Ataxia and possible atypical eggbinding

cate1124

Songster
12 Years
Jul 3, 2011
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315
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The last time this happened, April 27, I posted in the egg-laying behaviors forum: https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/transient-ataxia-and-egg-laying.1523132/#post-25653242 Now, it's recurred, and I'm seeking help to prevent or effectively resolve what appears to be ataxia related to egg transit through the oviduct that is impinging a nerve. Same bird -- 2 year-old cream legbar. Last time, the first sign was sudden onset ataxia. This time I noticed eggbinding symptoms last night -- seeking a corner of the coop, staying still, tail down. She pooped (good consistency, but no urates), and there was/is no fluid coming from her vent. I could not feel an egg anywhere near her vent, but gave her a calcium citrate/D3 per instructions of site experts, and allowed her to roost normally. This morning she practically tumbled off the roost, and could barely stand, let alone walk, though she wanted to have scratch with the flock and ate what she could, with her balance issue. I now have her crated and plan to give her an epsom salt bath later, though I am not certain this is a calcium issue and that typical eggbinding recommendations will help. The last egg she laid (day before yesterday) had a good thick shell and even a calcium wart.

I am hoping this episode proceeds as it did last time -- that she is able to pass the egg soon, upon which she becomes her normal active self -- but it concerns me that this is repeating, and that this episode seems worse/more protracted than the last. Each occurred when she was on a different, complete layer ration, with free-choice calcium. My girls get good free-ranging time, and she is usually very active, so when this occurs, it is like flipping a switch.

Should I continue with the daily calcium citrate/D3 in this situation if she does not pass the egg soon? (Is it possible she is already getting too much calcium, given the thickness of her shells, and the wart?) Is there anything else I can do to address the current situation and prevent it from recurring? Thanks for counsel on this strange situation.
 
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What is your location? What has the weather there been doing? Very hot?

The symptoms you see can be attributed to hot weather and heat stroke. Dehydration can cause stumbling and imbalance and weakness. Give her cool water with electrolytes and sugar added. This will restore her chemical balance and should correct any ataxia.

This doesn't sound like egg binding, but if the electrolytes and sugar water doesn't cause improvement, giving calcium can't hurt. But the Epsom bath isn't necessary and can cause additional stress. Concentrate on getting her hydrated.
 
What is your location? What has the weather there been doing? Very hot?

The symptoms you see can be attributed to hot weather and heat stroke. Dehydration can cause stumbling and imbalance and weakness. Give her cool water with electrolytes and sugar added. This will restore her chemical balance and should correct any ataxia.

This doesn't sound like egg binding, but if the electrolytes and sugar water doesn't cause improvement, giving calcium can't hurt. But the Epsom bath isn't necessary and can cause additional stress. Concentrate on getting her hydrated.
I'm north of you, in Manitou/Colorado Springs, and it is just now turning off warm and sunny (you may also have gotten the big snow May 21, followed by mostly cool, damp weather until just a couple of days ago -- and it's not yet warmer than low '80s). Good news: She just eagerly ate some scrambled egg, then, when I left the crate open, walked normally -- right into the nest box. I anticipate now all will again be well. I will absolutely do as you advise with cool water/electrolytes, but I don't recall it being particularly warm when this happened before on April 27, and I have seen her drinking -- I have multiple waterers available -- so I still feel baffled.

But you know what just occurred to me? She was very light (weight) on both occasions, her crop empty or nearly so. I am not seeing peck order dust-ups, do not perceive her as being bullied and have two feeders, well-spaced, for nine hens. That said, she is usually VERY busy, and she is the one hen who has the slight build/long wings to fly out of my fenced yard, which I'm sure takes energy. I wonder if she basically forgets to eat enough to support herself. She wouldn't eat last night, but she did take some scrambled egg first thing this morning, which may have been enough to right her. I will be mindful about feeding her, specifically and apart from the others, in case the ataxia is related to anorexia. Sheez!
 
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You might want to add another feeder or two, just in case she's being kept from them by others. That can be as subtle as a look from a higher ranking bird which backs the other off, easily missed if you aren't looking for it. Only other thought is to check for internal parasites, they can cause weight loss and loss of nutrients.
 
You might want to add another feeder or two, just in case she's being kept from them by others. That can be as subtle as a look from a higher ranking bird which backs the other off, easily missed if you aren't looking for it. Only other thought is to check for internal parasites, they can cause weight loss and loss of nutrients.
Good ideas, thanks. She has now had an egg (again, a few small calcium warts) and is walking around with the flock as if nothing happened. I'm inclined to think this is anorexia -- perhaps related both to her high energy expenditure and subtly peck-order behaviors I've missed -- because of the acute-onset episodes, before and after which she appears completely bright-eyed, healthy and active. Perhaps an incipient egg creates just enough additional energy pull that it puts her into a deficit that manifests as ataxia if she has not been eating enough in the day or two before. First time I've see this!
 
Good ideas, thanks. She has now had an egg (again, a few small calcium warts) and is walking around with the flock as if nothing happened. I'm inclined to think this is anorexia -- perhaps related both to her high energy expenditure and subtle peck-order behaviors I've missed -- because of the acute-onset episodes, before and after which she appears completely bright-eyed, healthy and active. Perhaps an incipient egg creates just enough additional energy drain that it puts her into a deficit that manifests as ataxia if she has not been eating enough in the day or two before. (I thought when she started roosting with the elders that she had moved up in the peck order, as they lord it over the youngsters as a group. But maybe she has actually done so because her own peers bully her, and for some reason, the elders let her join them.)
 

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