Two Geese Dead, One Pullet Near Death-Is it Botulism?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by willowvale, Dec 3, 2014.

  1. willowvale

    willowvale Out Of The Brooder

    32
    0
    22
    Jul 15, 2011
    I have a flock of 15 geese and 16 hens/pullets. They all are in or just finishing a heavy molt. About two weeks ago, it got very cold pretty fast here. We lost a gander one night, and I assumed it was from the cold, because I had seen no symptoms of illness. A week later, one gander and one pullet came out of their coop in the morning, unable to walk without falling over. It looked as if they couldn't find their balance, and would try to use their wings and tails to stand up straight. They would finally settle on their bellies, sometimes with wings extended, while the other birds were milling about. Eating/drinking happened as normal. They were vocalizing as normal. There were no unusual head movements, no other signs or symptoms. The gander seemed to regain his balance and was acting fine these past three or four days, but we found him dead this morning.

    At this point, I'm just trying to keep the pullet alive, but she is getting weaker. She is going through spells where she can't even hold her head up. I noticed today that she has very little muscle/meat on her breast. I've seen this mentioned elsewhere as a sign of disease...Which one, I'm not sure. She now can't even seem to tuck her legs under her--they're sticking straight out with her feet curled. It almost looks like some kind of paralysis. I'm having a hard time getting her to drink her vitamin water. I really don't think she's going to last much longer, but I'm putting this out there in case someone has a last-ditch effort I could try? Or any ideas about what is going on, so I can keep this from happening to my other birds?
     
  2. MrsBrooke

    MrsBrooke Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,656
    270
    208
    Aug 11, 2014
    Magnolia, Texas
    You might want to repost this in the "Geese" forum under "Other BackYard Poultry," too, to see if you can get help from the goose people.

    I have no idea what could be causing your sweet geese to suffer this way and I am very sorry to hear of your loss. :/ I hope you can get some help soon!

    MrsB
     
  3. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,946
    1,142
    243
    Feb 14, 2014
    Consett Co.Durham. UK
    I don't know if geese can get Marek's disease but the symptoms of the pullet are pretty well identical to one I had a few weeks ago. I put her out of her misery in the end because she was just rolling over onto her side with her legs outstretched and she couldn't eat or drink.

    After I dispatched her (the first animal I have ever deliberately killed, so it was not easy for me), I plucked her and did a post mortem which revealed a huge tumour the size of a duck egg in the muscle of her abdomen (not inside the abdominal cavity) and another in her leg the size of a quails egg. I have had 3 others go lame, all around the same time.One is holding her own after 8 weeks of being hopping lame and the other two seem to have got over the lameness but are not growing as well as others the same age.

    I haven't had anymore show symptoms so far, but I'm pretty sure from having read extensively on the subject and taking into consideration that mine were home bred and not vaccinated, that Marek's disease was the cause and my flock is now infected.

    On a positive note, several of her sisters have just started laying and don't appear to be affected by it, so I'm hoping they are resistant.

    Hope I'm wrong and your birds illness turns out to be something less infectious, but I would strongly recommend getting a necropsy done or doing a basic one yourself. I've done 4 now and amazingly I've found the cause each time. It's interesting, you can practice your skills at dressing poultry for if/when you slaughter for meat and you can check for things like worms.
    I also recovered whatever flesh looked healthy and fed it to my cats. Apparently it is safe to eat poultry infected with Marek's, but I didn't know that at the time... not that there was much flesh on her.. I think it is important not to waste anything if it's at all possible.

    Anyway, just thought I would share my experience as the symptoms of your pullet particularly were very similar to mine.

    Good luck with her and hope you can bring her back from the brink.

    Barbara
     
  4. willowvale

    willowvale Out Of The Brooder

    32
    0
    22
    Jul 15, 2011
    I don't think geese can get Marek's, but that was one of the first diseases I thought of when my pullet got sick. I'm pretty sure she was not vaccinated for it as a chick. I am tempted to put her out of her misery, but am not sure I can bring myself to. I feel like I've done everything I can for her (short of taking her to the vet, which I can't afford). Could she (and the geese) have eaten something toxic that would cause these symptoms?
     
  5. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    29,328
    3,393
    491
    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    Sorry for your loss. Have thought about botulism or lead poisoning (from lead shot or old paint chips) as a possible cause? Botulism comes from a toxin in rotting vegetation and animal or fish carcasses that have been buried or underwater without oxygen for a time. Symptoms are paralysis of the legs, wings, and neck, then death within 12-24 hours. If you lose this one, I would refrigerate the body (not freeze,) and get a necropsy done by your state vet. Here are links for botulism and your state vet:
    http://www.thepoultrysite.com/diseaseinfo/19/botulism

    http://www.usaha.org/Portals/6/StateAnimalHealthOfficials.pdf
     
  6. MrsBrooke

    MrsBrooke Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,656
    270
    208
    Aug 11, 2014
    Magnolia, Texas
    http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/y4359e/y4359e0g.htm

    Here is a pretty comprehensive list of geese diseases. See if you can find something that matches your symptoms.

    I'm curious what you would find if you performed a necropsy... Especially since you say some, but not all, of your flock are experiencing symptoms.

    Do you have any buildings around your geese with peeling paint or loose shiny metal bits? I don't know the symptoms, but I know that chickens will peck at peeling paint and metal shards and can get REALLY ill or die from it... I've never owned geese before, so I'm not 100% about their behavior.

    MrsB
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2014
  7. willowvale

    willowvale Out Of The Brooder

    32
    0
    22
    Jul 15, 2011
    I'd be surprised if the birds got into paint or metal. And the pullet is well past 24 hours...All of the birds do have access to natural stream water, so perhaps they ingested some bacteria or other toxin that way. I'm looking into sending the body (when she dies) to my Dept. of Ag for a necropsy. I hate not knowing what's wrong.
     
  8. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    29,328
    3,393
    491
    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    Old lead paint or lead shot or sinkers can somehow find a way out of the ground on older properties. We have a 110 year old house and barn that cause some worry. With botulism, if a bird ingests a very small amount of toxin, and lives for 48 hours, they will usually survive with supportive care, eating and drinking. I would also check the feed or scratch in case of mold which can cause mycotoxin or aflatoxin poisoning (which is outline in the link Mrs. Brooke above posted.)
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2014
  9. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

    17,687
    505
    461
    Sep 6, 2007
    spring hill, florida
    I think it's great sending a body in for a necropsy.
    Since geese and chickens have died or are sick, I doubt it's Marek's. It's got to be something that they all have access to. It does sound like something toxic. Are these problems within one bag of feed? Do you have poisoned mice or rats around? Could somebody have dumped something in the water, or could they have gotten some parasitic ailment from the water? Access to old rotted food? It's so hard when you have no answers. I doubt the ganders died from the cold. They are pretty insulated.
     
  10. willowvale

    willowvale Out Of The Brooder

    32
    0
    22
    Jul 15, 2011
    My geese and chickens get different feeds, and I've gone through multiple bags since first noticing symptoms. Botulism is a remote possibility, because all of the birds are kept in a fenced-in area away from the house and other outbuildings. The one thing everyone has access to is the water, and it really does seem like some water-born parasite or toxin is what is going on here. How only three out of 31 got it, I'm not sure. Is it possible that the others just fought it off? I suppose it could be in their systems, and will rear its ugly head at some point in the future. I hope not.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by