Why are my friends chickens falling over and dying?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by venymae, Oct 31, 2017.

  1. venymae

    venymae Prairie Wind

    Aug 18, 2014
    Manhappiness, Kansas
    My Coop
    I don't have pictures, but I did see one in action so I'll do my best to explain symptoms.

    My BFF bought 25 California whites from a local "breeder". Fairly recently they have been dropping like flies.

    The first symptom is a droopy tail. Most of the birds have upright tails, but the ones who get sick have tails that point downward.

    The second symptom is partial paralysis(?). One wing will droop and they will walk like a drunk, falling down and laying there for a while, not even caring if another birds steps on them. This gets worse as time passes.

    Lastly she has been finding rubber eggs (no shells) which she thinks are from the sick birds. She has felt inside their vents and does not feel anything. Says poop looks normal. She has not autopsied the dead.

    The Chickens usually last 3-6 days after first symptoms appear. Chickens started laying ~2 weeks ago (AGE). They die one or two at a time. None of her other chicken breeds who are older (1-2 years) have become sick so far.

    Does this sound like anything to you guys?:confused:
    I will post more info when I get it. Thanks!

    UPDATE#1: Text from BFF: "Chickens have no respiratory distress symptoms, just beak gap. No gargling, no heavy breathing. Like they hold their mouth open funny, but not cocked back. Their crops are full and night and empty in morning. They are empty all the time the day or two before death, but it is because they don't leave the barn at that time. The partial paralysis has not been as prevalent with the last two deaths. We speculate it's a genetic variant, but don't know."

    Chooks have been given probiotics and calcium. They eat layer feed with 18% protein and have access to grit and oyster shell as well as free range.
    @BantyChooks @casportpony @rjohns39 @Sally Sunshine @Wickedchicken6
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2017
  2. Pyxis

    Pyxis Hatchi Wan Kenobi

    Mar 27, 2012
    My Coop
    I hate to say it, but the partial paralysis sounds a lot like Marek's. To confirm what this is, it's best that she sends one of the dead ones off for a necropsy.
    ChickenCanoe, andreanar and Tlmcq like this.
  3. venymae

    venymae Prairie Wind

    Aug 18, 2014
    Manhappiness, Kansas
    My Coop
    Honestly that's what I thought, but she INSISTS it's not Marek's and she's usually got good instincts. Hopefully I'll get some more opinions on the matter.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2017
  4. micstrachan

    micstrachan Free Ranging

    Marek’s comes to mind with the walking behavior, but I’m wondering if there could be a nutritional deficiency? Who is the resident expert on nutrition and supplements?
  5. micstrachan

    micstrachan Free Ranging

    Were the young sick birds quarantined before integration? I’m concerned her existing flock could be at risk. Another possibility is the younger ones being exposed to something the big girls have resistance to. Sadly, Marek’s comes to mind on that idea, too. Apparently it presents in a variety of ways. Hoping someone more knowledgable chimes in soon.
  6. micstrachan

    micstrachan Free Ranging

    Are there any respiratory symptoms?
  7. venymae

    venymae Prairie Wind

    Aug 18, 2014
    Manhappiness, Kansas
    My Coop
    None that I am aware of. I will text her and ask.
  8. JeanR

    JeanR Songster

    Jul 6, 2009
    Classic Marek's Disease symptoms. And for pullets, at time of beginning to lay, is most usual time to express the disease. Sometimes after the first egg! There is no treatment, so do not waste medications. Many will eat and drink if they can reach food and water, but paralysis is gradual and when neck and area means they can no long eat or drink--it is usually a quick ending. Be assured that it is not painful for the bird, just frustrating to try to stand and move. First time that limp on one leg appears, we are sure they are hurt--but chickens rarely hurt their legs (can fly from a rooftop and not hurt legs). Then wing on same side becomes useless--and the bird is down, scooting, if possible. A few recover--lay (and Marek's is not carried in the eggs, so they are truly safe to eat! But they are carriers, then, for the long lived VIRUS (not treated by antibiotics for Bacterial infections). Very sad and I am truly sorry for your losses. AND the virus will be with you for a L O N G time. Best to renew your flock with vaccinated chicks or hens. Good luck. (Been there..)
    ChickenCanoe and rebrascora like this.
  9. Ravynscroft

    Ravynscroft For the Love of Duck

    Nov 30, 2014
    Middle Tennessee
    Just curious, but why does she insist it isn't Marek's?

    Might be a good idea to start with a fecal float... see if she can collect as many different samples of their poop, mix well in a baggie and find a vet willing to check for cocci and worms... certainly sounds like Marek's, especially since the flare up sounds like it happened right around POL... stressors bring up outbreaks and laying is one... but wouldn't hurt to rule out cocci or worm overload...
    Tlmcq and BantyChooks like this.
  10. Sunshine Flock

    Sunshine Flock Crowing

    Sep 27, 2017
    Northern California
    I've been doing a lot of reading on Marek's lately.

    It's said to be so common that a large percentage of these symptoms and deaths are indeed because of Marek's.

    But I wonder how many chickens die when Marek's is assumed because people don't bother giving them nutritional supports, as a comfort during the death process but also out of hope it's something else.

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