1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Strange chicken deaths

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by dooleysm, Dec 9, 2008.

  1. dooleysm

    dooleysm Out Of The Brooder

    11
    0
    22
    Mar 20, 2008
    Dubois, IN
    Longtime lurker, first time poster...

    I started with a batch of 25 standard sized mutt chicks last spring and have added several different batches of various types of bantam/standard chickens. I also added 10 guinea chicks mid-summer. I have 2 ducks that live on the pond, but occassionally visit the chickens for food and company.

    What I'm about to describe has happened mostly to the first batch of 25 chicks, but also most recently to a later addition, and earlier to a guinea. I've had about 8 cases total. I have a 6x9 coop with sawdust floor, an attached 5x16 fully enclosed run, and a larger maybe 20x60 fenced area that I open to them from dawn to dusk, and frequently (2-3 days/week) let them out to free range.

    They have a constant supply of layer mash and a single large waterer that only occassionally runs dry before I get it filled (it's never empty for more than 12 hours at a time, at most). Both are located in the coop. I feed them table scraps when I have them, and scratch as a treat.

    Now, I think that takes care of the background, now on to the symptoms.

    I find the chicken on the floor of the coop, laying on its side. They always seem alert and not in pain or distress. They don't appear to have any outward physical injuries (like from pecking or a predator). It's almost like a partial paralysis. They can kick and flap their wings, but very uncoordinated. They can't stand or fly. I have let them lay there for about 24 hours, with no idea what to do. Eventually they weaken, as I don't think they can feed or drink, and I put them down.

    This has occurred as close together as a couple days and as far apart as 8-10 weeks. If it was a disease I would expect it to move through the coop and take out a bunch at a time, not lay dormant for long periods of time and only affect a single chicken at a time.

    It's happened to both hens (laying and not) and roosters and 1 guinea. In some cases, I've noticed the chickens acting differently as much as a week or two before hand. Staying off by themselves, seeming to lack energy, etc. Other times, it happens out of the blue. I just don't get it.

    Any ideas or questions?
     
  2. birdlover

    birdlover Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2007
    Northern Va.
    I'm so sorry about your chickens. Usually when a chicken becomes unable to walk, it's connected to Marek's Disease. Here is one of many articles I googled on the subject for you. There's lots more articles if you want to read up on it. Unfortunately, it's a virus and can only be prevented by vaccine (before said bird is infected). I wish you the best of luck.

    http://www.dpiw.tas.gov.au/inter.nsf/WebPages/CART-6PTVYH?open

    ETA: I would strongly suggest that you take the next bird that dies for a necropsy immediately so you can find out what you're dealing with. If it's something else, maybe there's a medication you can use to stop it.

    Ellen
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2008
  3. HennysMom

    HennysMom Keeper of the Tiara

    I dont know what it could be, but how often do you change the water? You could be getting something cross contaminating via the water if you go without changing it for very long - also 12 hours can be quite a long time for a chicken to go without water, especially if they're sick. Of course, this depends on what time of day you're talking - if you're talking 12 hours from when they go to bed to roost to the time they get up, then it shouldnt be a problem, but if you're talking 12 hours during the day time... then that can be a huge issue.

    Also - I dont know if its possible, but could your other birds that visit cross contaminate??
     
  4. May you NOT have Marek's disease. Research this problem now. Suspect an respiratoy infection, WORMS or something connected to the air sac diseases. Be deligent, do not let this progress as you will loose more. Usually viral infections are not fatal, I wish I could help further. Please keep us posted so we may help you !!!

    Question. Please go to the sticky posts in this section index and answer the questions completely. You would be suprised at how this helps as some find an alert somewhere in your answers. There are alot of people with alot of experience with sick chickens. Unfortunately I have had my share in recent months. I do believe I am finally over the crud. I have chicken all ove the yard this day as if nothing happened to them. What a joy it is to have healthy chickens folicing in the rain.
     
  5. dooleysm

    dooleysm Out Of The Brooder

    11
    0
    22
    Mar 20, 2008
    Dubois, IN
    I gather the eggs when I get home in the evenings, around 5. I check their water then. If it's empty or low I fill it. I check on them again when I lock them up for the evening and refill then if necessary. I check again in the morning when I let them out, but I've never seen it empty in the morning, as they are roosting all night. Occassionally they'll tip the water over and empty it, so in those cases, they are without water from the time they spill it until I get home to fill it. Very rare that this happens. They generally empty the water every 2-3 days, at which time I wash out the waterer and refill.

    They aren't visited by any other domestic birds. I don't know if any wild birds visit them. They are near my beagles and could easily 'catch' something from them.

    The description of Marek's disease unfortunately sounds like it. Sounds like the only option in that case is to either live with the occassional death or get rid of all of them and start over in a few months after cleaning everything. I'm taking a puppy to the vet in a couple weeks, I'll ask him if he performs necropsies on chickens and ask his advice. I'm not sure if he deals with this kind of thing though?

    Any other advice from anyone? I really don't want the time or expense of starting over. As bad as it sounds, it seems like my best option is to live with the occassional death?
     
  6. dooleysm

    dooleysm Out Of The Brooder

    11
    0
    22
    Mar 20, 2008
    Dubois, IN
    Quote:I *think* I have answered everything as completely as I can. If there is something I'm missing, I'm at a loss as to what it is. I'll happily offer any additional information.
     
  7. PeeperKeeper

    PeeperKeeper Chillin' With My Peeps

    I think it is Marek's Disease. Fine one minute, have a seizure, then are paralyzed, and can die within 6 hours. There are vaccinations for this disease, if you think that might be the problem.
     
  8. Reece Farms

    Reece Farms Out Of The Brooder

    24
    1
    24
    Jun 2, 2008
    Ruffs Dale PA
    Have you checked for impacted crop?? Sadly this morning we came upon the same situation...our hen was just sitting there not really moving much...not wanting to eat or drink...I felt her crop and it was very hard and bulging...usually in the morning their crops arent that full...I gave her mineral oil with a syringe throughout the day and massaged the crop...but she just got progressively weaker, she had some seizures, laying on her side (as if paralyzed) unfortunately she died...to find out if it was what we thought it was we performed our own necropsy, cutting open the crop,what we found was alot of pact straw, scratch, even a couple of nails. This may seem like a gruesome task, but if it saves your remainding flock from the same fate it is worth it...we were sad to lose her but we are now more aware and are going to make extra efforts towards preventing another case of this...hope this helps
     
  9. dooleysm

    dooleysm Out Of The Brooder

    11
    0
    22
    Mar 20, 2008
    Dubois, IN
    I have not checked for an impacted crop. I think I'm going to talk to my vet and see what his thoughts are in a couple weeks when I'm in there for puppy shots.

    Thanks for all the ideas everyone.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by