What the heck happened? One healthy chicken dead in a day!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Flannery Eau, Apr 14, 2011.

  1. Flannery Eau

    Flannery Eau Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 6, 2010
    St Louis
    Hello All,

    I lost a chicken yesterday. She is right about 1 year old - survived a long cold winter, and then died yesterday just as the weather is turning mild and sunny and the grass and leaves are sprouting!

    She is an Australorp, and was laying 6 eggs a week up until she died. 5 days ago, I moved my 2 chickens into a new coop. I had painted it and let it air out and put 4 inches of sand in for the bottom of it. I had also sprayed it down with Oxine because it is essentially a converted old shed. 3 days ago, she laid a soft-shelled egg - like a leathery outer coating. Two days ago, she laid a thin-shelled egg but it was still hard. Yesterday, she laid another soft shelled egg. Two days ago, she seemed perky enough, but I noticed she didn't go up to the top roost to roost, despite being the head of the flock. She seemed fine yesterday morning, but when I went outside later in the day she was huddled under the porch and later in the yard, obviously weak and sick. Her respiration rate was up but I did not notice any abnormal breathing sounds. I brought her in in the evening - and she died around 9pm. There are no signs of mites, trauma - and even her comb and waddles were not gray - maybe only a little dull. For a few days her poop had been a little runny and yellow - not much poo substance, mostly the urates. She is on a regular pellet diet with a handful of scratch each day and plenty of water. Her crop was empty yesterday when I gave her a mini-exam. The flock has a history of Mereks - the last three I lost in December/January. I wonder if she has had Mereks, survived, but has a crippled immune system and some kind of influenza swept in and knocked her out.

    What could have happened here? Now my other chicken, an Easter Egger, is looking depressed and subdued, and has only laid one egg since we moved her to the new coop. I'm worried she will end up like my Australorp.

    I have 5 6-week old chicks that spent an afternoon out with the older chickens about 5 days ago as well - none of them are having any problems and have been returned to a quarantined area. I am worried about my new coop - can moves like that really stress out chickens? Could a new environmental toxin have poisoned them?
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2011
  2. Flannery Eau

    Flannery Eau Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 6, 2010
    St Louis
    My EE continued to be slow and sleepy today - I'm not sure if she is going to get better. At least she has been eating and drinking...
     
  3. Country4ever

    Country4ever Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 26, 2007
    Sorry for your loss.
    Did your hen have a swollen abdomen? Wow.....6 eggs a week is alot. She may have been low on calcium.
    Is it possible that she fell off the roost and hit her head?
    Is it possible that she ate something bad? Do you think the new coop was aired out enough?
    Sorry for all the questions.......but one has to ask alot of questions when there's a sudden death.
     
  4. Flannery Eau

    Flannery Eau Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 6, 2010
    St Louis
    Her abdomen was not swollen - and she had access to oyster in her run up until a week ago.

    I did wonder whether she may have fallen off the roost - I thought maybe the spacing wasn't perfect. However, the other chicken looks off too - and the highest roost is maybe 4 feet off the ground over 4-5inches of sand that would provide a cushy fall.

    I am wondering about poisoning - the yellowish runny stool and egg changes made me think of ochratoxicosis - which is from moldy feed, but it is the same feeder with the same feed. I let the new coop air out for a week after painting and added more vents - it has two screened doors and 6 3-inch holes in the back for venting. I sprayed it down with disinfectant too, because I think many years ago it was also used as a chicken coop.

    The other chicken is now sitting outside just like my Australorp did last night...

    How long should I quarantine before putting the new chicks out? They were doing so well - it seems so odd to me!
     
  5. allieloveschickens

    allieloveschickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 20, 2010
    San Diego
    It is very strange that they were fine before the move. Is it possible that there was something in the new coop that they ingested? Paint, or perhaps some of the sand had the Oxine spray on it and they tried to use it for grit and got poisoned? Or perhaps the previous chickens that inhabited the shed had some sort of disease that stuck around, but it seems unlikely that it would have survived so long without a host. Hard to say, I'm very sorry for your loss!
     
  6. Flannery Eau

    Flannery Eau Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 6, 2010
    St Louis
    I agree, allieloveschickens - which makes me really worried to put my new chickens in there! I painted everything though - walls and ceilings - and I thought that would have encapsulated some things. One wall is brick, the other wood, and the ceiling is wood too. The 4 inches of sand came from a local supplies store and was fresh - can sand carry anything deadly for chickens? I had heard a lot of good things about it. The oxine would have killed the rest of whatever was in there. I didn't activate the oxine - so it should be harmless if they injest it. What about avian influenza? With the spring birdies flying around - and them having a history of Mereks - could it wipe them out that fast?

    The coop is also now attached to the garage - one of the screen doors goes directly to the garage. There isn't a car in there, it is spacious, and it has two windows and no harsh chemicals. I wish I had a more obvious answer!

    Besides calcium deficiency, are there common and deadly illnesses that would cause soft-shelled eggs or a sudden decrease in production?

    Thank you for all your responses!
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2011
  7. Country4ever

    Country4ever Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm sorry I can't help you more. My knowledge seems to be limited to the problems I've had with my own chickens, and I don't know what to tell you. Can you put the EE in a crate so you can keep an eye on her and what she eats and what she poops? It does sound like they may have ingested a toxin.......but then again, I don't know anything about alot of chicken diseases. Hopefully others will help you out in time to save your other one. Sorry!

    If no one posts here, keep "bumping" it up, in hopes that others will see it.
     
  8. Celtic Chick

    Celtic Chick Overrun With Chickens

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    It doesn't sound like your bird has Marek's, but if it did at any time, I'd be afraid to put my new babies in with her or in a coop that she was in at one time. Please see below.
    Found this on the web:
    Marek's Disease Incubation 14 days Duration chronic in flocks
    Marek's disease is a herpes virus-induced neoplastic disease of chickens characterized by tumor formations in nerve, organ, muscle and epithelial tissue with pleomorphic lymphoid cells. Affects chickens 2 to 16 weeks of age, stresses from other disease increase severity of MD. Herpes virus is cell associated and shed in skin scales and feather dander. Birds remain viremic for life but infected carriers may or may not be clinically ill. Vaccination protects against tumor formation but not against MD infection. Occurrence is world wide wherever poultry is produced. Transmission is primarily by air within the poultry house, in feather dander, chicken house dust, feces and saliva. Infected birds carry virus in blood for life and are a source of infection to susceptible birds. Transmission by egg is of no significance. Clinical signs "gray eye" caused by tumors in the pupils and blindness, tumors of the liver, kidneys spleen, gonads, pancreas, lungs, muscles and skin. Birds develop tumors, emaciation and death. Diagnosis is based on history of no vaccination, presence of typical tumor pattern and affected birds. There is no treatment. Prevention is by vaccination at the hatchery, but vaccination only prevents tumor formation, not MD infection. All Marek's Disease vaccine must include HVT.
    Link: http://www.amerpoultryassn.com/viral_diseases.htm

    Soft-shelled eggs
    The first pullet egg may be soft-shelled until her system gets into its stride. If it continues, make sure that the birds are getting a balanced diet such as that provided by a commercial free-range or organic layer’s ration. Such feeds will usually contain calcium and phosphorus in the right ratio (around 3.5-4% calcium to 0.3% phosphorus). Providing a little crushed oyster-shell or calcified seaweed will ensure that any deficiency is rectified, for the birds will not take more than they require.

    A shock can also make a hen lay a soft-shelled egg. My own observations are that if a flock is caught in a sudden shower of rain (for they are sometimes too dim to run for shelter), a few soft-shelled eggs are often produced the next day, but by the following day, they’re back to normal.

    It is when soft-shelled eggs or misshapen ones are produced regularly that there need be a cause for concern. Veterinary advice should be sought. Conditions that adversely affect eggs include Newcastle disease (a notifiable disease to the authorities) and Infectious bronchitis, but there would be disease symptoms showing in the birds themselves if either of these was present. Hybrids are normally vaccinated against them.

    Egg drop syndrome (EDS) is also a viral infection that results in a reduced number of eggs, as well as an increased number of pale-shelled eggs. Birds do recover from it but egg production may not get back to its previous level and there may still be a proportion of deformed ones produced. It can be vaccinated against.
    Link: http://www.blpbooks.co.uk/articles/egg_problems/egg_problems.php

    Link
    to causes of soft-shelled eggs: http://www.thepoultrysite.com/publi...ndbook/16/thinshelled-eggs-and-shellless-eggs
     
  9. Celtic Chick

    Celtic Chick Overrun With Chickens

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    I had 2 girls that had the same symptoms as you describe. I have no proof, but I think it may have been Egg Drop Syndrome or a nutritional deficiency? One had it late last fall, while the other had it in Feb. In both cases, I quarantined them, kept them in a warm cage with a heat lamp, fed them their layer ration along with foods high in protein and Vitamins A & K, mostly A. I also put vitamins in their water, which they seemed to drink an awful lot of while they were sick. They were back to their old selves in 3 days, thankfully.
    I hope this helps you. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for your Aussie. [​IMG]

    Egg Drop Syndrome Incubation period 3 to 5 days Duration 4 to 10 weeks
    Egg drop syndrome is an infectious disease of laying hens caused by a hemagglutinating adenovirus and characterized by thin shelled and shell less eggs in otherwise healthy birds. The natural hosts for EDS virus are ducks and geese, but has become a problem with chickens of all ages . The disease is most severe in broiler breeders and brown egg layer strains, less so in white egg breeds. EDS was first introduced into chickens through contaminated vaccine. Transmission occurs by any of the conventional methods of disease spread. Infected birds excrete the virus in the feces. Vertical transmission is considered the primary mode of spread. Clinical signs are loss of color in pigmented eggs, followed by thin shelled or shell less eggs. Egg production drops by 40 percent. Virus isolation should be done in duck or goose embryos or cell cultures of duck or goose origin. Harvested allantoic fluid or cell culture should be checked for hemagglutinating activity in chicken RBC . There is no successful treatment . The endemic form in breeders can be controlled by washing and sanitizing incubators and egg trays before reuse. In layers, molting will restore egg production. Prevention is through the control of vertical transmission. Endemic EDS is associated with the egg-packing stations, as contaminated egg trays can be a major factor in spread. Virus is also present in fecal material, so hygienic procedures are required.
    Link: http://www.amerpoultryassn.com/viral_diseases.htm
     
  10. Flannery Eau

    Flannery Eau Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 6, 2010
    St Louis
    Thanks, Celtic Druid!

    I understand that she didn't show symptoms of Mareks, but I have read that a chicken who has survived Mareks can have permanent immune system damage - especially in the cloacal bursa. I don't know - it may not be true, but it has made me a little paranoid about recurrences of Mareks and other infections. Also, the moving could have stressed her system and caused an outbreak of the dormant virus. Thankfully, I have all my new chicks vaccinated and they have been growing in a sterilized and quarantined environment for 6 weeks.

    Infections bronchitis is a thought - would she have to have obvious respiratory symptoms?

    Can stress straight up kill a bird? I've read that such changes to their routine can really throw them off...
     

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