*UPDATE- Necropsy Results* One Pullet Dead, Now Two Possibly Sick

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by jburd, Oct 4, 2012.

  1. jburd

    jburd Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 26, 2012
    I put my 21 week-old pullet, Emma, to sleep today. X-rays revealed that she was crop-bound and no matter what we tried we could not suction all the debris from her crop. Today she vomited again and aspirated on some of the fluid. She had great difficulty breathing from that point and I elected to euthanize her and post her for necropsy at a diagnostic lab.

    Needless to say, I needed some serious chicken time today with the rest of my girls. When I went out to the coop I saw one of my wyandotte pullets and an ameraucana rooster sitting with their wings held away from their bodies (as if to aid in respiration). They occasionally would breathe with their mouths open and rarely, gasp or take a big gulp of air.

    These birds appeared completely healthy and normal while out in the yard (eating, drinking, foraging, pestering other chickens). When they sat still on their perches was when I noticed the respiratory effort. They have no discharge from the nostrils and I cannot hear any harsh lung sounds!

    They are 22 weeks old and only two have begun to lay (very small eggs). One of these hens is the wyandotte who looks ill.

    When I purchased these chicks I was discouraged from vaccinating them for Marek's disease since I have a very small backyard flock of 12. None have shown any neurologic or leg issues. It was warmer outside today than it has been (75 today vs. 65 last week) so I was wondering if they might be hot. When I noticed their behavior though, it was late and about 62 degrees. Also, these two birds are showing symptoms that are completely different from what Emma displayed!

    I am already about to lose it because of putting Emma down, but now I'm terrified that this could be Marek's or something worse and that I will lose my entire flock! What can I do?
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2012
  2. sherylreno

    sherylreno Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 13, 2011
    Reno, Nevada
    First thing to do is relax and think all of this through. When chickens get hot they stay still, spread their wings and pant. It's the only way they can get cool unless you place in some water. It sounds like they were hot and nothing else. It's a good thing to watch them when you can and monitor them. I do this with my flock all of the time. I know what's going on with them everyday except when I work late nights but then I'm watching them during the day and my husband continues with the flock watching while I'm at work
  3. jburd

    jburd Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 26, 2012
    Thanks sherylreno! =) I wish I was convinced that it was the heat . . . especially because it was around 8pm and 60 degrees in their coop at the time.

    They seem ok this morning . . . still some respiratory effort on the pullet's part, but at least she's not panting like yesterday! I don't have enough feeders and waterers to keep everyone separate, so I think I'll put the roo out with the other 2 roos and leave her in for the day. Results on Emma's necropsy come back sometime today so hopefully that will give me some answers.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    That stinks. Hopefully the necropsy will help explain it. I'll subscribe to see what you post about the necropsy.

    It's quite possible this is something totally different than the impacted crop. The heat does not sound like it is the problem at all, but how is your ventilation? Chickens, like all birds, have a fairly sensitive respiratory system. Their poop gives off a lot of ammonia. That ammonia is lighter than air, so it will rise to the top of the coop. If you don't have ventilation higher than the chickens when they are on the roost, it is possible for the ammonia to build up to dangerous levels.

    The other question I'll ask, have you painted or used some chemicals in there cleaning? Again, just thinking about their sensitive respiratory system.

    Hopefully it is not a disease but something you can easily fix. I really wish you luck!
  5. jburd

    jburd Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 26, 2012
    Thanks ridgerunner! The coop is a converted shed and I put four windows in for ventilation. It is a little dusty, but I clean, dust, and change bedding (wood shavings from TSC) every 3 weeks. I also have handy "Poop Boards" under the roosts that collect the bulk of the poo every night. I scrape the poo into a bucket every day when the girls (and boys, for now) exit the coop in the AM. The poo goes into a special compost pile I have placed far away in the woods.

    They were still doing the odd, labored breathing tonight, but they were not doing it at all this morning before I left for work. My mother was home today and she said that the pullet, Ethel, began breathing like that prior to laying an egg, but after she laid it she was calm and did not break with any effort. No signs in any of the other birds . . . yet. I am still at a loss. =/

    **UPDATE** I got the preliminary results of Emma's necropsy back today! The results were completely unexpected! She died of Renal Disease NOT crop impaction! The doctor at the diagnostic lab who performed the necropsy basically said that there's a good chance it could be contagious (God forbid, Infectious Bronchitis Virus) or it could be some sort of Mycotoxin in the feed (an Ochratoxin to be precise). Tomorrow I am dumping all their food, disposing of all treats, and bleaching everything that can possibly be bleached! I asked the doctor whether I should do this and she said, "Well, it depends on your comfort level with the rest of the flock." My comfort level is nil to the point where I'm resisting the urge to just burn the old feeders and purchase new ones . . . at least until the histopathology of the organs/brain and Marek's cultures come back. =/
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2012
  6. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

    Sep 6, 2007
    spring hill, florida
    Thanks for posting the results. Sorry about your chickens.

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