A difficult and sad decision to be made

I have been fighting mycoplasma for three years now, since it came into my flock, with Caramel and Pebbles. I have lost so many of my girls to this horrible respiratory disease.

I have been advised by my vet that I must let my flock die out as that is the only way to be rid of it and that I cannot go on treating it indefinitely. I have balked at this suggestion.

With the painful loss of Cinnamon and the ongoing symptoms with Salmon I am having to have a difficult rethink. I can only say that just writing this has me in tears.

I am no longer allowed to treat with tylan in the water and I don’t believe that baytril is as good. I  treated Cinnamon with baytril ten weeks ago and it seemed to improve her instantly. Three days later she started laying eggs again. She laid eight eggs and then took a break of three weeks as she had started moulting.

Cinnamon then started laying eggs again and laid six eggs in two weeks. Every one of these eggs had a blob of poop on them. Looking back I think that this shows something was adrift inside of her.

It was two weeks after Cinnamon had stopped laying  again that she showed the same symptoms as before. This time treating her with baytril had no effect at all and the next day she was gone.

It was only two weeks ago that I took Salmon to the vet and started her on baytril. She stopped wheezing after three days and I gave her a week’s course. It was only nine days later that she started wheezing again. I started treating her with baytril four days ago and this time so far she is still wheezing.

I am beginning to think that the vet is right that I can’t keep treating. If Salmon is still wheezing by the end of this course of bayrtil I will have to take her back to the vet. If she does improve this time but starts wheezing again in the near future I will have to take her back to the vet.

I am beginning to see that I cannot keep treating if it keeps coming back and I dread the thought of how I will get the flock through the winter.

I am afraid that I will lose Salmon in the near future and I will be very surprised if Speckles makes it through this winter. All summer we have noticed that her breathing is very noticeable as her breast feathers bob up and down with each breath.

This last week there have been very, large, wet, patches under her roost spot. She has become very anxious and is easily startled. Since the loss of Cinnamon she calls out throughout the day. I feel her unhappiness at losing Cinnamon. Speckles always roosted in the corner next to Cinnamon but now no longer roosts in the corner. Speckles now roosts between Ebony and Flame.

My vet wanted me to treat each girl only once when they showed myco symptoms and then let them go. I am considering doing this on my terms and treating each girl twice before letting them go. I know that the baytril is always generous enough to stretch to two treatments.

This may be a long journey but I am thinking now that the vet is right and I must let my flock go one by one. I can never add more girls to this flock and I can’t go on with the heartbreak of having this in my flock.

I had hoped that when Dandelion went maybe we would be free of this but I can now see that myco is very much still a presence in my flock.

I realise that what may happen is that I may lose the little girls one by one and then end up with just Ebony and Flame. It seems to me that the little girl are too fragile to fight the myco but the bigger girls are able to live with it. All the bigger girls, past and present, have shown no other symptoms than sneezing.

The fact that they are sneezing means they are carrying it and could pass it on. I love my seramas and ultimately want a serama flock and a flock of just two bigger girls in the future would not be a good place to be. I would have to cross that bridge if and when I came to it but if I did end up with just two bigger girls I may have to make a decision to let them go.

I have researched what needs to be done and this is what it says is needed. Thorough cleaning and drying of the chicken shed and then disinfection with bleach. Leave the shed open for several weeks before stocking with new birds.

I am tearful thinking about and writing about this but I just don’t know what else I can do.

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8 Responses to A difficult and sad decision to be made

  1. Sophie says:

    Oh Carol- I do feel for you! I am going to email you. xx

  2. david says:

    I really feel for you and think that you have faced the worst-case scenario. You are probably spot-on with your evaluation of the seramas finding it more difficult to fight off this disease than the bigger bantams. I have lost several over the summer, and not always the oldest, and it’s never easy; I’ll be interested to know how Salmon responds and do hope that Speckles rallies, although she must be a good age and has done very well hitherto. Thoughts are with you, Carol. X

    • Carol says:

      I have been tearful about this but I think you are right, it is facing up to the worse case scenario. Salmon is still wheezing and sneezing but we will keep going with her and hoping for her. Speckles is a good age, my oldest yet, so I can’t feel too bad about her and you never know, creaking gates, as Richard often says. I think that I will just have to cross my bridges as I reach them. X

  3. Jane in Hawaii says:

    has your vet tried erythromycin ? I personally had mycoplasma once, and that’s what they used to get rid of it. I had it for months and it was gone in a week. Of course it would not be exactly the same version, but worth a try if you haven’t yet. i read it is approved for chickens.

    • Carol says:

      My vet has only ever offered tylan and baytril. Tylan works really well but the vet won’t let me have it anymore. Baytril works less well but I have just been up and listened to Salmon and at last she has stopped wheezing.

      The problem is that I have been dealing with this for three years and my vet is not happy to continue as she feels it will never go away. The policy here, now, is not to give antibiotics on an ongoing basis. I have always wanted to continue to treat but am now coming round to the fact that it isn’t going away.

      I have considered changing vets but after three years of this I am getting to a point where I feel that while I have myco in my flock it is always going to be an ongoing problem and I can’t add new girls.

  4. m says:

    My heart goes out to you, i know how much every one of your girls mean to you.
    I think you have got to let them all go, and start again, If not this heart ache will go on and on, as it has for the last few years. So, so sorry, you have so much love for them all.

    • Carol says:

      I have been going over and over this since I wrote this post. I keep thinking about finding another vet and then come back to the same thing again and again. If I keep treating, this will stay in my flock and I will constantly have this worry and heartbreak.

      I felt like the vet was being very harsh with me but I can now see that it is right that constant treating means I can’t ever add new girls and I will be battling with this every winter. When I had unlimited tylan I was treating about three times each winter and usually once in summer.

      For now Salmon is sounding better and I think that I must now wait and see what happens next. If I could get through the winter without this it would be amazing but I am not holding my breath. I will cross each bridge as it comes and must wait and see how this goes.

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