4 year old bantam hen w/ reproductive issues

RoostersAreAwesome

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May 21, 2017
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Sine June, and possibly even before that, my bantam hen Olive hasn’t been laying eggs. At first I assumed it was because she was out of her laying years, but I looked closer at her abdomen and noticed it seemed slightly larger than usual.

Pictures from June 9th.
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It wasn’t causing problems so I gave her a quick soak and didn’t do anything else. Now it is causing problems.

Things that have changed:
-she hasn’t been roosting for the past several weeks
-her abdomen is definitely larger. It’s not overly squishy or overly hard, but feels a bit overfull? I can’t feel any eggs or other material in it.
-she breaths more with her mouth open, though only when she’s picked up (which isn’t unusual for her), sometimes when she bends down to peck at something, and occasionally when she dustbathes
-she dustbathes a lot more and for a longer time
-her butt is messier than before

Things that haven’t changed:
-she’s eating and drinking the same amount
-she hasn’t gone any lower in the pecking order (I know this because I only have four hens)
-she still hasn’t laid an egg or any egg-like material
-doesn’t really act lethargic, but maybe less active than usual?

Recent pictures (taken while dust-bathing).
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9568C208-0171-4034-AB9C-E2084517B55B.jpeg
E5AA2DD0-40A9-4B9D-9B08-27020B2C266A.jpeg



I’m thinking that she has ascites/water belly. Is that correct? What’s the best way of treating that?
 

azygous

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Ascites is a swollen abdomen between the legs that usually pushes the legs apart so the hen has a wide stanch. When such a hen walks, she has a noticeable "penguin"walk. Does that description match up?

What I'm suspecting is internal laying. For some reason, a hen can begin to divert her yolks into the abdominal cavity instead of releasing them down the reproductive tract. They accumulate in the abdominal cavity until it kills her. Some hens go on in this fashion for months before exhibiting any warning signs. Some hens, such as a one-year old Andelusian of mine, died suddenly with no warning signs, and had been laying internally for just a couple of weeks.

I don't know if the yolks would show up on an X-ray, but I usually cut open a chicken of mine when she dies, and I've had two hens die from this issue. The first had been internally laying for so long her eggs were "hardboiled" inside her. The younger hen's yolks were still runny since they hadn't had nearly as long to be cooked by the hens' body heat.
 

RoostersAreAwesome

Crossing the Road
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Ascites is a swollen abdomen between the legs that usually pushes the legs apart so the hen has a wide stanch. When such a hen walks, she has a noticeable "penguin"walk. Does that description match up?

What I'm suspecting is internal laying. For some reason, a hen can begin to divert her yolks into the abdominal cavity instead of releasing them down the reproductive tract. They accumulate in the abdominal cavity until it kills her. Some hens go on in this fashion for months before exhibiting any warning signs. Some hens, such as a one-year old Andelusian of mine, died suddenly with no warning signs, and had been laying internally for just a couple of weeks.

I don't know if the yolks would show up on an X-ray, but I usually cut open a chicken of mine when she dies, and I've had two hens die from this issue. The first had been internally laying for so long her eggs were "hardboiled" inside her. The younger hen's yolks were still runny since they hadn't had nearly as long to be cooked by the hens' body heat.
She does sort of waddle. She takes what I would describe as wide steps, kind of pushing her leg out then forward.
If it is internal laying, is there any treatment for that?
 

BigBlueHen53

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Ascites is a swollen abdomen between the legs that usually pushes the legs apart so the hen has a wide stanch. When such a hen walks, she has a noticeable "penguin"walk. Does that description match up?

What I'm suspecting is internal laying. For some reason, a hen can begin to divert her yolks into the abdominal cavity instead of releasing them down the reproductive tract. They accumulate in the abdominal cavity until it kills her. Some hens go on in this fashion for months before exhibiting any warning signs. Some hens, such as a one-year old Andelusian of mine, died suddenly with no warning signs, and had been laying internally for just a couple of weeks.

I don't know if the yolks would show up on an X-ray, but I usually cut open a chicken of mine when she dies, and I've had two hens die from this issue. The first had been internally laying for so long her eggs were "hardboiled" inside her. The younger hen's yolks were still runny since they hadn't had nearly as long to be cooked by the hens' body heat.
@azygous, Thank you for this explanation of internal laying. I had heard of the term but didn't know the process.
 

azygous

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She could have both issues, the internal laying causing liver failure. No, there is no treatment you can do. If you have lots of excess $$, an avian vet can operate, clean out her abdominal cavity, and install a hormone implant to stop ovulation. With that, you would end up with a very expensive hen with medical needs that require repeatedly changing the implant as it wears out, usually a few times a year.

Here's my thread on internal laying with some shocking pics. https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/internal-laying-what-it-looks-like.1349959/
 

RoostersAreAwesome

Crossing the Road
May 21, 2017
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She could have both issues, the internal laying causing liver failure. No, there is no treatment you can do. If you have lots of excess $$, an avian vet can operate, clean out her abdominal cavity, and install a hormone implant to stop ovulation. With that, you would end up with a very expensive hen with medical needs that require repeatedly changing the implant as it wears out, usually a few times a year.

Here's my thread on internal laying with some shocking pics. https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/internal-laying-what-it-looks-like.1349959/
I hope it’s not internal laying. :/
If it’s just ascites, is there anything I can do?
Also, thanks so much for all the information!
 

azygous

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Ascites is always a symptom of something more serious. It's not a disease. But it can be relieved temporarily by aspirating some of the fluid from her abdominal cavity with a large gauge needle syringe.
 

Eggcessive

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I recently had my 9 year old bantam come down with a messy vent and and enlarged lower belly. Her legs were farther apart and she waddled. Her belly appeared bluish. I drained yellow fluid from her abdomen anout 5 days apart. The second time it was cloudy. The third time I could get hardly any. She died the next day. When I opened her abdomen after she died, I found 4-5 large hollow balloon-like things inside her belly. They did not look like lash eggs that I had seen before. My research found that they were benign peritoneal cysts that had broken away from the sides of the belly.

Many times our hens may have conditions that we won’t know until sometimes after death when we can do a necropsy. Removing fluid should always be done by using a good antiseptic such as betadine or chlorhexidene and a sterile needle. It is not without risk, but it can relieve pressure and labored breathing, while confirming the pressence of fluid.
 

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