pullet died... diagnosis? precautionary measures for remaining flock?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by coopncottage, Nov 8, 2012.

  1. coopncottage

    coopncottage Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 22, 2011
    Front Range
    Hi all --

    Last July, we brought home a young blue orpington. When we were leaving the breeder's, my young daughter noticed a little, stunted lavender orp pullet. She begged to be able to take her home. The breeder (and I ) tried to talk her out of it, but the breeder thought the pullet wasn't sick, just runty. (I later thought she probably had runting stunting syndrome, but am not sure. Her feathers seemed a bit spindly, and both pullets seemed a bit underweight. I caved in and agreed to bring the little one home. She seemed to pick up at first. She died three days later. The blue was probably about 12 weeks old. She seemed fine, though we noticed that when she walked it was with one foot directly in front of the other--like she was on a balance beam. Then she developed respiratory symptoms. I started her on antibiotics, and she was already getting vitamins/minerals and electrolytes. Mostly sneezing. But no other real symptoms.

    In spite of our efforts to quarantine, two of our other hens came down with the illness. I separated them as well, and started everyone on abx. They bounced back quickly. But I noticed that after the blue recovered, she was laying down a lot. Seemed to stagger or walk unsteadily, holding a wing out for balance. She was eating and drinking fine. No signs of trauma. Her breeder had her game bird starter, which we kept her on for awhile but later gradually switched her to flock raiser. Poop looked normal. She seemed to kind of normalize a bit. I put her in with the other hens. She did roost with the other girls a few times, but then went to just sleeping in the nesting box at night as she seemed unable to get onto even the lowest roost.

    The last few weeks, she goes back and forth between seeming fine and seeming half-paralyzed.

    This morning I found her in the coop, dead. She would have been about 7 - 8 months old. Never laid an egg. Never really gained. (She always threw her feed out of the feeder to eat it off the floor of the coop).

    So what I'm wondering is... If we were to bring in two young pullets, we'd quarantine them, but are there other measures we should take? Vaccination? Could our hens (or the coop/grounds) be carrying whatever it was that Luna had?

    Thanks for any insights or suggestions. Learned a lot with this experience, sadly. Not sure if we'll feel at ease buying from a breeder again. A hatchery seems less risky, after all of this.
  2. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

    Sep 25, 2007
    I'm so sorry you've had such issues, but you're asking good quesitons, and trying to educate yourself for the future - you can't do more than learn as much as you can before moving forward.

    This is one of the reasons I have a closed flock - that is, almost everything on my farm was hatched here, so I'm not potentially bringing in disease from someone else's flock. I DO purchase a few production layers every spring so that I have eggs through the winter, but I buy them as day-olds and get them immediately when they are unpacked at my local farm store. This lessens the chances of anyone from the outside handling them and possibly passing off disease to them. I know it may sound like overkill, but these precautions have worked well for me. I also run strict bio-security. Anyone who has chickens on their farm is not allowed back to my poultry barns. Birds that I sell are sold via picture or are taken to shows and sold there.

    As far as what you can do now...well, everything that you have has now been exposed to whatevert his is. those that live through this disease will be carriers, and any future birds you bring in will be exposed. As long as you are not selling stock or hatching eggs, you're fine. However, if you ARE selling hatching eggs or stock, you really do need to be responsible about it & let folks know that you've had a respiratory illness that you have treated your stock for. It could be a fungal infection...it could be something worse. The only way you will know is if you have one tested by your local avian vet or state veterinarian. That's actually the best way to go. Some diseases can be easily passed along and have a tremendous impact on others. have you let the breeder know, and asked what they have had in their flocks, and what they have treated with? It sounds like the breeder knew there was an issue - IMO, shame on her for passing these birds along. The best thing to do is to find out exactly what the ailment is.
  3. coopncottage

    coopncottage Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 22, 2011
    Front Range
    Thank you - that's helpful. We're not selling hatching eggs or stock, but I'd really like to get a couple more hens.

    I did let the breeder know when the symptoms showed up back in July and she said she didn't have any sick chickens, and offered a refund. I didn't really want a refund, just info!

    The hard part is telling my daughter that Luna died. She was attached and had hoped to show Luna in 4-H, which was why we got her. By the time I found her, I think she'd been dead all night, so I thought it was too late for a necropsy but I sure wish I knew what it was. I think it may have been coryza but don't know.

    Anyhow, thank you ! I appreciate it.
  4. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member Project Manager

    Jun 24, 2012
    My Coop
    Sorry for your loss... Can you send her to your state lab for necropsy? It's free in California and many other states. California even lets you use their Fed-X account to save on shipping.

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