Chickens are dying

by Kenneth
(Malta)

Question
My chickens are dying. I have 10 and they are dying at two to three week intervals without showing any outward signs of sickness or injury.

I hatched 11 eggs, 10 Araucana, and one Wyandotte. At Six weeks of age, I put them in with three other chickens, two egg layers and a Japanese hen.

The Araucana's were white, and without any visible reason started to die off at fairly regular intervals.

There was no blood in the droppings and up to the evening before, all the chickens were looking alright. The next morning, I would go into the aviary and find a chicken dead or near to death in a corner.

Why should only the Araucana die and not the Wyandotte? Do they carry some sort of lethal gene?

And if it was some sort of illness wouldn't the other breeds of chickens have shown some sort of symptoms? I don't think any of the other chickens are bullies as they all seem to get along well together.

It just seemed to affect the Araucana. A lot of time has passed now since the last of them died, it seems that only the Araucana's were affected. Any ideas what might have been affecting them?

Answer
Some birds can carry a disease and have a strong enough immune system to keep from showing any signs of the disease.

It may be that in the process of this young group of Aracaunas scratching around your aviary they ingested droppings containing contagious disease.



A lethal gene would be something that kills the animal that carries this gene, some sort of physical defect, like a bad heart, weak liver, or possibly hormone or brain dysfunction.

Young chickens, if exposed to too much of certain bacteria or parasites, can be unable to prevent them from taking over their digestive system.

This could be the problem. Young birds that are growing and developing quickly can quickly become malnourished if something in them is preventing absorption of the nutrients in their food.

You said that all these chickens got along, but generally I wouldn’t recommend mixing age groups, until chicks are near adult size.

At 6 weeks they still need the heat of their mother or a heat lamp. If the area was too big for them to get to the heat source or there was none, the coolness or cold of the night might be too much for them.

If they huddle together they can keep a bit warmer, but as this group died off that would mean less and less heat when they needed it.

When chicks get too cold they cannot digest their food and major organs start shutting down. I hope this helps.

I can only guess based on experience and what you have shared here. I’m so sorry for the loss of these Aracaunas.

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Chickens are dying

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Feb 21, 2011
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Araucana
by: Anonymous

It certainly is strange that the Araucana were the only ones to die. Perhaps they were not as resilient as the other chickens.

It is possible that the other chickens just didn't like them but that is highly unlikely that they will only attack one breed. Did you check the bodies for injuries?

Feb 21, 2011
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Araucana dying update
by: Kenneth

Thanks for the comments. To answer your question. Yes, I checked all the Araucana for injuries, but nothing was found.

It was a most unusual situation as only the Araucana died. The other fowl I had in with them are healthy and lively till today.

I think it must be down to maybe being so inbred as to be weak. But until the day of dying, all the Araucana looked the picture of health.

It was only on the final day that one of them would look listless, and then a couple of hours later be dead.

I made a mistake by not taking the bodies for examination at the government vet, and have promised myself that the next time anything similar happens, that will be the first thing I do.

Anyway, its all water under the bridge now, and I am trying to concentrate on the birds I have left.

I have a pair of Japanese that I am preparing to run together to see if I can get some offspring from them and will let you know how I go on.
Regards and thanks again for the comments
Ken

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