Need Help. Loosing too many chickens!!!!


10 Years
Apr 18, 2009
Hello, This is kinda late for my birds but may help with my new birds when I get them. Last spring I had 12 two year old golden comet hens and a game/domestic mix rooster with them that was 4 years old and they all seemed to be in great health. The pen beside them had 6 six-ten month old buff hens and a buff rooster in it. Within 1 week I lost both roosters and they do not free range. Brought another black austrolop rooster in, he was a year old. He died within one week. My comets laid everyday until this time and then production became almost non existant. Slowly but surely my hens started dying in pairs with no visible marks on them or anything out of the ordinary wrong with them. I cleaned their pens everyday (10'X20') and then began to watch them very closely. I would see them eat and drink and run around normally and 30 minutes later they would go into the hen house and lay on their stomachs, put their heads down, push their wings halfway out, lose balance and die within 30 minutes. Checked all my feed and changed water daily. My vets don't look at poultry and I heard of others in the area complain of the same problem. I have consulted with the farm and feed stores with no luck. Any ideas what could be causing this?

Thanks, Joe
Did you see any signs of mites or worms? They can kill a flock- and you might not see worms in the poo even if they have them.

I didn't see mites on my chickens when they had them, either- but I did find them on ME.

This is just something to consider for your next flock. I am so sorry for your losses.
What is interesting is that you mentioned "others in the area with the same problem", can you elaborate on that? Almost sounds like some sort of poisoning. However, the age of the birds, 2 yrs and 4yrs, I assume you raised from chicks, or did you bring them in at that age? I ask because I wonder if there are any environmental things going on. Did you have a look at the eyes, feel for bloating, check vents, check crops, anything? Maybe you have a vet with a goof relationship would be willing to do a necropsy for a reasonable price?

When you clean the coop are you disinfecting? I would remove everything in there and completely disinfect. There are some products out there, I think one of them is Oxine. Good luck, but I think there needs to be a little more info for anyone to really help. Problem is you can't clean the whole yard, birds, etc. "Similar problems in the area" is still sticking in my head though, so I want to lean toward environmental. Is there a stream or lake/pond on your property that they have access to? If you have a well, ever have it checked for lead/arsenic? May be going wayyyy out on a limb, just some wild guesses.
Do what ddawn suggested and count me in as another vote for poisoning.

It's creepy that they were acting normally, looked fine, were eating and drinking and then laid down and died. How far from your home are the other chicken owners who had the same kind of deaths with their flocks?
Sorry for taking so long to post back. I am a paramedic and working two jobs to get some extra cash. I live in a extremely rural area. My birds are in their 10'x20 kennels most of the time.I did let them free range at small times only under my supervision due to the main road being so close to my house. The river runs right through my backyard and is flowing all the time with clear cold water as I am not far from the head of the river but the chickens never when down there. They all went through a normal molt prior to this happening. Their eyes were clear, and no discoloration of their poo was noticed. At the risk of sound mean, not many people are brave enough to step foot in my yard. No one around this whole town had problems with me or my chickens and I shared eggs with everyone that asked for them because my wife and I couldn't eat all of them and I want 0 to go to waste. The mention of others in the area spans a 60 mile radius and mostly old farmers that just didn't care to find out what happened. I throughly checked each chicken for bite marks, missing feathers, crop impaction, and vent problems. We had a run of blastomycosis here a few years ago that killed one of my dogs and severly damaged another one. I had to thoroughly disenfect my whole yard after that and it was a pain but have not had a single problem since. My birds were kept in a totally different area. All of the birds were not raised by my from chicks. My comets I got when they were 6 months old, my mix rooster was brought home with them he was 2 then. The next pens had buffs in it that a good friend of mine hatched and raised from his flock and I brought them home at 4 months old. My nannies were kept inside my barn where no other chickens or dogs have been and they were up off the floor. I feed 22% laying pellets mixed equally with cleaned corn and I mix in oyster shells twice a week. These birds were my passion. On a better note, the two young pulleys that were with my comets are still alive and almost a year old. My game rooster has been in with them for two weeks and is healthy as can be. I plan on taking the pens down when weather breaks and disenfecting them before putting them back up in a different area. So this is long but I hope I answer most of the questions.
Update!! My two girls that made it through all of the other birds dying have left me a pair of presents in the laying box today! Two perfectly sized and shaped starter eggs! I figured up from when they were hatched and it is 3 days shy of 11 months. I am so happy for them since they were in the pens with my oldest girls that all passed away. Even my game rooster with them is eating like crazy and strutting his stuff still! Maybe I got whatever it was that was killing my birds last year but would still love to know what it really was.

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