Bantam RR hen very lethargic, unbalanced

SStickChick

Chirping
Mar 6, 2017
10
6
57
I have a little bantam RR who's been off since Saturday. Lethargic, not really interested in food now, though she was eating some yesterday. I was concerned she might be egg bound so I soaked her several times in an warm Epsom salt bath, and lubed her vent. She pooped last night, and it seemed normal. Her crop feels empty but im only about halfway sure what I was feeling is her crop, because her neck looks strange. But that bump on the picture is very, very hard, long, and tube shaped so I was thinking that's probably her esophagu and trachea, which I didn't want to squeeze much. I did try "emptying" her briefly, but very little came up and I didn't want to stress her if I was on the wrong track. She stumbles a lot when she does walk, which is almost never now. She can't seem to keep her eyes open. Her comb and wattle are kind of pale, but still fairly red. No apparent wounds, no signs of bullying.

I've been using an eye dropper to make sure she's getting some water, and I saw a video of a guy who offered his hen dry food, moistened food, and soupy food when she was egg bound, but she hasn't shown interest in any of it. No one else in my flock is showing symptoms. They're fed layer formula food, some table scraps but only healthy stuff, and generally allowed to graze our yard for a couple hours in the evening.

I feel like I'm out of options now, since from what I've read it could be anything from Marek's to poison, both of which seem like death sentences, or she's egg bound and somehow still pooping, or I'm way off course on feeling her crop and it's actually not where I think it is.

So absolutely any suggestions are welcome, please
 

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Goosebaby

Crowing
Nov 10, 2019
2,646
3,893
386
Northern California
I’m a lot more familiar with geese so there may not be a lot of useful information I can offer but I’ve read a lot on chicken health because there’s next to nothing out there for geese so that’s what I rely on.

If you could answer a few questions that might help to narrow down what’s wrong, though as You already know that can be difficult sometimes because different diseases often present similar symptoms.

How old is your hen?

Have you noticed any other symptoms? Runny nose, eyes, coughing, swollen feet, swollen hocks, does the abdomen look more swollen than in the other hens?

How long has she been showing signs of being ill and stumbling?

Is there any mold, stagnant water, compost, she could have been exposed too?

Are her toes curled?

Can she move her legs now?

If you apply pressure or pinch her toes does she pull them away?

To your knowledge has she been injured or fallen off a perch recently?
 

Goosebaby

Crowing
Nov 10, 2019
2,646
3,893
386
Northern California
Mereks or Avian Luekosis can cause problems like this and unfortunatly are very common causes of these symptoms from what I’ve seen around the forums here, but there are other possibilities.
Riboflavin deficiency (B2) can cause them to go off their feet and their toes to curl inwards similar to Mereks.
Any kind of spinal trauma, infection, or mass pressing on the nerves will cause them to become lame, kinky back or other spinal problems often causes them to stumble, fall backwards, and lie with their legs stretched in front of them. Sometimes these conditions are treatable, sometimes they aren’t, a vet can take x-rays to see and perform other tests to know if it’s something treatable, but if a vet isn’t an option you can try to treat yourself and see if it helps.
Antibiotics like cipro, cephelexin, amoxicillin can treat spinal infections depending on the bacteria involved, but if the nerve is too compromised or there’s a tumor mass pressing on it there’s nothing anyone can do. 😔

Toxins that affect the nervous system will cause all sorts of problems, from stumbling, inability to stand, twitching, seizures. Usually with metal poisoning or other toxins you’ll see problems with the droppings because if it’s affecting the nervous system to that degree the liver and kidneys aren’t functioning normally either so you’ll often see neon green or yellow droppings and urates.
 

SStickChick

Chirping
Mar 6, 2017
10
6
57
She's slightly more than a year old. Her toes are straight and she can move them, but not much at all now. I noticed symptoms on Saturday, so almost 72 hours. No obvious injuries, nothing is swollen, and I haven't felt any masses or tumors. She's pooped a couple times, color is normal but texture is a little more tar-like than usual. She hasn't laid an egg in a couple days, but as she's still pooping and she isn't straining her vent I think that's just her body stopping egg production while she's sick. She isn't preening, but she's definitely aware of her surroundings. Not making much noise, but a little. When I pry her beak open to give her water she struggles a little, but weakly.

She's still interested in food that I've added water to, though only a little. Not sure if she's drinking water on her own (she spilled it when I wasn't there and I hadn't seen her drink), but she's getting water. She MAY have come in contact with a mold or poison, as I give them mostly unsupervised grazing time in the evenings. And, of course, it could always be Merek's, but so far there are zero symptoms in the other birds. If she makes it through the night I'll hit up tractor supply for vitamins and antibiotics (they have them there, right?). I'm open to any other suggestions, too.
 

Goosebaby

Crowing
Nov 10, 2019
2,646
3,893
386
Northern California
She's slightly more than a year old. Her toes are straight and she can move them, but not much at all now. I noticed symptoms on Saturday, so almost 72 hours. No obvious injuries, nothing is swollen, and I haven't felt any masses or tumors. She's pooped a couple times, color is normal but texture is a little more tar-like than usual. She hasn't laid an egg in a couple days, but as she's still pooping and she isn't straining her vent I think that's just her body stopping egg production while she's sick. She isn't preening, but she's definitely aware of her surroundings. Not making much noise, but a little. When I pry her beak open to give her water she struggles a little, but weakly.

She's still interested in food that I've added water to, though only a little. Not sure if she's drinking water on her own (she spilled it when I wasn't there and I hadn't seen her drink), but she's getting water. She MAY have come in contact with a mold or poison, as I give them mostly unsupervised grazing time in the evenings. And, of course, it could always be Merek's, but so far there are zero symptoms in the other birds. If she makes it through the night I'll hit up tractor supply for vitamins and antibiotics (they have them there, right?). I'm open to any other suggestions, too.
I’m in California and everything here requires a prescription so I have no idea what’s available at your tractor supply wherever you are.
You can always try fish antibiotics, same as the stuff from the pharmacy minus the need for a prescription https://www.countrysidepet.com/collections/fish

Amoxicillin is a good all around antibiotic and is what’s used to treat bacterial kinky back, cipro “ciprofloxacin” is a powerful broad spectrum antibiotic, not a lot of bacteria has built up resistance to it yet, cephlexin is effective against staph and strep (both can cause spinal infections in birds) where the other two might not be as helpful, so it’s hard to say which one is best without knowing the problem unfortunately.
You might try looking for a gastronomy tube and syringe at tractor supply, if she doesn’t begin eating soon she’s just going to die of starvation, tube feeding is a little tricky at first but fairly simple as you and your bird get used to it https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/tube-feeding-ducks-updated-5-7-2020.1211994/
https://www.backyardchickens.com/ar...dications-to-all-poultry-and-waterfowl.73335/

Black tarry droppings can be from lack of eating, or they can be from bleeding in the upper digestive tract, usually a sign of an infection or worms. You could try corid for the chance it’s coccidiosis, you can also try ivermectin horse wormer or fendbendazole horse wormer “safe guard.” Albendazole is another great wormer that’s more broad spectrum if you can find it but a little more pricey.

I recently treated one of my ganders with a very similar condition, I never got to the bottom of what it was but I suspect it was a spinal infection that later caused an abscess that burst. He survived it and is still recovering but he’s up and about and gaining weight. It was a long illness and there were times I thought I was going to lose him but he fought through it so it is possible for them to beat something like this as long as it isn’t tumor related.
I will caution you, it cost me more treating him symptomatically, trying various treatments based on various hunches rather than taking him back to the vet, and sometimes more damage can be done by that. For example long term antibiotics can predispose birds to candida or worse, Aspergillosis by depleating their gut flora, and it could all be for nothing if it turns out to be something untreatable, though from my own expierience there aren’t a lot of avian vets out there and not all of those are competent “as I found out the hard way” so sometimes there isn’t much of a choice for us poultry parents anyway.
 

SStickChick

Chirping
Mar 6, 2017
10
6
57
How is your hen?
Very poorly. I'm pretty certain it's Merek's. She's been gradually getting worse. I've been making sure she's drinking something a few times a day, and trying to keep her comfortable. I should probably end it, but I always have that doubt of "maybe this will help" or that she might bounce back. Her poop since last night has changed from a pretty normal color to green, and she seems to be struggling to breath. She's clearly exhausted, too, and doesn't move much even when I'm doing something she doesn't like. I'll be really surprised if she makes it through the night. I'm going to try and find someone who will do a necropsy so I can have a better idea of what happened, but I think I'm out of options now
 

Goosebaby

Crowing
Nov 10, 2019
2,646
3,893
386
Northern California
Very poorly. I'm pretty certain it's Merek's. She's been gradually getting worse. I've been making sure she's drinking something a few times a day, and trying to keep her comfortable. I should probably end it, but I always have that doubt of "maybe this will help" or that she might bounce back. Her poop since last night has changed from a pretty normal color to green, and she seems to be struggling to breath. She's clearly exhausted, too, and doesn't move much even when I'm doing something she doesn't like. I'll be really surprised if she makes it through the night. I'm going to try and find someone who will do a necropsy so I can have a better idea of what happened, but I think I'm out of options now
I’m so sorry, and I’m the same way, I ve always got “but what if I try this” in my head, but sometimes there’s nothing we can do. You’ve done so much for her and the important thing is she knows you’ve made her comfortable.
 

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