3 hens dead. what is it? anyone know?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by LittlePip21, Feb 6, 2017.

  1. LittlePip21

    LittlePip21 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Recently I have been having problems with a strange illness in my flock, and none of what I've found online or in books seems to match up quite right. I've had 3 girls die, 2 died in my arms. [​IMG] I was wondering if anyone might know what this is and have experience with it.

    The first hen was an RIR, around four. She was lethargic with a swollen squishy abdomen and a musty infection smell. She was occasionally puking and pooping plain water, along with pooping yellow foamy and watery droppings. I treated her with probiotics. After a while the swelling went down and the abdomen was almost hard, and she was doing well for a while after that, but I had to leave for a few days and when I returned she was dead in a corner. From the way she was laying she probably died in a seizure. My neighbor who was caring for them says she checked on her in the morning and she was acting alert and healthy.

    The second hen died several months later. She was also an RIR around 4, again squishy and bloated, much worse than the first. This time only green water droppings. Same smell. This hen has had a history of medical problems. These include, egg binding, and a strange reaction where she puked up a large amount of infectious smelling brown gunk. She was completely normal after that incident. Then, maybe a year later? (at least a few months) she started having the same symptoms as the chicken above, only difference was the droppings. Again, swelling went down and she was fine. until one night I went to put them in, and she was sitting out in the middle of the yard gurgling. I brought her inside, and she began to puke small amounts of brown bile and sneezing. Then, she sneezed loudly and collapsed into a seizure, I held her down, she bit down hard and died. I had intended to do a necropsy, but I had to put the body outdoors, and it was freezing, so I wasn't able to.

    The third hen, not sure what she is, but possibly some kind of RIR cross, around 3-4, same smell, same droppings, but swelling was not as severe and was accompanied by lots of head shaking. Wasn't sure what to do, and I couldn't find a gape wormer online or locally. I had to leave again for a few days, and when I came back she was almost gone. (my flock has also been suffering from lice, and it was just too much for her) She wouldn't stand, I gave her a warm bath and wrapped her in a towel. I then put her down in the towel on the floor to grab something, and I could tell she was having a seizure. The towel kept her from squirming and she died peacefully. [​IMG]

    I decided to do an necropsy, I had researched, but I could only get so far because of it being below freezing and having only blunt and inadequate tools to work with. When I checked her vent, there was a huge fluid pocket blocking her exit, along with two more cheesy, bluish and bile filled pockets on the abdomen. When I cut open her body cavity (quite by accident, this was my first time dissecting anything) a huge amount of disgusting water the color and consistency of pee came out. Further in I found that the lumps had brownish clear liquid in them. I was unable to enter the windpipe, but the outside did not look abnormal or lumpy in any way. Her breast bone was completely concave. I wasn't able to get very far after that, but her organs looked strange and alien compared to the pictures and videos I had seen. (either because of my inexperience or she was just really messed up inside.) From what I could see what I'm pretty sure was the heart was bluish gray, as were the other organs.

    Any advice or support would be appreciated, thanks!

    PS: I took pictures of the necropsy, so if I can I will post. [​IMG]

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    Last edited: Feb 6, 2017
  2. PeepersMama

    PeepersMama Overrun With Chickens

    It sounds like Egg yolk peritonitis/blood septicemia to me. Although (thankfully) I haven't had much experience with disease, I see EYP fairly often.
    If you haven't heard of it, basically they start laying internally, and bacteria grows on the yolks that build up in the body cavity and start to rot. That alone will kill them, but it goes even faster if the infection gets into the blood, which could explain the grayish organs. I've lost three chicksn to this, and although we haven't done a necrospy on them, yellow yolky fluid in the body cavity is the main sign of it.

    Considering how long it took for the first girl to die, she probably didn't get septicemia. The first girl we lost to EYP took months to die, the poor thing, and she had almost the excat same symptoms of your girl. She perked up for three days, and then she died. The rest of them died pretty darn quick. Sick one day, dead the next. The two that I was home with died stretched out in their kennels, freakishly similiar to the typical mareks position. I had left them sitting in the back corner of their kennel, but when I found them dead, they were both up close to the front, with fluid (yolk or spilled water) all over their face. One actually had yolk fluid in her throat.
     
  3. LittlePip21

    LittlePip21 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 5, 2017
    Thank you for replying! it's relieving to know someone else has seen this too! hopefully none of the others become ill, though they all seem fine at the moment![​IMG] I will be praying for you and your flock too! thanks for the support!
     
  4. PeepersMama

    PeepersMama Overrun With Chickens

    [​IMG] Welcome, and thank you
     
  5. PeepersMama

    PeepersMama Overrun With Chickens

    Whoa, that's definitly egg related. I've never seen a vent that bloated! [​IMG]
     
  6. LittlePip21

    LittlePip21 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    yeah, when i first opened it up it was like i had cut open a water ballon!
     
  7. PeepersMama

    PeepersMama Overrun With Chickens

    [​IMG] poor girl
     
  8. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So sorry to hear you have lost 3 hens in a short space of time.
    I agree that it is a reproductive problem in this case, probably egg yolk peritonitis. The fluid build up in the abdominal cavity was most likely ascites. That can be drawn off with a large guage needle whilst they are still alive to give them some relief but will usually reoccur because there is an underlying cause as in this case, with the internal laying. It would have been useful if you had opened up the abdominal and thoracic cavity to reveal the organs but I appreciate that it is not easy when you are not familiar with the internal layout and don't have the appropriate tools. I'm not sure what you were thinking was the heart but I can't see it in any of the photos you posted. You did really well to open her up though. It is always good to want to know why they died and improve your knowledge

    You might like to post your photos on this thread
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/...xxx-graphic-necropsy-photos/330#post_18033559

    where others who have done a few necropsies may comment and/or learn from your hen. It is always helpful if we can share information and improve our knowledge through others sad experiences as well as our own.

    Best wishes

    Barbara

    PS. Many hatchery birds are bred for production and unfortunately there is sometimes a price to pay for that increased production, in that reproductive problems become more common as they get older.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2017
  9. PeepersMama

    PeepersMama Overrun With Chickens

    Ascites - that's the other thing i was thinking. I've seen one chicken who had that and oh my goodness, the poor thing's comb was purple. PURPLE! I felt so bad for her [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2017
  10. LittlePip21

    LittlePip21 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you rebasora! I'm glad that I now have a firmer diagnosis thanks to you and Peepers Mama! Also, I will know more about this if it happens again in the future. Thanks again guys!
     

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