Chickens could have picked up bacteria, says poultry vet Victoria Roberts

Last week I had one of my chickens die. It was a Wyandotte and only two years old, I took her to the vet and he said she had a salpingitis infection in the egg tube which most likely caused peritonitis; her death was very sudden with no warning. Then, another one of my chickens, a buff Sussex bantam, was acting strangely. She was only 12 months old, I gave her an antibiotic that was prescribed for the other chicken. During the night this chicken also died. Do you have any ideas as to what could be wrong? They have been drinking pond water and water from the puddles on the ground. They also have been eating the wild bird food that has come off the bird table. I’ve never had problems with my chickens before and want to avoid losing any more.

Many thanks.

Sidney Allen, via email

Victoria Roberts says: Pond water is likely to carry bacteria which can infect chickens, but the main problem I think with your set-up is the bird table. Wild birds bring in a huge bacterial load which increases especially when they are congregating in a small area such as a bird table, so please do not let your chickens ‘clear up’ under the bird table as this is the most likely source of infection for them. The remaining other hens may need a full course of antibiotics; the ones that died would probably have had their livers so overloaded with bacteria that they could no longer function. Prevention is always better than cure.

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