Ruffled feathers, sleeping excessively, sudden death? *UPDATE!!*

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Lcosper8, Oct 6, 2011.

  1. Lcosper8

    Lcosper8 New Egg

    Oct 5, 2011
    I enjoy reading the posts on this forum, but this is my first post. I am afraid for my chickens. [​IMG]
    Overview of what has happened this week.

    Monday- noticed 9 wk old gold-laced polish top-hat chick looked kind of "hunched over". Also noticed a 1 yr old RR hen had swollen, enlarged eyes.

    Tuesday a.m.- the 9 wk old top-hat was found dead in the coop. No external, noticeable signs of illness.

    Tuesday p.m.- noticed a 6 wk old RR chick was sleepy, not active, not reacting to stimuli. Tried to give it feed and water, but it was not interested. Wanted to stand in one place and sleep. Would wake briefly when picked up, but eyes would quickly close again. Some trouble keeping balance & would occassionally fall over. Was dead by 9:00 p.m. Didn't notice any other external signs of illness.

    Wednesday- our favorite hen, a 1 yr old gold laced polish top-hat named Elvis, remained in the coop, sleeping on the roost, when we turned chickens out to free range. Highly unusual as she is usually one of the first ones out the door! She stayed on roost most of the day, sleeping. Her feathers are ruffled up, like she is cold. While examining her, I noticed a bit of stringy white material along edge of beak. When I pulled it, her beak came open and I noticed what appeared to be excess clear, slimey mucus in mouth (stretching from top to bottom of beak). Observed her drinking, but not eating. She roosted on the ground tonight, and usually is up on the roost. Also, she is normally VERY vocal. Today she has been silent. I'm very worried about her.
    Also noticed tonight that a Delaware rooster has an eye that is swollen & a little runny.

    The 2 chicks that died and Elvis (now sick) are housed in the same coop, but different sections. My coop is divided into 2 sections. I have a 1 yr old mixed flock on one side (this is where Elvis lives). I have raised these from day olds. On the other side I have 4 bantam cochins that were bought & added to flock 2.5 weeks ago, as well as 2 top-hat chicks that are 9 wks old ( 1 of these died, as mentioned earlier). Then inside this side of the coop, I have a large brooder cage, where my 6 week old chicks live (including the one who died). My 1 yr old flock (Elvis) free ranges for a couple of hours each day. The other chicks stay inside the coop exclusively right now. The 1 yr olds eat laying feed, plus what they get when free ranging. The others all eat starter feed (medicated). After the first chick died, we completely cleaned out the coop, removing all hay (bedding) and litter, and replacing with fresh, deep hay.

    My chickens have never had any other mediction/wormer/vaccinations. We've never had any problem with illness before. I hope someone can give me some insight into what might be going on and how to best treat it.

    Thank you so much!

    After reading the responses (and links) posted below and consulting with a friend, I decided to treat this hen and the rest of my flock with Sulmet, which is supposed to treat the following diseases in chickens:

    -Infectious Coryza (Avibacterium paragallinarum)
    -Coccidiosis (Eimeria tenella, Eimeria necatrix)
    -Acute Fowl Cholera (Pasteurella multocida)
    -Pullorum Disease (Salmonella Pullorum)

    I bought a bottle at a local feed store for less than $10. Sulmet is added to the chickens water.
    The hen mentioned above did nothing but lie face down & sleep all day and night. We woke her every few hours and dipped her beak in the Sulmet treated water. About mid-day today, she woke up and we found her sitting on top of the plastic tub she had been sleeping in! She is almost back to normal! [​IMG]
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2011
  2. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    First of all, I am so sorry for your losses.

    Keep in mind with my post that I have no idea what the diagnosis is...just sharing some links with you in the hopes that you will say, yes that is the one.
    A swollen eye can be other things than what this above link points out.

    Given the deaths, I will also give you this link if you are interested:
    My chicken has a cold, part I, II, and III
    look at fowl cholera diagnosis charts at bottom
    another fowl cholera link

    I don't know what the diagnosis is, but it seems like a good idea to send a necropsy if possible. Do you have a vet or county extension agent you can contact about this to see if they will send away for testing one of your fatalities?


    Also, coccidiosis is a disease that usually strikes those less than 8 weeks old, but can also strike immunocompromised chickens. I only mention it in case you have a couple of things going on. It can cause sudden death also.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2011
  3. Lcosper8

    Lcosper8 New Egg

    Oct 5, 2011
    Thank you for your reply. I just finished reading through the links you provided and I'm trying to sort through it in my head. There is so much information that it is almost overwhelming.... going to keep reading this morning and try to figure out what the best course of action is.

    Elvis is still wanting to sit and sleep this morning, all ruffled up. I held her and fed her some yogurt. She would fall asleep in my arm, and when her head drifted down and touched the yogurt I was holding up to her mouth, she would wake up & take a few bites, then promptly fall asleep and repeat the process. I DID notice, for the first time, that she is making a light wheeze/rattle sound when she breathes. Almost like a very light snore. Sometimes I could hear it when she inhaled and exhaled. She didn't have any discharge from her eyes or nose.

    Thanks again for replying to my post.

  4. chickengrandma

    chickengrandma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 3, 2009
    I am also not diagnosing...but I'd suggest looking closely into them having Cocci (coccidios). The ruffled feathers would indicate this.

    One of my girls died of cocci. BUT, she also had retched looking and smelling poo...another huge sign of cocci. Poo is a huge indicator of what the ailment might be. Check out this page with all sorts of chicken poo photos.

    I am really sorry to hear about your losses! It is heart renching. I hope you can get the illness under control before it continues to spread.

    I wish you the best of luck!
  5. Lcosper8

    Lcosper8 New Egg

    Oct 5, 2011
    @chickengrandma, thank you for your reply. As far as I can tell, Elvis has not had ANY poop all day. I'm sure that can't be good. [​IMG]
    I checked the coop floor and everything there looks "normal".

    I purchased some Sulmet from the feed store today on the advice of a friend, which should help manyof the possible illnesses that she could have, based on her symptoms. I hope it isn't too late for her. We make her eat and drink a little every few hours, but she just sleeps as long as we leave her alone.

    I will update later as to whether it helps or not.

    Thanks again.


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