mystery killing my chickens

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by tarheelinaz, Nov 30, 2014.

  1. tarheelinaz

    tarheelinaz New Egg

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    Apr 22, 2013
    I had seven Speckled Sussex chicks and am now down to three with one showing symptoms. They are currently about 4-5 months old. They get it one by one. It starts with them having trouble holding their head up right. They lay down often. Usually with in a day from the first known symptoms they die. I hate seeing them slowly suffer and die. Does anyone have an idea what it could be?
     
  2. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict

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    A couple of diseases come to mind, botulism and Mareks disease. But I would also rule out coccidiosis first, since the weakness and dehydration of cocci can cause neurological symptoms. Symptoms of coccidiosis are lethargy, weakness, standing or sitting puffed up, diarrhea, and not eating or drinking (in later stages.) Corid or amprollium is treatment for cocci. Botulism comes from eating vegetation or dead animals or fish that have rotted, and contain a toxin that causes paralysis starting at the feet, legs, wings, and progressing to the neck before death. Compost beds may be a source of either plant material or dead animals. Mareks disease is a virus that can cause differing symptoms in each case such as paralysis of the neck, legs or wings, changing color of the eyes, or tumors anywhere in the body. The best way to get a diagnosis is to have a necropsy done on a body that has been refrigerated, then sent to your state vet. Here are some links to click on to read about the diseases and a contact for your state vet:
    http://www.thepoultrysite.com/diseaseinfo/19/botulism
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/the-great-big-giant-mareks-disease-faq
    http://extension.unh.edu/resources/files/Resource000791_Rep813.pdf
    http://www.usaha.org/Portals/6/StateAnimalHealthOfficials.pdf
     
  3. tarheelinaz

    tarheelinaz New Egg

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    Apr 22, 2013
    Ok a couple things. Thank you for the information! I have checked and the starter feed is medicated for coccidiosis. Does that take that out of the equation? They also are in a large dog kennel outside, but with a heat lamp. So, it shouldn't be botulism. The chick in question can put her head down to peck, but when she tries to pick it up she acts like she can't and even closes her eyes and wobbles her head.
     
  4. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict

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    Over how long of a period have you been losing chicks? Medicated feed is not enough amprollium to rule out a case of coccidiosis. It's supposed to help, but many people still have chickens getting cocci while on it. By being in a confined area in a dog kennel they could come in contact with droppings more often, which could contain cocci. Four to five months is usually when chickens have built up immunity to the cocci in their environment, but it is still possible to have an outbreak. If your losses have been lately and close together, then I would suspect cocci. If they have been over a longer period of time, it could be Mareks. Cocci is easy to rule out with a droppings sample (fresh and early morning) taken to your vet to check for worms and coccidiosis. Corid or amprollium in the water is the treatment for cocci given over 5-7 days. Mareks and other diseases can be confirmed with a necropsy done by your state vet. Here is a link for your state vet: http://www.usaha.org/Portals/6/StateAnimalHealthOfficials.pdf

    Here is a link to read about coccidiosis: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/12/coccidiosis-what-backyard-chicken.html
     
  5. tarheelinaz

    tarheelinaz New Egg

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    Apr 22, 2013
    They have been dying over a period of maybe two - three months. I watched the video about cocci and the dying chick there had some similar behaviors as mine, but all of mine have started with acting like they have a crick in their necks and wont hold it up straight. I noticed the page about Marek's mentioned eye color changing to grey. My adults all have golden eyes, but all my chicks have blue/grey eyes (the adults and chicks are separated). Is this normal? I looked online at pictures of chicks and they seem to have the same color. Sorry, I have read those pages you mentioned, but I get things better when I can talk to someone about it.
     
  6. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict

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    Wry neck or torticolis can be a symptom of vitamin deficiency, infectious diseases (respiratory, Mareks, others,) head injuries, or heredity. Chick eye color seems to change as they age. I would start some poultry vitamins in the water or feed. Here are some links to help you including ones about wry neck and 3 on Mareks disease:
    http://www.browneggblueegg.com/Article/Crookneck/Crookneck.html
    http://oureggbasket.blogspot.com/2013/04/wry-neck-or-crook-neck-understanding-it.html
    http://extension.unh.edu/resources/files/Resource000791_Rep813.pdf
    http://partnersah.vet.cornell.edu/avian-atlas/#/disease/Marek's_Disease
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/the-great-big-giant-mareks-disease-faq
     

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