Sudden (unexpected) death of #2 just days after death of very poorly #1?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by collington, Dec 28, 2014.

  1. collington

    collington New Egg

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    Feb 23, 2013
    nr. Brighton, England
    On Christmas Eve our hen, Annie Oakley, died. She had been poorly for a few days - diarrhoea, pale comb, lethargic, had stopped laying, etc. Our other two chickens seemed fine so we sadly wrote it off as 'one of those things' and disinfected the coop, feeders, etc.

    But yesterday (3 days later) Princess Featherpants died. She had been very healthy, laid on the same day, 'normal' poo, red comb, etc. Now I'm not sure if I should be worried that we have a big problem, or if these are two totally unrelated issues as they are presenting different symptoms.

    Hubby thinks I'm mad for worrying, especially as we only have one chicken left (so if it is something contagious, it's not like we're going to lose a huge flock.)

    I want to call/visit the vet, he says it's a waste of money and we should just disinfect everything again and wait and see. Any recommendations?

    Thanks so much!
    Lisa
     
  2. KayTee

    KayTee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 21, 2012
    South West France
    Even if you only have a few chickens it is still hard to lose any of them, and if it is something that you can avoid then you are right to try and find a solution.

    If you can give us a bit more information it would help:

    How old were your girls, and what breeds (if you know)?

    Did they free range, or were they confined to a run? Has anything changed recently (feed, bedding, neighbours who've just got chickens...), or have they had access to anywhere different where they might have eaten something different?

    Is your remaining hen showing any signs of being ill? You say that Princess Featherpants had normal poo, but what was Annie Oakley's like - brown and sticky, clear, yellow...?

    If you can think of any information that might help us to diagnose what happened to your two other girls then it may help your third girl if it does turn out to be something contagious.

    With regards to going to a vet - taking a chicken that isn't showing any symptoms may not be much use at the moment, unless you have a specialist avian vet close by. I doubt that a non-specialist would know what to test for from the description of symptoms from your other two girls.

    Here in France I took a chicken showing classic symptoms of what (I now know) was clostridium perfringens. He looked for worms and gave me indigestion medicine for her because he thought it might be sour crop! I don't blame him - he admitted to me in advance that he saw very few chickens, but I have to say that I got more information from BYC than he could ever give me.

    Let us know as much information as you can, and also the current state of your remaining girl, and we will do our best to help you.
     
  3. collington

    collington New Egg

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    Feb 23, 2013
    nr. Brighton, England
    Oh dear! I didn't give you nearly enough info! I'm so sorry.

    Annie (the poorly chicken) wasn't very old. We got her as POL 16 months ago. She was a hyrbid, although I don't know of what - but she laid green eggs and size-wise was halfway between a bantam and large fowl. Her diarrhoea was clear and yellowish/brown - very wet and looked slimy.

    Princess Featherpants (the healthy but dead one) was unknown years old, as we adopted her from a school and they couldn't remember... which makes me think it'd been a while. We've had her for nearly two years and she has been a power-house egg layer since we picked her up. She was also a hybrid, but large fowl.

    Our final (still alive and kicking) chicken is an Ancona bantam and we also got her POL 18 months ago (although she has yet to lay anything but a marble-sized 'test' egg.) We just gave her a thorough exam and she seems in perfect running order!

    All three free-range in our garden and are fed on organic layers pellets but I also throw some corn to them in the afternoon. They only have access to the back lawn, but in late October I took them into the front garden, fenced off my veggie beds and popped them in there so they could eat the leftovers, attack the weeds, etc. That lasted about a week. Annie had stopped laying before that, if memory serves. Otherwise, they are always contained to the back and haven't, to my knowledge, had access to anything new.

    We did get some rats in the garage and my husband put down poison, but they don't have access to the garage.

    Oh! We made a loaf of bread but it just didn't rise (we think it was bad yeast). We made it into a wreath shape and cooked it anyway and then hung it out on the tree for any and all birds to enjoy. I know they were munching on that.

    Hmmm... That's all I can think of that has been new or unusual.

    I'm afraid I don't know of a good avian vet around here, but I've been lucky enough not to need one before now!

    Thank you so much for your help/advice. I really appreciate it!
     
  4. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    If you have never wormed her I would do that. After you worm her some probiotics would probably be hood for her.
     
  5. KayTee

    KayTee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 21, 2012
    South West France
    Enola is right, worming would probably be a good thing, and probiotics can never hurt.

    From what you describe it is hard to pinpoint anything that could have caused your losses. If they had access to the rat poison then I think you would have lost all three pretty quickly, and if the bread had been off then you would have sparrows and blue tits dropping out of the sky around your garden!

    Production or hybrid chickens (who are bred basically as egg laying machines) tend not to live beyond 3 or 4 years old maximum, but mostly because of laying issues (internal laying, egg yolk peritonitis etc) - this has happened to two of my girls, but both stopped laying 2 - 4 months before I lost them. It could be a factor for Annie Oakley, as she had stopped laying, but not for Princess Featherpants - it would be unusual to lose a girl to a cause like that if she was still laying well. Did you notice if Annie Oakley had a swollen backside / belly before she died? That can be a sign of internal laying.

    The other thing that can be a problem with a flock is coccidiosis - although it is more common in young chicks, it can also be a problem in older chickens if a different type is introduced - either from new chickens added to the flock, or by bringing it in on footwear etc. if you visit an area where there is a different strain. However, if it was coccidiosis you would normally notice a change in the poo, which you say you didn't in Princess Featherpants.

    Your description of their life sounds great- almost identical to my girls! Free ranging in the back garden, and occasional trips to the kitchen garden at the front of the house to help me 'clean up' between seasons.

    All in all it sounds like you are doing the absolute best that you can for your girls - sometimes we just lose them for reasons unknown. If your last girl is not showing any signs of being ill then hopefully the other two were simply unfortunate but unrelated incidents.

    The one thing that I would suggest to you now is to consider the future of your flock. Chickens are extremely social animals. If you choose to treat your last girl as a 'house chicken' and let her become a pet with a lot of daily contact with yourself and your family then she may not miss the others. However, if you want to leave her sleeping in the coop and free ranging alone in the garden all day then I think that she could become very lonely. I don't suggest adding a lot of new girls, as she would feel outnumbered, but if you could find one (or maximum two) new girls to put in with her, then it would probably be a lot better for her.
     
  6. collington

    collington New Egg

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    Feb 23, 2013
    nr. Brighton, England
    Thanks for your advice! I do worm them but in thinking about it I was probably overdue.

    I do think it was just bad timing and they were unrelated issues - I guess I was just really worried about my last little girl! But it's been a number of days and she still seems fine. We bring her in the house quite a bit for company now that she's on her own but we'll be getting her some new friends on Monday.

    Thank you all for your support and advice!
     

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