I have a red hen (breed unknown) that is just shy of a year old. Last week, we noticed her starting to look lethargic, but no other real signs of illness other than being sleepy and lethargic. By Friday, she was looking really bad, and I brought her in the house. I found a large lump on her neck, and brought her to the vet clinic where I work (though we don't really work on chickens!). I had originally thought it to be an impacted crop, but realized that wasn't the case, as it was up much higher in her neck. The vet who looked at her was stumped, but did pull a small sample of it w/ a syringe/needle and looked under the microscope, and they were lymph cells, so we knew a lymph node had blown up. There were no skin wounds around the area or anywhere else that we could find, so didn't think it was due to a puncture, but weren't completely sure. Anyways, by this time, the poor girl was knocking on death's door. She couldn't hardly stay awake for a whole minute, and had lost a LOT of weight. On a whim, the vet said to see if we could get some tetracycline water down her (she would drink, but no interest in eating). So, that night I mixed some up, but fully expected her to be dead by Sunday morning, and the vet was going to do a necropsy to determine what it was. Well, much to my surprise, when I got up Sunday morning and checked on her (by this time we had moved her into a dog crate in the house so she would be warm as it's winter in western NY...) and she was walking around, trying to eat and drinking!! We got a bunch of high energy, easy to go down foods as she was still having trouble eating with that lump there, but she was trying. As of today, she is doing much better! She is eating normally (if not ravenously!) and back on regular foods, and the node is back down to normal, and drinking well, and lots of mostly normal poops (some are on occasion loose, but they are becoming less frequent), and awake and alert during the day now, with the occasional nap. However, she is doing a lot of mouth gaping. We didn't really notice this until Sunday, when she started to feel better overall. She is still on the tet water, shows no evidence of respiratory problems (no wheezing, coughing, sneezing, discharge, etc), and is acting much better. Still no eggs, but I don't expect she will go back to laying right away. Does anyone have any idea why she would still be mouth gaping, or if I should be using a different medication? I still have her in the house, I want to get her though the course of medication and get weight on her before she goes back out to the coop, so she doesn't decline. Thanks for the help!
Featured Stories on BackYard Chickens
Welcome to BYC. I don't really have any answers for you, but I'm happy that she is improving. Chickens can have gaping when they are over heated, when they have something in their crop and are adjusting their crops, and due to respiratory diseases and certain worms. Do you know if she was vaccinated for Mareks disease? Mareks and another disease called avian lymphoid leukosis can cause lymphoid tumors anywhere inside or outside the body. I don't know if that could be a problem. Have you become familiar with her crop now to tell when it fills up with food and water, and then empties by early morning? Are you positive it wasn't the crop that was enlarged?