Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by seamouse, Dec 21, 2012.

  1. seamouse

    seamouse Out Of The Brooder

    May 23, 2009
    I'm probably not going to be able to determine what's going on with this hen, but thought I'd toss the description out here for comment anyway. -Rochelle

    1) 3 and 3/4 year old dorking hen, skinny breast was hidden under those great dorking feathers; lower abdomen swollen

    2) sluggish, tail down, shrivelled comb looked very dirty/dark, looks a bit better after being isolated in the house for two days; no injuries, no discharges, no wheezing, sneezing, or oozing. Sometimes appears to have medium-ish labored breathing; is "squat walking," which is what caught my attention, walking low to ground rather sluggishly and with some impaired balance

    3) noticed the symptoms two days ago

    4) No other hens exhibiting these symptoms, but i lost a barred rock this summer with similar symptoms. thought it was egg binding but it was probably some other abdominal blockage; gradual decline over several weeks until death; no necropy. also had a sudden hen death about four days ago (see #6)

    5) No bleeding, injury, broken bones or other sign of trauma.

    6) I am aware of nothing that may have caused the situation; however, another dorking of the same age died suddenly four days ago. Found her sitting listlessly on edge of nestbox. When she let me pick her up, I knew something was wrong. Could find / see NOTHING-- no discharges, injuries, etc. Only thing noticeable was when I carried her into the house, she tried to squawk once and rattled in her throat. She absolutely refused to eat or drink that night though I did manage to annoy her enough to get a good look at her mouth which was healthy and clear looking. No discharge. No wheezing. Her crop was very empty. Her breast was skinny. In the morning she was dead in the "hospital cage." There was a greenish yellow fluid discharge where her head was laying after she died. no necropy.

    7) Bird in question is in the house in cage and has been eating fairly normally, though probably a bit less than would be normal. Ate yogurt yesterday very enthusiastically-- even during her bath and being dried off with hair dryer. She's eating commercial layer crumbles, a little scratch, a few sunnies. I added chicken vits-electrolytes to her feed, as well a bit of olive oil and vitamin e oil..

    8) Poop is very small, urates are obvious, occassional mini-rocket blasts of quite liquid poo with mostly urates.

    9) At first I was concerned about egg binding so brought her in, have given her two warm soaks and abdominal massages, checked vent and feel nothing. I've just let her be warm and still and added a bit of nutritional bounce to her food as per #7.

    10 ) I will not be taking her to a vet. I am just wondering if it sounds like some kind of abdominal or reproductive or digestive obstruction rather than egg binding-- tumors, cancer, etc. At first, I did think I felt something hard like the side of an egg from an external examination, but in re-examining her abdomen today, it just feels quite tight but squishy, so I'm wondering about ascites from some source. I'm also wondering if I'm just going to watch another hen decline and die. I know ascites is aspirated, but I also know it mostly just recurs. And although I see no symptoms in any other chickens (flock of about 20), I'm feeling a bit discouraged that some underlying viral tumor or something is at play in my flock. Arg. Any thoughts are welcome.
  2. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

  3. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens
    diagnosis charts at bottom

    (one more for you)

    Please note that I don't know what is wrong with your flock- just trying to help and hopefully someone with experience in this can nail it for you!
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2012
  4. cowcreekgeek

    cowcreekgeek Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 14, 2012
    Hurricane, WV
    Your description of the symptoms is extremely well explained, which is really important.

    Helping folks solve difficult problems is highly educational for me, but I do realize that this is both frustrating and difficult on you, as the health of your flock may well depend upon the outcome ... and, there's no big red flags or smoking guns this time. It could be a number of viral/bacterial infections, and they're difficult to diagnose definitively w/o necropsy -- not somethin' this bird is likely to wanna volunteer to have done, but certainly worth preparing for, should things work out poorly for her (and you).

    In absence of any other absolute, I'd immediate treat w/ fenbendazole, at the rate of 20 mg/kg of body weight for three consecutive days. This is the minimum dosage required to eliminate all types of worms (except tapeworms), and this anthelmintic has been clinically proven safe all the way up to 1 gram (1,000 mg) per kg of body weight.

    Lymphoid leukosis is possibly indicated, but the timing doesn't quite fit, and the tumors that may result are relatively rare (see additional information on this disease below)

    Ascites Syndrome (Waterbelly, Right ventricular failure, Pulmonary hypertension syndrome) has become a greater issue in recent years due to much more rapid growth/development of birds and (a personal guess) genetic deficiencies due to less selective breeding in our modern hatcheries. It's a bit more probable as an explanation, and there's really nothing you could do to undo the damages done.

    Some other possibilities to consider:

    Necrotic enteritis:

    infectious bursal disease

    Infectious bronchitis (Holte or Grey strain)

    Lymphoid leukosis:

    Affected birds show non-specific clinical signs including reduced feed intake, weakness, diarrhoea, dehydration, weight loss, depression and reduced egg production. Palpation often reveals an enlarged bursa of Fabricius and sometimes an enlarged liver. The disease can cause damage to the immune system which increases susceptibility to other diseases.

    A subclinical disease syndrome characterised by depressed egg production in the absence of tumour formation is more important economically than mortality from lymphoid leukosis.

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