Please help! I believe a bacterial infection is killing my girls!

kraftykrow

Songster
Apr 24, 2019
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Indiana, USA
Sorry for the chapter book I'm about to write.

I'm heartbroken. I only have 3 girls and now 2 are gone. I'm so upset, I did everything I could right. I tried to do everything by the books and speak to people here and I knew about raising chickens, and then one died suddenly two weeks ago. I had been on vacation for 3 days and they were pet-sat by my mom. The first one died the day after I came back. I noticed her not eating the millworms I brought them, and standing back from the others, but I thought she was maybe waiting to lay. But they always came running when they saw me, and she didn't. The next day I found her dead and just lost it. Then I learned after the fact that they had gotten an irregular amount of eggs over the weekend and I had only seen 2 eggs (out of the usual 3) the day before and one was soft shell. So I thought maybe this was an egg impaction problem. I started rereading everything I could find on the subject and monitored the other two like a hawk. For a few days their eggs were either soft or not in the nesting box. I assumed this was just a mourning process since these 3 were close-knit sisters. After a week everything was back to normal. A couple of happy hens again.

I was still so upset and paranoid. I completely cleaned out their coop and enclosure the day after her death, even though we had just done this day before our vacation. But since the other two seemed fine, I started to feel better about their safety.

Then, yesterday, I noticed another one, my favorite gal, acting weird. By the time I realized, it was too late. She was lethargic, uninterested in food, etc. I called my friend who raised chickens in the past. He told me he wasn't a vet but I could try giving her an injection of penicillin. So I frantically ran to tractor supply and bought some. But again, it was too late and no vets were open or could probably do anything anyway. I stayed with her all evening until she slowly made her way to the coop and sat down. This morning she was gone. I'm absolutely devastated and desperate to know what to do to save my last girl. She seems so sad, I'm afraid I'll lose her just from her loneliness. She's just walking around crying, but I don't want to put new chickens in danger. These are literal backyard chickens, I don't have a separate coop or space to have other chickens added somewhere else.

I'm just so angry and hurt. I did everything by the books. I gave them the best of everything and loved them. I read articles here and spoke to ppl I know who've raised them for years. I made sure they never got overheated and it hasn't even been that hot in these last few weeks when this happened. I've only had them for 5 months but these were my babies. I'm a greenhorn but I took this VERY seriously. I am not getting a lot of... sympathy from ppl around here. A lot of people don't understand why I'm so broken up over chickens.

Please, PLEASE help me save my last girl. My friend told me to give my last girl the penicillin for the next 5 days and give her electrolytes in her water for a time. Besides her obvious confusion over where her sister is, she seems perfectly healthy... for now.

Sorry again for the long post, but any advice is great.... Thank you.
 

ChickenCanoe

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You have to find out what killed the other two chickens (sounds like it was the same).
The problem isn't necessarily bacterial, it could be viral, fungal, etc.. Antibiotics won't help that.
The ONLY way to know that is to send one of the carcasses to the state poultry lab for necropsy and lab work.
Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Purdue University
406 South University St
West Lafayette, Indiana 47907-2065
Phone: 765-494-7440
 

kraftykrow

Songster
Apr 24, 2019
120
199
116
Indiana, USA
You have to find out what killed the other two chickens (sounds like it was the same).
The problem isn't necessarily bacterial, it could be viral, fungal, etc.. Antibiotics won't help that.
The ONLY way to know that is to send one of the carcasses to the state poultry lab for necropsy and lab work.
Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Purdue University
406 South University St
West Lafayette, Indiana 47907-2065
Phone: 765-494-7440

I've already buried them after keeping them in a freezer, will that obsure the results? Also one was buried 15 days ago, so doubt there is anything left of her. I didn't put their bodies inside anything. Just returned them to the Earth.
 

kraftykrow

Songster
Apr 24, 2019
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Indiana, USA
Also, someone had called the tractor supply and other farm store in my area the day before me apparently, looking for the same medicine. Both places told me there have been a lot of farms coming in saying a bacterial infection was taking out their flocks this year. But mine would have no contact with other chickens. They didn't come from a local source either. So I don't think any of that would matter but just want to share all the info I can.
 

ChickenCanoe

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If heaven forbid, anything happens to this bird, you can't freeze a bird before necropsy. It needs to be refrigerated. You can call the lab and ask how they want it sent. Usually they will send you a FedEx label for shipping.
I usually keep a small insulation lined box and some freezer packs in the freezer for the purpose just in case I need to know how a bird died.
 

kraftykrow

Songster
Apr 24, 2019
120
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Indiana, USA
If heaven forbid, anything happens to this bird, you can't freeze a bird before necropsy. It needs to be refrigerated. You can call the lab and ask how they want it sent. Usually they will send you a FedEx label for shipping.
I usually keep a small insulation lined box and some freezer packs in the freezer for the purpose just in case I need to know how a bird died.

Yeah, I'm a newb and despite how hard I've tried to be a good chicken owner, feel like I'm failing at every turn. Really discouraging to even try again if my last one goes. I don't want to be responsible for more death.
 

ChickenCanoe

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Also, someone had called the tractor supply and other farm store in my area the day before me apparently, looking for the same medicine. Both places told me there have been a lot of farms coming in saying a bacterial infection was taking out their flocks this year. But mine would have no contact with other chickens. They didn't come from a local source either. So I don't think any of that would matter but just want to share all the info I can.
Thanks for sharing. There may be something going around but my best bet is that none of those people have had a necropsy or a vet examination to determine it is bacterial. It is at leas as likely it is viral.
Most people jump to the conclusion that it is bacterial. Some will even try antibiotics even when they know the problem is viral. That is how antibiotic resistant superbugs are created.
 
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ChickenCanoe

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Yeah, I'm a newb and despite how hard I've tried to be a good chicken owner, feel like I'm failing at every turn. Really discouraging to even try again if my last one goes. I don't want to be responsible for more death.
Don't beat yourself up, it isn't necessarily your fault. The reality is that chickens die. Someone once said that if dogs died at the rate of chickens, no one would have dogs.
With only 3 chickens, a small blip can be devastating.
The unexpected happens to all of us. I've had chickens off and on over 60 years. I hate to think of all the birds I've lost. Some were my fault. Most just happen even while trying to do the best for them.
 

kraftykrow

Songster
Apr 24, 2019
120
199
116
Indiana, USA
Don't beat yourself up, it isn't necessarily your fault. The reality is that chickens die. Someone once said that if dogs died at the rate of chickens, no one would have dogs.
With only 3 chickens, a small blip can be devastating.
The unexpected happens to all of us. I've had chickens off and on over 60 years. I hate to think of all the birds I've lost. Some were my fault. Most just happen even while trying to do the best for them.

I really appreciate the support. Many people have told me things like chickens can die just because they felt like it, but it doesn't make me feel better. With the set up I have right now, having more than 4 would be crowded (at least in my opinion). I have a 132 sq ft enclosure and a 16 sq ft coop that we keep up with very well. I can't free range them in my yard, it's very open and a pair of hawks live in the tree next door. Everyday I see them sitting on a phone wire in my yard but their set up is protected like an iron fortress. We also have feral cats behind us.

I take pet owning very seriously and so does my wife. She typed up a 4 page document of what foods they can and can't eat... Heck maybe I tried too hard to be perfect :/ Maybe it was too much of a variety of food and something wasn't right.

OH! Also want to mention, despite her state she did fly up to the nesting box and lay a perfectly healthy egg yesterday and I saw her stool once and it was greenish and watery.
 

ChickenCanoe

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10 Years
Nov 23, 2010
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I really appreciate the support. Many people have told me things like chickens can die just because they felt like it, but it doesn't make me feel better. With the set up I have right now, having more than 4 would be crowded (at least in my opinion). I have a 132 sq ft enclosure and a 16 sq ft coop that we keep up with very well. I can't free range them in my yard, it's very open and a pair of hawks live in the tree next door. Everyday I see them sitting on a phone wire in my yard but their set up is protected like an iron fortress. We also have feral cats behind us.

I take pet owning very seriously and so does my wife. She typed up a 4 page document of what foods they can and can't eat... Heck maybe I tried too hard to be perfect :/ Maybe it was too much of a variety of food and something wasn't right.

OH! Also want to mention, despite her state she did fly up to the nesting box and lay a perfectly healthy egg yesterday and I saw her stool once and it was greenish and watery.
There is a clue for us. They really don't NEED anything other than a complete chicken feed. It is formulated to meet all the vitamin, mineral, amino acid, fat and energy requirements chickens are known to need to be healthy. Feeding too many other things can create nutritional deficiencies.
 

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