Over the course of 1 year, 4 chickens dead


10 Years
Apr 8, 2009
Hey guys, I am hoping for some help.

We started with backyard chickens about a year ago when we purchased three 5 month old chickens from a small farm with about 20 chickens. The first chicken died suddenly at 7 months old -- our vet said it was pneumonia. The second chicken died at 8 months old. A necropsy revealed tumors in her intestinal tract--she displayed the same symptoms as the first chicken and died that same night. At this point, we contacted the person we bought the chickens from and she told us that they hadn't been vaccinated for Marek's.

A few months later we purchased 4 chicks from a local feed store, which we were told were vaccinated. They are now 7 months old. About a month ago, one of the chickens started to display paralysis in her legs and lethargy--she died that night. Tonight we found another chicken with the exact same symptoms--leg paralysis and lethargy. We are assuming that she will not be alive in the morning.

We are freaking out. We now have four remaining chickens--we've lost half of our flock. This has obviously occurred over a long period of time and all the chickens are more or less the same age when they die--7-8 months old. We've checked their food and water, and they haven't had access to anything poisonous. We are worried that we're doing something wrong but have done a lot of research and asked a lot of people, and it doesn't seem like this is our fault.

Does this sound like Marek's to you? If it does, is it possible that the chicks weren't vaccinated? What the heck do we do?!

Thanks in advance.

I have also lost a chicken, reading what you have written it sounds the same, she was healthy looking, clean all over, clear eyes and I cannot find out what killed her, she went quickly downhill, did not want to stand up, I seperated her and got some water down her but she died within 24 hours. I sent some of her and the others droppings to the vet and they had them tested, they have told me today that they need worming and that also they have (please excuse spelling writing what I thought it sounded like) Campher L'bacter and the vet is calling me back on this. I am told that this is bad for humans can cause real bad stomach aches etc and that the two together may well have been responsible for the hen dropping down so quickly.
I had no idea hens had to be vacinated and just bought 6 from a local farm shop which were far younger than I realised. The vet really believes as we have never had hens before that they came with the disease.
I know its hard to diganose on line but I thought maybe sharing experience would help and will let you know what the vet says when she calls me later. Good luck.
Chicken do not HAVE to be vaccinated. Some routinely vaccinate their birds; others never do so. There are many vaccines, so even if chicks were vaccinated, it may not have been for Mareks (or whatever they died from. Also, NO vaccine is 100% effective, regardless of whether we are talking chickens, dogs, horses or humans.

As a creature that is commonly prey to many predators, chickens usually do not show symptoms until they are very ill, meaning that timely, correct treatment is sometimes difficult. Many illnesses have similar symptoms.
Worms and other parasites can literally suck the life out of a chicken. If a vet said to worm them, do so ASAP.

If they have camphylobacter you need to treat with a strong antibiotic as prescribed by the vet. This is a zoonotic disease, and may well be reportable in your state. Definitely wash hands thoroughly after being around your birds, do NOT eat the birds or eggs. You will need to thoroughly disinfect their housing, and ascertain whether your drinking water is safe (they could have acquired the bacteria from well or ground water). http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/index.jsp?cfile=htm/bc/201600.htm

says that camphylobacter is "generally nonpathogenic in mature poultry."
slwattsie, I don't think you and I have the same issue. Our vet has examined the chickens and worms aren't an issue. I wish you luck with your chickens.

Sonoran Silkies--in your experience, does Marek's kill very young chicks, or chickens this age? I seem to be getting mixed information. Do you have any advice as to what we can do to make sure the rest of our chickens are okay? Thank you.

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