liver disease in chickens

Asked September 1, 2020, 4:52 PM EDT

we butchered our laying flock of 7 hens and a rooster a week ago Saturday along with the meat birds we raised. . They had been laying for about 1 year. 5-6 eggs a day was common but for most of the summer we were getting 2-3 eggs a day and the shells were getting fragile. Usually I don't see that until the hens are 2+ years old. The livers in the meat birds were beautiful, the right color and firm. the egg birds livers -all of them- were a pale yellowish color and fragile. They did not hold up to being drawn. They would tear and were somewhat mushy. We have been keeping egg birds for about 8 years and we have never seen this before.. This experience has raised questions. 1. What can cause this type of liver condition? Is it contagious? Is it feed related? We have been feeding laying mesh/pellets from the local feed store along with sunflower seeds because we had some and the hens liked them along with kitchen scraps. They have had constant access to oyster shells in a separate feeder. 2. As usual we processed the laying hens into canned meat and chicken stock. Is this food safe for us to eat? 3, What do we need to do to the hen house & run before we move the next flock in? Usually we just clean and air it out and put down fresh bedding. We have used the same run always and it is devoid of grass. Half of it is an old apple tree and sumac. The rest is in the sun. we do have the option of fencing off the sumac & apple tree and opening up an adjacent area of grass with a maple tree. That will still leave a 20' x 15' foot area of dirt where the hens have always run. 5. I am beginning to question every practice we have used with chickens. is it O.K. to let them run is the grown up asparagus bed? That is where the meat birds grew up and that is where the replacement pullets are. I truly appreciate any answers and insights you can give me. It never occurred to me to take a picture of those bad livers. I did not keep any of them.

Emmet County Michigan

This Question is Waiting for an eXtension Answer

What's an eXtension Answer? Your questions are answered by Cooperative Extension and University staff and volunteers from across the United States. That means the answer given here will be objective, research-based and credible.