That could very well be the initial problem. By the time of necropsy, the cecal walls were paper thin. I read yesterday that a secondary E. coli infection can produce cecal cores, so that may have also been going on as well. I didn't take scrapings from the ceca, but did for the duodenum and jejunum. Nothing found, but that was after worming and a course of Corid. Looking back at my notes, I noticed she was thin last September. I figured that was because she was low ranking so I fed her separately. Poor hen. This is a tough learning curve I'm climbing.
And it has happened to anyone who has raised chickens whether they performed a necropsy or not. Your pullet was nine months. I use preventative treatments of Corid (amprolium) once a month in waterers, from 2-3 weeks of age up until 7-9 months of age. I also supplement diets to ensure they grow well and build immunity to disease. I don't use medicated feed.
I pay close attention to the consistency of droppings. A bright head lamp or inspecting fresh droppings in the bright sun will reveal caecal worms, but not capillaria sp., which are much more difficult to spot. I have detected worms as early as 4 months of age, and I'm sure others have found them at an earlier age. Most people find themselves deworming before hens are old enough to start laying. Whether it was protozoa, worms, or both which caused the condition of the caecal sacs, it doesn't matter so much as preventing it from happening again.
Keeping wild birds away from troughs and waterers, keeping rodents away, keeping grass cut, and having well draining soil in the yard (soil which does not become mud, or have numerous stagnant puddles of water) can also prevent lots of vectors which pass helminth eggs to chickens. Spreading DE or spraying pesticides all over the place, using all sorts of different dietary approaches, will not prevent worms or protozoa from being in the environment and entering a chicken's body.
Probiotics of the dispersible powder type, like Probios, are very beneficial to digestive health and assisting a strong immune system. They are more easily absorbed than other methods of feeding foods containing limited types of lactic acid bacteria. I use it once a week without fail. I also supplement poultry vitamins in water 2-3 days a week regularly, and more often during moult, stress from weather, etc.
In my many years of raising chickens, I have found these routines to be very beneficial with few health problems ever arising, that cannot be remedied quickly before they become detrimental. Obtaining healthy stock from the beginning makes a big difference too. I'm sorry about your hen. I have had to cull a few birds over the years that were all special to me, so I know how you feel. We never stop learning how to enhance the health of our birds, but seeing the results of what we learn and put into practice makes the difference.
Edited by Michael Apple - 2/5/15 at 8:54pm
The Status Quo always sucks!
The Status Quo always sucks!