Can Colorado State University help me figure out why my chickens are dying?

Asked August 11, 2013, 9:09 PM EDT

As title states, I was wondering if an Extension office could help figure out why my birds are dying. I have had chickens for 5 years now, and just this year we lost many, some old some young as far as their years go, to unexpected death.

Mesa County Colorado

6 Responses

Yes, I will try to help. I need some detailed information in order to help figure this problem out, such as what symptoms the birds had before death, what time frame this happened, and any changes that occurred with the birds (nutritional changes and so on).

The best help you could have is to get the birds to a diagnostic lab so they could test to see what the actual cause might be. But that is not always possible.

If you send me as many details as you can, I might be able to help.

All the birds that have passed had a case of pasty butt and were very weak in getting around. The symptoms come on slowly, and the birds just don't seem to get better. The current sick bird walks with her neck down as though she is tucking it into her shoulders. The birds' food is not moldy as we let it run out completely before adding new food to the bin it is stored in. The only change I can think of is that we went to cracked corn from scratch grain. If I can think of anything else, I will post it as well. Hope some of this info helps.

I forgot the time frame. This has happened just this year from about 2 to 3 months ago to now. The flock of birds gets to free-range around the yard daily and have water feeders in their scratch area, along with the grain and other foods we feed them.

You may wish to return to a full-feed program, with chicken feed appropriate for the birds you have. If laying hens, they will need a 16% crude protein and 3.5% calcium diet. Scratch grains are a great treat, but should not be the main food. They are all carbs and contain none of the amino acids the birds need.

Separate any sick birds from healthy ones, and visit the sick birds at the end of the day so that afterward you can change clothes and wash your boots. Place any dead birds in an ice chest (do not freeze) to bring them to a diagnostic lab. For info on submission contact:

Fort Collins Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory
300 West Drake Road
Fort Collins, CO 80526

Phone:​(970) 297-1281
Fax:​(970) 297-0320

Thank you both for the responses. They are greatly appreciated. Is there a lab in Grand Junction that I could take a dead bird to? I know we have a bunch of extension offices in the valley here, but I'm not sure what services they offer.

I suggest you contact the Fort Collins lab and ask them. They would know if there are other labs in the state.

Fort Collins Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory
300 West Drake Road
Fort Collins, CO 80526

Phone:​(970) 297-1281
Fax:​(970) 297-0320