Chicken with diarrhea then dead

by Debra (The Moses Family)
(East Haddam, CT USA)

Question

Chicken with diarrhea then dead: I have/had 9 laying hens and a rooster, have had for many years in coop /pen for winter.

last week we started letting them out in the yard because of the nice weather and wormed them for the 1st time since fall.

Noticed 2 of them had liquid feces stuck on its butts, the next day 1 had a large clump of (? feces) stuck (3/4" X 2" long), was staying off to side, not eating, & lethargic, while running around yard "it/feces" fell off, but then that hen died that night in coop.

Also found the others picking at its head/comb. Then yesterday, the other 1 that had a yucky butt, the same thing, was getting picked at, a large clump on its butt, staying off to side or in coop.

So we caught it, washed butt, which was a hard pellet type mass with (I think) egg shells mixed in with foul odor. As we were drying it, it began to pant then went limp & died.

This morning we were checking the rest of the chickens and found another 1 with diarrhea stuck dribbling down it butt again... Not sure what to do.

We want to catch it, wash it, & separate it, if it is something contagious. Have you ever heard of something like this? I’ve looked all over Internet, but all I can find is "Pasty Butt" which is not quite extreme as this.

Would love to hear something that we can do, if anything, any advice would be greatly appreciated... Thank you,

Answer
This definitely sounds like something contagious to affect so many. You would need a veterinary exam and testing to find out what it is for sure.

You could check your local feed store for an antibiotic that is designed to treat the symptoms you have seen. Another possibility is something toxic in the environment.

If it is something contagious, possibly being cooped up for the winter caused a build up of feces that spread the problem.

It’s easy for bacteria or viruses to be spread through feces as chickens often clean their feet with their beaks. If possible, I would remove remaining chickens from the coop/pen, thoroughly clean and disinfect with bleach water, including nests, roosts, walls, drinkers and feeders.

Directions for dilution are on the bottle usually. Possibly feeding a medicated feed, short term, will help those remaining.

Giving a pro biotic or live culture yogurt may help with better digestion. Over cooking white rice and feeding it with the water can slow down digestion and diarrhea, giving them a chance to absorb vital nutrients.

Chickens pick at each other, feathers out of place, unusual clumps of droppings on feathers or even the dead. They are curious and use beaks to check things out.

Diarrhea can cause severe dehydration, weakness and death, no matter what the cause. You could use a vitamin electrolyte product for poultry to help the rest be healthier and restore hydration.

Whatever this was may have been harder on the older or weaker ones. Chickens higher in pecking order generally get more food, therefore more vitamins and nutrients.

Winter can be hard on chickens. If you don’t handle them it’s hard to see signs of weight loss. There would be a possibility of exterior parasites, that can drain the life’s blood from infested chickens.

I’m so sorry this has happened and wish I could tell you exactly why and how it happened. Hopefully you won’t lose any more.

If the diarrhea had any blood in it this can be a sign of intestinal infection with an elevated level of bacteria, or possibly virus. The best way to know for sure is to have the vet do some testing.

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