Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

March 11, 2009

Another loss (I'm an idiot..)

Yeah, it's what it sounds like. We lost another bird yesterday. She was another one of our brown leghorns.

It's been really frustrating me too since I just lost a bird not even a month ago. I wasn't doing anything differently that I knew of, and yet I was losing birds. As I said previously, I was going to keep a close eye on the girls to make sure that I didn't see any signs of stress or disease or anything and I did, keep an eye out that is. No signs of anything though. That is, until Monday morning. I get up and get myself ready for work in the morning and then head out to the coop before I take off for the day. I give them fresh water, check their food and toss them a half jar of scratch for the day. While I do this, I check on them for signs of problems. I repeat the checking in the afternoon after dinner when I head out to the coop to fetch the eggs.

Monday morning when I went out I noticed that one of the hens was very lethargic. She was also all puffed up and not wanting to go very enthusiastically after the scratch that I threw her. I made sure she got some water and that the food was accessible to her. That afternoon I did a little research in to possible chicken maladies and learned more about mites and the damage that they can cause to hens.

I have to add at this point that many of the chickens have been going through a sort of molting phase. Or at least that's what it looks like. Many of them have been losing feathers both on their bellies below their vents, or along their backs just in the back by the tail feathers.

I got to thinking that maybe there were mites and that that was the cause of the feather loss. I went home and cleaned the coop out, dusted the hens with Diatomaceous earth as well as the beds and the floor. They say cleanliness is the biggest culprit when dealing with mites, however, While dusting the birds I inspected them for mites and found no sign of them. When I had returned home that night, the hen in question was doing infinitely better. I hoped I had it licked. I was wrong.

The next morning, yesterday, I found the same hen acting the same way. Confused, I decided to turn the light on longer to help warm her up. That's when I found that the automatic timer that I was using had crapped out on me and I hadn't noticed. They hadn't been getting the warm lights in the morning! I separated her from the flock, placed her in a warmer area in a crate with some food, water, bedding, and gave her a dedicated light to warm up with. Sadly, it was too little too late. She had passed by the time I got home from work.

So, as I said in the title...I'm an idiot. I've lost two birds now to what I think was a simple automatic timer. My girls didn't freeze, but the cold is, I think, what got to them.

In the mean time, I have remedied the timer problem. I'll not let that be the cause for further losses. The only possible up side to the whole thing is that we had 9 birds and were only allowed 6. I've been thinking about giving them away to a family that wanted to start raising chickens as it is, this just kills that.

If your new to raising poultry, please...learn from this. Check all your equipment each morning. Be familiar with your birds and keep an eye out for odd behavior. It may just be the odd quirky bit of behavior that keys you into what the problem is/could be.
All the best to you all.


rhonda jean said...

Hi P, I'm sorry to hear of your losses. If any more die, even after you fixed what might be the problem. look up Marek's Disease.

Sue said...

Sorry to hear your losing some hens. I have to agree with Rhonda that its more likely disease. I had chickens in IL, we NEVER ran heat for them, and our temps frequently dipped in the minus zero ranges. Chickens can take a lot of cold. Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

Another vote that it isn't the heater. I don't give mine any heat and they are quite healthy. Best of luck! If you have stock you have problems.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry P~. tp

farm mom said...

You may be right, in a sense, that the cold hasn't helped their condition, but I'm also in doubt that this is your only problem. Listen closely to your birds for any sneezing or wheezing. Any drainage from eyes or nose? Respitory illnesses are commonplace in chickens, and the cold might be a contributing factor, as you suspect....but I too am concerned you may have something else going on with your flock. If there is anything I can do to help p, or if you just need someone to bounce ideas off from please feel free to email me or drop me a msg at FG. I know this kind of thing can be really frustrating.

Melissa ~ Wife to 1, Mom to 5 said...

Sorry to hear about this loss. If you find out more, please share. Don't beat yourself up about it either ~ you're NOT an idiot. :)

Andrew S. said...

Hey P,

you are not an idiot, but you are a great help to everyone out in the world that reads your blog.

My wife has agreed to let me raise chickens and we will be adding a coop to our back yard this summer. I wait impatiently for your updates and learn from every one of them.

This may be a far fetched idea, but could it be stress? We have a lot of raccoons in Utah and I have seen entire Koi ponds cleaned out at night in my neighborhood. Could be they have nighttime visitors banging on their walls.... As a child we had a cage of 150 quail decimated in one night even though it was hung from the rafters and was 3 feet off the ground. The raccoons pulled all their legs through the bottom and ripped them off. It was a horrific site for a 7 year old kid.

TheMartianChick said...

I'm sorry that you've lost 2 birds. Chickens are pretty hardy creatures and don't really need to have additional heating in the winter (for the most part). Adding heat can actually make them dependant upon it, rather than acclimatizing and getting used to the cooler temperatures.If something unfortunate like a power outage occurs, the chickens have a hard time adapting to not having the heat once they are used to it. This can make them ill and more susceptible to disease. Here is a link to more information:


Renee said...

im sorry...

rachelbess said...

Like a few other people, I'm going to agree that maybe the cold contributed to an already weak hen, but it is unlikely that temperature was your main problem. Doesn't really sound like Mareks either as that usually produces paralysis. Could she have been eggbound? It seems weird to lose two birds in a month to that though. I would give your whole flock the organic apple cider vinegar in the water (I usually do a shot vinegar: 1.5 liters water, but you might want to up it a bit). I wish you the best with this.