Relocated Chickens and they are dying! HELP


7 Years
Jun 12, 2012
An egg farmer was getting rid of about 75,000 chickens, and he gave me 150. I love chickens, and enjoy seeing them run and play all around the back yard all day. I have a weak spot for wanting to give these chickens a better life because they are treated so poorly in those small cages, and I have never had a problem (aside from predators getting one here and there) before. But this time, with these chickens, they just seem to be dying. At first I chalked it up to the weather-it has been so up and down lately. 70 and sunny one day, and cold, cloudy and rainy the next. It's been like that for a couple weeks now. I always had one heat lamp I left on for them at night because it would get cool, but I just recently added two more heat lamps throughout the coop for them that I keep on when it's cold, and I keep them in when it's nasty and rainy out. (Some of these chickens don't even have feathers from being in those tiny cages for so long, so I assumed it was just a shock to them.) They also haven't quite learned how to act. Most of them have taken to the new "free" lifestyle very well and quickly (they love it), but about 30 or so still huddle in the corners on top of eachother in the evenings. (I put the two new heat lamps in those general areas). When it's warm and sunny out, they get let out to run loose. They LOVE it, and you can tell they are so happy and grateful! The chickens I have had for over a year now have no problems. I always have let them out during the day, they go and roost at night. Even in the snow they loved it. But with these...I just don't know anymore.This is what they do: One second they seem fine, the next they are just standing there, eyes closed, head sagging a little bit. Then they will snap out of it, go peck around, and do it again. Some completely snap out of it, some get worse. I take the worse ones and lay them in the sunshine and they perk up by the days end, but if it gets cold that night, they are either dead or close to it by morning. :( Last night it didn't even get cold and one was laying dead this morning! :(:( I got them almost a month ago, and in that time I have lost almost 20 now. Could one of them have had some kind of illness or something that is spreading in the birds? I'm just trying to figure this out to avoid losing any more. Hoping someone might be able to shed some light on this for me!
I admire your kindheartedness. However, there's a reason why the egg farmer was getting rid of all those chickens. Either their egg laying days were over with or they may have been diseased. In any case, you possibly risked exposing your current flock to disease(s) IF in fact the newly introduced birds have a disease(s.) They could be dying off due the shock of their new environment, the fluctuating temperatures/weather, and of course disease(s.) The key word here is mainly too much STRESS on their system. All you can do is provide comfort support as best as you can, ensure they have feed and plenty of freshwater at their disposal. I suggest that you properly dispose of the carcasses.
I too rescued 21 chickens that were in a dreadful state when I got them... none of them appeared to be diseased and after six weeks of isolation I let them free range with my by one they died.. they were originally in much the same state as yours,, very few feathers and they were so thin.... al were de-wormed and treated for lice/mite infestations...of the original 21 i now have 6 left.... I do not know why the others died, maybe stress or the fact that they were fatigued from laying so many eggs in the short life they had before they came to me....

Whatever the cause... at least they had a good life here, loved and free ranging...these awful losses are not of our making... we are their saviours and be their life short or long at least they have known freedom with us to live a normal and natural life.

You are doing something so special in helping these girls to live
Thank you, I take that as a compliment. I definetly have a soft spot for chickens, and all animals period. I would save them all if it was possible, but I really don't think it would be a good idea to have 75,000 chickens. HAHA.

These egg farmers (at least around here) are only allowed to keep their chickens for two years, and then by law, they HAVE to get rid of them-I assume because it's so inhumane. Also, a friend of mine has an egg farm as well and he said they get rid of them every two years because first, by law, and secondly, some of them only lay an egg every other day and not every day anymore-which to an egg farmer ends up being quite a few eggs when you have 75,000 chickens.

I have rescued chickens from egg farmers before, and everytime some have died just like yours did. I chalked it up to being stress since it's such a huge change in their lifestyle. In this situation it could very well be the same thing. This is the first time I have taken 150 into my care at once. Maybe it only seems like something else to me because so many have died when before it was only a few. The first time I rescued some, I got 20, I now have 4. BUT, they did very well and it wasn't long after I bought and moved into my house and the critters found the chickens. 16 died because of a bobcat, and a coon. I no longer have any critters that mess with them, they got taken care of and I keep trail cams out just to be sure nothing is coming around. The second time I rescued some I got 14, and only 5 died. It was beginning of spring when I got those and half of them were near bald. Going from such a warm chicken house to a couple simple heat lamps was just too much for them. This time I was given 150 when they cleaned out their house and 20ish have died so far. So I guess it could just be stress or the weather. It has been so up and down lately. The last two days have been 80, but the few days before that were 50 and rainy with 30 degrees in the evenings. I added extra heat lamps early last week and it seemed to help a little bit. I guess we shall see. They are such happy chickens during the days when they are running around in the sunshine in the back yard-hopping and leaping around, so that helps--knowing that I gave them a better life, if only for a little while because we all know they would have been long dead if I hadnt rescued them.
Also keep in mind that while they were caged for the last two years, most likely the lights inside the building they were in were probably kept on 24/7 365 days a year for maximum egg production. Stressful? You bet!
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This particular egg farmer did not have any special lighting on in theirs. They had sky lights and it was actually darker in there than it was outside when I picked them up. I got some antibiotics and vitamins to put in their water. IF something is wrong with them it will help, if there isn't, it won't hurt them (or so they told me when I purchased the stuff). My gut is telling me it's just stress. They are much happier chickens than they used to be, that much is definitely obvious, but it takes a while for them to adjust nevertheless. I think it just seemed worse this time because I got so many more chickens, so of course more are dying. It took my others about a month or a little more to more less level their stress levels out and I only got these April 6, so it would be pretty close. We shall see! Let's hope that's all it is!

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