New coop, chickens dying!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by TMNfarm, Nov 19, 2014.

  1. TMNfarm

    TMNfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 23, 2012
    Northern MN
    I recently built a new coop for most of my chickens. It is more sheltered, has electricity so I can plug in water heaters and coop heaters, and best of all, gets everyone in one place to make chores much easier. The coop consists of a duck pen which is 10x10 with a 5 x10 outdoor run (this houses 13 ducks), and 4 additional coops that are 5x10 with various numbers and breeds of chickens in each coop. The duck pen is separated from the others by a solid wall, but the 4 coops are in one building with a 4' solid wall and chicken wire from there up separating them. Each coop has shavings on the floor (concrete floor), 4-5 nest boxes with hay in them, a water bucket with 3-4 nipples and a bucket heater in them, and an enclosed oil radiant heater. All of the water bucket heaters are plugged in (it has been in the teens and even below zero here already) and it appears the chickens are drinking from them. This is not a foreign concept to any of my chickens. I have two of the radiant heaters running on low and it seems to be keeping things fairly cozy in the coops. All of the chickens are used to free ranging, but have been confined since I put them in these coops a week ago so they can get used to their new homes. I did not get the outdoor runs finished before the snow fell, so since last Wednesday evening, they have been confined only to the coops. I have one other flock of free range chickens that chose to take up residence in my barn along with my 5 free range turkeys (Royal Plams). I kept most of these as free range barn chickens as they seem pretty happy and content in the barn.

    On Saturday, my daughter found one of the young barn chickens dead. She was one that had hatched under a broody hen late this summer. I I think she may have been steeped on by a horse as there was some trauma to her head, so her death may just be a coincidence. On Monday night, my son found one of my 6 month old roosters dead in one of the coops. Last night, he found a 2 year old dead hen dead in another coop, then this morning, I found another 6 month old hen dead in the same coop as the rooster. I have not changed anything except the coop. When we go in to feed, they all seem happy and content, eating, and appear to be drinking as the water level in the buckets is going down consistently. Egg production has also completely stopped, although that was a problem before I moved them. I was hoping they were just laying elsewhere and confining them to a coop would help me find the eggs, but there has been NOTHING since I moved them a week ago this evening.

    I feed Nutrena all-flock and give cracked corn in the morning as a scratch grain. I go through both fairly quickly, so there have been new bags opened on a regular basis. Nothing has seemed off about the feed and they are all eating fine.

    Any ideas or suggestions for me??
     
  2. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

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    Do you supply grit for them? The reason I ask, is that when they free range, they're usually fine without a supply of grit because they find it in the dirt outside. But now that they have concrete floors, there's no grit. Chickens need grit for digestion, or they can actually starve. That's something that I didn't learn right away.

    That's the only thing I can think of that may be different......
     
  3. ten chicks

    ten chicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Check your feed for any mold, Have you recently introduced any new birds? Any symptoms? Check to make sure you are not using anything that contains teflon.
     
  4. TMNfarm

    TMNfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 23, 2012
    Northern MN
    I haven't given them grit, but I will get some. They have only been in this coop for a week tonight...

    My feed seems fine. I haven't noticed any mold. I checked that right away. No new birds. Anything new was hatched and raised here and nothing sonce late summer. Nothing has Teflon. The water buckets and two of the heaters are new...
     
  5. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

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    Strasburg Ohio
    Everything sounds good. Grit was the only thing I could think of.

    I did have another thought....Could something be creeping around and scaring them at night? Like a predator (fox, raccoon, weasel or anything like that) could be trying to get to them and when chickens get scared, they sometimes fling themselves around and end up being hurt or they can have a heart attack... That's kind of far fetched, but it can happen.

    I sure hope you figure out what's wrong. Seems like you've got a very nice setup. No symptoms of illness at all then?
     
  6. Phoenixxx

    Phoenixxx Chillin' With My Peeps

    The finish on the heater doesn't contain any teflon? Might want to look into that, as teflon - when heated - is deadly toxic. Also, some rough service light bulbs are coated with teflon, specifically "tuff light" from what I've read.

    Do any of the construction materials you used contain any potentially harmful stuff?

    Is there maybe a parasite overload? (Worms, mites.)

    That's about all I can think of if you have no signs of disease.
     
  7. Phoenixxx

    Phoenixxx Chillin' With My Peeps

    "Using space heaters, gas fireplaces and other human-oriented winter heating devices can lead to tragedies with our pet birds. Some space heaters contain components coated with polymers containing polytetrafluroethylene (PTFE), the same element in nonstick cookware that (when overheated) emits fumes deadly to birds. Contact manufacturers for information about the specific item you’re interested in purchasing."

    From this link:

    http://www.birdchannel.com/bird-housing/bird-safety-tips/safe-winter-heat.aspx
     
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