Lost our first hen today - sudden lethargy, difficulty breathing... dead in 12 hours....

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by coldrainsnow, Jan 10, 2014.

  1. coldrainsnow

    coldrainsnow New Egg

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    We lost our first hen today from our flock of 7. It was a little bit sadder than I anticipated. :(

    She is an "easter egger" about 8-9 months old. Was the only one that hadn't started laying yet. Last night I kicked her out of the nesting box once (she was the first one in the coop before bedtime) and then I think she ended up sleeping in there because she couldn't get up on the roosting bar. Came out this morning and just sat down, breathing very heavily.

    [​IMG]

    I had to go to work - my wife said the breathing got worse and worse, and finally the other hens starting squaking in alert. Wife picked her up and held her for a bit, put her in a laundry basket and isolated her from rest of hens. There was clear fluid coming out of her nose and cheeks turned very white.

    [​IMG]

    She took a violent last gasp and that was the end. Less than 12 hours from first noticing any symptoms.

    I don't really know anything about chickens or possible diseases - any ideas? I'm obviously worried about my other six ladies, who all seem to be acting fine so far. Energetic and happy.

    I've also read a ton in the local media about lead poisoning in chickens from backyard soil contamination (I live in Berkeley, CA). I'm probably a little over-paranoid about that, but I can't help but think about it....

    I'm open to any thoughts or suggestions. Thanks!
     
  2. wsufans

    wsufans Out Of The Brooder

    gosh... how sad... I sympathize with your loss! Other than that I'm not of much help.

    Call your local county extension agent... or ask a local vet if there's a reporting system in place for diseased animals. I know that in WA we can send the corpse in to a lab for testing so that we know if it's something contagious or that could harm our whole flock. Had I know that before we lost our favorite Rhode Island Red, we would have sent her in for testing ... if anything, so my kids might know that it wasn't "their fault" that she took ill and passed away.
     
  3. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member

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    Sorry for your loss... Necropsies in CA are free, so I'd suggest that you put her in the fridge and ship her to UC Davis on Monday for Tuesday delivery.

    -Kathy
     
  4. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member

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  5. coldrainsnow

    coldrainsnow New Egg

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    While thanks Kathy, I think we will definitely do this. Why not, right? I've become surprisingly attached to the little suckers, and if I could rule out lead poisoning that would make me sleep easier at night...
     
  6. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member

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    I love mine, too... We're lucky that we live in a State that offers such a service. Call and ak for the Fedex #. FYI, you should have a preliminary report emailed to you the same day they receive her.

    -Kathy
     
  7. coldrainsnow

    coldrainsnow New Egg

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    Thanks again casportpony for your tip on the Davis services - I shipped her off Monday morning, we had a preliminary report by Wednesday and just got the final report this afternoon. All for an $18 shipping charge. Incredible!

    The preliminary report said:
    "The gross appearance of the lungs suggests a lymphoid neoplasia (cancer), such as that induced by Marek's
    disease or Avian Leukosis Virus."


    The final report said:
    "Histology was compatible with Marek's disease. All testing has now been completed."

    Which seems like bad news to me, from what little I have read about Marek's. At least there is no lead or other heavy metals around which is what I was worried about.

    My other chickens seem fine so far - full of energy, happy, healthy, laying. But from what I understand Marek's can be very contagious - am I going to lose the rest of my flock? :( Is there anything I should be on the lookout for?

    Thanks again for all the help everyone!
     
  8. coldrainsnow

    coldrainsnow New Egg

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    Oh man, I read a lot about Marek's last night and it certainly doesn't look good for my flock. :( Making me very sad that they've been exposed to this now.

    From what I understand, it's definitely in the flock and there's nothing I can do about it now besides cull the hens, clean, and let everything sit for a really long time. I guess we will have to order vaccinated chicks in the future. I can't imagine putting these girls down right now, as they are very happy and productive - but if (when) they get to the point where they can't breathe anymore like this one I will definitely put them out of their misery.

    My one question is - should I tell the farm/breeder where I got these from? I assume yes. They were delivered from Dare2Dream farms in Lompoc when they are all about 5 or 6 months old. I assume they know they have Marek's in their flock by now....

    Thanks again for the help and support!
     
  9. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member

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  10. Nambroth

    Nambroth Fud Lady

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    I'm so sorry to hear this. I know that horrible gut-wrenching feeling, when the necropsy comes back as Marek's positive. It sort of feels like your chicken life is over!! But, there is "Life After Maerk's." The best thing you can do is learn as much as you can about it and make husbandry decisions from there, and do your best not to spread it. It would be very responsible to let the breeder know-- now, I don't know the history of your birds, but please remember that there is a chance that they didn't come with the virus, depending on how old they were when you got them and how old they are now. Marek's can, sometimes, come in on the environment. There are a lot of variables.

    Here's some reading for you, I encourage you to give it a read when you have the time, I've tried to compile all of the useful information into one place: https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/the-great-big-giant-mareks-disease-faq

    Were any of your birds vaccinated?
     

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