My chickens are getting sick : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I have 11 Golden Sex-links that are in their second winter. They have always been free-range, and I feed them pellets and kitchen scraps. They have always done very well, and looked very healthy and last winter they laid anywhere from 9-11 eggs a day. Starting this fall their egg production slacked off to 3-4 eggs a day. They also started losing feathers on their wings. I figured they were molting, and would pick up again, but this morning I went out to let them out and I have 3 or 4 birds that look really sickly. Their back ends are black and their feathers look really mangey. Does anyone know what could be causing this? The weather here took a real sudden drop in temperature a couple of weeks ago, so the chickens have stayed in their house mostly until yesterday when it warmed up. I cleaned their house just before the cold snap and put down a bale of straw and a bale of alfalfa hay, because I didn't have any more straw. My husband didn't think that would hurt them, but could that be the cause? I looked in Carla Emery's book which tells about several chicken diseases, but does explain the indications for the disease,so I don't know what to look for. Any advice would be most appreciated.

-- Patti (, November 23, 2000


The alfalfa hay wouldn't have hurt them at all. Have they any coughs? Are you saying they have diarrhea?

When mine molt I give them some cat food to help with their protein levels. If you have some cider vinegar put that in their water until you can figure out exactly what is making them sick. It seems to perk them up. Sorry I couldn't be more help. Good luck with them.

-- Doreen (, November 23, 2000.

Perhaps you have coccidia (sp?) in your flock, if what you are discribing is diarrhea. I don't go in for medicated feed, but maybe one bag of medicated would clear up the problem. Just don't let your water foul get to it or horses. Or, maybe a safer approach would be to put Corid in the water for them. The directions are on the package.

-- Diane Green (, November 23, 2000.

You said their back ends are this the skin? Could it be frostbite? If it is I don't know what to tell you but it is an idea as to what might be wrong.

-- Amanda S (, November 23, 2000.

A thermal shock like the temperature drop you mentioned and contact with moist soil in the free ranging you spoke of could suggest anthrax. The other suggestion of coccidiosis is possible, too. The next step in anthrax would be paralysis; in coccidiosis it would be death by dehydration. Contact with wild birds, ducks, and especially turkeys should be avoided. Did your chickens get near any of these?

The medicated feed, water, vinegar in water suggested are all good ideas. Also you could put a little turmeric (the yellow cooking spice)in their feed; it is an organic bacteriostat.

-- Rags (, November 25, 2000.

This may seem like a lot of work, but to give my chickens a boost or help fight of diseases I mix garlic granules, honey, nutritional yeast,and buttermilk or yogurt together, then add to warm water and let them have that to drink. Sorry I don't measure but it is apprx.1 cup garlic, 1/2 cup honey, 1 cup nutritional yeast, and 2cups buttermilk or yogurt add to 3gal water. A note if it is coccicidiosis there will be blood in thier stool. Hope all goes well. Perhaps a little extra few hours of light will help. I have solar lights the kind for pathways I put in a light and then return outside for charging in the daytime. Debbi

-- Debbi (, November 26, 2000.

I don't really have any suggestions for what might be wrong with the chickens but I do have a question about one of the suggestions.

When you put vinegar in the drinking water, does it matter if the container is metal? galvanized? or aluminium? Should it be glass to be safe and not have metals being leached into the water?

-- Heather (, November 27, 2000.

I don't have any answers for you, but I thought I'd pass this along. I have had poultry only since May, 1999, but I've had no sickness, no mites, and the only birds who have died have died by my hand. I realize that some of you don't used medicated feed, but I feed Chick Starter from hatching and will throughout their lives. I learned this from a long time poultry owner. I also mix oyster shell into the feed. And I mix food grade diatomaceous earth into the feed and sprinkle it in the pens. The DE deworms the birds, keeps them free of mites, and there's no smell in the pens.

I free feed ~ hoppers always have feed in them. The birds free range during the day and tuck themselves into their pens to roost at dusk. To accomplish this, new birds are kept penned for 3 weeks, Guineas for 6 weeks.

My nest boxes are large covered cat litter boxes that I toss hay in (Coastal grass hay). The hens rearrange it to their liking. The boxes are lined up on the ground along one side of the pens.

I have quite a few roosters and have never been attacked. I attribute this to the free feeding and not hand feeding treats. The hens raise healthy, robust chicks. Your milege may differ, but this program has worked well for me.

-- ~Rogo (, November 28, 2000.

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