started limping and it got worse over a few days so that he couldn't walk at all or even move himself around the floor to get water, so I killed him.

    A young hen, who seems like she should be laying, but isn't (she has a red comb, is around 6 months old and was squatting) suddenly started limping. She looked like she was straining to lay an egg and her belly seems softer than it should be, so I wonder if she is laying internally, but would that cause limping?

    Today, another immature pullet started limping. She didn't go into the coop with the others last night or tonight. I had to put her in.

    I've gotten chickens from many different people and there are regularly crows in their run, so they could have gotten a disease. Does this sound like any diseases? Could it be something else?

    If it were just one or two incidents, I would think it was normal, but this seems like a lot of problems in a short span of time.

    I've separated the limping chickens from the others to see if they will recover.

    I haven't noticed any other strange behaviour.
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2016
  2. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict

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    I would suspect Mareks disease which can cause paralysis of one or both legs or wings or the neck, wasting, tumors, and sometimes eye changes. There is a vaccine that can be given in day old chicks that will make them resistant if they are kept from the same environment for the first 2-3 weeks to develop immunity. To make sure of what is happening, I would try and contact a poultry vet or college to do a necropsy on a refrigerated body. Various things can cause lameness, such as injuries, infectious diseases, internal laying in later stages, and certain types of bacterial arthritis. Mareks can remain in your environment for many years in the dust and dander, and any chickens in that environment, whether vaccinated or not, will be carriers. Getting vaccinated chicks from a hatchery, then keeping them inside for 3 weeks, may be a good way to help prevent the disease. Sorry for your losses.
     
  3. emount

    emount Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 27, 2016
    Canada
    Thank you for taking the time to reply. I'm going to keep watching them, but I'm afraid that you may be right. This all started a few months after I got 3 different groups of new chickens from a local poultry meetup sale. Possibly they were infected with something. I never had any issues before that.

    I'll see if there's a place I can get one tested for Mareks around here. My sister brought her chickens here for me to take care of while she was away. Now I wonder if I should give them back to her. Although, I think I gave a chicken to her since I got the new ones, so if it is Marek's, hers have probably already been exposed.
     
  4. chickens really

    chickens really Chicken Obsessed

    It could be Mereks or even as simple as nutritional imbalance?......Do they free range?...Botulism comes to mind also....



    Cheers!
     
  5. MasterOfClucker

    MasterOfClucker Chillin' With My Peeps

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    As @Eggcessive said it sounds like Mareks.I would send her to a Necropsy lab so they can check for Tumors or Enlarged sciatic nerve.


    Sorry for your loss.
     
  6. emount

    emount Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 27, 2016
    Canada
    I don't know what we have around here for that. Once the holidays are over, I'll look into it.

    I have a relative who works for dept of agriculture. Maybe he will know where I can get a test or necropsy.

    My sister has said that I can keep her chickens for now, until we know more about what's going on.

    It's suspicious to me that most of the ones having problems are the chicks that I got from the local sale.

    Now that I think of it, there was another rooster that had a small limp, right before I butchered the roosters. He was one of two roosters that I was considering keeping, but the day before butchering he started to limp and he had some weird thing going on with his foot feather follicles, so I decided to butcher him and keep the other rooster instead.

    Is it possible to have more than one type of marek's? He's the only one that I noticed having scabby follicles, and only on the feet. I figured he broke off the feathers by running around on rough ground and irritated the follicles.

    All the other chickens have had either limping or wasting. I have never noticed labored breathing or purple combs.

    The young rooster that was limping seemed to be in pain when I handled his leg and I thought a part at the top seemed inflamed, but I don't really know how to tell. Also, he could have fallen off the ramp to outside or hurt himself trying to get back inside since he couldn't walk well.

    One of the birds that suddenly sickened and died seemed to be in pain when I held her.

    There is a bag of scratch that I've been feeding them that is very old. I doubt that is the problem, but I will get rid of it. Also, I feed them scraps, including meat and fruit, but they have been getting less scraps lately, because when there is a lot of snow they don't want to go outside. They're currenly on layer feed. I had them on grower before, until the little ones matured. Their coop is reasonably clean, but not super clean. I have a 96sqft coop and 400sqft run, and also a small 16sqft coop with a 32sqft run.

    I kept some cornish x in the small coop that I got from a guy who didn't want them anymore. They were only there for a short time, but they were really dirty and gross. They free ranged at first, but then I had to keep them in the run when they got bigger because they would go into the neighbor's garden. It was overcrowded for a couple of weeks until I moved them to a bigger coop at my Dad's house until slaughter. I cleaned the coop after they left, but not the run. I wonder if the little chickens got sick from being in the same space that the cornish x were previously in. That's where I put the 2 week old chicks when I got them from the sale.
     
  7. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict

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    I would never recommend buying chickens from poultry swaps. People will sell deformed or sick chickens with no conscience about the non-suspecting folks out there wanting to start a flock. I would not get any new chicks until the last birds are gone, unless they are vaccinated and kept away from the chicken area for 3 weeks. Never give away or sell birds in the future, since they will be carriers (if Mareks was the cause.) Here are some good links to read about Mareks disease, and there are other diseases to consider as well:
    https://extension.unh.edu/resources/files/Resource000791_Rep813.pdf
    http://www.thepoultrysite.com/articles/3576/mareks-disease-in-small-flocks/
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/the-great-big-giant-mareks-disease-faq
     

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