Newly bought chicks are dying of a strange disease- seems neurological

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Avalon1984, Jul 5, 2011.

  1. Avalon1984

    Avalon1984 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 22, 2010
    Muskegon
    I bought 20 chicks from a local hatchery on Saturday to use as meat birds and some to add to my flock. They were different breeds, a few barred rocks, a Brahma, some other breed and a Turken. 20 male chicks altogether. Because I have 60 more chickens I am very worried about diseases and isolated the newcomers right away. They all seemed to be a couple of days old and I started them on medicated feed and electrolyte water to help them over the change. I put a heat lamp over them and made sure the temp was between 90-95 degrees. I made sure there was no crowding, or hiding from the heat lamp. All seemed happy. The next morning I found one of the chicks dead, laying on his back in the water. I thought that was strange. His legs were stretched out but I could see no obvious reason for his death. I figured it was the stress-until midday, another chick became ill, started to lay down, and eventually died. It was gasping for air and seemed to have a seizure before finally dying. His head was shaking quite bad. All in all, it took less than 1 hr from the appearance of the symptoms to its death. The next day 2 more died. I called the hatchery and was told that “ that happens, it is chicks”. I explained that I had raised 80+ chicks myself this year and lost only 2, so 4 out of 20 seemed a bit high. He said I could pick up new ones. Today I come home for lunch to find one of the BR’s and the Turken dead. Same thing. Legs stretched out underneath them and they died within 9AM and noon. I have done everything I can to keep these guys alive but now I am terribly worried about what kind of disease would strike so fast. I explained to the Hatchery that I was planning on returning the birds as I don’t know what disease this is and I will not spread it to my birds. If they don’t take them back I am afraid I may have to kill the rest to make sure that whatever caused that will not endanger my other guys. This is my first, and terrible experience with a hatchery and I will now go back to incubating out of my own flock. I was really looking forward to receiving some new breeds but this is just terrible, especially when you do all you can to try and save those guys. Does anybody here have an idea of what this is? I looked at all the typical diseases, but no lethargy or bloody poo as in Cocci, no paralysis like in Marecks, no nasal discharge or any sign of respiratory disease. What am I missing? What other information could I supply? I only bought these birds on Saturday and I already lost 6 out of 20 today. I am dreading to come home and potentially find more. [​IMG]
     
  2. PAchickenlover

    PAchickenlover Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sorry you are loosing your birds. Wish I had some answers for you but I don't. I hope someone else can help you here. I'll keep you in my thoughts though. [​IMG]
     
  3. Avalon1984

    Avalon1984 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 22, 2010
    Muskegon
    Thank you so much PAChickenlover. I am just devastated. I have never had so many chicks die at once. It is just terrible and makes me very worried about my other chicks. I sure am glad I isolated them right away but still. It is sad.
     
  4. Gullygarden

    Gullygarden Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would change out the food and bedding in case something is contaminated or moldy. is anything different from when you raised your last batch? any chance the feed is over medicated, or bad?
     
  5. Avalon1984

    Avalon1984 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 22, 2010
    Muskegon
    Quote:Thank you for your response. I change the bedding and water every single day. The medicated food is fresh and I am feeding it to my other chicks as well and they are fine. What struck me with the batch I bought was that they all seemed too..."friendly". My newborn chicks will peep and run all over the place when I stick my hand in the brooder. Those guys didn't. They walked around a bit but never freaked. Also, the first 2 dead ones seemed to have no food in their crop whatsoever, even though I showed all of them where teh food was and they were eagerly eating. [​IMG]
     
  6. RedHead

    RedHead Chillin' With My Peeps

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    East Lake, NC
    Found this and thought it may be useful to you. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ps044
    [​IMG] I'm sorry I can't be of more help, hopefully someone on here with more experience will be able to help you out.

    ETA: Does this seem to fit? just a thought..
    Avian Encephalomyelitis

    Synonyms: epidemic tremor, AE

    Species affected: The disease is most prevalent in chickens less than 6 weeks of age. Pheasants, corturnix quail, and turkeys are natural hosts as well, but less susceptible than chickens. Ducklings, young pigeons, and guinea fowl can be experimentally infected.

    Clinical signs: Signs commonly appear during the first week of life and between the second and third weeks. Affected chicks may first show a dull expression of the eyes, followed by progressive incoordination, sitting on hocks, tremors of the head and neck, and finally paralysis or prostration. Affected chicks are inactive. Some may refuse to walk or will walk on their hocks. In advanced cases, many chicks will lie with both feet out to one side (prostrate) and die. All stages (dullness, tremors, prostration) can usually be seen in an affected flock. Feed and water consumption decreases and the birds lose weight. In adult birds, a transitory drop (5-20 percent) in egg production may be the only clinical sign present. However, in breeding flocks, a corresponding decrease in hatchability is also noted as the virus is egg- transmitted until hens develop immunity. Chickens which survive the clinical disease may develop cataracts later in life (see Table 2 ).

    Transmission: The virus can be transmitted through the egg from infected hen to chick, accounting for disease during the first week of life. The disease can also be spread through a flock by direct contact of susceptible hatchlings with infected birds, accounting for the disease at 2-3 weeks of age. Indirect spread can occur through fecal contamination of feed and water. Recovered birds are immune and do not spread the virus.

    Treatment: There is no treatment for outbreaks. Infected birds should be removed, killed and incinerated. Recovered chicks are unthrifty.

    Prevention: A vaccine is available.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2011
  7. Avalon1984

    Avalon1984 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 22, 2010
    Muskegon
    Quote:Thank you so much redhead. That sounds almost exactly like what I have. It also goes along with the smell of decomposition in the air at that place. My hubby made a funny comment that they must have a dead chicken pile around and I laughed and said that they probably just shot a raccoon that is laying in the woods but now, with the high percentage of fatalities I believe he may have been right. I was so stupid. I should have never gone there. Now I may end up having to kill the remaining chicks. So terrible.
     
  8. RedHead

    RedHead Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG] I'm sorry I couldn't come up with a better possibility than that. Don't blame yourself for this. If you can, take one of the dead chicks for a necropsy, if they'll do it. Just to, at the very least, try to confirm what the disease is.
     
  9. ranchhand

    ranchhand Rest in Peace 1956-2011

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    Sorry this is going badly for you.

    How old are the chicks and what is the temp at chick level? Many times, chicks are lost to being too hot rather than too cold.
     
  10. Gullygarden

    Gullygarden Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How very sad. I wish I could have helped!
     

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