One RIR Left

Jun 4, 2018
5
0
2
Hi All!

This is my first post so hopefully I cover everything here necessary to get some help. Thanks for letting me join this great community!

We got our first RIRs a little over a year ago now and things were going great so we decided to introduce two more two months ago. We purchased the girls from the same local farm and all were around the same age (6-8 months).

Here's the back story: About two weeks ago we had some non-stop rain for a week straight, no sunshine, it was relentless. And while we needed it for our plants I think our 4 RIRs got very stressed and were not able to leave their coop. We went back one night and our newest RIR was unfortunately dead in the corner. Shocked since these are our first hens my husband and I did not know what to do.

I immediately came here to search for help when one of our other new hens started showing very weird symptoms (swollen eyes, hunched over, not eating or drinking, bad breathing patterns, just standing in the corner). We isolated her from our other two. We decided we were against shooting our girls up with antibiotics so we decided to try some VetRX. She eventually passed on later that week. Now I'm beginning to think the two newest hens we introduced maybe brought an illness into the flock that they had from the farm we got them from? But I'm still clueless at this point.

A few days later one of our original RIRs started showing odd behaviors too (one eye would be closed, roosting a lot, she still drank a good amount of water but wasn't eating). I immediately isolated her too from our other just in case. We gave her VetRX too hoping we caught this one early enough. She never showed severe symptoms like our other but after 2-3 days she too was just hunched over by her water, listless and lethargic. She was drinking water but not eating, and her poop was clear. I figured from all the drinking but no eating. After some research I thought maybe she had become egg bound so I did a warm epsom salt bath but she could barley even hold her head up and that didn't seem to help her. Sadly, we had to say goodbye to her just yesterday.

Here's my first question now: Now we're left with one RIR. Who seems to be doing okay besides the fact that she's very confused as to where all her sisters went and why she can't get in her normal nesting place. Her poop looks normal, she's eating and drinking, running around the yard, her color looks good. She has not laid, which I don't blame her for what she's been going through but she has laid in the nest and is cooing. I wonder if either (a) she's a carrier of whatever infection was going around the flock? Still not sure if this was Coryza or what (b) She's egg bound?

Here's my second question now: I closed off the coop so I could do a very deep cleaning and sanitizing it before letting her back in. Is that smart? Once I get back there today to finish sanitizing everything should I wait some more time to let her back in? If yes, how long? Our coop setup is somewhat back on a woods line so it unfortunately doesn't get a ton of sunlight, which is why we let them out to roam a lot. I just want to ensure I do everything I can to keep our last RIR around, healthy and comfortable if I can.

Thanks for listening to my long story =) I can't thank this community enough for all of your help and insight in advance!
 

coach723

Free Ranging
5 Years
Feb 12, 2015
4,456
8,231
501
North Florida
Unfortunately, without a necropsy there is no way to know for sure. It's possible that it was a virus brought in by the new birds, or wild birds even. Coccidiosis also comes to mind, could also have been brought in by new birds, or could have been a 'bloom' in the environment due to all the rain and wetness. I doubt your remaining bird is egg bound. Any kind of stress can put them off laying for a while. She is likely very lonely by herself. Sanitizing the coop is a good idea, but not knowing what actually happened to your birds, it may or may not get rid of whatever it was. Some virus's can survive a long time in the environment, coccidia are everywhere and nearly impossible to get rid of. If this bird shows symptoms at some point I would strongly recommend you get a necropsy done to positively identify whatever is going on, or if you end up adding some birds and it happens again. Sorry to not be more helpful, there are so many things that are possible and we are only guessing.
For future reference her are some resources for necropsy:
https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/nahln/downloads/all_nahln_lab_list.pdf
 

townchicks

Free Ranging
Dec 1, 2016
1,998
6,432
666
Contra Costa county, Ca.
So sorry about your losses, and welcome to the group. It may be helpful to talk to the farm where you got the birds. Depending on the honesty of the farmer, of course, but if they have had an outbreak recently, they may know what it was. Your surviving bird may have a stronger immune system, but still be a carrier, especially if they all came from the same place.
 
Jun 4, 2018
5
0
2
So sorry about your losses, and welcome to the group. It may be helpful to talk to the farm where you got the birds. Depending on the honesty of the farmer, of course, but if they have had an outbreak recently, they may know what it was. Your surviving bird may have a stronger immune system, but still be a carrier, especially if they all came from the same place.
Thanks @townchicks!

I did reach out to the farmer actually -- she said "I have sold 100 of them and you are the only one! So look closely to other things! And as for chickens 2 weeks is the max time for any percussion!" Her first reaction was that maybe they caught a mouse, frog or snake? We thought getting them all from the same farm at the same age would be a good idea based on our research but I'm not sure what went wrong. Our one remaining RIR is one of the very first ones we got that has been with us for over a year now. Hoping she is able to pull through but time will tell I suppose! I'm just trying to keep a close eye on her now.
 
Jun 4, 2018
5
0
2
Unfortunately, without a necropsy there is no way to know for sure. It's possible that it was a virus brought in by the new birds, or wild birds even. Coccidiosis also comes to mind, could also have been brought in by new birds, or could have been a 'bloom' in the environment due to all the rain and wetness. I doubt your remaining bird is egg bound. Any kind of stress can put them off laying for a while. She is likely very lonely by herself. Sanitizing the coop is a good idea, but not knowing what actually happened to your birds, it may or may not get rid of whatever it was. Some virus's can survive a long time in the environment, coccidia are everywhere and nearly impossible to get rid of. If this bird shows symptoms at some point I would strongly recommend you get a necropsy done to positively identify whatever is going on, or if you end up adding some birds and it happens again. Sorry to not be more helpful, there are so many things that are possible and we are only guessing.
For future reference her are some resources for necropsy:
https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/nahln/downloads/all_nahln_lab_list.pdf
I totally understand it's hard to pin-point it @coach723. But thanks for your help! I'm wondering if maybe I should just make a quick make-shift coop for her to roost & nest in for the next few weeks and keep a close eye on her before moving her back to the old sanitized coop?
 

townchicks

Free Ranging
Dec 1, 2016
1,998
6,432
666
Contra Costa county, Ca.
So maybe the farmer is telling you the truth, or maybe not, no way to know. It is not uncommon for people that raise animals for money to deny everything. It's also possible that no one else came back to her because they didn't think to, or thought it would do no good. Too bad. Her suggestion doesn't sound plausible, that might cause one hen a problem, but not three. From what I've read here, chickens eat mice and snakes a lot, w/o problems. Don't know about frogs. Good luck with your remaining hen. If she stays healthy for a while, you might try getting her a couple of friends, knowing that she could be a carrier, and there is some risk. She'll be happier.
 

coach723

Free Ranging
5 Years
Feb 12, 2015
4,456
8,231
501
North Florida
My chickens eat mice, frogs, lizards, all the time when they find them. No snakes that I'm aware of, they are probably too big. No issues with any of those things making them sick. If they'd found something toxic or rotten and been poisoned I'd be inclined to think they would have all gotten sick much closer together in time than it sounds like they did.
 
Jun 4, 2018
5
0
2
My chickens eat mice, frogs, lizards, all the time when they find them. No snakes that I'm aware of, they are probably too big. No issues with any of those things making them sick. If they'd found something toxic or rotten and been poisoned I'd be inclined to think they would have all gotten sick much closer together in time than it sounds like they did.
@coach723 that was my reaction to the farmer's comment too -- we've actually fed our girls garden snakes that we've killed and they loved them. They all did get sick a few days apart from each other. Within 3-4 days I would say. Maybe our last RIR didn't eat or get into whatever they did? if it was an infection that was airborne bird-to-bird she would be sick now too I would think.
 

Hen Pen Jem

Crowing
Sep 19, 2017
1,633
5,271
342
Southern California
Greetings fluffednfeathered,

First welcome to BYC! :frow

coach723, has made many good points. Sounds like it was some sort of respiratory infection. In the future, it is always important to quarantine new birds for at least two weeks. I quarantine for 2 to 3 months, depending on where they came from.

In some instances, VetRx can treat minor sniffles or sneezes.
But, your choice to use VetRx as a treatment for an infection that was visibly spreading to other birds, was futile. VetRx, does have value, but, only as a comfort treatment for symptoms like stuffy or sneezy nostrils and weepy eyes. It is a like a Vicks rub for people. A comfortable chicken will heal faster.

Respiratory illnesses are incredibly lethal to poultry, as, their respiratory system is different from other animals. Not only do they have lungs, they also have air sacs. If infection moves from the sinuses to the lungs this is bad, but when it moves from the lungs to the air sacs, it is finished, the birds die. Once a bird starts to cough or sneeze, the infection is airborne. The flock has been exposed, and one by one, will start to fall ill. The keeper must act quickly, as the clock is ticking.

Since you don't want to use traditional antibiotics at this point, it would be good to invest in a bottle of Denagard. This medicine is mixed into the water, and will treat the entire flock. There is no egg withdrawal, and it is even effective against tylosin resistant strains of mycoplasma.

If you didn't notice a foul odor in your sick chickens, they possibly had a mycoplasma infection. Denagard is also effective against other types of bacteria that cause intestinal symptoms, too. Its only caution, is that you cannot use it with anticoccidial medications at the same time, due to drug interaction. I will send you the brochure if you would like to read more about it.

I had a similar thing happen when I brought in three new pullets a few years ago. Thankfully I quarantined them. They started to show respiratory symptoms the day after bringing them home. I tried oral enrofloxacin, herbal remedy (grapefruit seed extract), and albon. Only the Denagard worked, the birds responded quickly. Within three days they were 50% healed, and cured in 5 days. The taste is horrible, so you have to mix half a can of apple juice concentrate in so the chickens will drink it. And a fresh batch is made each day.

I doubt your surviving bird is a carrier, since she never developed symptoms. She may simply be naturally resistant to the pathogen. I have two hens like that. Infectious Bronchitis hit my flock this year. Two hens never developed symptoms. They are not the carriers of the infection, neither are related and came into the flock, years apart. They are naturally resistant to IB, but, maybe something else will get them in the future.

Also, since the new chickens were with your other two for over a month before the illness started, it's highly possible that the infection was just a combination of weather related stress, and infection that came in from rodents or insects.

Have the Denagard on hand, just in case, and if you can afford it...build an extended roof over the run so the birds can come out to exercise and get fresh air, without getting soaked. Sanitize your coop, spray a bleach and water solution, after a dry, then soap cleaning.

Then, go get some new pullets. In this particular case, it would be pointless to quarantine since you only have the one chicken. If you do not want to cull her, you'll just have to take the chance that she doesn't have the infection. You can wait another week or two, to see if she develops symptoms. The incubation period for most mycoplasmas is 4 days to 3 weeks.

These are my thoughts on your flock's situation. I hope this is helpful.

God Bless and peace to you :)
 
Jun 4, 2018
5
0
2
Greetings fluffednfeathered,

First welcome to BYC! :frow

coach723, has made many good points. Sounds like it was some sort of respiratory infection. In the future, it is always important to quarantine new birds for at least two weeks. I quarantine for 2 to 3 months, depending on where they came from.

In some instances, VetRx can treat minor sniffles or sneezes.
But, your choice to use VetRx as a treatment for an infection that was visibly spreading to other birds, was futile. VetRx, does have value, but, only as a comfort treatment for symptoms like stuffy or sneezy nostrils and weepy eyes. It is a like a Vicks rub for people. A comfortable chicken will heal faster.

Respiratory illnesses are incredibly lethal to poultry, as, their respiratory system is different from other animals. Not only do they have lungs, they also have air sacs. If infection moves from the sinuses to the lungs this is bad, but when it moves from the lungs to the air sacs, it is finished, the birds die. Once a bird starts to cough or sneeze, the infection is airborne. The flock has been exposed, and one by one, will start to fall ill. The keeper must act quickly, as the clock is ticking.

Since you don't want to use traditional antibiotics at this point, it would be good to invest in a bottle of Denagard. This medicine is mixed into the water, and will treat the entire flock. There is no egg withdrawal, and it is even effective against tylosin resistant strains of mycoplasma.

If you didn't notice a foul odor in your sick chickens, they possibly had a mycoplasma infection. Denagard is also effective against other types of bacteria that cause intestinal symptoms, too. Its only caution, is that you cannot use it with anticoccidial medications at the same time, due to drug interaction. I will send you the brochure if you would like to read more about it.

I had a similar thing happen when I brought in three new pullets a few years ago. Thankfully I quarantined them. They started to show respiratory symptoms the day after bringing them home. I tried oral enrofloxacin, herbal remedy (grapefruit seed extract), and albon. Only the Denagard worked, the birds responded quickly. Within three days they were 50% healed, and cured in 5 days. The taste is horrible, so you have to mix half a can of apple juice concentrate in so the chickens will drink it. And a fresh batch is made each day.

I doubt your surviving bird is a carrier, since she never developed symptoms. She may simply be naturally resistant to the pathogen. I have two hens like that. Infectious Bronchitis hit my flock this year. Two hens never developed symptoms. They are not the carriers of the infection, neither are related and came into the flock, years apart. They are naturally resistant to IB, but, maybe something else will get them in the future.

Also, since the new chickens were with your other two for over a month before the illness started, it's highly possible that the infection was just a combination of weather related stress, and infection that came in from rodents or insects.

Have the Denagard on hand, just in case, and if you can afford it...build an extended roof over the run so the birds can come out to exercise and get fresh air, without getting soaked. Sanitize your coop, spray a bleach and water solution, after a dry, then soap cleaning.

Then, go get some new pullets. In this particular case, it would be pointless to quarantine since you only have the one chicken. If you do not want to cull her, you'll just have to take the chance that she doesn't have the infection. You can wait another week or two, to see if she develops symptoms. The incubation period for most mycoplasmas is 4 days to 3 weeks.

These are my thoughts on your flock's situation. I hope this is helpful.

God Bless and peace to you :)
This is incredibly helpful @Hen Pen Jem - thank you!! If it was a respiratory illness will it remain in the coop where they were until it is sanitized? I started making a quick makeshift coop for our 1 RIR so she has a roof over her head and a roost for the night with some shield against predators that she can use for the next few days/weeks until we can get the old coop cleaned up and sanitized from the illness.

I read somewhere that it's a bad idea to use bleach for cleaning the coop and suggested using vinegar and dish soap. What have you seen success with? Thanks so much!
 
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