Unusual roosting behavior--Is my chicken sick?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by TwoDogFarm, Feb 6, 2015.

  1. TwoDogFarm

    TwoDogFarm Chirping

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    I'm not sure if we've got a problem or not, but I wanted to get some advice in case we do. Our chicken coop/run area is made out of chain link fence and we have a big dog house inside with the front off. My husband bolted a roost post inside and that's where two of my chickens like to roost at night. The other two like to get on the roost post we've got pushed through the chain link on one of the corners.

    Just this past week, I've noticed that one of the chickens has not been roosting like usual. She usually likes to stay on the post in the corner of the coop, but this past week, my husband and I have seen her lying on the ground beside some of our ducks. He picked her up one night and put her back on the roost post, but she jumped down on the ground again. Other than not roosting at night, she appears to be okay. She's a little more agitated though than usual, as I have seen her chasing down and pecking at one of the other hens and some ducks. It's hard to tell though with the vast amount of ducks we have, just how much she is drinking or eating.

    I will point out that I'm concerned because a year ago (almost exactly), we noticed all of our chickens doing this (at the time we only had six chickens and two ducks) and we didn't think twice about it. We had just enclosed three sides with a tarp and had put heat lamps in, so we just thought (being our first winter with chickens) that they felt secure and were "sunning" in the heat lamps. On Feb. 11, we lost one of our chickens and were told that she probably had Coccidia. We were advised to treat the whole flock with antibiotic. They had all stopped drinking much and seemed lethargic in addition to not roosting. After treatment, all got back to their normal selves and were roosting again.

    Does this sound like the same thing coming back this year? Should we isolate her and treat her with antibiotics, treat our whole flock, or am I just freaking out for nothing? I just lost a duck to prolapse not even a week ago so I'm freaking out over every little thing when it comes to my flock right now. Any advice would be helpful. Thanks.
     
  2. MrsBrooke

    MrsBrooke Songster

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    Corid 9.6% is the treatment for Coccidiosis. You can treat your entire flock (at least the chickens - maybe the ducks) with Corid as a preventative. It's a gentle medicine. Antibiotics are for respiratory distress, infections, and wounds.

    I would bring her inside and put her in a crate. Place a towel under her, so you can monitor her poops for anything unusual. Watch her food and Corid-water intake.

    It couldn't hurt to run some Corid through the flock's water, especially if it has been wet and muddy.... with ducks, I can't imagine it WOULDN'T be. You can find it at Tractor Supply and most feed stores. You may have to confine the chickens to their coop/run, so they ONLY have access to the Corid water (consider hanging veggies from the roof, if you can, to alleviate some of the boredom and give them something to do).

    I would also inspect her for any external parasites, wounds, or injuries... Mites and lice can certainly take a bird down a few pegs. She could have been bitten by a spider and needs to "sleep it off." You never know. :)

    I might also feel around her abdomen for fluid, eggs, or unusual masses. If she doesn't want to roost at night, it may be uncomfortable for her.

    When was the last time you wormed your flock?

    Any other info would help us help you!

    MrsB
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2015
  3. TwoDogFarm

    TwoDogFarm Chirping

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    Jun 16, 2014
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    Thanks for the advice. The main thing I worry about with separating her from the flock is that my flock is not very accepting of chickens (or ducks) who have disappeared for a while. We had one hen with an eye injury and after separating and treating her for a little over a week, they kept trying to kill her when we put her back. We ended up having to separate her from the flock permanently and acquiring a couple more chickens to be her new flock. I worry about a repeat with this if we have to separate her entirely. We do have a couple of cages in the coop where we have had to isolate some of our ducks due to illness. Maybe we could keep her in there for a while so at least the others can still see her the whole time, but where we can still monitor her separately?

    How would I tell if she has mites or lice? I've never inspected my chickens for this before so I'm not really sure what I would be looking for. Can you help me out on that?

    As far as worming the flock, we have never actually given them any worming medication before. It has been my understanding that apple cider vinegar in the water works the same way so that's what we have been using. Did I misinterpret this information?

    I also know that we are having an issue with mice and rats and have been unable to successfully eradicate them yet. They were also present last year when this happened.

    Sorry for so many questions. We are still learning...
     
  4. MrsBrooke

    MrsBrooke Songster

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    See the bold. :)

    MrsB
     
  5. TwoDogFarm

    TwoDogFarm Chirping

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    Wow. Thanks so much for all the info. Definitely a lot to think about.

    We decided (after one of our ducks became egg bound late Saturday night) that it was time to do an inspection on our entire flock. We looked everyone over, checked for egg binding, prolapse and bumblefoot. We also checked for mites and lice.

    I did notice something when I looked at one of my chicken's vents--this is not even the one acting sick. When I pulled her feathers apart, I noticed two tiny white bugs crawling on her around her vent. The other chickens appear to have white flaky things near the base of their feathers near their vents, but I didn't see anymore crawling bugs. Otherwise, though, the chickens appear to be okay. I think we will treat them all for Coccidiosis though, just to be safe, since I'm still not really sure what's wrong with her.

    From what you're saying too, I'm guessing we should treat them all for mites/lice as well. I'm guessing my ducks would need treatment too?

    Also, could straw be causing these bugs? We recently bought several bales of straw to use as a windbreak for their house. They're still tied and are sitting inside the coop. The chickens and ducks have been pulling it out and throwing it all over the ground to lay on and make nests out of. If we treat them for mites would this mean we will have to chuck our straw bales or is dusting the bales enough to get rid of the mites too?

    Thanks.
     
  6. MrsBrooke

    MrsBrooke Songster

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    Sounds like you were very thorough. :)

    Little tiny white things are lice, I do believe. Sevin dust is your go-to for the creepies. It's good you didn't see a billion of them. Your girls are carrying a very light load!

    I wouldn't necessarily say the straw is the CAUSE of it. If your birds have access to pasture, it's likely they have a creepy or two. They can come from anywhere, are carried by NUMEROUS animals (and you!), and are really hard to eradicate completely.

    I would dust the hay bales REALLY well (do your best to get it down inside) each time you do the coop and the chickens. It doesn't sound like you are totally infested and overrun, so a good preventative dust (every week for three weeks) should do it. If you treat one, treat them all (especially for internal and external parasites).

    Running Corid through their water is a really good idea, especially for your sick hen.

    How is she doing lately?

    MrsB
     

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