some advice and a warning about lead around your property

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by goldeneggtees, Jun 26, 2011.

  1. goldeneggtees

    goldeneggtees Fluffy Butt Nut

    Mar 11, 2009
    Long Island, NY
    A warning about the possibility of lead around your property.

    I've had chickens for two years now. They live in an old coop that was built in the '30s. We had one of our hens die after her first year suddenly and found that she had a tumor on her liver that had burst (her death has not been tied to possible lead poisoning). Another hen started showing signs of illness around 2 weeks ago. She was standing around, puffed up and not coming off the roost. Her condition worsened over a week. I tired antibiotics and steroids as my hens are pets as well as egg layers but finally decided to put her down. We had her body and some blood that was drawn sent to cornell for testing to see what caused her illness. They called the next day and said that while they are still investigating the cause of her illness, they had found enough lead in her system that we should stop eating the eggs asap. Right now, I have 75 eggs in the fridge that I can no longer eat.

    I am so disheartened by this entire experience. I let the hens free range on their own 1/4 acre and try to keep things organic around here. The coop itself does not have any paint on it or chipping off and I clean up any garbage, glass, etc. I find. From all outward appearances, things look very natural back there. But upon closer inspection, I did find small pieces of old wood with paint on them. I have no idea how much of this is back there and I don't even know if all hens are affected or only some. I am having other birds tested too, as well as the water, ourselves and the soil.

    Whoever thought doing something good for you could end up being so bad? I don't think this is something that most of us think about, but maybe it's time we all did. It may be a much larger problem than people realize.

    My advice is to really inspect your property and outbuildings, chickens will eat the tiniest of specks they find. If you see signs of peeling or chipping paint, fix the problem asap, before you have a much larger problem like I currently have.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2011
  2. duckinnut

    duckinnut Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 18, 2010
    Marshfield, Ma.
    I found out from my vet that rhodendrons(sp?) that their leaves are high in lead, something I was completely unaware of.Keep my girls away from them. I hope you figure out the source and sorry for the loss.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2011
  3. goldeneggtees

    goldeneggtees Fluffy Butt Nut

    Mar 11, 2009
    Long Island, NY
    thanks, luckily, we don't have them back there.
  4. ChicKat

    ChicKat Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    Very sorry to hear of your loss and the health concerns that you are facing now...........

    In addition to paint as the source of lead, check the old coop -- is there lead pipe in the plumbing or could the waters or feeders be construced from lead or 'pot metal' -- is that what they called that old metal smelted from every scrap of metal found... Also did people once hunt with shotguns that had lead shot in them...could they have found an old store of decomposing shotgun shells and ingested.

    Seems odd I know, but I am just trying to tie the 1930's and uses of lead back then.

    Hope that you do find the answers, and perhaps only this one hen was affected, all the rest are fine, and you can quickly get your life and flock back to normal.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2011
  5. goldeneggtees

    goldeneggtees Fluffy Butt Nut

    Mar 11, 2009
    Long Island, NY
    UPDATE: We've all had blood work done and they found no lead in us, another hen was tested through blood and her egg and while she had a low level of lead (20) - her egg was fine, no lead. Woo hoo! I am back to eating our eggs that I've worked so very hard for. We are still having our water and soil tested but I am starting to think the lead came from the old coop door which they had been pecking out of boredom from the crazy snowbound winter we had. I think they were bored.
  6. ChicKat

    ChicKat Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    Just yesterday I was wondering about your outcome, so I really appreciate your posting.

    What a wonderful relief that you and your family got good results from blood tests!

    And how great that your other chicken tested was O.K. --

    So very glad that life can get back to normal for you---and maybe next winter, a plywood barrier over the lead on the door.
    all the best, and thanks again for updating the forum.
  7. columbiacritter

    columbiacritter Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 7, 2008
    Scappoose Oregon
    My husband does enviromental work and frequently takes samples around peoples homes to test for lead in the soil. Even if you house or outbuildings are now painted with lead free paint the decades of havigng lead paint on them can cause significant lead levels to build up in the soild around them. It's not expensive to have the soil tested.

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