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Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 30291
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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We have a small flock of mixed breed chickens and have had

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We have a small flock of mixed breed chickens and have had them for about 7 years, rotating the stock as the older ones stop laying or pass away. In the last two weeks we have noticed an older chicken, first had her comb fall over, then became a bit lathargic but still with a good appetite. She didn't move around with the flock as much and eventually chose to stay inside rather than going out doors with the other hens. We thought maybe there was some issue with her and after seeing that she tended to have a bit of a balance issue and wasn't recovering, we had to put her down two days ago. Now this morning, we are noticing similar symptoms in another hen, roughly the same age. We have separated her from the flock but we are concerned that we may have some infection issue. Normally we have a no antibiotics stance, we feed non-gmo whole clean grains and free range in an insecticide free 2 acre lawn- we call our mini farm the No Foul Fowl Farm. We are considering giving the whole flock 2 weeks on a laying feed that does have antibiotics and cleaning the whole hen house out, and disinfecting it with some sort of solution. Is this a good idea or is there more we should do?
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Could be a lot of things that cause lethargy. The Expert will know how to help the bird. Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about the bird?
Customer: The birds affected at this point are about 4 years old, so I suppose it could be old age. They have molted, their egg production has been pretty low for the past 6-8 months but we attribute that to age more than anything else. We introduced 9 new hand raised hens in May, but they are all doing great and are producing 5-7 eggs a week.
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
We did notice that she had a bit of a dirty butt two days ago, which may indicate she had a bit of diarrhea. She is an Australorp and her comb is a bit smaller than the Golden Buffs we have, but it does seem maybe a bit off in color. And maybe a bit "deflated." The other chicken we put down, in the end had a slightly blue tint to her comb - but not similar to the avian flu pictures I have seen on line - there was nothing strange looking about her waddles or eye areas. Her eyes were bright and clear and she never lost her appetite. The same with this one - she is still eating but is stumbling around and not able to climb the steps to go out of her inside pen to the outside area.

You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin. Welcome to JustAnswer. I'm currently typing up my reply. Please be patient. This may take a few minutes.

I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. While a contagious and infectious disease needs to be considered, your chickens' signs aren't pathognomonic (specifically indicative) of any one particular disorder and so I would be reluctant to treat them all with an antibiotic which might cause more harm that good. Ideally, the one you euthanized should have been refrigerated (not frozen) and necropsied which would then hopefully tell you why she became so ill and if there were something you could do for your other birds. You still have the opportunity to sacrifice this second bird and have it necropsied. An avian vet ( can arrange for a necropsy and a veterinary teaching hospital pathology service, county animal disease diagnostic laboratory (if you're fortunate enough to have such a laboratory) or county poultry extension service can perform the necropsy.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
We have no such facility in our area and no veterinarian in our area who specializes in farm fowl. We have isolated the chicken and we are using a young chick feeder mash with antibiotics and extra vitamins. We are also adding oregano oil, lemon oil and frankensence in the chickens water. We have offered organic thyme from our home garden as well. For the rest of the flock we have cleared all bedding and will disinfect the pen wil white vinagar. The waters and feeders will
All be disinfected with a bleach solution as well. We plan to fever with food grade diaphamacious earth and flaked pine chips. Do these seem like appropriate steps to act as a safeguard?

I understand. There are no studies that show those herbs to be of value in chickens and so the best I can say is that they won't be harmful. Your disinfecting is certainly reasonable. Please clarify "We plan to fever with..." for me.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Sorry we plan to cover the floor of the pen with DE to reduce any potential for parasites and dampness with the chips which are hoping also will deter bugs etc.

That sounds good. Watch to see if your chickens are ingesting the DE. DE is quite a gastrointestinal irritant. Please continue our conversation if you wish.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
We were
More concerned about the respiratory impact which is why we decided food grade. But we will watch them closely. Of course they are farm animals but they are really our pets. All 18 of them. �� Thank you for your help. Have a good evening. If we have further questions can we request a bounce back conversation with you?

You're quite welcome. I can't set a follow-up in this venue so please return to our conversation - even after rating - with an update at your convenience. You can bookmark this page for ease of return.

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