Mysterious deaths

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Wandercreek, May 2, 2017.

  1. Wandercreek

    Wandercreek Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I wonder if you more experienced folks can give me any ideas or avenues to explore regarding 3 losses I've had over the last 2 - 2 1/2 months.

    What I'm dealing with are deaths that have literally zero clues as to what caused them. The first loss was a cockerel, then about 3 weeks later, a hen, then a pullet today. Each of the 3 was found intact with no signs of disturbance. It's like they just keeled over. No broken bones were detected. None showed any signs of illness or lethargy, in fact, all were very active and displaying normal behavior. The cockerel was acting perfectly fine right up to an hour or two before he died. I wasn't present when any of them actually passed, however. The corpses didn't display any strange contortions. Legs weren't stretched at odd angles, eyes and beaks were closed. No drainage or other substances near the eyes or beaks or vent. Each of the deaths occurred in close proximity to the barn. That in itself doesn't say much because they all predominately hang around that area every day. They have auto-waterers
    that stay clean, plus a fast moving large clear creek to drink from.

    I also have 2 full brooder pens in close proximity to the grow-out pen. Both are full of chicks and I've had no losses with them at all. I would think that they would be the most susceptible to deadly diseases, poisons, pathogens, or micro-organisms if any are present.

    I have 100+ in my flock. Each of the deceased birds came from a separate place (GFF-cockerel, local breeder-hen, and TSC-pullet).

    I suspected bad feed could be a possibility, but the pullet is still on starter, so that ended that theory. My birds are completely free ranged but I do supplement their efforts with a small portion of organic, soy-free rations from a very reputable grain mill every morning. Since the pullet is still in the grow-out pen, she did not have access to anything but her rations and whatever she managed to find on the ground. There are 12 (presumably healthy) additional birds in the same grow-out pen with her. Additionally, there are no poisons, or chemicals on the property with the exception of bleach and a few other household cleaners that were left here by the previous owner. None of which could possibly have made it to the chickens. The barn and coop are constructed with non-treated lumber and cedar. The exterior is painted, but I cannot say what paint was used. The paint appears to be 5 or so years old.

    We are relatively new to this property, only having purchased it this past December, so I don't have personal experience on how the property was managed. I researched and asked the questions prior to purchasing it and received favorable responses as to its management. It has been organically managed for at least a decade, perhaps longer. Chickens have not been present for at least that long as well. In the last 5 years, the total livestock on the property consisted of a couple of steers raised for 4H, 2 pet goats, and a pot-bellied pig.

    Wildlife is incredibly diverse and abundant here.

    My thoughts keep going towards some sort of virus or bacteria present in the soil or perhaps carried in by the native birds. Do any of you think this is a possibility? If so, can you suggest a likely culprit? I'd like to have some tests done, if there are any, to determine if this could be the case but I don't even know what to ask for or whom to ask.

    It is also possible that it is just freaky coincidence. Three losses out of 100 over 2 months isn't that alarming. I just want to get on top of this if there is a chance that it isn't a coincidence.
     
  2. TinyBirds

    TinyBirds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wow, weird! I would guess freaky coincidince but no ideas. Maybe they ate something and choked trying to get it down, you never know!
     
  3. coach723

    coach723 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The only way to know for sure what caused the deaths and whether they were related would have been to have them necropsied.
    It is not uncommon in a large flock to have a string of losses from completely unrelated issues. But they could be related, no way to know.
    If you lose another bird under similar conditions, I'd suggest getting a necropsy done. Then you will know, at least for that bird what the cause was, and whether you need to be concerned for the rest of the flock or not. Here are a couple of links, organized by state, with resources you can check out: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/nahln/downloads/all_nahln_lab_list.pdf
    http://www.metzerfarms.com/PoultryLabs.cfm
    You can also learn to do it yourself, you just will not have any pathology reports on specific virus's or bacteria or toxins, but you can look for general abnormalities in organs, etc.
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. Wandercreek

    Wandercreek Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks Coach! That's a great resource to have.

    I kind of feel dumb right now...My daughter is an animal science major at A&M. I should have thought about freezing the carcasses and have her take them back to College Station. Duh! [​IMG]
     
  5. coach723

    coach723 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Not dumb!! [​IMG] We all can't think of everything all the time!!
    Just for future reference, birds being sent for necropsy are supposed to be refrigerated, not frozen.
    Freezing will damage the tissues.
    There is a post here somewhere (I will try to find it later and put the link here) about how to store and package for shipment.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. Wandercreek

    Wandercreek Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh..wow, okay. I would totally have ruined the carcasses. Thanks again.
     
  7. coach723

    coach723 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 12, 2015
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  8. Wandercreek

    Wandercreek Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Great info. Thank you!
     

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