Multiple chickens died

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by keggimann, Nov 14, 2018.

  1. keggimann

    keggimann Hatching

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    Hi,
    I'm looking for some advice or answers. I came home yesterday evening and 5 of our chickens were dead in the coop. There was no sign of trauma - no blood - and it did not look like a predator breeched the fencing around the coop/run. All of our birds looked fine that morning except they were still on the roost and not outside when I left for work about 7:30 am. It's was really cold but we have a heat lamp in the coop so I figured they were staying in out of the cold. Out of 17 total chickens, 5 of them died. 4 of the 5 were about 6 months old and have not laid an egg yet. The other was an older bird who had lost most of her feathers (we attributed this to rooster mounting). The other chickens and rooster (now 6 months old) we bought in July with these younger birds appear to be OK as well as all of our other older birds and rooster. I am baffled at what could have happened to them and am seeking some answers, ideas or solutions so this doesn't happen again. Thanks for you help.
    Kelly
     
  2. Some pictures would definitely help. Sorry for your loss(es)
     
  3. keggimann

    keggimann Hatching

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    Unfortunately, my husband has already disposed of them. He said there didn't appear to be any trauma. The younger birds looked really healthy and were growing well.
     
  4. puffypoo

    puffypoo Free Ranging

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    EggSighted4Life likes this.
  5. keggimann

    keggimann Hatching

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    We feed them layer pellets and whole corn usually. We did can a bunch of pears and gave the chickens the peels and cores.
     
    puffypoo likes this.
  6. puffypoo

    puffypoo Free Ranging

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    Those shouldn't be a problem...too much whole corn can cause problems but not instantly and all at once like that.
    Check in and around their coop for anything toxic they could have accidentally gotten into.
     
  7. rebrascora

    rebrascora Free Ranging

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    Losing that many at one go, it is important to get a necropsy done, so that you know what you are dealing with. If you lose any more, the carcasses need to be refrigerated (not frozen) and an appropriate lab contacted depending upon where in the world you are the price can vary but many states in the USA subsidise such facilities to safeguard the food chain, so it can sometimes be free or just a nominal fee.
    The possibilities that occur to me off the top of my head are...
    1. The heat lamp is Teflon coated and they were poisoned.
    2. Marek's disease. They were the right age for an outbreak and it can kill suddenly although unusual to have several die at once like that with no apparent symptoms. Adding new birds in July certainmly could have introduced the virus and it lies dormant until a stressor triggers an outbreak...... that can be the surge of hormones at point of lay or the unwanted attentions of a hormonal cockerel or moult or the introduction of new birds. Were any of them vaccinated for Marek's?
    3. A predator like a weasel or stoat that can get through very small holes and kill without leaving any obvious injury.
    4 Coccidiosis...... but you should have noticed birds looking hunched and perhaps bloody or runny poop at least one day before and birds of that age should have developed resistance to coccidia unless their immune system was compromised.

    Personally I would not heat the coop. As long as it is dry and free of draughts that is all they need. Heat lamps risk causing a fire and also prevent the birds acclimatising to the winter weather. They have thick down coats to keep them warm.

    How much corn are you feeding them and do they also have access to plenty of grit? Corn can cause a number of health issues because it is largely carbohydrates which the birds turn into fat. This can lead to laying problems like egg binding, prolapse and salpingitis but it can also cause fatty liver haemorrhagic syndrome which can cause sudden death if the liver ruptures. It would be extremely unlikely for so many young birds to die of fatty liver in one day even if you fed them solely corn, so I am not suggesting this is the cause, but it is important to understand the risks of feeding corn and keep the daily ration of it to about 5% of their daily food intake or a tablespoon each.
     
  8. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Crossing the Road

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    I'm sorry for your losses.

    How long have you had them?
    How much space do you have in the coop?
    How cold is really cold? Location may be helpful (state/country)
    How much ventilation does your coop have?

    The only way to know for sure about the cause of death would be to have a necropsy/testing.

    I would think you would have more deaths if it was due to your heat lamp, but check the bulb to make sure it's not Teflon coated.
    Knowing how long the birds have been on your property would help - getting some testing for worms and coccidiosis is always a good idea - but normally you would see symptoms of birds being "off" for a few days.
    Have you put out any rat poison or do they range where they could have ingested something toxic?
    These are just possibilities. If you happen to lose another one, send the body to your state lab for definitive results. We can help you find the lab if you need us to.
     
  9. keggimann

    keggimann Hatching

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    Nov 14, 2018

    thanks for your reply
    We bought them when they were 4-6 weeks old in July 2018
    Our coop is a garden shed about 8x12
    Really cold that day was 18 degrees Fahrenheit. We are in Oskaloosa, Kansas
    The coop has a small vent and then we have a hole cut in the side that they can go in and out of. Usually we keep the main door open but because it was so cold we shut them so the only ventilation was the hole in the side that is just a bit larger than a full size Rhode Island Red.

    We do have a trap box with rat poison in it but the chickens can't get into it. Do you think if they ate a mouse that had been poisoned it could kill them?
     
  10. keggimann

    keggimann Hatching

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    Thank you so for your wealth of knowledge. Something has been getting in the coop and stealing our eggs and we've caught several black rat snakes in there. I'm curious about Marek's disease. It seems that the younger birds should have started laying. We recently discovered that one of the birds we got in July is a rooster and he has been all over the hens. The odd thing is that one of the dead birds was one of the old flock and one of our best layers. She had lost most of her feathers on her back and chest. Is that a symptom?
     

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