If you raise chickens you may be confused when a chicken dies unexpectedly with no apparent reason. What do you do when this happens? You should not just bury it or ever eat it. Instead, you should investigate the reason it died without warning. Why? To be sure it did not die of a disease that may be contagious to the rest of your flock, you, or your family.
I recently had a hen die of what appears to be a respiratory illness. She was laying on the floor gasping for air, her eyes closed and her head slumped. As discussed in a previous article, I contacted the State Veterinarian to see what I should do. We had a great conversation where she asked me questions and gave me tips.
Here is a breakdown of some of the tips she gave me:
Get a fecal float test to see if the flock has worms. She suggested the local vet we use for our dog. She asked me if I had dewormed the flock and I said no, we don’t deworm just for the sake of deworming. I prefer to treat an actual illness, not treat a nonexistant one. She agreed. I also mentioned that I was unsure of the proper treatment and was hesitant because we eat the eggs and give them to neighbors. She said the vet could help with all that.
The State Veterinarian also told me that they would pay for the testing if I could get the body to the lab. One necropsy wouldn’t break my bank but multiple necropsies could get expensive very fast. I was very pleased she offered to pay.
She also emailed me links to websites to get information about respiratory illnesses in poultry. This will help me keep informed of signs to be on the lookout for.
She asked if we had ducks around our flock. I said no. She was referring to wild ducks that may bring diseases with them when they migrate and spread them to the flock. She mentioned avian influenza specifically. We talked about the current outbreak of avian influenza on the west coast and how some backyard flocks had been infected.
All in all, I was extremely pleased to have talked with my State vet. She was very pleasant and offered up some great information.
Here are links to find your State Veterinarian:
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