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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Bird Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 20632
Experience:  As a veterinary surgeon, I have spent a lot of time with bird cases and I'm happy to help you.
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In the last week I have found 3 chickens dead in my pen or

Customer Question

In the last week I have found 3 chickens dead in my pen or coupe. One last week, one yesterday evening and one this morning. The one this morning (Bird 3) was found in the nesting box, her cloaca was bloody. With the first two I thought the death was caused by a lodged egg that they could not pass. Bird 3 I examined further by inserting my finger (with a rubber glove on) to see if I felt any obstruction. Did not feel anything.
What signs should I be looking for? I have not noticed anything out of the ordinary.
Please advise.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Bird Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you today.

First, if we have had multiple losses in such a short space of time, then egg binding is unlikely to be the cause for all three. Instead, when we see multiple birds showing similar signs or death, we have to focus on the infectious agents (bacterial, viral, protozoal, parasitic) and shared exposures (toxins, chemials, heavy metals, toxic plants).

Now if we are seeing fresh blood from the vent, then this allow us to start narrowing concerns. To start, a real concern for birds passing in such quick succession without any note of precursor signs, I would be especially concerned that your flock may have had access to rat bait (even via a poisoned rat dying where they could get it it), lead, or another heavy metal. Each could cause the signs that you have reported, come on suddenly, and lead to death in quick succession. So, we really need to review the environment and make sure they haven't access to anything harmful.

Otherwise, in regards ***** ***** considerations that could trigger a hemorrhagic enteritis, we could see this with viruses like adenovirus, herpes, Newcastle's disease, or EEE. As well, the bacterial agent Clostridia would be a top concern as well as coccidiosis and spirochetosis if you saw bloody diarrhea with them.

So, these would be our main concerns for your losses. And I would note that if you have other birds that could be at risk, while it isn't nice to think about, we'd want to consider having this latest bird taken in to your vet's for an autopsy. If you speak to the vet, they may be able to perform the autopsy in the practice. Alternatively, if you live near a vet school, vet lab, or agricultural college, they too likely can help you in this manner.

They can grossly analyse the organs for protozoan damage, check for unclotted blood free in the abdomen or lungs (which would increase concerns or rat bait) , and samples can be collected for submission to the lab for the pathologists to evaluate. The pathologists will be able to examine the tissues under the microscope and determine the causative agent for these deaths. As well, if bacterial or viral causes are suspected, these can be cultured to determine what is present and what treatments will effectively clear them. At the same time, tissue mineral levels can also be analysed. This will both give you closure on this her loss, but also help you know if this is something that threatens the whole flock. And once you know the causative agent, you will be able to protect them effectively.

Overall, we do have a few concerns for what you are seeing. In this case, we want to thoroughly check any area they have access to for those toxic concerns. As well, we need to monitor stable birds for any changes in stools and could even consider collecting stool samples (you can pool a few from a few different birds to submit as one sample to keep costs down) to check for those infectious agents present. Otherwise, an autopsy for this recent loss would be ideal to help us pinpoint which of these issues is present and ensure we are treating as best we can for your flock.

All the best,

Dr. B.


If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. *Please remember to rate my service afterwards, as this is the only way I receive credit for helping you today. Thank you! : )

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Dr. B.