Pullet "wasting disease"?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by seventreesfarm, Mar 12, 2014.

  1. seventreesfarm

    seventreesfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Once a year maybe we'll have a young chicken, around 6-9 weeks old, just start wasting away. It starts out happy & healthy like the rest of its flock, but then looks droopy. When we examine it, we'll find almost no breast muscle, no real muscle tone anywhere. We're tried hospital cages, hand feeding, warm mashes, etc. but nothing really works once they get like this. We just had to put one down this morning.

    There doesn't seem to be any common conditions - different breeds, different sources, different coops/pens. But just every so often we get one like this. Any ideas?
     
  2. Nambroth

    Nambroth Fud Lady

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    What sources are you getting your birds from, and at what age?
    Are any of the vaccinated?
    And, have you ever had one tested that passed away?
     
  3. seventreesfarm

    seventreesfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I haven't had any tested, since it happens so infrequently, maybe 4 times in 10 years. Not like an epidemic or anything, and always just one bird at a time.

    Sources range from shipped eggs, homegrown eggs, I can't recall if I've had it come up with any of the hatchery or feed store birds.....none vaccinated.

    At first I thought is was some genetic issue, like related to inbreeding, since I noticed it first with a Marans. But the most recent one was my home raised Ameraucana/Oliver mix. The rest of that hatch are in great shape.

    My flocks have access to separate paddocks, and we let them go fallow in rotation. We've had pigs, horses, cattle & goats on the place at various times. Could it be worms? Like maybe affecting certain birds and not the rest?
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2014
  4. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    I had one that did that last summer. She did not show any signs in her poop for coccidia, but she did lose weight, looked frumpy, just stood around sleeping and had no appetite. I quarantined her tried feeding her all kinds of delicious stuff. She wouldn't eat or drink. When I realized she wasn't even pooping at all I started giving her Corid. I put a pinch in 3 cc of water and syringed it right down her throat. Then I mixed her drinking water at the correct dosage. By that evening she was at least drinking. By the next morning she was picking at food.Three weeks later she was much better. But she never did as well as her hatch mates.

    I don't know if that is what is happening at your place. But the different strains of coccidia all act differently.
     
  5. seventreesfarm

    seventreesfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I wonder sometimes if chickens can't get a version of celiac disease. Something that makes them unable to absorb nutrients. We bought 2 weaner pigs once from a good source, one was perfectly healthy, and the other had started off smaller and never caught up. We ended up calling the vet out and he said it was malabsorption syndrome, probably from the weaning process.

    I found an interesting article about it, and I can see where a particular chick might not cope with intestinal trouble as well as others, and end up having damaged intestinal function.

    http://www.merckmanuals.com/vet/dig...malabsorption_syndromes_in_small_animals.html
     
  6. Nambroth

    Nambroth Fud Lady

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    For some, one bird a year (approximately) to lose for no obvious reason is one too many. For others, it is not an issue. What you do is up to you, but if I were in your situation and lost another with all the same symptoms, I'd consider having the bird tested.
    There are a lot of reasons for 'wasting' with no other real symptoms. Bad genetics, disease, deficiencies, and as you said malabsorption. Generally though, malapsorption is a 'red flag' of a different problem.. meaning it is a secondary symptom.
    If the birds you are losing are not all from the same lineage/source, it seems to indicate that it's not genetic.
     
  7. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens


    That is interesting. My pullet improved but just never did really well. When time for getting ready for winter treatments rolled around, she was still too thin. I culled her.
     
  8. seventreesfarm

    seventreesfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is a nice overview of coccidiosis (well, nice meaning informative, not something to read over dinner) http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/12/coccidiosis-what-backyard-chicken.html I've been raising chickens for decades, and sometimes don't think to reread the basics.

    I don't vaccinate my chicks, but I do put them on medicated feed for at least a few weeks. By then they seem to have developed immunity and don't have any issues. Maybe a random chick is extra-sensitive to my native cooties, and the medicated feed isn't enough to get them started right.

    Another variable is age I introduce them to the outdoors. Sometimes the weather just doesn't cooperate, and certain flocks don't get outside as soon as others. I'm changing over to nipple waterers, so that should help get rid of one possible weak point. I'm also starting just-hatched chicks on gro gel now, which should help with vitamins and probiotics.

    I guess I'll just have to be observant for any patterns, but with so few occurrences out of so many chickens, it's hard to connect the dots.
     
  9. katbriar

    katbriar Chillin' With My Peeps

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    And this weight loss isn't associated with molting is it?
     
  10. seventreesfarm

    seventreesfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Not at all. It's like vanishing muscles more than weight loss. It's frustrating that they don't seem interested in food either. I'm thinking it has got to be related to coccidiosis though. Like some extreme reaction.
     

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