Bantam hen with blue face with pale small comb and wattles

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by GardenerGal, Nov 8, 2013.

  1. GardenerGal

    GardenerGal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a year-old bantam hen that has never shown any signs of poor health. But about a week ago she started showing signs of lower energy. She has been eating and drinking, but is less active and quieter than normal.
    Today I saw that her face is blue. It's usually a pale bare skin. Her comb and wattles have always been very, very small and pale, so I don't see any noticeable change there. But the dark face is abnormal and of course the depression and lack of energy is also abnormal.
    Her eyes are clear, her skin other than her face is normal.
    Any ideas?
    This may or may not be related, but I lost another bantam hen a few months ago - a 4 year old that had been robust. She had the same gradual drop in energy and then just died. But in her case her comb was purple and shriveled and I didn't notice a change in facial skin.
     
  2. GardenerGal

    GardenerGal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Since there were no other symptoms (poop was normal, breathing normal, eyes clear, plumage normal, etc.), I decided to treat this as a metabolic problem and put her on a poultry/livestock vitamin/electrolyte supplement along with cultured yoghurt (for extra potassium and probiotics).

    For extra measure I have her on a course of oral penicillin for 5 days, given with wholegrain bread drenched in yoghurt and vitamins/electrolytes. She also is being fed that nutrient/yoghurt mix as a supplement to her regular feed. She has perked up noticeably and no longer stands around with the listless appearance. It looks like the cyanic color is gradually clearing out; at least, it seemed last night that the upper area of her face around the eyes is normal now, but the lower area is still blue though not quite as dark. Maybe it's because it takes a while for the discolored blood to circulate out.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2013
  3. GardenerGal

    GardenerGal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    She's completely cured and back to her perky self and out of the sickbay coop. The dark blue (bluish-green!) face and wattles are now her normal pale whitish color again. I'm going to say it was a mineral/electrolyte deficiency as she has been a picky eater, going for the bird seed scratch grain and not enough nutritionally balanced poultry pellets. So, I'll have to make sure that she gets a vitamin-mineral supplement in her water at least once a week. The flock should be getting that anyway. I can't monitor how much of the pellets everyone is eating.

    I only had her on antibiotics for four days as they didn't seem to be doing anything but making her feel crappier... I took her off penicillin and hand fed her cultured yoghurt with bread to restore the good gut flora. Kept her in her infirmary cage for a week, with a heat lamp because we were getting some freezing weather and I didn't want that to stress her more. Once she was all better, she moved away from the heat. This evening, she couldn't wait to get out of the cage and up onto her usual night roost.

    I'm posting these notes in case anyone has this happen to their chickens and needs to see some options.
     
  4. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Sorry to see that nobody replied to your thread! Good to hear she's better.

    Pale faces are never a sign of health even in week-old chicks, if they're truly healthy and getting all they need from their diet, they have pink to red faces. Pale faces indicates weak circulation. Once an animal's been raised on a diet that causes that, though, it can be almost impossible to get them 100% --- but they can get about 80%, which is better than <10%.

    I'd highly recommend you give them a pinch of kelp per bird per day with their feed as a general dietary additive; it is an endocrine regulator and carminative and contains all the vitamins and minerals in the correct balance. It's cheap compared to other nutritional supplements too, and more powerful by far. You can get it in bulk at feedbarns, produce stores, etc.

    It sounds like a cardiac issue to me. A blue face means that for whatever reason, she's not getting enough oxygen (as I'm sure you know). Generally the heart is the best bet when a face goes blue. Regarding the other hen that died, if her comb/face went blueish or gray soon after death, that would indicate heart failure. Animals and humans can live with heart failure for years, even decades, before dying of it or something else. Congestive heart failure is a common disease that many seemingly healthy humans and animals have.

    If circulation is bad, the heart is also not 100%; it's all interlinked, and interdependent. There is no such thing as a truly healthy heart in a body showing weak circulation. There can be a structurally undamaged heart, but many, many things can be wrong with a heart, and a body with weak circulation puts more strain on the heart and will eventually contribute to its failure.

    Chilli is great for the heart, as are pretty much all hot foods, which poultry love; it's also cheap and healthy for worming them and can be fed every week without harm, unlike many chemical wormers. Some man-made antibiotics kill some gastrointestinal microfauna and flora off permanently, and even taking supplements won't restore them, unfortunately. Your hen may need ongoing help with her digestion. Raw garlic is antibiotic, antifungal, antiviral, etc and prebiotic, so it feeds probiotics; it's also great for heart problems, disease in general, worming, healing, virus control, even external parasites. It's high in sulfur so once the animal's been on it for long enough their blood will poison external parasites too. Also, that sulfur and the other components of garlic are very beneficial to the cardiovascular system's flexibility and the purity of the blood, which is necessary if there's a bacterial infection colonizing a heart valve, for example.

    Heart cancer is relatively common in chickens, as are heart attacks; we feed them a diet that cardiologists recommend humans avoid (cooked protein, cooked essential oils) so it's hardly surprising. I would guess your hen had a fairly severe heart attack by the sounds of it. Contrary to popular belief the majority of first-time heart attacks are not fatal, in humans or animals. But it sounds like she lost some heart muscle, since you don't say there were any symptoms of respiratory disease, and it's very possible she may be killed by a follow up episode of heart failure. I would add some cold pressed olive oil to their diet at least once a week; it makes the cardiovascular system more flexible and healthier. Raw oils are vital; olive oil, coconut oil, etc are two of the very best.

    Best wishes.
     
  5. GardenerGal

    GardenerGal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks so much for your post and your insights, chooks4life. Very much appreciated.

    My first suspicion was heart and circulatory problems, but the poultry health handbook made no mention of heart issues -- only various pathological diseases. So I started wondering whether she had one of those, or whether maybe she had a metabolic problem due to an electrolyte imbalance that could cause heart problems (potassium, magnesium, etc.). Her symptoms were the blue face and wattles (but her comb remained pink), depressed behavior (she stood around with ruffled feathers and would not go up on her roost at night). However, her appetite was normal and she ate and drank without hesitation.

    This particular bantam hen has a lot of smooth, bare facial skin, is white-skinned, white shanked/legged and has almost no comb or wattles, her plumage is very pheasant-like and her general conformation is as well. I have never seen her go into lay, though she is now a year old. It is probable that she has congenital or hereditary defects that are manifesting themselves now that she is a year old and mature. I'll have to monitor her, and I will take your suggestions for dietary supplementation. She is very energetic and so when she suddenly took ill and had the color change it was very noticeable.

    All of the flock gets a nutritionally balanced pelleted diet, with supplemental vitamins/electrolyte powder in their drinking water weekly, plus scratch feed (birdseed), vegetable scraps, foraged insects, etc. But I suspect this particular hen was much pickier and not consuming the pellets.

    I am going to take your advice and add garlic and olive oil (I eat a lot of raw garlic and extra virgin olive oil) to their diet. I'm also going to give them the vitamins/electrolytes in their water more often. I live on the coast, with a free supply of kelp, so I will try that too.

    The hen I lost earlier was an OEGB and it definitely was from heart problems; also lost an OEGB rooster from heart failure a couple years ago. Their combs and wattles turned dark purple-blue before they passed on -- they gradually just weakened and died...very different than this mixed breed (Nankin, OEGB) hen -- her face turned blue, then green-blue, then back to her "natural" color and she is up and active again. The entire cycle of the incident took place within a week. I've never seen anything like it before.

    Interestingly, I have other hens who have white skin and faces, and one is 6 or 7 years old and has never shown any signs of illness. I do think that there may be some cases where perhaps this is natural coloration.

    Anyway, thank you again, and I am saving your post for future use, because it is so very full of important information.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2013
  6. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict Premium Member

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  7. GardenerGal

    GardenerGal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you, Eggcessive. I will check out that link. I'd be really amazed to find fowl cholera in my flock, but I suppose anything is possible with chickens. I put the hen on penicillin as a "just in case it's bacterial" precaution, but suspected that it was a metabolic problem (that is, heart-circulatory, maybe due to an electrolyte imbalance or congenital condition). I kept her on it for 4 days then discontinued it when it seemed that it was affecting her digestive system (I kept feeding her yoghurt to try to restore the probiotics...).

    I have been researching all the possibilities because I really want to know as much as I can find out, so I appreciate your input! Thanks again.
     
  8. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    You may be right about a metabolic problem, but heart problems are very common in chickens, and it seems like those manifest themselves about a year of age. I just wanted to mention the fowl cholera possibility, but you probably would have seen other sick birds.
     
  9. GardenerGal

    GardenerGal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Since the hen is a year old, I guess that she is "on schedule" for hereditary or congenital heart problems showing up. Right now she looks as though she never had a problem, but I will have to keep watch on her. I'm going to add the supplements that chooks4life recommended, as that may extend her heart life a bit. The poultry feed I give the flock contains probiotics as well, so hopefully I'll be able to cover all of the chooks' needs while giving the ones with medical "issues" a little extra help.
     
  10. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote: You're very welcome, I hope something in there is of assistance.

    Quote:
    Kelp's known to bring non-layers into lay. Will be interesting to see if it does with her, if you give us an update sometime; but no pressure. :)

    Quote: It can be an issue to supplement a 'nutritionally complete' diet, but I'm not sure what the ratios are in your 'nutritionally balanced' diet. It would probably be worth looking into daily nutritional maximum levels of vitamins and minerals and trace elements etc to make sure you don't overdose them on anything.

    Quote: I've seen some pics of the wild fowl chickens are descended from and some of them do get pale faces when not in breeding condition, but these were all in captivity, so I'm not sure if that's why; but I've never seen a pale face in adult domestic poultry that wasn't a sign of deficiency. But then again I'm not an expert on breeds.

    If all her family line have the same paleness, it could be diet or it could be genetic. If it is the diet, kelp will correct it, but if it persists after a while of kelp supplementation then it's familial, and then it remains to see if it's just coloration due to genotype or coloration due to congenital heart conditions. Many animals as well as humans carry on despite heart insufficiency or failure, seeming to be healthy. It's certainly not the happiest thing to have to weed out an entire family tree from your flock, but if they're just pets you're saved that issue. I'm still clearing out some bad genes from generations back. Sneaky things they can be! And such a shame when it's found in some otherwise great birds.

    Best wishes with your flock.
     

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