Weight loss, dark combs & wattles, listless, dull feathers, now death.

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Trampledbygeese, Nov 9, 2010.

  1. Trampledbygeese

    Trampledbygeese Chillin' With My Peeps

    104
    3
    101
    Sep 26, 2010
    Hi

    I have a flock of 21 red Sussex-cross hens and a rooster, just about a year and a half old. Some of them have been looking quite so well the last few weeks and tonight one died. Perhaps someone might be able to give me a hint as to what's going on.

    They are an outside flock with a medium size hen house. Very good ventilation in the hen house. The pasture is fenced and divided into two sections (we switch between the sections to give the grass a rest). They have just under half an acer total. They are heavily malting at the moment.

    I had one hen (a 'wild'/pet hen who wasn't part of this flock) go through these symptoms earlier in the year as well and after about 3 months she 'fell off her perch' from it. Now it seems to be in the flock and I'm worried that it's spreading.

    First noticeable symptom is that they want scratch. They eat other treats, but won't join in the flock for scratch. Next, they start loosing weight and the feathers look a little dull.

    After a few weeks to a month of this, they go off the lay. About a week to 10 days later, the comb and wattles go dark and become less firm. They don't go pale like a non-laying hen does. Their bum hole is small like a non-laying hen. Still loosing weight.

    From here on, they seem to always be thirsty and continue to loose weight. They seem huddled up and less enthusiastic about things than before. Cold weather really seems to bother them. A couple of weeks after their comb turns, they start to sleep all the time. They still drink a lot but won't eat a huge amount. Their crops never seem very full. Within a week from here, the hen dies.

    The one hen I had earlier in the year went on two courses of antibiotics, one worm treatment, and chicken vitamins. Non of these had a noticeable effect except maybe the vitamins. The hen that died today had one coarse of antibiotics about two weeks ago with absolutely no visible effect. I read the instructions on the antibiotics and give it to them exactly how it says to.

    I've started the whole flock on Antibiotics for cocc.... -however you spell that one-, worm medicine, and rehydration vitamins today. There is at least two more sick hens in that flock so rather than isolate them, I thought I should treat the entire flock as a unit.

    I don't know that it is Cocci.... as they don't have the runs. There's no blood in the poop. There is no sneezing or coughing so that rules out all the chicken illnesses I know.

    It's a slow process taking at least two months from when I first notice it to when they die.. Can anyone shed some light on this? I hope I don't need to cull the entire flock but if I cannot figure out what's wrong...
     
  2. chkn

    chkn Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,664
    10
    131
    Jun 27, 2010
  3. Trampledbygeese

    Trampledbygeese Chillin' With My Peeps

    104
    3
    101
    Sep 26, 2010
    Thank you for the link. it's a great starting place. There are some very interesting ideas there... but I wish they took more time to describe symptoms.

    It did give me a thought, could this be a vitamin deficiency? It's such a slow decline in the hen's health taking months instead of the usual days like most infections.

    Thoughts anyone?

    If it helps, this flock has always been a bit undersized for their breed. They were chilled early in life, so we attributed their light weight to that. They also lay a lot more soft shelled eggs than my other hens. This flock lays 1 in 4 soft shell egg whereas my other hens lay at most 1 in 20. I give both flocks a huge amount of oyster shells.
     
  4. kelar

    kelar Chillin' With My Peeps

    825
    9
    144
    May 22, 2010
    yacolt
    Your best course of action is to send one of the dead hens in for necropsy. Check with the USDA through your state and see if they have the servcies available in your area. That is the only sure way to know what you are dealing with and what steps you should take.
     
  5. chkn

    chkn Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,664
    10
    131
    Jun 27, 2010
    Go ahead and treat with the Sulmet for cocci. I don't think it's an antibiotic but an antibacterial sulfer type solution. It's fairly broad spectrum.
     
  6. kelar

    kelar Chillin' With My Peeps

    825
    9
    144
    May 22, 2010
    yacolt
    You did not say what you are feeding the flock. Are they getting a balanced laying ration? Some of the symptoms (increased thirst, gradual decline) sound like kidney failure.
     
  7. Trampledbygeese

    Trampledbygeese Chillin' With My Peeps

    104
    3
    101
    Sep 26, 2010
    Quote:They eat Layer ration (16% I think). They get a handful of scratch and a scoop of oyster shells each morning. They sometimes get kitchen scraps and about once or twice a week some extras from the garden (kale, Brussels sprouts, &c). They also have two large pastures that we alternate every few weeks.

    Is there anything I can add to their diet (or subtract from it) to aid their kidneys?
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by