Really need help, my girls are sick and dying

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by gingin, Aug 6, 2010.

  1. gingin

    gingin In the Brooder

    Aug 6, 2010
    beautiful vermont
    I've kept laying hens for 8 years, two of my girls are 8 years old, the rest are younger... I have a flock of 8 consisting of Araucanas, Buff and Partridge Cochin hens. During the winter we found they had some diarrhea but it was pretty slight. I tried everything to stop it that I could come across. I was also given some rather bad advice from a local feed store that suggested I try Tetracycline. It didn't help and now I find out it's not for use on chickens that lay eggs for human consumption so God only knows what I've poisoned us with... This improved but didn't go away when Spring came. I have tried everything I could think of naturally to keep them healthy. Then I thought it could be mites and we tried Pyrethrin dust on the girls and sprayed the coop. This was done a second time a week later according to directions. No improvement and the girls have continued to go downhill at a regular pace. My Cochins are losing weight, their combs look rather dry. Everyone's eating and drinking just fine. I keep the coop clean and fresh water and food at all times. Now some of them have foul smelling black diarrhea, and one of my two older girls is near death. They all have dirty vents... but I don't think this is a mite infestation. We're heartbroken because they are our pets and I do not know how to help them. I have no vets in the area that can help me. Can anyone suggest something? I read the disease pages and it doesn't help, I don't know how to find out what this is and how to stop it. I never had a sick chicken in all these years, it's really upsetting.

    I would so welcome some help from someone.... please... with grateful appreciation.

    EDIT: I forgot to mention I feed Blue Seal layer pellets right now. I did have them on Blue Seal Home Fresh Game Bird Grower Crumbles up until this last two months, they seemed to more easily eat the pellets. My Araucanas always seem to need a higher protein level so I do like the Game bird feed, though. My coop is an 8' by 15' building just for them, I use pine shavings. They have a fenced run alongside the coop.

    Last edited: Aug 6, 2010
  2. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio

    I am so sorry to hear about your flock being sick. I've looked and cannot find a thing. If the diahrrea is really black, that could indicate blood. Does your flock free range at all? Could they have eaten something poisonous? I am really leaning towards some type of liver disease, since this has been going on for so long, but truly, I'm guessing.

    Have you tried a strong antibiotic like Tylan?

    Good luck in figuring this out, and I'll keep looking for these symptoms and solutions.


  3. drdoolittle

    drdoolittle Songster

    Jul 30, 2010
    NE Indiana
    So sorry to hear about your troubles. Have your chickens been wormed? I don't know much about diarrhea in chickens, though. Good luck----I sure hope you find out what's wrong pretty soon.[​IMG]
  4. Tala

    Tala Flock Mistress

    my first thoughts were worms and/or mites
    Most true diseases kill them off faster, sometimes the first indication of a problem is a dead bird, but worms or mites/lice might cause the birds to be sickly and go downhill over time. Since you treated for mites, I'm gonna guess it's worms.
  5. dieselgrl48

    dieselgrl48 Songster

    Feb 21, 2010
    Not sure really.I would try worming them and maybe change the feed to a lower protien for a while and not the high protien gamebird feed.Some people may not agree with this but..I quit using Gamebird feed about 3 years ago.I feed 15% grower finisher along with scratch grain's and my bird's free range until breeding time and then they are still allowed some free range time.They get fresh veggie leftover's and bread when we have them also.I do add some layer pellet feed and oyster shell in when they are penned and laying egg's.Hopefully you can get some different tip's here as Yes there are hardly ANY Vet's that will deal with bird's/ pig's etc.Good luck keep us updated hope they get well soon.
  6. gingin

    gingin In the Brooder

    Aug 6, 2010
    beautiful vermont
    Thank you so much everyone, for the kind thoughts and wishes...

    They have not been wormed, I didn't realize worms could cause diarrhea. I'll look into it since that's not something I've considered.

    I can't imagine they all have liver disease... How would all of them contract the same disease if it's not contagious??? I'm thinking liver disease isn't contagious, maybe I'm wrong?

    They no longer free range... up until last Spring they did, but my neighbor's dog got loose and wiped out nearly my entire flock, 8 chickens died and two survived... now I keep them fenced. They have two large, grassy runs which are open to each other.... I'd say they are about 15' by 30' each. There's no way they got into anything poisonous.

    There was absolutely no improvement whatsoever following our dusting/spraying for Northern Fowl Mites, which I thought was the problem at first. Wouldn't I have seen at least some improvement after the treatment, if it was mites? What is the best way to treat for mites? It was my husband's idea to use dust and I was worried it wouldn't really penetrate to the skin. But I thought we'd at least see *some* improvement after using it.

    The diarrhea is only black on the sickest one... another has dark diarrhea but not exactly black. The others it's more light brown.

    chicmom, I haven't heard of you know where can I find some? Maybe I should try that first, since things are going downhill faster now. I need something that I can do right away.

    dieselgirl, they have been off of the high protein feed for a couple of months now. They are on plain Blue Seal layer pellets and oyster shell. I give them coarse cracked corn and oats as a treat daily. My girls don't like breads but will eat our leftover vegies now and then, they prefer cottage cheese most of all. I've fed my hens the same way for many years with never any trouble. This is so disheartening. If I lose them all I may never be able to keep chickens again.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2010
  7. chickenzoo

    chickenzoo Emu Hugger

    I would either worm them with Safeguard liquid goat wormer, 1 cc down the throat and then 3 cc per gallon of water for 3 days., or at least Wazine poultry wormer, but Wazine only does round worms. the sickest one I would only give 1/2 cc one day, the 1/2 cc the next since she is so bad off.

    If they are not showing signs of illness such as trouble breathing, coughing, running a fever, water eye, mucus or liquid from nostrils, sneezing a lot then I would not treat with Tylan. Tylan is an antibiotic and will not treat worms, only infections and mostly respiratory .
  8. gingin

    gingin In the Brooder

    Aug 6, 2010
    beautiful vermont
    Thanks, chickenzoo... I've been reading threads on Tylan since it was mentioned.... it does sound more effective for respiratory conditions which my birds do not have. The only symptoms are looking sort of dry around the face/combs (I'm figuring from a bit of dehydration) and the vents dirty with poo... and diarrhea. In many cases the feces are perfectly formed, so I don't know what I'm dealing with. AAAAAAHHHH!!!

    I'll check out Safeguard and keep reading here... this forum is wonderful, I'm so glad to have found it.

    If I lose my older girl I think I may try to get a necropsy done on her. Maybe I can save the rest. [​IMG]
  9. chickenzoo

    chickenzoo Emu Hugger

    You can give some Poultry vitamins that have electrolytes in it to them. Also some yogurt or Probiotics. try to keep them hydrated as much as possible, you can even mix up their crumbled layer pellets with water and make a mash out of it. You can keep up their strength by giving them some scrambled eggs, canned warm dog food, wet down cat food etc... worms can really mess up their system and take all their nutrients from them. Best Wishes for your girls.
  10. Cinderellasnickers08

    Cinderellasnickers08 In the Brooder

    Aug 7, 2010

    I hope I can get this message to you in time. I'm a microbioligy nut, so I get to study this some. Yes your birds are sick, very sick. My birds had it too, actually Coccidia type (- E. necatrix).
    I believe that it's as bad as yours sound. It's the black diaria that makes it in the danger zone for your birds, and you too. Plus every bird is different. Mine were not as dark yet. "Coccidiosis" (a parracidic protazoa) It's contagious to most animals, with the exception of cats, including it can travel to "humans", if not properly cared for immediately. Wear a protective breathing airfilter mask when cleaning coop bedding, wash your hands thoroughly & also under every fingernail , don't wear your shoes into the house you have used in the coop area or chicken pens, clean your clothes and anything you use around them right away. There are several different types of Coccidia that chickens could catch, usually it's breed specific. I had to look everywhere to find a cure. Yes I got the bad advice from the bigger local feedstores everywhere here-NE.
    Luckily another farmer/chicken raiser/feedstore owner & seller of the cure, I ran into from 4H with my kids. He let me know, my whole flock could be killed if I didn't act fast. I did some research on the types of Coccidia that were around and what the symptoms were. Bloody droppings and diaria fit the situation. The more darker the worse it is. Yes he was right! I found that only one thing would work and luckily it has all the Coccidia species types avail. covered, to make it easier to target the correct type of protazoa. Clean the coop & bedding everyday, maybe even 2 times a day careful on how you clean everything not to pass it on to other pets/animals or well birds or more or spread it to the air with the dust that coops do. Clean the walls, posts, nesting areas, floors, cage wires, etc. Do not let dogs get in it anywhere. If they have been around it, ate the droppings you need to have them checked also. Your going to be very busy.

    The treatment you need is: a sulpha-based drug normally recommended. If sulfas are used, overdosing may lead to toxicity, so be careful on how long treatment is given & VERY CAREFUL ON DOSAGES OF HOW MUCH. Sulfaquinoxaline or Sulfamethazine - water or feed; it's less safe; somewhat toxic to bone marrow. Suppliment with occational pinch of calcium or oyster shells off & on to help them build stronger bone density. Don't use the oyster shell at the same time as the "on" treatment days.
    ***Caution on amount of Oyster shells too, it can cause liver & kidney troubles if given too frequently or too much. ***
    (Just a pinch, a week possibly)

    On a gallon of water I mixed daily with the treatment (a very small amount), cleaning the waterers to be sure they had no white or yellowing substances on them (this would be a mold occuring because of warm climates or old water forming) to be on the safe side, & double checking with a pharmacist, a Vet, and the Feedstore seller I got it from. I have 13 chickens. I used it for 3 days on, then 3 days off. Repeating it through for 4 wks. Checking droppings continually for changes in coloring.

    Dropping info from:
    this site carefully.

    Cloaca: In the cloaca there is a mixing of the digestive wastes together with wastes
    from the urinary system (urates). Fecal material is usually voided as digestive waste
    with white uric acid crystals on the outer surface (i.e., chickens do not urinate/pee).
    The reproductive tract also exits through this area (e.g., eggs or sperm).

    Normal chicken fecal material show the dark fecal material with a
    coating of white uric acid crystals.
    The color and texture of chicken fecal material can indicate the health status of the
    chicken’s digestive tract. The white pasty material that commonly coats chicken fecal
    material is uric acid, the avian form of urine, and is normal.

    Some of the possible abnormal color and texture changes that can occur, together with
    possible causes, are shown below. These are just possible causes—any sick birds
    should be diagnosed by a veterinarian.

    Appearance of Feces
    Droppings with blood = coccidiosis
    Greenish droppings = late stages of worms (or has eaten a lot of green
    vegetables if free-ranged)
    White, milky runny droppings = worms, coccidiosis, Gumboro disease
    (Infectious Bursal Disease)

    Appearance of Feces (continued)
    Brown runny droppings = E. coli infection
    Clear or watery runny droppings = stress, Infectious Bronchitis
    Yellow & foamy droppings = coccidiosis
    Grayish white & running continuously = vent gleet (a chronic disease of the
    cloaca of domestic birds)

    Discontinue treatment when good droppings are for "ALL BIRDS" CLEAR UP.
    Also use the concentrated treatment to spray on surfaces contaminated "away from birds or animals" that may eat the treated area, like wet areas away from drinking water of all animals, grassy areas that you will not feed birds or pets on, disposal areas, dirt birds will not be on anymore, pen flooring after birds are not using it anymore so it will keep other animals safe when walking on it.
    ****Do not use the meat, eat or use the eggs from any of the treated birds or ill birds for a month or more to be sure the infection is gone and the treatment is out of the birds systems to have safe eggs for animals or humans.****

    Below I copied/pasted from sites on the infection.
    ***Warning though, do not believe the natural/organic, or other versions of treatment!!!*** They do not work, and you'll loose your birds before you realize it. Don't take the chance when you are this far infected with the whole flock. Time is what you have to think about first on this one. Yes it is a risky treatment too, the longer they have this illness the worse the recovery & treatment takes on them. The treatment will have some effect on their egg production later on, but it will save them. Mine just lost only a small ability of producition of eggs with 2 of my birds (Austrolorps) as they were bred to do. They were the first 2 that brought it to my small flock. But they are alive, all of them and well.$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex4616

    Nine species of Eimeria infect chickens. The species important in broiler production include Eimeria tenella (90%), E. maxima, E. acervulina, and E. mivati; the species important in breeder and egg- layers are E. burnetti and E. necatrix. Seven species infect turkeys – the big three of concern are Eimeria meleagrimitis, E. adenoeides, and E. gallapovonis

    Special Features of the Life Cycle

    Eimeria tenelia
    This parasite develops in the cells of the ceca, which are the two blind sacs near the end of the intestine. It is one of the most pathogenic (disease producing) coccidia to infect chickens. This acute infection occurs most commonly in young chicks. Infections may be characterized by the presence of blood in the droppings and by high morbidity and mortality.

    E. necatrix
    E. necatrix develops in the small intestine (early stages) and later in the cecum (sexual stages). Like E. tenella, it develops within deeper tissues of the small intestine and is a major pathogen of poultry.

    E. acervulina and E. maxima
    Both species develop in epithelial cells, primarily in the upper part of the small intestine. They cause subclinical coccidiosis associated with marked weight loss.

    Young chickens pick up the infection from contaminated premises (soil, houses, utensils, etc.). These may have been contaminated previously by other young infected birds or by adult birds that have recovered from the condition. Wet areas around water fountains are a source of infection. Oocysts remain viable in litter for many months. In this way they can contaminate a farm from year to year. Oocysts are killed by freezing, extreme dryness and high temperatures.

    The most easily recognized clinical sign of severe cecal coccidiosis is the presence of bloody droppings. Dehydration may accompany cecal coccidiosis. Coccidiosis caused by E. tenella first becomes noticeable at about three days after infection. Chickens droop, stop feeding, huddle together and by the fourth day blood begins to appear in the droppings. The greatest amount of blood appears by day five or six and by the eighth or ninth day the bird is either dead or on the way to recovery. Mortality is highest between the fourth and sixth days. Death may occur unexpectedly, owing to excessive blood loss. Birds that recover may develop a chronic illness as a result of a persistent cecal core. However, the core usually detaches itself by eight to ten days and is shed in the droppings

    I hope this saves your flock, hurry thou, let me know asap! I'm pulling for ya!

    P.S. The Gamebird food is for gamebirds. Poultry food is for chicks & chickens. I raise Quail & Chickens and have been informed this repeatedly by several farmers, 4H persons, feedstore experts who are "Qualified to really answer", & Vets. Something about the appropriate amount of proteins & nutrients at the right stages of growth for their particular species and breed. Boosting their immune systems. You wouldn't give cat food to a dog or vs versa. They need just the right stuff for what they are. lol
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2010

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