what am I doing wrong?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by tabithas, Oct 9, 2012.

  1. tabithas

    tabithas Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 7, 2012
    Denver, Colorado

    My husband and I purchased 4 chicks from a local feed store about 4 months ago. One chick develpoed respiratory issues (gasping for breath, wings hanging down, not eating or drinking well) at about two weeks old. She died about 3 days after the first symptoms appeared. The other three chicks seemed to be doing well.

    Three more chicks were purchased from a hatachery about a week later. Two weeks later, one of the original chicks, about 5 weeks old at this time, developed very sudden onset neurologic symptoms. She was fine in the morning, having trouble standing in the afternoon, unable to control her head movements by evening, and dead by the next morning. All the other chicks seemed healthy and never exhibited any signs of illness.

    We decided to replace the chick and purchased two more 8 week old chicks from a local person. These chicks we later learned had mites when we got them.

    The next issue was again with one of the original 4 chicks. At about 10 weeks old, she developed a swelling on her head. She would sit puffed up with her head held in, and just looked like she didn't feel well. She continued to eat fairly well, but lost weight. It was about this time that we learned about the mites. We treated all the chickens for mites. The sick chicken seemed to rally a little, but then about two weeks later, I found her dead in the coop.

    At this point, I was about to give up, but my husband brought home two more 7 week old chicks! All has been well until about a week ago. I noticed several of the chickens (now ranging in age from 13 weeks to 17 weeks) sneezing and having small amounts of nasal discharge. I started them on Duramycin in the water. One of the older chickens started acting lethargic, sitting poofed up with wings drooping. She is normally not a chicken I can pick up, but I walked right up to her and was shocked at how thin she was. The next morning she was having some issues breathing. We brought her inside, cooked up some scrambled egg (which she eat readily) and decided to take her to the vet (I already had an appointment for my dog and the vet said she would take a look at her). By the time we got to the vet (about an hour drive) She was gasping for air. The vet told us she likely had a viral infection and there was nothing we could do for her. We opted to have her euthanized. When we got home, one of the younger chicks (about 12 weeks old) was starting to show similar symptoms. We immediately brought her inside and now have her under a heat lamp. She seems to be holding her own and slightly improving. She is eating and drinking well.

    They have been housed outside since about 8 weeks of age in a well ventilated coop with attached run. The coop is cleaned out weekly. They are eating Purina grower food. They get fresh water daily. Am I doing something wrong? Or do I just have really bad luck? Any suggestions on what to do with the current respiratiory issue? They will have been on the Duramycin for a week tomorrow. Should I keep them on it or stop? Help Please!
  2. sunflowerfarms

    sunflowerfarms Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 9, 2012
    You sound like you have bad luck! I don't know exactly, it sounds like you are doing a good job. I have never really used anything on my birds before, but if there seems to be a lot of problems then I would start using a medicated feed, which helps them get strong and not be so succeptible. Hatcheries also ship birds in the mail, which is not a likely way to get them in my personal opinion, and it isn't super uncommon to have one or two of them die in the shipping process. I don't know, but they will eventually become big, strong, healthy, egg laying chickens-so don't give up! Chickens die sometimes, but you seem to be doing the right thing and taking care of them well! Good luck!:)
  3. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    OK here is a summary for my benefit to study:
    4 chicks from feed store- gasping wings down, not eating/drinking
    3 chicks hatchery- can't control neck
    2 chicks local person with mites
    Then orig chick with swelling head
    2 new chicks unknown source
    Now sneezing and nasal discharge.
    Another with gasping and wings drooping, acting cold.

    Please read the following knowing that I am just guessing and don't know what is the problem with your birds:

    I am thinking you might have a couple of things going on here. I really don't know what the diagnosis is, and am just trying to help. So, take it with a grain of salt but it might give you some ideas to check:

    I have a rule that I never argue with a vet over a bird that he/she has seen and I haven't (and besides I am no vet). So here goes...

    I have seen in my own coop: moldy feed and moldy coop produced gasping, wings down and uncontrollable head/neck movements, not eating or drinking and quick deaths. This was I believe aspergillosis and maybe botulism. I didn't have a necropsy done, which is the way to go if you want a definitive answer.

    BUT with fungal pneumonia, usually you don't see nasal drainage. So for the nasal drainage and sneezing, I'd say it might be something like mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG) or CRD (chronic respiratory disease) which renders chickens asymptomatic carriers after they get over the sickness. The sickness can recur at anytime and they can pass your quarantine of new birds for a month.

    In summary, to me it seems possible that initially you have had some fungal pneumonia and/or botulism? and now may have picked up some chronic respiratory disease. I could be totally wrong about this. This is my best guess. I don't have advice for medications but here is a handy website:

    see post #13270 for pics of MG to see if it looks like the swelling of the head you experienced (there are definitely other causes of swelling on the head though).

    Here are the incubation periods:

    Hopefully if these links don't help at least you can maybe rule some things out but really the only way to know is to do a necropsy and you can contact your state extension agent to find out how, I am pretty sure.

    Check your coop for mold, check your feed for dampness or prior mold, check your waterers that you maybe bleach them out once in awhile to kill germs (I love bleach but not everyone does).

    You can look up Tylan and denaguard but honestly if the vet thinks it's viral then antibiotics won't help. I am out of my league with respiratory antibiotics I am so sorry to say.
  4. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Oh and I forgot to mention that a lot of folks if they do get a diagnosis of a chronic respiratory disease by necropsy will cull the whole flock and start over, and others just medicate their birds as they get sick again, but don't sell birds or chicks (or hatching eggs as some diseases are passed thru the egg to the baby) to anyone.

    Sadly, some people sell birds to others who have been ill before, not realizing that they are about to ruin the next person's flock (and some know- even sadder).

    One lady on here was about to cull her whole flock for a suspected respiratory disease, and had a necropsy done- found out it was internal parasites (worms) and just treated them for worms and saved her flock. So I wouldn't recommend culling unless you know.

    Also I have read that there is a blood test for MG, but a lot of vets don't work with poultry much and sometimes are limited in what they will do.

    There may be an element of coccidiosis because of the age of your chickens, and a fecal test for cocci and worms might be useful. But honestly I'd do a necropsy if it were me. That would involve sacrificing one of your chickens or waiting for another death.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2012

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