Author Topic: My chickens....  (Read 840 times)

Offline Cheryl

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My chickens....
« on: May 12, 2014, 04:31:02 PM »
All I wanted was a small flock of laying hens.

I had that, I thought.  Something happened during the winter that changed everything.  I had around a dozen hens and 1 rooster.  Now I'm down to 4 hens and no rooster. 

Do chickens commit suicide?  It seems that's what mine did.  We had concrete blocks around the bottom of their run so they couldn't dig out.  Well, we started finding them upside down in the holes in the blocks.  They would apparently get in there and couldn't breathe and die if not found in time.  My rooster stayed out during the day because of the damage he was doing to the hens.  One day we found him dead under my husband's riding mower.  He'd gotten wedged up under the seat somehow and died.  Now keep in mind I've had chickens for YEARS and nothing like this has ever happened but all of a sudden I was having trouble almost daily.  They'd wedge themselves between the nest boxes and wall, in such tight places I could hardly get them out.  Their behavior changed so drastically that it's hard to put into words the trouble I've had with them.  Every day has been something new.  I had one hen climb head first into the feeder, nothing sticking out but feet.  I managed to save her that day but later found her dead in a block.

We had removed all the blocks surrounding their pen and had started letting them free range a bit because it seemed to help a little with the strange behavior, like they had something better to do than think up ways to frustrate me.  This seemed to work for a while until they would wind up under something and be found dead.  Everyone I've talked to said it sounds like something scared them, but we've been outside with them and maybe one would be separated from the flock for like literally a few minutes and we'd find a dead hen.  Just this afternoon, my pretty black Australorp died.  She'd been broody a few days and I went to check on her and found her dripping blood from her vent.  She was all by herself so I know another hen didn't do it to her.  I cleaned her up as best as I could and minutes later Emily checked on her and she'd pulled her insides out and died. 

So now I'm down to 4 hens, a Wyandotte, a buff orpington, a red star, and a barred rock.  I have to keep the red star separated from the others because they'd kill her if I gave them a chance. 

Emily still has her silkies but I miss my girls. :'(  At the same time I'm so ready to give them all up and just move on.  It's been a tough few months but what bothers me a lot is I don't know what caused all this.  I know this sounds all scattered but it's hard to describe the trouble I've had with these chickens.  Right now I'm very upset. :(
Cheryl in Alabama
Wife to Tony
Mother to Lana & Emily
Nana to Logan & Madilyn

Offline greyhoundgirl

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Re: My chickens....
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2014, 06:45:57 PM »
Oh Cheryl, how sad and strange!  I'm sorry about your girls.  :(  Are you by chance on the Backyard Chickens site?  I'd suggest asking on there about the weird behaviour thing...that is just odd.  The one today sure sounds like a prolapse, though.

Offline Cheryl

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Re: My chickens....
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2014, 06:53:04 PM »
I've searched every board and website I can think of and I am totally at a loss.  I can hardly stand going in the coop now because it's so empty.

I know it's silly to get so upset over chickens, but I really did care for them.  Each one had her own personality and I miss them all. :'(
Cheryl in Alabama
Wife to Tony
Mother to Lana & Emily
Nana to Logan & Madilyn

Offline MoWin

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Re: My chickens....
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2014, 10:00:56 PM »
Oh Cheryl,

It is not silly at all to be upset about this. I would be too. Heck, I had a melt down over bad things happening around here a week ago. This is so strange. I am wondering if you chickens got some sort of poison that made them go crazy. Have you changed their feed or opened a new sack of feed just before this started? Any way they could get to lead paint or something else toxic? Something has definitely happened. Chickens can get frightened to death, but that would be all at once, not one at a time and I have never heard of them sticking their heads in something and just dying. I am going to check on some diseases and see what I come up with. I will let you know if I find anything at all. Hang in there. I know how sad this is for you. ((((HUGS)))))

Blessings,
Winona
Winona in northwest Missouri
Wife to Kevin
Mom to Carolyn, Cathryn, Isaiah, Hazel, and Jon
Grandma to Ashton, Ava, Noah, Izabella, and Maddison
Furbabies: Aeris, Buddy, and Callie

Offline MoWin

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Re: My chickens....
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2014, 11:08:27 PM »
Cheryl,

Are there any wind/turbine farms fairly close by you? Some are saying they can drive animals crazy. Something about the low hum and other things they put off.

Blessings,
Winona
Winona in northwest Missouri
Wife to Kevin
Mom to Carolyn, Cathryn, Isaiah, Hazel, and Jon
Grandma to Ashton, Ava, Noah, Izabella, and Maddison
Furbabies: Aeris, Buddy, and Callie

Offline Cheryl

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Re: My chickens....
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2014, 05:28:52 AM »
Winona, thank you for not thinking I'm being silly.  It's so aggravating to deal with this for months on end without any answers.

I do believe something has driven them to behave in this manner but for the life of me I don't know what it is.

There aren't any wind farms nearby, just commercial chicken houses across the field.  Every now and then the fans kick on and we can hear them and in the winter when all this started, the heaters were running.  Their feed has remained the same, I've not added any new chickens, and they didn't have access to anything new.  The coop is the same one they've used for 2 years.  Even the chickens I've had for at least 3 years are acting weird.

The only thing we did differently was add pine shavings when the weather turned cooler.  Up til this past fall, we'd used leaves in the floor of the coop or hay.  But I made sure I bought pine instead of cedar because I know cedar's not good for chickens.  I remember back when this started my husband remarked that the shavings were making the chickens crazy but I said a lot of people use them so it can't be that.  Now I wonder if he was right.

These hens and even my rooster all climbed headfirst into things.  We would find them in the strangest places.  Once one got inside the rim of a wheel behind the barn.  One burrowed under the water tank, one flew up in the rafters and was found hanging by her toes.  She was already turning purple when I found her but she's alive.  That's the red star hen I now have to keep separate from the others.  I've had her 4 years and she still lays almost every day.

I'm just at my wits end with all this.  I want to know what it could be because I want them to be happy and healthy again.
Cheryl in Alabama
Wife to Tony
Mother to Lana & Emily
Nana to Logan & Madilyn

Offline greyhoundgirl

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Re: My chickens....
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2014, 06:07:06 AM »
Oh Cheryl,

It is not silly at all to be upset about this. I would be too. Heck, I had a melt down over bad things happening around here a week ago. This is so strange. I am wondering if you chickens got some sort of poison that made them go crazy. Have you changed their feed or opened a new sack of feed just before this started? Any way they could get to lead paint or something else toxic? Something has definitely happened. Chickens can get frightened to death, but that would be all at once, not one at a time and I have never heard of them sticking their heads in something and just dying. I am going to check on some diseases and see what I come up with. I will let you know if I find anything at all. Hang in there. I know how sad this is for you. ((((HUGS)))))

Blessings,
Winona

Any chance their feed could have molded even if it's not a new bag or brand?  Wondering about mycotoxins.  I was just researching this a bit and aflatoxin in particular can cause abnormal behavior.

Offline greyhoundgirl

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Re: My chickens....
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2014, 06:12:14 AM »
Sounds like there could be mycotoxins that are not necessarily visible.  Apparently, 25% of feed is contaminated with them.  http://www.mycotoxins.info/myco_info/animpy.html
« Last Edit: May 13, 2014, 06:36:24 AM by greyhoundgirl »

Offline Cheryl

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Re: My chickens....
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2014, 06:30:29 AM »
Sounds like their could be mycotoxins that are not necessarily visible.  Apparently, 25% of feed is contaminated with them.  http://www.mycotoxins.info/myco_info/animpy.html

That's scary stuff.  Thanks for the link.  I'm going to read all I can find about it.
Cheryl in Alabama
Wife to Tony
Mother to Lana & Emily
Nana to Logan & Madilyn

Offline wrancher

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Re: My chickens....
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2014, 06:38:54 AM »
Boy that is scary and I know how you feel trying to figure it all out.  I agree it could be the feed or something scaring it you just cant see. I hope you get it figured out soon I know how scary that is.

Thinking of you..

Janice

Offline greyhoundgirl

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Re: My chickens....
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2014, 06:39:19 AM »
Here's another link that breaks down symptoms by type of mycotoxin ingested:  http://www.mycotoxins.info/myco_info/animpy_sr.html

They definitely are scary substances.  This is one of the dangers of things like peanut butter (or even just peanuts) and even some coffee.  :/  Anything that has a chance to grow mold, whether visible or not.

« Last Edit: May 13, 2014, 06:40:31 AM by greyhoundgirl »

Offline Cathie

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Re: My chickens....
« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2014, 05:58:06 AM »
sorry Cheryl - that's so sad

Offline Cheryl

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Re: My chickens....
« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2014, 03:55:29 PM »
Lost another hen today.  My red star has prolapsed. :'(

Now I'm down to 3.  Emily still has her silkies and bantams but I miss my hens.
Cheryl in Alabama
Wife to Tony
Mother to Lana & Emily
Nana to Logan & Madilyn