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Dr. Bob
Dr. Bob, Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 7938
Experience:  35 years in practice
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I have a 16 month old Black Australorp. She presented normally,

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I have a 16 month old Black Australorp. She presented normally, interacted, ate, drank, pooped, laid regularly etc until 5 days ago. She had a hard time roosting one night and the next morning I found her on the floor of the coop with her head pulled into her chest. I isolated her then. When she is upright, she's fine (a little weak, as she's not eaten regularly) but she will go into one of these episodes every 5 minutes or more frequently, pull her head in or under her, scoot back or does a somersault forward, then takes a moment to regroup and become upright. She is having a progressively more difficult time eating and drinking on her own. I have to straighten out her neck to "snap her out of it" then she can eat and drink. Poop is runny. She's drinking plenty of water, eats boiled eggs, greens, worms and some feed. Any ideas? She's getting progressively worse and needs something I'm not providing soon. Thanks.
Hello, I'm Dr. Bob.
I apologize for the time this reply has taken to get back to you, the time change makes it difficult.
I'm sorry to read of your Australorp's condition. There are a number of diseases that may look like what she's showing. Have you added any new birds to your flock in the past two months?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Yes I have. What's more troubling is that I lost a same aged bird to something that looked a lot like this, back in January, before new girls came into the flock. No new birds were introduced at that time. These birds (the deceased and the current one) were part of a group of 6 pullets I purchased. At 4 months 1 died of apparently just wasting away ( another black Australorp) while another had a brain tumor (Americauna) that was very visible, but she showed no signs of distress up to the time we euthanized her. The Americauna who died in January, as I said above, showed similar symptoms as the current bird. I've wondered if it could be the same thing, presenting differently? The vet here had no idea, prescribed a strong antibiotic and left it at that. We didn't give her the medicine because we could never have eaten her eggs or her, as a matter of fact, according to the vet. None of my other chickens in the flock (those we got at the same time as the pullets) or the newer girls (since early March) have any signs of anything out of the ordinary. I'm concerned about something contagious and/or something we are or aren't doing to maintain the health of the flock. We keep it pretty clean and give them lots of room and sunshine, good clean food and water. Since the symptoms don't point to anything right on specific, I'm having a hard time knowing what to do from internet and book resources. Sorry for this long response, but I'm really motivated to make this situation turn out the best it can, after so many initial losses. Thank you, Liz
Hello again, Liz.
Please don't apologize for the length of your reply. In this venue, the information you furnish is all we have to go on, so the more the better.
Are any of the birds laying eggs yet?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

My internet connection is lousy, so this is the third time I'm trying to respond to you again. Ack! I got 4 hens in Feb 2012, all of whon laid within a week. At the same time I got the 6 pullets. 2 died in May 2012. The other 4 (Pink the ill one is among these) began laying June 2012. One other chicken from these original pullets died in January 2013, from something that looks a lot like what Pink has. The new-to-me-chickens came to me in early March 2013. THey are between 8 months and 2 years and all are laying regularly. I kept this new flock separate from the old one for a month to rule out any illness that I could observe. Pink was laying regularly until last week, as I said in my initial question to you, which is when she showed symptoms. Today she is not eating as much as yesterday and her episodes as described in my first question are becoming more frequent and lasting longer. She reaches for food/water and then goes into one of these episodes, so I have to help straighten her out and keep her upright so she can take food/water. She can straighten herself out mostly, but she is getting weaker. I need some info as to how to procede as soon as you can. We will likely euthanize her tomorrow and get an autopsy if I can find someone who is able to do that in my area, if I can get no workable solution to keeping her alive. Thanks.

Okay, thank you, Liz.
It well may take a post-mortem examination to provide a definitive diagnosis, but judging from the symptoms you've described, the condition sounds like a neurological disorder. Newcastle disease and Newcastle disease (exotic) appear to be the most likely causes. You can google these to read detailed descriptions of each. necropsy findings are often described in articles on poultry diseases, so you may be able to open her up and know what to look for inside.
Other diseases that may produced some or all of the signs you're seeing include teh following:
Acute cholera
Infectious laryngotracheitis
Mild Newcastle
Nutritional roup
You can google each of these should what you find online under Newcastle and Newcastle (exotic) not seem to completely fit all the symptoms you've seen. If you have more questions, please let me know, I'll be happy to answer (remember, the more information, the better!).
Kind regards,
Dr. Bob
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