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Mysterious illness in an old hen?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I joined just to ask this.
I have an old hen, 19 years old, who fell ill on christmas eve. Well, more ill.
For the past 10+ years she has had a pendulous crop that we have tried and failed to cute. Despite of this she has been very happy in life. She has disgusting burps, is very thin and poops probably 3 times a day - small lumps of tar - but for over 10 years has been "healthy". In the past year I've been making bras for her and they have helped her run around again without tripping over her own chest - which she enjoyed doing greatly. 

I came home early morning christmas eve and didn't realise that she had fallen asleep outside of the coop. I considered checking where she was, but since it was a warm night (about 30C/86F, im in Australia so our Christmas is in summer) I figured it would be ok.
when I woke up I found her on a ledge she couldn't get down from, and she had a slight limp and didn't really want to walk. I felt awful.

On christmas day she had more symptoms. She had stopped walking around and stood in a typical "im sick" position, half-standing with her feathers fluffed. She refused to eat but would go and get water by herself. Her only other symptom was that her comb had fallen over, but was still a warm and healthy red, and she was making a bit too much drool. I cared for her the best I could while suffering food poisoning.

Today - boxing day - she's gotten very slightly worse, making spit bubbles when she silently calls out (she hasnt had a voice for years) and refusing to walk even a little way. I syringe fed her water through the day, so im not sure if she still had the will to get water by herself.
I gave her a warm epson bath and dried her with a hair dryer, but she got cold shaky legs when i put her outside so she spent the afternoon resting on my lap with her flock members visiting her and is currently sleeping inside wrapped in towels.
She has only had olive oil, epson salt mixed water and sugar water for two days now.

thats as descriptive as I can be with all the information I think is relevant.
Is there anything else I can try to help her? does anyone know what this could be? I'm hoping its a simple cold or virus, but it seems that no illness is simple for chickens...
If its finally her time after all these years I can accept that, but I want to give her a fighting chance.

post #2 of 13

19YO is a really advanced age for a hen...Can't really answer the question, but that is possible that she's at the end if her life...Keep us posted.

Good luck

post #3 of 13

How much water have you been giving her?
post #4 of 13

You could tube feed her. Make sure she gets electrolyes from Pedialyte, Tube feeding a little bit at a time may keep her going until she feels better to get going on her own. Staying outside all nite could have been frightening to her. So a little shocky. 

You are one fortunate person to have had your friend this long with you. I hope she makes it.!

post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 

I haven't actually measured how much water I've been giving her - enough to keep her crop balloon-like.
This morning she did a poo. it was a liquid, black one that I could smell from halfway down the hall (soaked into towels - not the carpet, thank goodness). Ive fed her ground oats in warm water through syringe - about 24 mL - with a little bit of normal water and some olive oil.
She seems the same as yesterday, but more distant. her head is hooked downwards and all of her neck feathers are fanned out.

I could go out and search for open shops today but finding somewhere that'll sell tube-feeding kits may be difficult. Christmas was Friday, so shops will be closed until Monday to make up for boxing day being on saturday.
I will start giving her that Pedialyte though.
Should I be keeping her inside in the dark or in the light? Should I have her outside so her friends can be with her (though two of them are clucky at the moment), as they wont peck her?

Edited by Fantail Leghorn - 12/26/15 at 12:54pm
post #6 of 13

You know, when my dear hen friend was obviously going to not make it, I put her outside with the others

and the interaction was fascinating. One of the hens came up to A+ for a possible challenge since A+ 

was head girl, and the challenger lowered her head and body to A+. 

If you think your girl is not going to make it you should go with your instinct your gut will tell you. 

You can always go outside and give her Pedialyte and liquid food and she can be with her mates.

I know how you much you love her......

She is a dear. 

I would not keep her in the dark.

Thank you.

post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thankyou ClaireDL, Sutremaine and mg15. This christmas hasn't been a fantastic one for me, thank you for taking time out to help me help Fantail. 
mg15, you are right. I'll be keeping her outside now with her friends (even if i have to lock the nesting box to stop them from going back in). Thankyou for your help and kind words, I'm glad A+ was treated so friendly by the others. 

Her neck is hooked down, but I found her grooming herself today when i went to feed her more porridge - and she did a poo! a small, mostly solid dark poo. I have more hope now, and if she is still here on Tuesday I have alot of shopping to do. Thankyou all for your help,

post #8 of 13
God Bless
post #9 of 13

Didn't do much...Just give her the best quality of life you can...That the the only thing, we can do, but that is also all what we can do.. I lost one not so long ago that I really really loved...I never thought in my all life time that a little rooster could give me so much love...Good luck with your hen

post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 

Her condition has changed a bit.
She sits down all day - unless she poo's near her feet, then she will stand - and pants heavily, constantly. There is a noise when she breathes and it sounds asthmatic.
Ive moved her onto thick mixtures of baby parrot feed and sugar+salt water, with the occasional egg yolk, given via syringe. I probably feed her about 300mL of water and 200mL of food a day like this. Nobody will sell us a tube to crop feed her, so i'll have to order online.
Her poops are watery clears and whites with a small amount of light green "pigeon poops" in the middle, sometimes with small rubbery looking piles of yellow, the same colour as her baby bird powder.
Her comb goes from bright red to a pale red - always being incredibly pale when she is panting. Her panting is not connected to her temperature, as she pants just as much outside as inside in air condition.

She has little interest in the world around her, but she does look around - if that makes any sense. Things can happen around her and she doesn't care, but she does turn her head to look at a nearby shoe or to study the window. She occasionally grooms herself and scratches the straps of her bra, sometimes even standing up to stretch her legs alogn her wing. She refuses to walk forwards, but will happily shuffle backwards (off of the towel we put down to catch her poo's).

Does anybody know what these symptoms could be? The panting looks incredibly uncomfortable, and Im not sure if I should be giving her more water to balance out her diarrhoea or to give her less to stop them from happening.

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