SFH Died - soft abdomen, saw a few mites!? Help!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by atmaclean, Dec 15, 2012.

  1. atmaclean

    atmaclean Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 21, 2012
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    I came home after work today to find my beautiful 6 month old Swedish Flower hen crouched by the fence. I rushed over to pick her up and within 2 minutes she died in my arms. We had not seen any previous signs of her being ill. No other chickens are acting strange.

    Here is what I found after I settled down and looked her over thoroughly..... She had a soft, slightly swollen abdomen - I did not feel an egg impacted back there - she had not started laying yet. Her abdomen was kind of mushy....? Her crop seemed empty. She had a bit of crusty stuff around her neck - like maybe she had slobbered a little bit. It was a white crusty stuff almost like dried salt at the base of her feathers. I also noticed a few mites running under her wings. Not a lot of them but several.

    I keep diatomaceous earth in the nest boxes, around the edges of the coup and I dust the perches. They take dust baths every day in the dirt. They are up at night and free range during the day. Even though it is cool here, my 8 month old pullets are laying very well and some of my 6 month olds are starting to lay. There is plenty of chicken feed available and I also give them treats of dried mealworms, millet and oatmeal. I grind flax to put in with their chicken feed and also add the Ultra Kibble (Farmer's Helper) to the bags of feed. I keep a flock block for them and oyster shell as well. I also use the Oxine in their water and keep their coup cleaned out weekly with fresh shavings after I strip it every week.

    I have tried so hard to make sure they are well cared for and healthy. I hatched this little girl from an egg I ordered off eBay (along with several others). I am so distraught over losing her as she was the only Swedish hen that I got from the hatch - the other is a gorgeous rooster that was to be her mate. They both have the fluffy topped heads. I keep the roosters separate from the hens so the hens aren't aggravated by them.

    Any info would be gratefully appreciated. Here is a picture of her future "husband", they were the same age. I'm trying to find a picture of her....
    Angela



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  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm so sorry; how upsetting.

    I wouldn't be too concerned about the mites as related to her death. They are very common, and wild birds carry them. Although a severe infestation can make a chicken very ill, maybe even cause death, the truth is, it's probably not unusual for a healthy bird to have a few. Having seen some, though, I'd check the rest thoroughly, better done off the roost at night as some are only on them at night; I'll give you a couple of links about them. DE may or may not help check mite populations, but it will not resolve an infestation. Sevin 5% garden dust is the definitive treatment. I dust with it in the coop lightly from time to time. I'm not silly enough to think they have never had any mites or lice, but I've yet to find them.

    For this bird, though, I suspect there isn't a thing you could have done. It sounds like she had an internal problem, perhaps a cancer or aneurysm, perhaps internal laying, maybe a heart or liver condition, quite possibly something I haven't thought of. Chickens are very good at hiding that they don't feel well.

    http://ohioline.osu.edu/vme-fact/0018.html

    http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ig140
     
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  3. cowcreekgeek

    cowcreekgeek Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hurricane, WV
    I'm sorry you've lost another bird, and esp. one that's so important to your plans ... saw the other post, and skimmed a few others as well.

    First, I wanna say flockwather's answer was similar to what my own would be in regard to external parasites, save for my preference for permethrin (or pyrethrum, should you wish to use the organic form). I'm no fan of the growing use of Ivermectin, as it's producing internal parasites that have resistance to Avermectin >> peck here << to see Merck Vet Manual's 'Persistent Efficacy' for more on this.

    It's tough to figure such sudden/unexpected losses out sometimes, but the list of likely causes is a relatively short one, due to the fact there were no warnings; that death came so quickly is in and of itself a symptoms ... unless ... it's possible, w/ two dogs, that one or both is playin' w/ your chickens when you're not around to correct them. Also, you may have interrupted a predator, which is something I encourage you to either accept as the price of free-ranging your flock, or contain your flock so as prevent them from continuously being a source of food for hawks -- NC's got a bunch of 'em (nine different species, I think), and they're all protected, and w/ good reason.

    Although NC's schools leave a *whole* lot to be desired (much like our own in WV), you've got some of the best of the best for the poultry industry ... there's excellent resources there, and I believe necropsies are extremely inexpensive to residents of your state. That'd be worth consideration.

    But, after seein' your birds, and hearin' of how well they're cared for? I've a suspicion that you're takin' a bit *too* good of care of 'em, in that the diets of chickens are often considerably more nutritious than chickens require, which gives 'em a bit too much excess fat and protein. The result can be difficulty w/ layin' eggs >> peck here << for an excellent article on egg binding, although I don't really believe that to be the cause in this case.

    What I most strongly suspect, based upon the symptoms and circumstances, is fatty liver hemmorrhagic syndrome, which generally happens most often w/in caged laying hens, but can often occur when diets contain excessive amounts of dietary energy. L-Tryptophan (an essential amino acid) is suggested to reduce the risk of this disease. As it turn out? Turkey ain't got no more of it than other meats to, but cooked eggs are fairly high in it (0.166%) and grinding raw pumpkins seeds are probably the best source for chickens (0.576% ~'-)

    Aortic Rupture is another possibility, although it's far less common. Fowl Cholera isn't likely, as no other bird has died of natural causes. Over-heating, or accute lack of water, are pretty much the only remaining explanations I can think of, save for poisoning -- the toxins from botulism are among the most poisonous known to mankind, and all chickens have some w/in their systems. Eating decaying matter, or the maggots that feed upon it, can very quickly proove fatal. Yellow Jasmine is another natural toxin, and there are more ... algae is another that produces toxins w/in their systems. But, again? These don't usually work so very quickly, and almost always other birds w/in the flock would show some signs of poisoning/intoxification.

    By the way ... the oxine sounds like a good idea, provided you use a very small amount of it, but I'd switch up their water to an astringent solution of Apple Cider Vinegar at the rate of four teaspoons to each gallon (but never in galvanized metal containers). Rather than merely protecting the water, this actually serves to protect the bird, reducing botulism, for example. It also reduces the viscosity of mucus, which makes it easier for your birds to expel, and 'cuts through' coatings w/in the mouth, throat and intestines, improving uptake of nutrients/vitamins and any medication(s) given. The target acidity of 5~6 pH also creates an environment that's more hostile to internal parasites.
     
  4. atmaclean

    atmaclean Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, we do know that the dogs do not play with the chickens. One is an australian shepherd and the other is a Maremma guardian dog. They definitely don't bother the chickens.

    Good idea on the Sevin dust or permetherin - I will get that tomorrow and dust everyone. I did see a mite on one of the other hens but Lemon Cuckoo Orps are so full of feathers I couldn't hardly see their skin! So, I will just dust everyone. The ivermectin sure would be easy if all I had to do was put a few drops on their back. We have not used ivermectin in our horses in a few years now simply due to over-use and resistance. We do fecal checks and then just de-worm for what we find. I have never used it on my fowl, however.

    As to the Oxine....I do put a few drops in their water tanks - they are the plastic ones. Two of them are the gallon size that hang and the other is a 4 gallon plastic waterer that sits up on a platform thing. I did purchase some ACV today and put it in their waterers as you recommended. Do I also use the Oxine with the ACV? Or just use the ACV in their water. I did spray a solution of bleach water over everything Friday after Speedy died....just in case. I don't have the fogger that I need to fog the Oxine over everything. I just add it to their water.

    The feed that I use comes from a local mill and is a 21% "all natural" laying feed. They use a lot of corn in their feeds and I have never had any trouble with it. I do add that Farmers Friend probiotic stuff to it and grind flax to add with it to increase the omega 3/6 in their eggs.

    I give them treats in the evening to get the guineas to continue coming back in at night so the chickens expect some kind of treat too. I give them a little bit of millet and a litte oatmeal She seems to love the warm oatmeal. I do give them table scraps such as pasta, vegetables, but no meats and no potato peels. They free range around the farm during the day for exercise. I keep oyster shell out for them for extra calcium.

    Let me know if I'm doing anything else I should change!
    Angela
     
  5. cowcreekgeek

    cowcreekgeek Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'd hold back on both the oxine and the probiotics for now, as you're feeding them such good diets and keeping them so well, that neither is req'd.

    My fear is that this may be one of those rare cases of 'too much of a good thing' as the possible explanation, although this most often occurs when folks feel sorry for the sick bird, and over-improve their diets. But, that's something to keep in mind, should you find yourself nursing any of those gorgeous horses or birds you have there.

    And, speaking of horses ... have you found a saddle to fit that Maremmano yet?
     
  6. atmaclean

    atmaclean Chillin' With My Peeps

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    LOL! No, we haven't saddled Banjo yet! But we do have a pony saddle that would probably fit him :) He is worth his weight in gold!!

    The little Swedish Flower hen was a tiny thing - she never was as big as the other hens but they (SFH) seem to grow/mature slower. I will say that a couple of my lavender orps and lemon cuckoo orps and my light brahma seem a bit fat! It may be all the feathers but there is one lavender hen that is twice the size of the smaller lavender orp.

    I am going to cut back on their millet treats - I mainly use that to reward my guineas for coming into their pen/fortress at night. I mix some rolled oats in with the millet for the hens as a treat but will cut back on that. I wonder if I should cut back on the food scraps? I give them canned corn, peas, carrots a few times a week and if we have leftover soups or pasta, I will throw that out too. They come running and just gobble it up. Should I take away their Flock Block??

    Now, I am worried that they are too fat and might have egg problems - I did read the link you gave me about egg impaction. I haven't noticed any problems with egg-laying but I have had the reds lay some gigantic eggs!!! like up to 95 grams and double yolkers!! They run around the yard a lot and seem to be pretty active but that doesn't really tell me how much fat is in them. I've had them all since they were day olds and the lavender and lemon cuckoos, blue wheaten marans, (and Speedy who died) were hatched from eggs and are about 6 mos old and just starting to lay.

    My other hens are about 9 months old (2 reds, a brabanter, a light brahma, 3 SFH hens, a pair of cream legbars, 3 araucanas, 2 americanas, and a speckled/spangled sussex,

    I also have 3 lemon cuckoo roosters, 3 lavender orphington roosters, my cream legbar rooster, and an aracauna rooster. I keep them all separate from the hens. Well, I have the cream legbar pair together right now in hopes of getting some fertile eggs. There is one lemon cuckoo rooster who has started pecking at me when I let him out and is he is huge - bigger than the other two. When he pecks me I will pick him up and turn him upside down like a baby and hold him til he relaxes. I wonder if that is making it worse or better.....?? I do not like a mean rooster!! My cream legbar rooster has gotten very aggressive but after what we paid for him, I certainly can't get rid of him so I just pick him up as well when he jumps at me.

    I let the roosters out early in the morning (6am) to free range and then put them up and let the hens out around 10:30-11 for the rest of the day.

    I will hold off on the oxine and did add the ACV to their water yesterday as you recommended. I thought the Oxine was supposed to prevent diseases so that is why I was adding it to the water.... Adding the ground flax is supposed to make their eggs rich in omega 3 and 6 acids. I've even seen it bagged at Tractor Supply and marketed as an egg supplement (but at a much higher price). We have always just bought the 50lb bag and ground our own with coffee grinders. It sure does give the horses beautiful, shiny coats!

    You are right about the horses! LOL! They get the best food money can buy! LOL! We feed Blue Seal Sentinel LT which is an extruded, high fat/low carb feed with glucosamine for our older horses or hard keepers. The fatties just get a hay extender by Blue Seal and pelletted vitamins to make them feel happy when the others are eating. We also feed them diatomaceous earth and certain ones get a hoof supplement. They have about 40 acres in pasture but this time of year it is about grazed down and we started feeding round bales of orchard/fescue last month. We had to go through 3 suppliers before we found one with hay that they would eat - they are so spoiled!

    After you mentioned NC State and the poultry resources we have here in NC, I thought I'd get in touch with my ag extension agent and find out who our poultry person is in my area and have them come out and check my situation out here with the chickens. I also want to find out if an analysis has been done on the feed that I am giving them since it is from a local mill instead of a huge company like Purina (although I have fed Layena Flockraiser when I've accidently run out of the other). I do know that the folks who buy my eggs (mostly other teachers at school), just love the fresh eggs and definitely notice a difference in the taste.

    Thanks again for all the help and for making me realize I need to analyze my feeding practices for the hens!!

    Angela
    www.naturallyequine.org
     
  7. cowcreekgeek

    cowcreekgeek Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yeah .. the egg binding article was meant as a gentle nudge, as suggesting a lady's ladies might have a weight issue can be a touchy subject. You're goin' to such wonderful extremes, in regard to providing the best you can for your animals and your flock, which you should take great pride in, and possibly consider gettin' involved w/ some of the programs for young farmers-to-be 'n such (imagine it'd be filled w/ mutual blessings ~'-)

    My primary concern, in regard to your feed program, is not that they're receiving too many carbohydrates or too much fat, but that they're gettin' considerably more protein in their diet than they should. Gotta remember to calculate all aspects/sources when customizing your own feeds -- this is somethin' I used to do for my dogs, so I'm more familiar w/ the concept than w/ the specifics, such as the detailed requirements of chickens.

    But, for example? One hundred grams of ground flax seed supplies about 450 kilocalories, 41 grams of fat, 28 grams of fiber, and 20 grams of protein, as reported by flaxcouncil.ca, which is fantastic, provided that it's combined w/ other components that balances/adjusts appropriately ... can't recall specifically where, but the FDA's involved heavily w/ what is/isn't considered a balanced diet w/in feeds -- start by looking at their general page about pet food labeling, and from there? You'll likely come up w/ your own perfected recipe for layers ... oh, yeah ... googling ... this oughta keep ya busy:

    Nutrient Requirements of Poultry: Ninth Revised Edition, 1994 (1994)
    Board on Agriculture (BOA)
    http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=2114&page=19


    Nutrient requirements of egg laying chickens
    Poultry Hub
    http://www.poultryhub.org/nutrition...nutrient-requirements-of-egg-laying-chickens/


    Poultry Nutrition and Feeding
    Animal Nutrition Handbook [pdf format]
    http://www.ag.auburn.edu/~chibale/an12poultryfeeding.pdf


    Next? You can do that for your horses, 'n save yourself enough to buy that new gooseneck trailer you've had your eye on ...

    One of my personal favorites, when it comes to national heroes in their field, is readily available to you: Dr. Julie D. Helm, who is [insert many titles here] in your home state, and at Clemson University.

    Also, here's the informations for the extention service w/in your county ...

    Staff & Responsibilities

    Administration

    Mark Tucker
    County Extension Director - 703-2851
    Agriculture & Natural Resources

    Craig Mauney
    Extension Agent - 703-2868
    Consumer Horticulture - Lawn and Garden, Master Gardener Volunteer Program, Director of Arboretum at Tanglewood

    Stephen Greer
    Extension Agent - 703-2856
    Small Farms, Commercial Horticulture and Pesticide Training

    Tim Hambrick
    Extension Agent - 703-2857
    Tobacco, Corn, Soybeans, Small Grains, Pesticide Coordinator, Beekeeping, Commercial Fruits and Vegetables and Grapes

    Wendi Hartup
    Extension Agent - 703-2858
    Natural Resources - Environmental issues, stormwater/erosion issues, water conservation, stream ecology, ponds and wildlife control.

    Derek Morris
    Agricultural Technician - 703-2861
    Consumer Horticulture – Lawn & Garden

    Vacant
    Area Agent
    Livestock and Forages

    Mike Bowman
    Soil Conservationist - 703-2840
    Agricultural Cost Share Program, Voluntary Agricultural District (VAD) program, Farmland Preservation

    Linda Birdsong
    CCAP Coordinator - 703-2843
    Community Conservation Assistance Program
    Community Resource Development

    Donald Mebane
    Extension Agent - 703-2859
    Community Resource Development, and 4-H in Limited Resource Communities
    Mary Jac Brennan
    Community Gardening Coordinator - 703-2869
    Family & Consumer Education

    Jennifer Brown
    Extension Agent - 703-2853
    Family and Consumer Educator, Foods and Nutrition, Clothing, Extension & Community Association

    Lindsey Butner
    4-H Nutrition Program Assistant - 703-2866
    Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program

    Ramona Pagan
    Program Assistant - 703-2862
    "Hey! What's Cookin'"

    Rocio Sedo
    Nutrition Program Associate - 703-2865
    Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program - Young Mothers, Pregnant Teens, and Hispanic Families

    Deborah Womack
    Extension Agent - 703-2870
    Financial Literacy, Housing and Home Maintenance, Aging Issues, Parenting Education, and Child Care Training
    4-H and Youth

    April Bowman
    Extension Agent - 703-2855
    4-H Program Management and 4-H Clubs

    Vacant, 4-H Program Assistant
    Special Interest Programs (including Summer Adventures), and 4-H School Enrichment

    Donald Mebane
    Extension Agent - 703-2859
    Community Resource Development, and 4-H in Limited Resource Communities
    Support Staff

    Kitrinka Gordon
    Secretary - 703-2863
    Community Resource Development, Home and Family, Nutrition Program Assistants, Livestock/Forages

    Rachel Herring
    Secretary - 703-2867
    Food and Nutrition, Commercial Horticulture, and Environmental Issues

    Kathy Hepler
    Secretary - 703-2852
    4-H and Consumer Horticulture
     
  8. atmaclean

    atmaclean Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you so much!! I've called my ag extension director and also emailed Dr. Helm. Hope to hear something soon.
    Angela
     
  9. cowcreekgeek

    cowcreekgeek Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hurricane, WV
    Just pm me the alpha male from Banjo's next, 'n we'll call it even ~'-)

    :: edit :: nevermind ... my Niko's already eatin' better 'n I do, so I wouldn't wanna foot his feed bills :: /edit ::
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2012
  10. atmaclean

    atmaclean Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Belews Creek, NC
    Haha. Banjo is neutered anyway ;)

    Just saw you are from WV - we used to come up to the greyhound track at Crosslanes to pick up greyhounds that had graded off the track. I co-founded a greyhound adoption group here back in the early 90s. Just love those sweet dogs but currently don't have any. I had 4 and they all have passed. I have a couple of older little Italian greyhounds (11yrs, 13yrs). One is a tri pod and half blind and the other is totally blind (PRA) since about 4yrs old. They were both rescues that I took in and ended up keeping.

    I just ordered some Rhodebars - ever had any experience with them?

    Angela
    www.naturallyequine.org
     

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