Please Help Me With Sick Hens
My Sick Hen Saga
I have 14 free range hens, and have recently had a problem with sick hens. About 2.5 months ago we had a hen who suddenly became sick. The first sign that we noticed is that she became lethargic, and began to be picked on by the other hens. This continued until she stopped eating and drinking and became ataxic, or dizzy, not able to walk. We quarantined her, and began syringe feeding her many different things as recommended by different websites. She started looking a bit better, and we decided to get her back into the yard, but her condition quickly depreciated and we chose to humanely end her suffering. Her symptoms were something like this: lethargy-picked on by other birds-anorexia-weight loss-pale mucous membranes-recoiled neck-dehydration-fluffed up feathers-mental issues/confusion-ataxia-loss of coordination-sleeping on floor- diarrhea. I know that this is a lot of symptoms, and I am not sure which ones were primary to the disease process, and which ones were secondary. We thought that all was well with the ladies until about two weeks ago, when the hens all began brutally attacking our favorite hen, Henrietta, our farm mascot.
We let this go on for a while, thinking that the pecking order would even out, but then she started sleeping on the floor of the coop, and not standing up often. We believed that she was traumatized and scared so we quarantined her. She has not started behaving better, and seems to have more and more symptoms that are similar to that of the prior sick hen. As far as we know neither this chicken nor the prior one had any respiratory distress, or discharge. The problems with her seem mostly neurologic, she is lethargic, seems confused, will not stand up, stands on her own feet, loss of coordination, and has drastic weight loss. Her neck is straight unlike the last hen. She seems to be eating and drinking normally, but she just started to have diarrhea. I am not only worried about the health of our mascot chicken, but also of the 75 chicks with whom she has been fraternizing. I have tried to call the local vets, but none of them often work with poultry. We do not want to have an epidemic of this disease, but need to know what to try in order to not spend a fortune on tests and such. I have prior vet tech experience, and can do many treatments at home, but am not familiar enough with chicken disease processes to know what to try. Please help!
Thanks for any advice that you can offer.