Please Help...two chickens have died in the past 4 days

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by eyes88, Jun 9, 2008.

  1. eyes88

    eyes88 New Egg

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    Please help...

    Let me first start by saying that i don't know much about raising chickens. We've had chickens now for two years, and until a few days ago, everything has been problem free. My kids go to an alternative school and one of the teachers who lives on a farm and each year raises chicks in the kindergarten. My son adopted 2 hens two years ago, and my daughter 2 more last year. They are family pets that provide us with more eggs then we can eat. What i've learned about chickens has been from this teacher and other families who have adopted chicks. We live about 25 miles from NYC, so it's not a farming community.

    Everything has been fine and trouble free until last Friday (6/6). I went out to the coop and discovered one of the hens was dead. She was fine the day before, and there was no physical sign of trauma. Today i discovered a second hen had died. [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I have no idea what has killed these two birds, and don't want anything to happen to the remaining two. Any advice, help, suggestions, would be more than appreciated.

    1) What type of bird , age and weight.

    I don't know the name of the breeds (one was gray with white flecks - she was two years old; the other was red and one year old

    2) What is the behavior, exactly.

    The hens were eating an acting normal the last time each was seen alive. (in each case the night before).

    3) Is there any bleeding, injury, broken bones or other sign of trauma.

    No blood, no sign of physical trauma. No missing feathers, etc.

    4) What happened, if anything that you know of, that may have caused the situation.

    Both birds appeared to be happy, healthy and normal. Before Friday they had been free-ranging (Tue and Wed). There was no sign that anything was wrong. I was totally shocked - both times to find the hens had died. It was so sudden, and there was no warning (of which i was aware), that anything was wrong with either chicken. They look just as fine as the two that are still alive.

    5) What has the bird been eating and drinking, if at all.

    Until the hens were discovered dead (4 days apart), they had been eating normally. The hens are fed Moyers 20% Laying Pellets, and table scraps (mostly things like pasta, cooked rice, bread, watermelon, apples, egg shells, etc. basically things we eat that they seem to like - no junk food and no meat). I have two poultry 1 gal. water containers and i replace with fresh water as needed.

    6) How does the poop look? Normal? Bloody? Runny? etc.

    I had some issues with runny poop a few months ago, but it's been fine. That seemed to clear-up on its own several months ago, and the poop looks/looked normal to me.

    7) What has been the treatment you have administered so far?

    none

    8 ) What is your intent as far as treatment? For example, do you want to treat completely yourself, or do you need help in stabilizing the bird til you can get to a vet?

    I don't want the other hens to died, and i don't know what's caused the death of two.

    9) If you have a picture of the wound or condition, please post it. It may help.

    n/a

    10) Describe the housing/bedding in use

    The coop is 4ft x 4ft and 6ft fall - with 3 nesting boxes - and cedar shavings. The coop is pine construction with a cement block floor. There is about 4" of cedar shaving on floor and nesting boxes. There is also hay on top of the shaving in the nesting boxes. The pen is 16ft x 8 ft, totally enclosed (raccoon proof) with a rain tarp over about 2/3 of the space. The floor is dirt, left litter, droppings etc. There are large branches for roosting.

    I have not used any insecticide or herbicide at all and the only fertilizer was applied to the lawn about 6 weeks ago.

    Thanks in advance, for any advice or suggestions....

    Kindest regards,

    - eyes88
     
  2. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    Have you been using cedar shavings all along or is that new? They say you aren't supposed to use cedar because of the fumes the oils can give off.
     
  3. eyes88

    eyes88 New Egg

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    I have been using cedar shaving from the beginning. I was told that it was good for mite/parasite control.

    I know that cedar isn't recommended for hamsters, but is supposedly OK for rabbits. Do you think it is also harmful to chickens?

    If it is, I'll switch, but since i've been using it for two years, i'm guess there has to be another cause.

    Thanks...
    - eyes88
     
  4. Bawkadoodledoo

    Bawkadoodledoo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 4, 2008
    Central MA
    SWITCH FROM CEDAR TO PINE IMMEDIATELY because it hurts their lungs because of the aromatic oils
     
  5. Dinos_rock

    Dinos_rock Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would guess that the problem is the cedar shavings.
     
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    I would think that if cedar shavings were the primary problem, a) the problem would have occurred at some time of the year when the coop is less ventilated than it presumably is right now and the chickens were spending more time indoors; and b) there would likely have been some respiratory symptoms or at least general droopiness. Not saying it's impossible, just doesn't strike me as the likeliest thing in the world.

    It is not absolutely impossible for it to be coincidence, with the hens dying of unrelated or possibly Female Type troubles. (Were their eggs extra-large or tending towards double yolked, by any chance? Any weird globs like hardboiled egg yolk ever show up in the nest box, or visible at the vents of the dead hens?)

    Still, it might be worth going 'round the yard Really Carefully to try to identify any poisonous plants they might've gotten into, or rodent poison, slug bait, etc. Just on the offchance.

    Condolences and good luck,

    Pat
     
  7. eyes88

    eyes88 New Egg

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    Thank you for the suggestions...

    I have some pine shaving i use for our hamsters, so I'm removing the cedar shavings as soon as I finish typing this reply.

    I have not noticed any weird things going on with the eggs. I think between the four hens i've only seen two eggs with double yokes and they occurred when the girls were younger and just starting to lay.

    The thing that really has me scratching my head is that i've been using the cedar for two years without any indications that i was causing the girls unintentional harm.

    - eyes88
     
  8. sammi

    sammi Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 21, 2007
    Southeast USA
    best to get rid of the cedar.

    where were the hens found?
    near the nest boxes? or under the roost?
    any chance of rodents in the coop?
    is the coop secure?

    please describe exactly the color and consistency of droppings.

    I'd cut back on treats..too much treat food fills them up and they don't eat enough of the layer feed.

    have they been wormed? treated for mites?

    please observe your other hens for ANY thing out of the ordinary.
    ever found any soft shelled eggs?

    I agree with Pat..
    check around for anything toxic or bad they might have gotten into..
    have a concern about the fertilizer..
     
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Cedar is not an automatic death sentence as some would have you believe. It is just, all things being equal, probably a risk better avoided IMO. It can (doesn't *always*, but sometimes does) cause respiratory inflammation or damage that predisposes the chicken to other problems e.g. resp. infections. Basically it's just sort of 'hard on them'. That said, many people have used cedar for some years without seeing any problem. Including some gigantic commercial operations that certainly have incentive to reduce fractional mortality.

    I would betcha it depends partly on the exact nature of the cedar bedding (what trees it's from, how finely cut, how long in storage, how ventilated the packaging); partly on how well ventilated your coop is and how much time the chickens spend in there; and partly on the general health of the chickens.

    I truly do not think it's likely to account for your deaths, but at the same time, if you want to be maximally prudent you might consider switching away from it, and I certainly would not suggest anyone switch *to* cedar.

    This is grasping at straws but there are some plants that can develop toxic levels of nitrates (? I may not have that exactly right) if they are well-fertilized and growing rapidly. Including some common lawn weeds. I don't suppose you've spent enough time watching the chickens wander around foraging to have a sense of what they're eating in your yard?

    Pat
     
  10. spatcher

    spatcher Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 13, 2008
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    Could these two hens have been more intolerant to the heat than the other two? I know heat wasnt mentioned but hasnt it been hot in NY this past week?
     

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