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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 28420
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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I have a flock of laying hens and recently purchases 9

Customer Question

I have a flock of laying hens and recently purchases 9 chickens. I was getting 20-25 eggs a day from the original 23 chickens and after adding the 9 new chickens (5 of which died in the first week-I assumed from shock). Now my egg production has dropped to 5 eggs a day (smaller and lighter than before). The chickens are not eating or drinking as much as before. They are not molting as there are no loose feathers in the coop or the run. What is going on?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Bird Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. We don't have many avian vets on this site. Can you tell me, please, if you quarantined the new nine chickens prior to introducing them to your flock? The Chicken Chick has a good review of how that's done and what could happen if you don't. Please see here: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/12/quarantine-of-backyard-chickens-why-and.html

My concern is that the new chickens that died were indeed stressed and the stress exacerbated latent infectious disease which not only caused their demise but has spread to your existing flock and is now causing the drop in egg production. It's very important - particularly if you have a sizeable flock - to have newly dead birds refrigerated (not frozen) until they can be necropsied or sacrifice a badly ill bird and refrigerate it to be necropsied. This is often the only manner in many cases in which you'll be able to identify the causative agent and then know how to treat the rest of your flock. It's best to take advantage of your county animal disease diagnostic laboratory - if your county has such as laboratory. Here's another helpful link from the Chicken chick for you: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2015/06/chicken-health-poultry-management.html

I regret that I can't be more specific for you from here. The list of possible etiologies for a drop in egg production would exceed the space we're allotted in this venue but considering that you brought in new birds, a contagious disease is most likely. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.