My 22 month old Isa Brown has developed a very smelly...like strong urine...odor at her back end. For about a week she has gotten a mix of crusty...probably dry version of the ssmelly gunk. Today it was quite wet and white and foamy. The feathers seem to really hold onto the stuff even with rinsing thoroughly with warm water. This has been going on for about a week and I have brought her in and cleaned it up many times. Here is what I know about her:
1. she seems to be eating, I just fed her a cup of warm layer crumbles with water and yogurt mixed in and she ate very well.
2. She seems to be alert and moving about fine.
3. about a month ago she lost many feathers and I believed it was the start of a molt. If it was a molt it was very light.
4. Not sure if she is laying as I am getting intermitent egg production among the flock 3-4 eggs per day from five hens, but not sure who is giving them.
5. The pooh under where I last saw her on the perch and all the pooh on the scrape board looks in the spectrum of normal. The pooh she gave while in the house getting cleaned up was normal to greenish.
6. I have not seen any evidence of soft shell laying or broken egg evidence in the laying boxes or in the coop.
7. The Whitish stuff seems to remain even after wiping her up with the warm water and towel drying her. My son says it looks like her feathers are moldy. All I know is that it really smells, and my hands smell even after scrubbing them with much hot water and antibacterial soap.
8. While that area has the urine type odor, the rest of her smells fine, meaning that if I bury my nose in her neck feathers, she smells normal. (I love to nuzzle the necks of my hens and they let me do it, so why not?)
8. It is cold and very snowy here in MI, DH wondered about some sort of frost-bite on her back end, is that possible, although I can not make sense of what the smell or wetness is then. The skin in that area feels warm and supple.
9. None of the other 4 hens have this issue.
10. Be clear, this does not seem to be on the vent, the vent is not pasted over. It is on the rump, under the vent and it is wet to between her legs. I am thinking that some of the wet is simply a result of the melted snow because this crazy girl keeps going out into the run and pecking in the foot of snow that is on the ground. But snow does not have odor or would not dry crusty or look foamy or white once melted.
Here are my questions:
1. Is it possibly a new feather issue which is causing some sort of oozing and may have some infection?
2. Is it a egg production issue that is giving only egg whites and no shell
3. Is it possibly a fungus issue...thinking that might explain the whitish color, and ordor...that maybe is being caused by snow wet feathers, coldness, and never truly getting dry. If so, how would I know, and what could I use to treat it? I am just thinking that dampness plus some of the pine nugget dust on the coop floor are causing the feathers to get crusty and never rreally drying. The coop is very dry, there is a heat lamp in there which keeps it warm enough that the water does not freeze. They have a door to the outside which is open during the day, but closed at night.
4. What can I do to treat the problem you think it may be, and we do not have the means to take her to a vet, but may be able to get some supplies from a vet or from a store.
I am looking forward to hearing all your thoughts. You all have always been so helpful. I could not find any information in the chicken books I have nor in a google search, so I am praying that someone hear can give me something to get rid of the problem.
Edited by embrown - 2/4/11 at 2:36pm