Tractor Supply chicks poor quality or Diseased?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Lelilamom, May 3, 2016.

  1. Lelilamom

    Lelilamom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Last year we purchased 12 RSLs from a local TSC store. All 12 were raised on medicated chick feed from Agway until they were 9 - 10 weeks when they started mingling with our full grown hens. When they were 18 weeks old, they started laying, except one. She started with lethargy, feathers puffed, huddled in the corner. She died at 20 weeks old. 3 months later, a second hen from the same group because lethargic, feathers puffed and huddled in the corner. I put her in our infirmary where she had diarrhea for 2 weeks and became increasingly weaker. She stopped eating and only drank and lost alot of weight. I put her out in the sun on nice days and one day she took several hours to walk back to the coop. She died the next day. Three months later, this past January, yet another from the same batch from TSC exhibited the same exact symptoms. Lethargic, puffed up and huddled in the corner with diarrhea; I brought her into the infirmary for 2 weeks and watched her lose weight until she died. Now, three months later, I have yet another hen from the same batch from TSC doing the same thing. For the past two weeks lethargic, puffed up, eating little and drinking more than anything but with diarrhea. I just left her in the coop so she could free range and be in her own environment. This morning she was out in the grass on her side, eyes closed but alive. I took her out so the others wouldn't peck her and put her in soft grass. I expect she'll have died the next time I go out.

    That's 4 hens now, all from the same batch. I have 2 four year olds - 1 buff orp and 1 RSL who continue to be healthy and beautiful (knock on wood) and other RSLs, RIR and Amber Rocks from TSC and Agway that are 3 years old and while they don't lay every day, they are healthy, at least for now. Again, knock on wood. If this was a disease spreading through the flock, what could it be and would it spread this slowly?
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Since you are getting them from Tractor Supply, you are in the US. I suggest you call your county extension agent and find out what it takes to get a chicken necropsy. That’s where they cut them open to try to decide what is killing them. Each state is different, but find out what the cost is, where you need to take the body and when, and how you need to preserve the body. That normally involves refrigeration or an ice chest with ice.

    This could be a lot of different things but it is consistent enough you need to find out what the problem is. I wish you luck.
     
  3. Lelilamom

    Lelilamom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do I run the risk of revealing my location if I do that? Technically, we aren't allowed to have chickens because we don't own enough land. I don't want to "raise the flag" that we have livestock with county officials.
     
  4. Lelilamom

    Lelilamom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I should also mention that our broilers and turkeys have all been unharmed by illness (again, knock on wood) and we've processed them all ourselves. Unfortunately, I wouldn't know what to look for if I did do a necropsy on a sick bird and when I've suggested one in the past my husband, who does all the evisceration himself, has flat out refused.
     
  5. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    If you don't want to send for necropsy, may I suggest that you consider taking a fecal sample to your vet to have tested?
    They should be able to determine whether it is a bacterial infection, Cocci, parasites, etc.


    "lethargy, feathers puffed, huddled in the corner" sounds like it could be Cocci, although some bacterial illnesses and internal laying issues can present with similar symptoms.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2016
  6. Lelilamom

    Lelilamom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I always suspect Cocci, but there's never been any blood in the feces and I thought the symptoms would spread more quickly. Am I mistaken? All the birds had diarrhea. One of the sick birds had very yellow diarrhea, and I suspect she had egg yolk mixed in. All the birds had large amounts of diarrhea - flooding large areas of the infirmary every morning and watery crops from drinking so much. They all had very messy vents, but unblocked, as I always do an exam on sick birds to make sure they aren't blocked. This last hen showed these signs about two months ago and then rallied, eating and drinking normally, roosting and laying regularly until about 2 weeks ago. I just went out to check on her and my husband, anguished by the sight of her suffering, had put her out of her misery and buried her while I was giving the kids a snack.

    With each hen my greatest suspicion has been egg peritonitis, internal laying or some other genetic issue. It's only my RSLs that are affected, and only the last group we purchased from TSC. We aren't buying from them anymore and we will not be raising that breed any longer. I'm too old and emotional to lose a hen every three months.
     
  7. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    I'm sorry for your loss.[​IMG]

    Not all Cocci (there are several strains) will result in blood in the feces. It could be a secondary infection from Cocci.
    If you think that the poo looked like egg yolks then Peritonitis or Ascites would be more likely the culprit. If I understand it correctly, Peritonitis is the egg dropping back into the abdomen, this then
    can cause a secondary infection - E.Coli, Salmonella among others, that is then present in the feces. Chickens walk through the infected feces and possibly contract the bacteria, which will then present like a contagious disease and the cycle goes round and round where all of them seem to have the same/similar symptoms.
    This is why I suggest a fecal test, the vet will hopefully be able to tell you if it is a Cocci ,worms, or some type of bacterial infection.

    http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/p...uctive_system/egg_peritonitis_in_poultry.html
    http://www.thepoultrysite.com/diseaseinfo/6/ascites/
    http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/poultry/coccidiosis/overview_of_coccidiosis_in_poultry.html
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/coccidiosis-how-to-treat-it
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2016
  8. Lelilamom

    Lelilamom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you very much for the links. Definitely not Ascites or Cocci. Based on the information from Merck, it's Egg Peritonitis for all of them.

    Cocci spores spread best in 70 - 80 degrees. Almost all my hens started showing symptoms after September when temps started to go down and my hen in Jan was after below zero weather when spores die.

    Ascites is caused by poor ventilation/low oxygen. My birds free range from 7AM to 7 PM and have an open air run attached to the coop, which also has several open windows.

    Suspecting Egg Peritonitis, we've improved our watering system and changed our feeders so our hens aren't pecking food off the ground. We've added oyster shell to their mash and moved their free range area for the winter.

    Here's hoping.
     
  9. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    Peritonitis would also be my best guess as well.
    Hopefully making the changes you mention will help prevent any more problems for you.
    Keep us updated. If you find that the changes make significant improvement/results (good or bad), let us know.
    I wish you well.
     
  10. Lelilamom

    Lelilamom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have two more birds, Both from Tractor Supply, one is 3 years old and one is a year old, exhibiting this behavior now. One girl every few weeks shows the egg-bound hunch with watery stool and a day or so later, passes a shell-less egg membrane and is fine for another few weeks. The other girl had a very large prolapse vent, was hunched in the corner and had diarrhea. I gave her a hot bath and her vent went back to normal quickly. That was 3 weeks ago and she's laying eggs again and behaving normally, for now.

    That's eight RSLs in the past year all with what appears to be egg bound/peritonitis issues. It's exhausting diagnosing and caring for them and frankly if I have to stick my fingers up another chicken's, well, you know, I'm not going to be happy.
     

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