Monday, June 6, 2011

The Sounds of Sickness

Okay, I haven't written about this, because it has been hurting my heart too badly.  I got some advice from a poultryman who has a blog - Matt at Foothills Poultry.... and I was so appreciative of his giving me advice.  Matt, I looked at the Tylan and didn't buy it, but I think I'm gonna have to.

I'm losing birds.  I tried to write about it twice, and couldn't.  I stopped both times and never finished the posts. 

It started 3 or 4 weeks ago, when a young bird began making a barking noise.  She is a very good egg layer.... and the only symptom she had was a "bark" instead of a cluck or other noise.  Then, I noticed Sprocket, my old hen, begin to fail, and over the course of several days, she looked worse and worse.  I still didn't suspect anything.  Then one morning I went out to find her eyes swollen shut and something coming from her nostrils, and she appeared to be having labored breathing.  We put her down that day.  I remember turning to Keith and saying "I hope this isn't going to run through the flock".  Next Lola, her clutchmate, showed the same signs... then Rosemary, a young hen only a year and a half old.  Lola was put down, and Rosemary managed to get out of the henhouse the next evening, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw her go in the duck house out in the henyard.  I went in and told Keith we would just let her stay in there that night, and put her down in the morning.  That night, a possum got her. 

All this time, Libby, the black hen kept "barking".  She never had swollen eyes, or anything.  Kept laying. 

Then one of the three brassy back cockerels in the little pen began showing symptoms, and I pulled him that night.  Keith put him down, and as he did (sorry for this, everyone)... the mucus came out of his nostrils. 

I began researching with the first hen, and finally realized it was probably bronchitis.  I cleaned the henhouse as well as possible... we left it unbedded for six days and then sprayed it down with Ozine to try to kill the bacteria.  All of the inside feed is being locked up in the feed cans at night, so the mice have nothing to eat. (they are going outside, believe me).  I'm poisoning the mice... I know they are opening the packets, and now that Butch and his three girls are out of the feed room, there is nothing there for them to eat.  Butch and the three girls are pretty miserable out in the pasture... it was blazing hot today, and will be the rest of the week.  There are tarps over their pen, but it was hot, hot, hot.  Their water had gotten hot by the time I got home.  Tomorrow morning I'll set it behind the doghouse for them. 

They did find the roosts finally. 

We moved the three little porcelains out last night, because we wanted them OUT of the henhouse, where they had a chance. 

Tonight, while doing chores, I heard the familiar bark, and realized it came from the juvenile pen.  I watched the birds, and realized a second brassy back rooster was on the roost, and exhibiting signs.  I reached in and caught him... he was still healthy enough to try to get away... but when I picked him up... he was having trouble breathing.  I filmed him, and will try to load it so you can hear the tell-tale sounds.  
Keith will have to put him down, and my poor dear husband has had to do this over and over and over lately.  We are not burying OR burning the carcasses here, but they are being double-bagged and going out in the trash.  
I am hoping the last brassy back cockerel is not sick already.  None of the other little birds is showing sign.  But then, I thought it was all over.  

Libby, the original "barker" is still fine and eating and drinking and showing no other signs, such as the swollen face and eyes.  

We have not had to put any bird from the little flock down ... yet. 

Matt suggested injecting each bird with Tylan 50... and I may end up having to do that after all. 

I tried to get a video of the little cockerel to upload but again, Blogger is rejecting it out of hand.  A video like any other that has loaded in the past.... but Blogger is getting choosier and choosier.  It showed how his breathing is very labored, despite the fact he is still bright-eyed.... his lungs are filling.  Keith has just gotten home from Elwood unexpectedly (going back tomorrow) and will put him down in the morning. 


  1. Oh, Dear, I am so sorry. Birds are so fickle to start with, and when you get something like this going through the flock it can be devastating. I would recommend a broad spectrum antibiotic (QVS is something I've used before--ask your vet) in the water. Of course, you won't be able to use their eggs for quite a while, but you might stop the bacteria. Another option would be a homeopathic antibiotic. I've used a combination of honey, sage and garlic as an antibiotic for upper respiratory infections in my birds with success. Good luck.

  2. I am so sorry. I have no answers.

  3. I feel so bad for you and your birds. This is like a horrible nightmare.

  4. I have no idea what to say except I am so sorry to hear about this.
    When you need cheering up come by.

    Take care and give Keith some extra hugs, sounds like he needs it.



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