Cankers- how should we treat them?

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chrismahon
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Cankers- how should we treat them?

Post by chrismahon »

I've always thought that cankers in the mouth were a fungal growth, but apparently that isn't the case at all. They are the result of a parasite attack, the organism causing it is Trichomonas Gallinae. It is therefore contagious, but fortunately it has poor resistance to an external environment and so is only transmitted by saliva in the communal drinkers and feeders. It can therefore be easily passed to other flock members, wild birds and from mother to chick, but not directly to nearby flocks. The 'cheesy' lumps that form in the mouth and throat are, initially anyway, a combination of inflammation and ulceration. It manifests when resistance is low, so during stress or illness. Carriers may never show signs that they are, but the parasite lives in the airways and nasal passages apparently. TG is not carried in eggs.

We had another severe case amongst the Buff Orpingtons (Ollie run down by weird worms), with all the other oldies showing tiny signs of it in their mouths -or at least they were. We had some very bad weather here, heavy snow and freezing conditions and this has run all the birds down. However the Orpingtons enjoyed eating the remnants of snow that lay for several days and when we checked on the cankers after they had all just vanished, leaving just tiny signs of irritation on the skin! Clearly this organism doesn't like the cold. Ollie was looking terminal a few weeks ago then she drank iced water and a few days later the size of the canker in her throat had halved.

We have had two cases before. One of a pair of Buff Orpingtons which were bought in, must have been a carriers and therefore have infected the rest of the flock, now comprising mainly of their offspring. The other case was a cockerel (Claude the TNN) who was also bought in but kept isolated. He fell ill due to the stress of rehoming. His cankers were treated successfully with Flagyl (Metronidazole) before he was introduced to his girls and consequently we have never had a case in that flock. When he was terminally ill recently, no cankers were ever visible.

So what of Ollie? There is little point in treating one when the whole flock has TG, because she would just pick it up again. Treatment of the whole flock with Flagyl would be expensive and can't be certain of success. In the end Ollie was despatched when the canker began to invade her airways and she stopped running about and enjoying life. We have decided to close that flock and any hatched offspring will be kept completely separate. We now know that any sickies in that flock may well succumb to canker so treating them, or not treating, must take that into consideration. We have been giving them all chopped onion, but that doesn't appear to work in the mouth- ice is better. In reality all we can do is keep them as healthy and happy as possible.

We don't have any evidence of TG in any of the other flocks. We have had sickies, none developed cankers. Hopefully the wild birds won't bring it in. We will maintain the two week isolation period of any new birds and check them carefully for cankers. The stress of arriving in a new home is when I would expect them to become evident. If any do show signs they will be despatched on the basis that there is no guarantee treatment will be 100% successful. Our preference needs to be to buy in hatching eggs rather than potentially infected adults, but that isn't always practical of course.
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BabyBantam
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Re: Cankers- how should we treat them?

Post by BabyBantam »

Oh poor you & chickens. How sad, but at least you have the knowledge that eggs dont carry it so you dont loose the new generations. People never tell you how heartbreaking keeping chooks can be, but its another chink closed in your armour of knowledge and we all know you'll give them your best love and attention.
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chrismahon
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Re: Cankers- how should we treat them?

Post by chrismahon »

Thanks BabyBantam. Ollie's sister Charity has been in and around the house for three months now with a digestive impaction perhaps caused by a urinary tract infection. Problem with her was the first antibiotic dose was ineffective because we used probiotics at the same time and also left her on layers pellets -the extra Calcium inhibits the take-up. Complex creatures chickens and of course the remainder of our original flock we arrived here with are all rather old now.
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