several chickens suddenly lethargic with diarrhea

Heather23

Hatching
May 20, 2015
3
0
7
I could use some advice! We have 17 free-ranging chickens here in south-central Montana. Half of them are white orpingtons and half are "red sex-linked". This morning, several of the red chickens were standing with their necks drawn in and eyes closed. Some of them had watery diarrhea - no substance to it and barely any color. One of them has some blueish tint at the top of its comb. One of the sick ones laid an unformed egg mass (big white mucousy glob) right on the front porch (not its usual spot). I have seen them shaking their heads and preening quite a bit this morning.One is even laying on its side in the sunshine. I isolated the worst-looking birds, but don't have enough room to isolate all of the listless-looking ones. They otherwise appear healthy (feathers look fine, breathing seems normal).

I have read over the diseases pages and think it could be one of several diseases:
~staphylococcus (we had major rainstorms over the weekend and several large puddles around that could be the source of this soil-borne disease),
~cholera (recently an unknown rodent was spotted in our carport and now under the hood of our cars - making nests. We are trying to get rid of it. I'm not sure if it has had contact with the chickens).
~avian influenza (not sure if it has been reported in Montana yet)
~or one of the many others!

How do I decide between all these diseases? What is the best course of action? Should I try a sulfa drug (sulfadimethoxine seems to be recommended for several illnesses)? How about electrolytes?

I am open to any advice and suggestions you all may have!

Thanks,
Heather
 

Eggcessive

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Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Apr 3, 2011
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I would treat them all for possible coccidiosis with Corid. Sulfadimethoxine can also be used for cocci, but treats only the worst 2-3 strains. However, it does treat for several other illnesses. Sulmet is another sulfa drug that treats the worst strains of cocci. If a vet is possible, you may be able to get a good sampling of droppings tested for cocci, worms, and bacteria, in case there is enteritis or something else going on in the flock.
 

Toddrick

Songster
5 Years
Sep 28, 2014
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Indiana
Eggcessive gives excellent advice.

You can take a fecal sample to the vet (maybe only $15) for testing. Avian influenza testing may be free, call and ask. It doesn't sound like you have much time to waste.
 

WthrLady

Free Ranging
6 Years
Jul 24, 2014
4,348
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631
WestOak, Nebraska
Could also be e coli, which moves towards pneumonia, which would explain low oxygen levels and purple combs and runny poop. It spreads FAST!

Tetracycline for that one.
 

Heather23

Hatching
May 20, 2015
3
0
7
Thank you so much for your advice! I went straight to town from work yesterday and after talking with a very informative man at the animal health store, I purchased Terravet 10 powder (tetracycline). When I got home, the chickens weren't in bad shape. I had feared the worst and half-expected some of them to be dead. Luckily, they were all still just lethargic and one had a problem with her leg - she was hopping around on just one foot. It looks like this joint pain and tenderness can happen with Staph infection or with Cholera. Possibly also with E. coli or coccidiosis? So I am still not quite sure what the problem is, but I am happy to report that the Terravet 10 is helping a lot!

Per the advice of the man at the store, I kept the chickens in the run today where they couldn't free range and drink out of puddles. They weren't very happy with me - but at least I didn't see the lethargic behavior (eyes closed while standing, heads tucked) nor did I see any limping chickens. They all seemed to be moving around and acting much more normally. I figure I'll keep them in the run for 2 - 3 more days to make sure they are only drinking the medicated water. Hopefully by then all the puddles will dry up too.

Again, thanks for the advice!
best wishes,
Heather
 

WthrLady

Free Ranging
6 Years
Jul 24, 2014
4,348
18,639
631
WestOak, Nebraska
1 tablespoon per gallon of water

Make a new batch every single day!

Keep it up for a week. If they are laying, then toss all eggs while they are on it AND for 21 days after.

After they are done with the tetracycline, get their guts happy again with probiotics.... they have the powder at the critter store. Buttermilk and yogurt is good too. I mix it with crumbles.

Who knows what cookies they picked up.
 

Heather23

Hatching
May 20, 2015
3
0
7
Probiotics is a great suggestion. I take them myself whenever I have to take antibiotics, so it makes sense that the chickens could use some too!

I have been tossing the eggs for the past two days - it is so hard to throw away a dozen beautiful tasty-looking eggs. But I'll keep it up... for the week plus 21 days. Hopefully by then they'll be back to perfect health.

Thanks again!
 

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