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Chicken with lethargy, diarreha, and pale comb

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Went out this evening to check on my chickens (will be 2 yo in Sept)
Found one sitting near the waterer, noticed she had a very pale comb and seemed to have trouble standing. The other 10 hens seem fine. She just sits there. I went to get a cage to isolate her and she had diarreha( very watery yellow with some white) I was out today so I have no idea if anything happened to her.I put her in the coop in a cage with food and water(not sure if she is eating and drinking) I gave antibiotic in water. Any ideas on what it could be?? I don't know if she laid an egg today or not. She is a Delaware. I plan to soak her in a warm bath in the morning. Could she be egg bound?? Do I need to give her yogurt? Any advice is appreciated! thanks!

I confess....I am addicted to chicks!
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I confess....I am addicted to chicks!
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post #2 of 14

I would not give her the antibiotics, and would give her the yogurt.  I would also try to see if her droppings are the yellow from yolk, or yellowed feces.  That's going to be the most important thing.

Yellow droppings (mostly yellowed urates, the 'white' crystals on top of the droppings and mixed in) can indicate liver involvement for one reason or another.  there are a number of causes, including liver failure due to some other illness or condition that happened quickly.

It will be most important to make sure she's eating and drinking.  She likely is too weak to so you must facilitate that.  I would recommend mixing a little yogurt with water and boiled egg yolk, mixing that into some crumbles (a tiny amount) and trying to get her to eat that.  If she doesn't, you can mix a little of that into some water and dribble it into the side of her beak.  The "soup" with the crumbles and what not will give her a little nutrition and energy.  You can even mix karo syrup or honey in both of the mixtures, or oatmeal ground to a powder in a food processor.  Just make sure the oatmeal soaks really well before mixing it with either.  Oatmeal or the karo/honey will give her some more quickly accessed energy to hopefully fuel her to eat.

However, the most important thing will be to determine some other symptoms so we can figure this out if she makes it through the night - and even if she doesn't.

First, tonight, check her thoroughly for any signs of mite infestation or lice.  Check carefully in the most moist/warm areas (under the wing, back of the neck, near the vent).  We must rule out parasite infections which can take her down and make her anemic very quickly.

Also feel her weight - is she heavy in her chest/keel bone area, or emaciated?  Is she very heavy and lumpy in her abdomen between her legs (feel very delicately in case of a softshelled egg) or is she hard there?  Does her crop feel empty or full?  Are her combs moist and waxy, or shrivled and scaley?  Any signs of broken skin, redness around the vent, labored breathing, etc?

Nathalie Ross  threehorses@horsemail.com
(http://hoovesandfeathers.homestead.com/index.html in progress)
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Nathalie Ross  threehorses@horsemail.com
(http://hoovesandfeathers.homestead.com/index.html in progress)
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post #3 of 14

Any updates?

Nathalie Ross  threehorses@horsemail.com
(http://hoovesandfeathers.homestead.com/index.html in progress)
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Nathalie Ross  threehorses@horsemail.com
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post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 

Hi sorry I am just responding. She did not make it through the night. None of the rest of my girls were sick and all are still doing fine. A few weeks before this she was standing/favoring one leg and having balance trouble, using her wing to help balance walking. The next day she was fine. Any ideas??  They were all immunized for Marek's at the hatchery.

I confess....I am addicted to chicks!
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I confess....I am addicted to chicks!
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post #5 of 14

I'm very sorry to hear that you lost your bird.  sad  I really couldn't say, unfortunately, without more information.  However I would go ahead and do what I call The Official Chicken Exam and try to figure out what that happened before and eliminate it happening again.

Losing a bird is the exact time to do it.

Here's an outline of the exam and questions I ask myself to troubleshoot.  If you want to answer them here, maybe we can help you figure out the cause.  If not, it's handy to have when you're doing your check-overs at least monthly to try to catch problems before they get too out of hand.

Nathalie's troubleshooting exam and flock history list:

The Examination:
Examine her body for weight:  is she thin, heavy, skinny, lumpy, fat?  Can you feel her keel like a spatula, or just slightly, or within a crease of fatty flesh?
Examine her eyes: are they clear and bright? No discoloration on the eyes surface? Any drainage?  Pupils both round and reactive to light?
Examine her beak/throat: are her nares (nostrils) clear?  Is the inside of her mouth healthy and pink?  Does she have excess mucus?  Is her beak pale in color?  Does she have bad breath or a sour smell?
Examine her crop: Is she holding feed after a night of not eating?  Are her crop contents appropriate to what shes been eating?  Does she get granite type grit?
Examine her skin:  check carefully for lice/mites (see below**).  Look for any broken skin, redness of vent, scratches, anything abnormal. 
Examine her abdomen:  Feel delicately between her legs and back up to her vent - do you feel any lumpiness, or is she firm, or is she hard-bodied? 
Listen to her respiratory system: With your ear against her throat and chest, listen to her breathing.  Do you hear hiccups, wheezes, rales, or rattles?  Do you hear any strange noises or whistles near her nostrils?
Examine her vent:  Other than the clinging droppings, do you see white or black waxy stuff near her vent?  Any sores from the droppings?  Is her actual vent opening tight and dry, or is it dilated (open) and moist.  (This can indicate if she's trying to lay.)

Flock history:
Tell us more about diet:  do your hens have access to both granite type grit as well as oyster shell?  Is she on diet appropriate for her age and type? (Grower,starter-grower, layer, layer-breeder)?  Does she have more grains than complete (crumble/pellet) feed?  What does her entire diet consist of?  Do you use any products in your waterers?  If so, what kind?
Tell us more about the environment:  Is your ill bird kept with others of different ages?  Were any new birds added recently?  Are you birds kept in a coop/coop with run/free range, or other arrangement?  If injury, is it possible that it was caused by the other chickens,, or a predator?  What type of bedding do you use?  (shavings, straw, sand, etc)  Has the environment been wet lately because of weather or spilled waterers?  Do the chickens have 2 square feet of room each?  Do they have plenty of ventilation and fresh air, or is the room in which they are kept rather air tight?  Do you smell any smells in their housing?
Worming: do you worm?  If so, when did you last worm, and with what products?
Misc Environment:  does she have access to any compost, kitchen scraps, manure piles, ponds?   
New additions:  Were any birds, including this one, vaccinated for anything of which youre aware?  Were they or her purchased from a feedstore/flea market/private breeder/hatchery?

Thank you!
Thank you for answering all million of these questions (wink).  The more info put in, the more info we can put out.  I look forward to your reply.


**Mites and lice: they're nearly microscopic, and mites only go onto the birds at night often enough and then occassionally they just remain off the bird while they lay their eggs in the wood of the coops, etc.  Check them at night, with a flashlight (and the coop light on), and a light colored pillowcase to help you find mites.  Ruffle through all of their feathers.  Pay careful attention to the warm/moist areas under the wing feathers, near the vent, along all the feather shafts, etc.  If you find them, you must treat the bird and the premises and the birds must be retreated at least once in 7 days - preferably twice.  Recheck a few times this week and next to try to find mites.  Let us know if you find anything like this and we'll advise on treatment.


Edited by threehorses - 7/21/09 at 4:56pm
Nathalie Ross  threehorses@horsemail.com
(http://hoovesandfeathers.homestead.com/index.html in progress)
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Nathalie Ross  threehorses@horsemail.com
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post #6 of 14

My 2 y.o. golden sex link named Sweetie died today, and I had our vet do a mini necropsy.  Her diagnosis of egg yolk peritonitis holds true, as she had yolk material in her abdominal cavity.  I am guessing my delaware hen that died a few weeks ago had the same thing.  Our other delaware has it too, although she seems to be responding to the antibiotics, as her abdomen feels less hard and swollen as it did a week ago.  And her behavior and appetite have picked up.  She's feisty again!  (And she's rather sick of me trying to handle her so I can check her over!)  I think she's molting, which might help, too, because I think I remember hearing it slows down egg production.  She could use a break while she tries to fight the infection.  She doesn't act a bit sick and her appetite is good, so we are keeping our fingers crossed this one's responding to the meds! 

All three hens have had trouble laying eggs in the last few months.  We've had some soft shelled eggs, and some eggs show up under the roost with no shell at all.  The vet still suspects our feed wasn't up to par, and this caused a nutritional deficiency in our gals.  She told me to switch brands.

Our golden laced wyandotte hen of the same age, is the only one who's perfectly healthy and continues to lay beautiful eggs.

I have learned a lot, and now know that when hens stop laying, it's time to pay attention to what's going on to cause this...


Edited by Fergie - 7/21/09 at 7:30pm
post #7 of 14

Calcium levels (and D3 and phos) really need to be addressed in a hurry.  Three hens is a flock nutritional issue.  You can medicate, but the hen has to stop having soft shell eggs that aren't making it out. 

If they're still having it, there's still an issue. 

I'd talk to your vet about getting a "right now" supplement to get that calcium right.

remind me again about diet, Fergie?  it's not just the calcium in the feed that makes calcium levels be correct - it's sunshine, vitamin D3, and keeping the phos levels (grains) not too high.  All three legs of the three legged stool must be right or the whole thing fails. 

Laying feed, fresh smelling and stored cool and dark turned over in no less than 6 weeks (sooner the better), oyster shell free choice, less than 5% of their total diet in grains - 95% the laying pellets.  Is this what your birds are getting faithfully?

Nathalie Ross  threehorses@horsemail.com
(http://hoovesandfeathers.homestead.com/index.html in progress)
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Nathalie Ross  threehorses@horsemail.com
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post #8 of 14

You know.....?  You might have mentioned something that I hadn't thought of before.  We store our feed in an airtight garbage can.  But with 4 hens, we might not be using the feed fast enough before it goes "bad" or loses some of it's nutritional value.  So, maybe we shouldn't be buying the 50 lb bags of feed.  Yikes.  Now we have two hens, and this will be even more important to track. 

Other than that, they get layer pellets, grit, oyster shells, and goodies of whatever household fruit, veggie, bread and cheese scraps we have.  It's not a lot of goodies, either... just enough to lure them back into their pen.  The vet said I could add vitamins to their water, if I am concerned about deficiency and them catching up.  Otherwise, she said a good layer feed ought to do it.

Thanks.

post #9 of 14

Usually a good complete feed well stored does work - but sometimes either the manufacturer isn't consistent, etc.  And sometimes some birds just get behind for one reason or another.

Nathalie Ross  threehorses@horsemail.com
(http://hoovesandfeathers.homestead.com/index.html in progress)
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Nathalie Ross  threehorses@horsemail.com
(http://hoovesandfeathers.homestead.com/index.html in progress)
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post #10 of 14

also to add to this
when buying a bag of feed
look at the milling date on the tag
this is on every bag of feed

so then if it is over 1 month old to the day you are buying it
ask for a newer updated bag of feed
as you are only buying for two chickens it is very possible the vit's have gone out of the feed

thus we always need to add vit's to the water of the chickens
also put 2 tbsp of ACV in gallon of water

egg pertinitis is common in hens two to four yrs old
so don't beat your self up

any questions email me

Glenda L Heywood Brookings SD
frizzlebird7@yahoo.com
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Glenda L Heywood Brookings SD
frizzlebird7@yahoo.com
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