Pullet With Stretching Neck

by Michelle
(Gaston NC)


Pullet With Stretching Neck - I had a black copper marans pullet. She was hatched on April 16.

I purchased her along with 30 other chicks of assorted breeds from a private breeder in southern North Carolina. I kept them all inside under a heat lamp until May 25th.

I then moved them to an outside pen where they have a small house to sleep/roost in at night.

All the chicks were doing well, eating Dumor chick starter and drinking plenty of water. Running, flapping wings, stretching, playing, mock fighting amongst the little cockerels...otherwise doing very well.

Three days ago I noticed one black copper marans making a strange noise. She would stretch out her neck, make a high pitched "hahhh' sound and then smack her little beak like she was licking her "lips" and then she would swallow like she was trying to get something to go down her throat.

She stopped eating but continued to drink from the waterer. She would no longer interact with the rest of her siblings-who are still developing and looking wonderful. She would sit alone with her feathers fluffed out and her head tucked into her chest.

I became concerned about the possibility of gapeworm, or some other obstruction in her throat. I could not let her continue on, knowing she would slowly starve to death and she already seemed so miserable, so I made the decision to put her down.

I had my husband help me by crushing her head inbetween two blocks of wood. (Mind you, this is not an easy part for me to retell to you) I wanted to destroy the brain without damaging the beak or throat.

Once she passed away, I took a knife and starting under her bottom beak, I made a cut to the skin, splitting it all the way down to her breast bone. I then began examining each part of her.

The roof of her mouth, under her tongue, I split down the length of her esophogus and her trachea. There were no signs of any discoloration, cysts, tumors, worms or any other clues to any problems.

I searched further down, going into the crop to find it empty. All of her insides appeared clean and clear. Her organs all looked like they were healthy in color.

Her gizzard was mishapen, but I wondered if this should be expected since it was empty (the only things inside were a few pieces of grit)

I am disturbed with the thought that I have lost a chicken and still do not know why. All of my other chicks in the flock still seem happy and healthy.

I do not want to lose anymore birds, so I am hoping you can give me a diagnosis for the loss of my black marans. Thank you for your time.

Michelle, I hope you are planning to be an avian vet! I'm so sorry you lost this one. Over many years of raising chicks and chickens and all kinds of birds.

I find the more you have, the more likely you will be, to have one or a few, that are weak for some reason and fail to thrive.

The mechanics of a chicken flock, from day one and on, is that the strong get stronger and the weak lag behind and don't make it.

I think you are taking excellent care of them, and to lose this one is not through something you did or didn't do, it's just that not every chick hatched is prefect.

As you saw, there are many working parts inside them, and all it takes is for one little thing to go wrong, or just not go right, and the chick can't make it.

I wish I could give you a better scientific answer, but this has been my experience. I think people would be astonished to learn just how many chicks don't make it.

Just as with human health, chicken health relies on everything in a body to work well together plus a healthy immune system, good nutrition and adequate shelter from extreme temps and predators.

One genetic malfunction, and a chick that starts out looking well and normal, just doesn't have what it takes to become a healthy adult.

I can only guess at one other possibility; I don't recommend removing chicks from a heat source "cold turkey" unless night time temperatures are well above 60.

Any chick that can't get into a good warm spot, even for one night, may suffer irreversible damage to its immune system and digestive system.

Unless they have a mother hen to keep them warm, I always offer chicks the option of a heat source, until they completely wean themselves from it.

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