Two dead chickens out of 16 within 3 days! Help

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by burbankchix, Nov 26, 2011.

  1. burbankchix

    burbankchix Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 18, 2011
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    Thanksgiving morning we went out to find our only Buff Orpington dead on the floor of the coop. Today (Saturday), we went out and found our White Silkie Bantam dead too! Background:

    We use the deep pine shavings method in the coop and a couple days before, we discovered an ammonia smell. My husband had put a little to much water on the "composting bedding" and it activated the ammonia. We left the windows open, but our Buff either was smothered in a corner or got too much ammonia during the night. So we think that is what killed her. We had planned on cleaning it all out in the morning, which we did early Thursday morning (6:30am), put in new pine, cleaned, etc. The run is sand, but we have a half a bale of hay in it to trap bugs and just let the chickens play in it. Most of it is tied up, but they pull it out, etc. The chickens free range every day for a few hours but we are always out there with them. By the way, they are all between 5 1/2 months old and 7 months old. Our 3 bantams started laying about 3 weeks ago, our Ameraucana laid her first egg yesterday, and one other full size (we don't know who) also laid yesterday; and all of the rest of the chickens seem to be okay. Five of our chicks did get the Mareks shot at the hatchery we brought them from.

    Could this be residual ammonia poisoning? We have had them all on Tetroxy HCA-280, due to the weather changes here (Burbank, CA); the weather has been fluctuating wildly, hot, cold, rain, sun--all in any weeks time. Some chickens had a bit of runny nose, a couple were sneezing, so we put this in their drinking water and they have been on it for about 3 weeks.

    We are city folk and have not a clue about these deaths. There seems to be no outward physical signs of abuse by the other chickens, but I am having my husband check out their vents, etc., to see if there is any problems we can see. Is there anything else we can do; does anyone notice anything in the above that we shouldn't be doing? We have the Storey's Chicken Book, but we're still lost.

    As too feed, they are on organic crumble and regular scratch, and we give then oyster shell mixed in the scratch. The do get some lettuce from our garden and we give them raw corn on the cobs on occasion, apples, bananas, etc. We keep a list of what not to feed them by the coop, so friends don't accidentally feed them something wrong. We do have 4 avocado trees in the back yard, but I make sure there is no fruit on the ground from them to peck at.

    HELP!
     
  2. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    First of all so sorry for your loss. I don't quite understand putting water on your bedding--it's supposed to be dry always. Also mixing sand , hay, and pine shavings is confusing. Most people use one or the other. If there is feed in your coop, it can become wet and moldy, causing poisoning. Hay can trap moisture. The big problem is it sounds like your flock may have one of the respiratory problems starting, or hopefully just allergies. I would probably read the threads on here about CRD and coryza to look for symptoms, and read up on the deep litter method. Sure hope things start getting better for you.
     
  3. burbankchix

    burbankchix Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 18, 2011
    California
    I may have confused the issue! The pine is only in the coop. The sand is in the run, with a small 18"x12" bale of hay. And the pine being wetted down...well, we read that if it is too dry, it won't do self composting and it lightly spray it with water (like with a spray bottle, not a hose). I think that was the biggest problem with the coop. The pine was about 8 inches deep before we cleaned it. I will look up those items you mentioned and hope it gives us some answers. It was suggested by our local feed store, to put our red heat lamp back in, that they may have colds and need heat.

    Also, since we have sand in the run and it poured rain here a few days ago, the run floor is wet and cold. We thought putting that little bale of hay in would help in keeping their feet a little warmer. I guess we should take that all out and maybe just layer in a new load of dry sand.

    Could their youth make them more easily susceptible to colds too?

    Thanks for your info!
     
  4. burbankchix

    burbankchix Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 18, 2011
    California
    Okay, I think we got the definitive answer on our chicken's illness, ILT or ITL, whichever, we how have them on a new antibiotic and have put Vicks under their wings at night. We've been dosing them all with an eyedropper with the medicine, not just having them drink the water that's been dosed. All survived the night and seem to be on the mend. Hope this lasts, they are still laying eggs, even with the sneezing, etc., I don't think they have a choice on this, but we're taking it as a good sign. Keeping our fingers crossed that we don't lose any more of our lovely girls. Thanks everyone.[​IMG]
     
  5. rancher hicks

    rancher hicks Chicken Obsessed

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    I'm not sure where you read about the "wetting" thing but you might want to research the "deep litter" method. Which still requires cleaning.

    I suggest you clean the coop when it's dirty since your in an area where the "deep litter" method is not necessary. It's only suggested for cold areas to generate heat in the winter time.

    I think in your area a simple compost pile is best.

    The moisture and humidity breed respiratory problems and it's not something you want inside the coop. The humidity will make it to warm for chickens. You want dry and cool. This is why ventilation is so important.

    I wish you the best,

    Rancher
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2011
  6. burbankchix

    burbankchix Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 18, 2011
    California
    Well, thank you for that info....as city folk, we are new to this. Even though we're in CA, we are up in a mountain area (believe it or not) of Burbank. It get's breath-seeing cold here in the winter, and we've seen the 30's and 40's temperature-wise many times. But then again, today it's going to be in the 80's or close all week during the day, but in the 40's at night. It's so confusing! All the "chicken people" here say that our young birds are sick partly because of the weather changes we see, the fluctuations are crazy. Our coop has 7 window that do open and close plus 2 air vents on each end of the coop at the roof line. We keep the two vents open all the time, and the windows open depending on weather, we open they all day, most day, except when raining, then they are partially closed. We thought we had this down, but obviously we didn't. We seemed to be okay with the deep litter until we wet it a little to help the composting (opps on us). I think we will go to other methods as suggested and see what happens. It doesn't seem like it could get worse that what we've been through.

    Thank you Rancher Hicks for the advice, it's so great to know there are people out there we get almost instant answers from with this website. We love it!
     
  7. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I don't think putting Vicks under a chicken's wing is a good idea. Not only is it unlikely to be of any benefit, but it could be harmful. Vicks has a strong odor, and chickens have very sensitive respiratory systems.

    Tetroxy is not supposed to be used for more than 14 consecutive days, and you said you're now going on 3 weeks. Also, did you realize this antibiotic is not approved for use in laying hens? Don't eat the eggs while you're using it, at any rate. I have no idea what the withdrawal period would be, and since this drug isn't approved for laying hens you may have a hard time figuring that out. If you've been using this drug for so long and the symptoms haven't resolved, I would conclude that you're dealing with a virus or some bacteria not susceptible to Tetroxy.

    I don't think an ammonia smell in the coop for a single night could have killed your chickens. It's likely something else.

    When you notice a chicken with a runny nose or some other symptom of illness, it's best if you isolate the affected bird or birds. This accomplishes a couple of things. It helps reduce the spread of a contagious illness. It helps the ill bird's own immune system handle the illness better out of the stress of coping with the rest of the flock. You can better monitor the ill bird's droppings and food consumption separate from the flock, and you can better administer any necessary medications just to the ill bird and not to the whole flock. You can also provide a little supplemental warmth to the patient, but make sure it can move away from the heat source so it doesn't get overheated.

    You probably shouldn't take anything they tell you at the feed store as the gospel; a lot of people have gotten perfectly awful advice from feed store employees.
     
  8. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I don't think temperature fluctuations explains the problems, unless there are other factors at play. For example, do your chickens have a way to stay dry in their run? If a chicken gets soaked, their feathers can't insulate and if it's cold enough they can get chilled and die that way.

    From your original post, I wasn't sure whether you cleaned the coop before or after the death of the Buff Orpington. But if you cleaned the coop before the death, did you use any cleaning product that may have produced fumes toxic to birds?
     
  9. burbankchix

    burbankchix Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 18, 2011
    California
    No, we were stupid, we decided to clean the coop Thanksgiving morn, but we were a day late so to speak, our Buff died during the night. The run is very dry and we cover it when it rains. The only problem with the coop was our fault and we learned from that unfortunately.
     
  10. stormylady

    stormylady Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 27, 2008
    Illinois
    It get's breath-seeing cold here in the winter, and we've seen the 30's and 40's temperature-wise many times.

    Thats really not that cold for a chicken. I know thats not really the subject but I don't have any medical advice, Sorry. [​IMG]
     

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