Unfortunately, I think I have to cull my entire flock

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Mortimer, Dec 31, 2008.

  1. Mortimer

    Mortimer Out Of The Brooder

    May 6, 2008
    SW of Wichita, KS
    Hello all, hoping to get some advice from those of you with more experience than I . . . this is my first year raising chickens! This form us so full of knowledge surely someone can help . . . so, on with the story . . . sorry if I'm a bit long-winded

    I recently purchased 10 RIR hens from a local farm to add to my existing flock of 11 Delawares and 8 RIR/BR's.

    I kept the new 10 sectioned off from the others as I've read is proper to do when introducing new birds. They could visually see each other but shared no water or food. Kept them in the separate pen for just over 3 weeks and let them out when the weather got nice. All seemed well.

    A few days after integrating the new 10 I noticed one of my existing RIR's, a younger pullet (~4 mos) was sneezing and shaking its head alot. The next day it was huddled up in some hay on the floor of the coop, with raspy/gurgling breathing and a huge amount of snot around its beak. It was barely hanging on. This was on Sunday morning. I removed from the coop, put it out of its misery and threw in the trash, hoping I would be keeping the others from getting whatever illness it had.

    It's now Wednesday and most of the rest of my flock are showing similar symptoms in various severities:

    Sneezing/shaking head alot
    Lots of snot/drainage
    Raspy/gurgling breathing
    Bubbly mucus in eyes
    Some have one eye shut (no visible swelling though)
    Mouth always open with neck extended
    Blood/snot spots on back, where they wipe their beaks, also some blood spots on the walls of coop & waterer

    None of the new 10 have shown any symptoms . . . only my existing flock.

    I've been doing alot of research the last several days, does this sound to you like ILT? I think perhaps the new 10 had it at some point and survived, or were vaccinated and were ILT carriers not showing any symptoms? The incubation period for ILT is ~2 weeks after exposure so it makes sense time-wise, and since the new 10 appear healthy, it seems a logical conclusion?

    Other than the one I culled myself none have died yet, but there are a couple that look pretty darn sick. At 11pm last night when I went to close up the coop one of my roo's eyes were so full of crusty mucus he was just standing outside, I'm sure he couldn't see anything, had no idea where he was, I had to carry him inside & place on the roost. He's hopped down from the roost now but still showing strong symptoms, I put some water & food in front of him but not sure if he's touched them yet.

    Can't say for sure whether egg production has dropped. The new 10 are still laying as they were before, the existing Delawares haven't been producing much since the weather got cold anyway, and existing RIR's are young (~4 mos) and haven't started yet.

    I considered segregating the sick ones but as I said, virtually all except the new 10 are showing symptoms (some less than others) so I figure it's too late now.

    So here's a few questions:

    1. I've been collecting eggs for the 'bater since Sunday just in case we have to start over. Is there any danger the eggs will be infected as well? Do I need to get eggs elsewhere?

    2. I don't mind having to cull the entire flock. It would really, really suck but I'll do it if necessary. My question is whether the birds would be OK to clean, dress & stick in the freezer? Would hate to have them all go to waste. I'd love to can or freeze them if it's OK. As I understand it ILT is not communicable to humans.

    I've tried contacting the county extension office for advice but they're closed until Monday. Put a call in to my vet but haven't heard back yet.

    Thanks everyone for the read, your comments and opinions are welcome!
  2. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    It does sound like ILT, but you wont know without testing. If it is, then that is a reportable disease. One of our dear members was just devastated when the state culled her entire flock and but then they helped her disinfect her property. A bird she bought was a carrier of ILT. The blood spots are usually associated with it, though as I said, you'd have to have testing. It is not passed through the egg, though, if an egg is handled by someone with the germs on them, it can be on the outside of the egg.
    Personally, I would cull. If you report to the state, that is probably what they will require. And no, I myself would not eat any bird with a disease like that. I'm really sorry. Sounds like the new birds were carriers and this is what I keep trying to get across to everyone who buys as swaps and flea markets and auctions.

    I'd get ahold of the State and tell them what you suspect. They may actually come out and get a bird for testing then help you with the culling part of it.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2008
  3. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    So sorry to hear about your problems! All these disease problems are making me very nervous about EVER introducing an adult bird to my flock. Please get a vet to verify what you are dealing with before you cull the flock--info on the sticky at top of emergencies--save the next bird that dies for a necropsy.
    I also hate to remind everyone that keeping the birds separated by wire is not a proper quarantine, though that is what I did when I didn't know how dangerous it was to introduce new birds. This of course would not help if the birds were carriers of a disease and appeared completely healthy.
    Gumpsgirl went through a similar problem and it was awful, but she did not have to cull all--does anyone know how to find that thread? It was very informative.
  4. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    Stacey's did not have ILT. ILT is a really nasty disease. If they have that, they will have to be culled, no question in my mind.
    I agree, a proper quarantine is they do not breathe the same air and if they can see each other, they aren't far enough away. Also, quarantine helps find out some things, but carrier birds may not show symptoms at all if they are comfortable in their new surroundings. Even a year of quarantine wont help with some diseases.
    You need to report who you got the birds from so he doesn't sell sick birds and spread this disease further.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2008
  5. Mortimer

    Mortimer Out Of The Brooder

    May 6, 2008
    SW of Wichita, KS
    Just got a call back from the Vet. Unfortunately my old vet just retired, he was and old farmer and probably would have had more experience with this sortof thing. His daughter has taken over the practice.

    She recommended a house call ($75), youthanizing one of the birds (or providing a freshly deceased one) for a necropsy ($50), and sending off to the state for pathology ($100-$150) to determine the nature of the disease. Ouch. Basically, she has no idea what it is, just wants to do some tests. And she gave me one helluva lecture on bio-security.

    At that cost I'd much rather cull them all and start over, either with my own eggs or someone else's. She wouldn't say whether it would be safe to eat the birds without testing them first to find out what it is.

    She did mention that some diseases can be passed through the egg, and I may hatch carriers of whatever virus it is, which may later infect any other birds I added to the flock.

    I think at this stage I'm going to wait a few more days until I can get ahold of someone at the county ext. office and see what they have to say.

    The roo I mentioned earlier is definitely looking better. Eyes open now and outside walking around a bit. Definitely not at 100% but he's shaping up.
  6. mypicklebird

    mypicklebird Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 8, 2008
    Sonoma Co, CA
    Have you contacted the farm you got them from?
    If not, do so- ask them specifically what the new purchases had been vaccinated for- were they vaccinated for ILT, if so, was it the more commonly used live attenuated virus vaccine? If so, likely the birds you brought in were vaccinate, protected & forever carriers of ILT. If they deny vaccinating for anything, also be sure to ask if they have had any respiratory diseases there in the last few months.

    Send a bird off for testing by the state lab/state vet, you need to know what you have here, if it is ILT, this will affect now what you do, as well as the future for your place when you want to bring new birds in.
    If you send in a bird, and is comes back has having something nasty, be sure to ID where you got the bird(s).

    I have heard this can be a problem with people bringing vaccinated birds home from shows & stores, and exposing their existing flock.

    A quarantine is separate spaces, if they can see each other, they are likely sharing the same air, and many diseases can be transmitted by 'fomites' ie shoes, clothes, hands, feeders, bags of food ect...
  7. crazyhen

    crazyhen Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 26, 2008
    mtns of ,NC.
    When I had my bunch checked the guy from the state told me where to take the bird for necropsy. It was not that expensive. Call your state poultry expert. It will be a much cheaper route. Mine did not have the dreaded viruses at the time but only an allergy. They did not have all the symptoms that yours have, just a clear runny nose sometimes.
    I just got the state lab report back this week to let me know mine are not carriers. They did blood work and throat swabs on them.
    I am so sorry that this is happening to you. It can be hard to lose the fluffy butts but way expensive too. Jean
  8. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

    May 8, 2007
    Normally, getting testing done right away is a good idea. Since most of your flock is already sick, though, I can understand you wanting to wait until Monday, to contact the county extension office. I think it would be a lot cheaper for you.

    I'm sorry you're going through all this. I hope you can get some help on testing and get a definitive answer on what you're battling. [​IMG]
  9. nnbreeder

    nnbreeder Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 22, 2008
    Here would be a good place to start and there sould be someone there 24/7. They should be able to put you on the right track to a State vet. in your area. No matter what the hour.

    College of Veterinary Medicine
    (785) 532-5660 Fax: (785) 532-5884
    Kansas State University
    101 Trotter Hall
    Manhattan, KS 66506-5601
    Dr. Ralph C.
    [email protected]
  10. crazyhen

    crazyhen Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 26, 2008
    mtns of ,NC.
    unfortunately our tester had a month waiting list unless I took the bird in but thankfully it worked out for me. I hope you get help soon. Jean

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