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Animals dying

 
Cam Mitchell
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Location: W. CO, 6A
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OK, here's a strange one.

We moved onto this property last year in December.
We've had animals on the property since March. We've had ducks, guineas, chickens, rabbits, and goats.
Recently, we've had animals start dying. First, it was the chickens. We'd lose 1-3 a night, starting with about 70, in August.
Then sometimes a week would go by without any deaths. It's really inconsistent.
Then we had a very young goat kid die, which I know happens.
Then a rabbit, then a week later another rabbit. They are off the ground, with no common feed with the others.

Then a couple weeks later, a goat doe, then a week later, her 8-week old kid.
The last two goats we caught before they died. They were crying differently that they normally do.
The doe was slobbering heavily onto her back, with her neck bent back. Her front legs wouldn't work properly, we had to fold them under her to keep her from rolling over on her side.
It was suggested it might be goat polio or lysteriosis. We tried B-complex and penicillin, to no avail. It was the same with the 8-week old kid.
The animals are all kept in separate places, and all have different food. I don't see a common link to their very similar deaths.
This didn't start happening until August with the chickens, then other animals later.
It seems neurological to me, with the stiff straightened limbs and bent necks.

We're very frustrated, sad, and disappointed. And we lost quite a bit of money in those animals too.
The vet and the state extension office are baffled.
We have send two of the animals for necropsy. The initial findings were "the healthiest dead goat I've ever seen", with low parasite counts.
Hopefully the full necropsy will show something. I obviously can't sell any of these animals until this issue is resolved.
I was planning on adding a milk cow and a couple sheep, but I don't want to lose them too.

Does anyone have any ideas?
Thanks in advance.
 
Judith Browning
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So sorry you are going through this and hope someone can come up with an answer...........My only thought was if their water is all from the same source and might be contaminated? or possibly contaminated soil but then you said they are not all in contact with the ground?
 
Justin Wood
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I am so sorry to read about your losses.

I am sure everyone has suggestions, here are mine:

Enterotoxemia

Here is a good article from colorado state that matches some of your descriptions. I would consider the Clostridium perfringens side and it might be weather related + feed changes. But I would think that would be evident in the necropsy,but a few things I read made me question that?
http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/livestk/08018.html

Not sure if that is in water also? Are there any weather patterns that match from the time in August? Dry weather pulling water from lower water levels could be an issue? Cold weather? Wet weather?

Good Luck. Keep us posted.

 
Ben Miller
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tetanus bacteria?
 
Jd Gonzalez
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http://www.tripleigoats.com/goatdiseases.htm

mycotoxins in their feed? toxic algae growth in their water?
 
Chris Knipstein
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I was thinking the same thought in regard to the one constant being the water. Are you drawing it from a pond by chance? Here in Indiana we had a an outbreak a few years ago of "blue-green algae" (also known as cyanobacteria),I believe at the time they said it was worse than normal because of low rainfall and high temperatures. It made the news because some people's dogs who had played in the water at a reservoir had died because of the contact.

The Wikipedia article does list neurotoxins as one of the health risks, though I believe the dogs had succumbed to liver failure.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyanobacteria

Here is a link to the Indiana state web site with some information about blue-green algae as well.
http://www.in.gov/idem/algae/

Algae are commonly found in Indiana lakes and streams without concern, however the concentrated presence of blue-green algae can be linked to some adverse health effects. Factors promoting algal growth include sunlight, warm weather, low turbulence, and nutrient sources, such as phosphorus and nitrogen. Phosphorous is particularly important in fueling cyanobacteria growth. Often nutrient inputs come from nonpoint source pollution, but fortunately, there are many ways to reduce or stop nonpoint source pollution, many of which are simple things we can do right in our own backyards.



Not related to water, but your description of the goat's symptoms does sound close to "Milk Fever" (Hypocalcaemia, Parturient Paresis) described in this article about dairy cows.
http://www.nadis.org.uk/bulletins/hypocalcaemia-and-hypomagnesaemia.aspx

The clinical signs progress over a period of 12 to 24 hours. There is teeth grinding and muscle tremors, stiff legs, straight hocks and "paddling" of the feet when standing during the early stages. The clinical signs progress to muscle weakness and the cow lies down with a characteristic kink ("S-bend") in her neck, later the head is held against the chest. Gut stasis causes bloat and constipation. Left untreated, the cow becomes comatose and lies on her side. Ruminal bloat and/or paralysis of respiratory muscles cause death in untreated cattle after 12-24 hours.


 
Cam Mitchell
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Location: W. CO, 6A
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Justin Wood wrote:I am so sorry to read about your losses.

I am sure everyone has suggestions, here are mine:

Enterotoxemia

Here is a good article from colorado state that matches some of your descriptions. I would consider the Clostridium perfringens side and it might be weather related + feed changes. But I would think that would be evident in the necropsy,but a few things I read made me question that?
http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/livestk/08018.html

Not sure if that is in water also? Are there any weather patterns that match from the time in August? Dry weather pulling water from lower water levels could be an issue? Cold weather? Wet weather?

Good Luck. Keep us posted.



Thanks for the sympathy, and the good article.
I'm thinking it isn't ET. They get a set amount of food daily, mostly dry grass hay.
We've had our well tested, it all looks fine.
The animals have died over several months, from August to just last week.
It just doesn't seem to make sense, or have much in common that would cause them all to die the same way.
 
Cam Mitchell
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Chris Knipstein wrote:I was thinking the same thought in regard to the one constant being the water. Are you drawing it from a pond by chance?

No, deep rock well. They get new bucketed water daily.
I think you still might be right about the mycotoxic, though. That would explain things.

Chris Knipstein wrote:
Not related to water, but your description of the goat's symptoms does sound close to "Milk Fever" (Hypocalcaemia, Parturient Paresis) described in this article about dairy cows.

It really does, except for no bloating.
There is no blood, no diarrhea, no bloating.

At this point my guess is mycotoxin, goat polio, or listeriosis. Or maybe tetanus, though I don't know how to tell.
 
Cam Mitchell
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Ben Miller wrote:tetanus bacteria?

How do I tell if it is?
I think this covered by CDT. Maybe she had expired antibodies?
 
Cj Sloane
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Wild guess but could they have eaten any wilted cherry or maple leaves? Someone had cows dying from this in NY and everyone was panicked about a new cow disease till they figured it out.
 
Cam Mitchell
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Cj Verde wrote:Wild guess but could they have eaten any wilted cherry or maple leaves? Someone had cows dying from this in NY and everyone was panicked about a new cow disease till they figured it out.

No, I don't think so. Only trees here are pinyons, plus a ton of sagebrush and rabbit brush.

I don't understand what could make all the different species die in the same way, over such a long period of time, though starting suddenly.
The only cause that makes remote sense to me is the water, maybe mycotoxins?
So frustrating...
 
Justin Wood
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More thoughts:

Any chemicals sprayed around you? roundup like stuff?

Any chance the feed was contaminated before it got to your place? Do you feed the rabbits, goats, chickens from the same feed store? Even if it is different animal feeds, a single production source could distribute the issue into different feeds.

Another idea is to talk to as many farmers/homesteaders as possible in your area, especially the industrial farmers. The industrial farmers are used to dealing with a lot of disease and many are usually good at diagnosing issues. Of course, their maintenance and remedy are usually much different than mine But they do have a lot of knowledge in that area. I always freak out when my animals are sick because it is such a strange thing. You might post this on more industrial farming forums because again, disease is pretty common in that world.
 
Judith Browning
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Are you still loosing chickens and rabbits? As you described it in the first post, it sounds as though it is taking longer to kill the larger animals.....more time to build up or incubate in their systems maybe? I guess I am thinking that if no more chickens or rabbits have died that maybe it was a one time contamination and has worked it's way through your critters. Possibly as Justin mentions above..even an aerial spray that covered the area and contaminated soil, forage, open water storage for all of your animals.
 
Cam Mitchell
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Justin Wood wrote:More thoughts:
Any chemicals sprayed around you? roundup like stuff?

Shouldn't be anything sprayed...not near any cultivated fields. I suppose it's possible, but not likely.

Justin Wood wrote:
Any chance the feed was contaminated before it got to your place? Do you feed the rabbits, goats, chickens from the same feed store? Even if it is different animal feeds, a single production source could distribute the issue into different feeds.

The feed comes from different manufacturers and stores. I suspected this at first, but due to the different feed sources and mfgs, I thought it was unlikely.
 
Cam Mitchell
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Judith Browning wrote:Are you still loosing chickens and rabbits? As you described it in the first post, it sounds as though it is taking longer to kill the larger animals.....more time to build up or incubate in their systems maybe? I guess I am thinking that if no more chickens or rabbits have died that maybe it was a one time contamination and has worked it's way through your critters. Possibly as Justin mentions above..even an aerial spray that covered the area and contaminated soil, forage, open water storage for all of your animals.

I'm not losing any more rabbits, only because they're all dead.
Yes, still losing chickens, about at the same rate. Though most of them are gone now too.
It makes me not want to have any animals at all.

I have a couple pregnant does I really don't want to lose.
 
Chris Knipstein
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Have you tried contacting your local cooperative extension office? They may know of other cases of this happening or be familiar with it from the past.
http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/

You could always try contacting the USDA National Animal Disease Center as well. It's basically the CDC for animals.
http://www.ars.usda.gov/main/site_main.htm?modecode=50-30-20-00

Another thought on the water at your location. Have you tracked the dates of the deaths? You said they happen in spurts, tending to come and go. Do they by chance happen a certain time after a rain? You could have something like a cracked well casing letting surface contaminants down into the well. Especially if you have any sort of manure piles in the area that could be a source of a pathogen.

Here is the recommended distances to keep things away from a good well. If the casing was bad I suspect you could get contamination from much further away.
http://www.state.in.us/dnr/water/3564.htm
 
Justin Wood
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What Chris said about water being contaminated after a rain could be extrapolated to include not just your land as a source but the surrounding land. I learned after I bought my five acres that the property across from me had been illegally used as a trash dump - the guy ran a trash collecting business and dumped it on his own land. It made me sick at my stomach. I concluded that my land is higher in elevation than that property, but underground water movement can be tricky.
 
Cam Mitchell
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Chris Knipstein wrote:Have you tried contacting your local cooperative extension office? They may know of other cases of this happening or be familiar with it from the past.
http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/

As I said in my initial post, the extension doesn't have a clue.

Chris Knipstein wrote:
You could always try contacting the USDA National Animal Disease Center as well. It's basically the CDC for animals.
http://www.ars.usda.gov/main/site_main.htm?modecode=50-30-20-00

I may do that. Thanks for the link and reminder.

Chris Knipstein wrote:
Another thought on the water at your location. Have you tracked the dates of the deaths? You said they happen in spurts, tending to come and go. Do they by chance happen a certain time after a rain? You could have something like a cracked well casing letting surface contaminants down into the well. Especially if you have any sort of manure piles in the area that could be a source of a pathogen.

Here is the recommended distances to keep things away from a good well. If the casing was bad I suspect you could get contamination from much further away.
http://www.state.in.us/dnr/water/3564.htm

It doesn't rain much here in the arid West.
No, it doesn't seem to correlate to rain. The well is less than 10 years old.
I guess that doesn't preclude it from having a crack, but there aren't manure piles here. We compost, but well away from the...well.
 
Bill Bradbury
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Just something to think about. fractracker
 
Cam Mitchell
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Justin Wood wrote:What Chris said about water being contaminated after a rain could be extrapolated to include not just your land as a source but the surrounding land. I learned after I bought my five acres that the property across from me had been illegally used as a trash dump - the guy ran a trash collecting business and dumped it on his own land. It made me sick at my stomach. I concluded that my land is higher in elevation than that property, but underground water movement can be tricky.

That stinks. Literally.
Tricky is right. I've seen that weird water movement on my property.
We're higher than anything else, but it doesn't look like there's any gick around.
 
Cam Mitchell
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Bill Bradbury wrote:Just something to think about. fractracker

Yeah, our mineral rights are about to be sold to a developer.
Currently, the closest gas well is 20 miles.
It's really going to make me think about moving if they start drilling here.
 
Peter Ellis
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What do you know about the history of the land? Any results on the necropsy? I am wondering what sort of poisoning might have these symptoms. I would want to figure it out asap, because if it is crossing all those species barriers, then it may be building in you as well.

You have a disturbing situation there and I wish you the very best in sorting it out quickly.
 
Cam Mitchell
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Peter Ellis wrote:What do you know about the history of the land?

Not much. It was open rangeland until it was subdivided 10 years ago into 35-40 acre parcels.
It's been used for grazing sheep/cattle (though not for 20 years), and not much else. It's not very fertile land.
As far as I know, it was not a dumping ground or modern commercial farm.

Peter Ellis wrote:Any results on the necropsy?

Results: nothing. The pathologist/necropsyer? said there was no reason the animals should have died. So helpful.
"The healthiest dead goat he had seen."

Peter Ellis wrote:I am wondering what sort of poisoning might have these symptoms. I would want to figure it out asap, because if it is crossing all those species barriers, then it may be building in you as well.
You have a disturbing situation there and I wish you the very best in sorting it out quickly.

Yes, that thought occurred to me too. I'm most concerned for my little (human) ones.
What really surprised me was the rabbits, because they're off the ground and have separate food and water.

We're having the water tested, waiting on results.
I don't know what else to do.
Maybe I should hire a priest and have him bless the farm with holy water and scare away evil spirits.
 
Peter Ellis
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Kind of a random thought, but can you get access to a geiger counter? Symptoms don't really align with radiation sickness, but I am reaching...
 
Dan Grubbs
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Cam:

As I read your posts, my heart began to ache. When I read through all the posts and the great suggestions, I began thinking to myself that there is another common element for these animals that hasn't been mentioned. That common element is you! I have no idea if this is even a legitimate thought or possibility, but just trying to apply deductive reasoning that since they are fed different food that comes from different sources, kept in different locations (generally) and it isn't the water (if you've had it tested) ... the other common element would be human interaction. What do humans introduce into the relationship that could be harmful? I don't know, but perhaps it is a line of investigation. Anything you're tracking into the operation, anything on your clothes from other locations, etc. Whatever it is, it sounds much like a toxin, doesn't it?

And then there's the whole nefarious angle to this that someone is poisoning your animals. Though that is likely a remote idea, it wouldn't be the first time people have done this to others.

Just spit balling here. I think any theory is worth considering at this point.
 
Chris Knipstein
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The animals are all kept in separate places, and all have different food. I don't see a common link to their very similar deaths.


I'm still leaning towards the water source. But, when you say separate places are you saying separate buildings? If so is there any building not affected by deaths? Another thought is, you didn't mention if these were newly built buildings or if they were already existing when you bought the place. It could be something crazy like the property was empty for a while before you purchased it and someone contaminated the buildings by having a meth lab in there.

Do you have any type of animal on the farm that hasn't been affected? That might be a big clue as well.

Do they all share a common bedding material source? I'm not sure what could be in it, but it might be another common link to look into.

Dan Grubbs : And then there's the whole nefarious angle to this that someone is poisoning your animals. Though that is likely a remote idea, it wouldn't be the first time people have done this to others.


That is a good point as well. The description of the deaths does sound similar to antifreeze poisoning. (Ethylene glycol poisoning) The stuff tastes sweet and animals like the taste of it. I had a pet die once from licking up a very small puddle from a radiator leak. The wiki lists a lot of symptoms, but my pet only seemed to lose motor functions, unable to walk well and the drunken affect mentioned along with the drooling/slobbering. It showed none of the hyperventilation, vomiting, etc mentioned. (It was a pet raccoon that lived outside having run of our place.)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethylene_glycol_poisoning

If you have done this much research and still no results it might be worth it to invest in a cheap, install it yourself security system with enough night vision to at least show if someone is out there when they shouldn't be. Do you have any close neighbors who could be bothered by the noise of chickens and goats?

 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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