Shipped chicks arrive sick.... please help!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Dahlisgrams, Sep 15, 2012.

  1. Dahlisgrams

    Dahlisgrams Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 16, 2012
    The Big Apple
    Hi everyone,

    I purchased some chicks from a very reputable breeder with whom I've placed several orders before. I have always received healthy chicks from them until this past week. I received the box less than 24 hours after it was shipped and the chicks are clearly ill. Eyes closed but not swollen, some mild sneezing and a bit of lethargy. I don't see any nasal discharge. There is no bad odor or lesions. Not SICK like infectious coryza sick but not right either. I contacted the breeder immediately and was told to put them on antibiotics, which I did even though I don't generally lean towards treatment. I would normally cull. But these are not inexpensive hatchery chicks and I was told that they could have gotten cold during shipment and probably have a cold. I considered the possibility that they were next to a box of sick birds on their journey to me. I didn't think that chickens could get "colds". Can they?

    They have been on the oxytetracycline for several days now and are somewhat improving, but other chicks I'd had previously and were the epitome of health, are now showing signs of being unwell. There are a few who now look unthrifty with ruffled feathers and there is a little sneezing and although their eyes are not shut, they don't look as bright and clear as they did just a few days ago. They weren't together, but in the same house. I've got oxine in their water, as well as vitamins and the antibiotics. Everyone is now being treated. The antibiotic was prescribed for the previous bout of coryza, but I'd done the research and asked the doctor point blank if they'd be carriers and when I was told yes, they'd always shed the disease, I chose to cull.

    I also have birds outside and I'm scared to death they're going to get whatever this is too, though I'm practicing good quarantine management and am washing, changing clothes and showering between visits to each flock. If it's airborne, it's probably too late.

    No one has died and they are very active and eating/drinking now that they're being treated. This doesn't look like the confirmed infectious coryza that I've seen before. I sent a note to the doctor who necrosied my last sick chicks but it's a weekend.

    Opinions? Should I cull and hope it didn't spread to my outside flock? Should I wait and see? I'm terribly torn and I know I'm not thinking clearly because I haven't slept and am worried sick. Some of the chicks are new (the ones who arrived ill) but I've bonded with the others for almost 3 weeks now and would hate to have to cull more chicks!!! But I will if I have to. Please help me figure out what to do here. I'm actually sick to my stomach and feel like I might pass out when I consider having to do this again and knowing that it could be necessary to cull the whole flock, even though the outside birds aren't showing any signs.. I know it's the right thing in some situations, but is this one of them? Am I being blind?

    Please help me make sense of this. I can do what needs to be done, but does it need to be done is the question. [​IMG]

    Edited for spelling.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2012
  2. Dahlisgrams

    Dahlisgrams Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 16, 2012
    The Big Apple
    Could this be MG or IB? It isn't coryza. I'm quite familiar with that. There is no coughing or gurgling, no raspy breathing. Just a little sneezing and slightly moist looking eyes except for the original sickest 4, some of whom have their eyes closed.

    Is this nothing? Am I overreacting? I need to shower and change so that I can go outside and take care of the main flock now. I'm glad I have oxine!

    Has anyone had any experience with symptoms like this? I'm reading everything I can..
     
  3. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

    6,771
    131
    281
    Apr 15, 2009
    Cull and hope that it has not spread to your outside flock.

    Or, send them back to the breeder, demand a refund for all costs related to these birds, and threaten to expose the breeder for the fraud that he/she is. Any reputable breeder knows that chickens don't get colds. Period.
    (Sorry, I am feeling ill-tempered tonight. I HATE people that try to pull fast ones on unsuspecting consumers. They ought to be brought as low as possible in retribution. I also hate having to cull birds that are other people's responsibility.)

    I am sorry. I hope things turn out well for you.
     
  4. Dahlisgrams

    Dahlisgrams Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 16, 2012
    The Big Apple
    Thank you. My very first thought was to do exactly that. I have someone who can help me with it as soon as tomorrow or Monday. I don't want to do it alone. There are just too many. I didn't like hearing they had a cold when everything I've read says point blank otherwise. Can I ask them to reimburse when I don't even have a real diagnosis that would suggest it was necessary? I have been keeping them updated but haven't heard back from them in a few days. I am sure they are not there today, but Friday is a work day and I had no response. They said that it was up to me if I culled, that personally, she would cull if she felt they were suffering. They don't seem to be suffering on the antibiotics though. Is this their way of putting the responsibility on me? They have a live chick guarantee. They're still alive but sick enough to be infecting other birds that were healthy, and in fact CAME FROM THEM TOO. I would normally be very angry about this but the truth is I'm too scared to be angry right now. Really, I'm shaking.

    My son said something tonight that is true. He pointed out that we've ONLY had problems with breeder chicks. Never hatchery. I hate to admit it but he is right. I am not even sure where this originated, but I do know that ALL of my birds were 100% healthy until the box arrived with the latest chicks. I won't be able to make actual contact with the breeder until Monday, so until then I'm just up the creek without a paddle.

    I really appreciate your response CMV. Thanks again.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2012
  5. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

    6,771
    131
    281
    Apr 15, 2009
    I would love to get some breeder quality chicks, but I don't dare. Too many horror stories of people having to cull their entire flocks because they chose the wrong breeder to deal with. The irony is that I don't even really care that much for most of my current flock. The favorites have all gotten themselves killed (except for the goose that just cost me a fortune...but that's another story). I have a few newbies that are turning out well, but the majority of the old-timers are merely a pain in the pa-toot that I tolerate. That being said, I pride myself on having a clean flock- no communicable diseases ever on my property.

    I think you are going to need to stay in contact with this breeder. I would demand a refund on all monies spent on this diseased lot. Take photos before you do anything. Keep records of all correspondence between you and the breeder. If you should start culling, I would save a body or two for necropsy. Find a lab before you start culling to find out what their procedure for storage and handling is. Your local county extension agent can help you find a lab nearby to help you out with this. Tell the breeder what you are doing every step of the way. Honestly, the breeder finds out you are seriously pursuing a case against them, s/he will likely just pay what you are asking to put this to rest. You should be able to at least get what you put into this venture back...with or without necropsy proof that the birds were diseased. Whether you choose to go further with it is up to you.

    I am sorry you find yourself in this situation. It happens too often in the poultry world. I hope that...well, I hope that someday we all can get some good quality bloodlines without fearing for the safety of birds that we've had for years. Clean birds sold by reputable breeders...is that too much to ask?

    Good luck.
     
  6. Dahlisgrams

    Dahlisgrams Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 16, 2012
    The Big Apple
    I think you're right. I am going to stay in contact every step of the way, and have so far. I am watching the older chicks get sicker, even on antibiotics and it looks like I am going to have to cull at least one for an immediate necropsy just to know conclusively what this disease is. There is a lab that I dealt with during the coryza ordeal and they are affiliated with Cornell University. They said to freeze the body to prevent any decomposition of the tissues. I did that with the culled coryza chick and they had no problem with testing. It cost $75 but was worth it.

    If I hadn't culled them, I'd have an entirely diseased flock right now. I've tried to keep disease out as much as humanly possible. I treated rather than culled immediately this time only because of the sheer amount of money I've spent on these chicks. If I had unlimited funds it might be different but I do know I will not have a flock of diseased animals, period. So my choice is the same as last time. Cull one and test. Wait for the results and then cull the remaining diseased chicks if necessary. It almost seems like waiting isn't necessary though. Don't most poultry diseases leave the animal a carrier? I'm just not comfortable with that. No matter how I look at it. They are sick and obviously contagious since they infected the other chicks in the house already. If I wait too long, I could end up having to cull the whole flock, and that's a lot of birds. I am angry. I just want to go about it the right way and don't wish to take it out on the breeder if it isn't their doing, which it very well may not be. I only know that it wasn't here before and it is definitely here now. [​IMG]

    I also don't wish to bad mouth anyone, as that isn't my goal here. I just want healthy chicks. I paid for them and should have them. It isn't personal. I can't believe I'm going through this again. It's very discouraging. I tried to stay with reputable breeders to avoid this but I guess that doesn't always matter. I take good care of the birds and manage them properly. Things are washed regularly, bedding changed, feeders cleaned. Food is stored in airtight containers. There is plenty of ventilation provided to them and everything else I can think of. I would never ever sell someone a sick animal knowingly and sincerely hope that isn't what happened here. It makes me never want to purchase chicks or eggs from anyone ever again. Sorry for the rant. I'm just very upset and very tired. Right now I just want to know what disease I'm dealing with so I can move ahead and hopefully save my flock.

    Sneezing, watery eyes that are worse in some than others. No cough, no nasal discharge that I can see. Definitely respiratory. MG? IB? Are these other symptoms not present because they're on antibiotics? [​IMG]

    *Sigh* [​IMG]

    Thanks again CMV. I really appreciate your feedback and advice. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2012
  7. Dahlisgrams

    Dahlisgrams Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 16, 2012
    The Big Apple
    :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2012
  8. HayleesChickens

    HayleesChickens New Egg

    5
    0
    7
    Apr 18, 2012
    I had gotten chicks like that too, be careful most of them died. they might be in shock from shipment. I would recomend sav-a-chick found at tractor supply
    You ,ight have to force feed them, use a shinny spoon or suringe. becarful you can drown them if it get in the noses located on the sides of the beak
     
  9. Dahlisgrams

    Dahlisgrams Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 16, 2012
    The Big Apple
    Thanks HayleesChickens, and welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    They're eating and drinking well and are pretty active at this point and I'm pretty sure they're all going to make it, at least I think so. My biggest concern right now is whether or not they will be carriers of a disease when they've finished treatment. I just want to keep my flock healthy and I'm not sure what I can do about this right now except wait and continue to be extraordinarily careful with the quarantine or cull everyone. Between a rock and a hard place at the moment.[​IMG]
     
  10. Dahlisgrams

    Dahlisgrams Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 16, 2012
    The Big Apple
    This is going to sound crazy, but I don't know if they were ever really sick at all. My friend who raised chickens for 20+ years until she sold the farm last year looked at them. She didn't think they looked ill at all. Not one single drop of fluid from any of their nostrils nor eyes. Not one, not ever. Some random sneezing and the mildly watery looking eyes in a couple of them were all the signs of sickness there were. No coughing or wheezing or anything like that at all. In fact, I'd just changed their bedding just before the sneezing started and she suggested that the ruffled feather look was due to them shedding their down and getting their feathers in. She told me that every chick she'd ever had looked like that at this stage. I didn't remember my other chicks looking so scruffy. They are all literally bouncing off the walls and are eating and drinking and growing like crazy. No one outside is showing anything but the occasional sneeze which seems to be normal for them, and again I think it's because I put the new shavings and DE down. They were different shavings than before and a little finer, so perhaps dustier than the others. I don't know. They are constantly taking dust baths though and if I had covered myself in shavings and DE to that extent I'd probably sneeze too! That could also account for the moist looking eyes. She isn't a vet, but has lots of experience and swears she doesn't think they're sick at all. She told me if she did, she'd help me cull them right then and there. She said she'd had chicks arrive really tired like that and said it took a few days for them to get their strength back but they did. My friend's flock was very healthy and she learned husbandry techniques from her family who had chickens for as long as she can remember. I am pretty sure she'd know sick when she saw it and I feel a lot better knowing she thinks they're fine.

    So it appears that my previous experience with coryza has made me absolutely paranoid and panic-stricken at the first possibility of illness in my flock. I'm not normally one to overreact and jump to conclusions but I guess I was having flashbacks to having to cull all those chicks before. I don't want to go through that again, ever. Processing for meat is one thing, but illness is another. I don't want to put my current flock in a position to be possibly exposed to something that would require culling, so even though I don't think anyone is sick, I've decided to close the flock anyway. Chicken math has gotten out of hand and I now have enough to keep us in eggs and meat until the cows come home. No chickens in or out, period. I just don't think I can handle the stress.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by