Broken Femur Neck - please help me decide what to do?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Marthamae21, Jul 30, 2013.

  1. Marthamae21

    Marthamae21 Out Of The Brooder

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    Hello all and thank you all so much for being such a valuable resource! I've learned so much from the members on this site, and I have a new problem I hope someone can help me with. We keep four laying hens - two years old approximately - two Brahmas and two Silver Lace Wyandottes. One of the Brahmas, Houdini, has a bad wing, but tried to fly when startled by an unfamiliar caregiver last Saturday morning July 27 (I was out of town). She flew into the doorjamb on the man-door in their coop, and immediately started limping. Within a very short time she could not put any weight on the leg and was panting. We caged her and made her as comfy as we could on deep bedding, and she has continued to eat and drink.

    She saw a general vet today who examined her and x-rayed the leg. A consulting radiologist diagnosed that Houdini had broken her left leg at the femur neck, basically just below the socket joint of her hip, and bone displacement. I don't know the direction or severity of the displacement. The vet prescribed MetaCam for pain and an antibiotic; there is a (newly-minted) vet on staff at this clinic who has an avian specialty so there is some depth of information for the vet treating Houdini, but it's confined to parrots and cockatiels for the most part.

    My dear hen is obviously in severe pain, but does have time with her tail up and cheebles at us in between panting. I honestly don't know whether I should let her try to heal or not. I don't think she'll walk without a limp ever again, and I'm wondering if she'll develop an infection that could spread to the other hens. I don't know if it's fair to her or not to let her suffer through this if the likely outcome is her death. This break is in a place that I have no idea how to splint or protect.

    Anyone with any useful experience - I sure could use a word of advice. Thank you all so much. Martha & Theresa
     
  2. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    It is good that they prescribe antibiotics to prevent a systemic infection, and pain relief. Did the vet not say anything about splinting? I don't have any experience with broken bones. There are quite a few threads to read on broken legs. Maybe this one will help you: https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/724334/broken-leg
     
  3. Marthamae21

    Marthamae21 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 18, 2012
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    Thank you so much for your reply! Ahh - right, the antibiotics would prevent a systemic infection. The problem with immobilizing this break is where it is located. If the break were on the chicken's visible, scaly leg bone, then no problem - splinting would be a snap. But the break is "just" below the hip socket, deep in the muscle tissue of the thigh. I can't figure out how to immobilize that without a body cast. I assume body casts are not something one puts on a feathered creature. anybody know?

    We tried a sling and it hurt her so badly she flew out of it despite the injury. I'll do a search on broken bones, but if you have any ideas at all people, please let me know if she might have a chance or not. Thank you and we really appreciate the interest. Martha & Theresa
     
  4. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    I would guess that for that sort of break and bone displacement an operation would probably be the only chance... But I may be wrong. If she's smart enough to keep herself still she might have some chance. Best wishes.
     
  5. happyhens1972

    happyhens1972 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had a girl with the very same injury...she got butted by one of my goats. Under vet's advice, we put her in a cat box for a week, very restricted, with coop cups on the door for her to eat and drink from. We fed her on lots of scrambled eggs and vitamin drops for canaries as well as her layer's pellets. We also gave her yoghurt to keep everything moving in her crop and baked, crushed eggshell for the calcium.

    She did not have enough room to turn round in the box, just to stand up and sit back down. We had to regularly clean her bottom as she was laying in her own muck but after a week of bed rest, she walked with a limp but could walk and do all things chickeny. We made steps for her so she could get into her house at night without jumping and the vet said that the muscle in her thigh was sufficient to support the break. Surgery would have likely been fatal apparently.

    That was two years ago and she is till going strong. The limp started off very pronounced but has now reduced to barely noticably...unless she runs, then she looks a little daft as she lurches to one side...but she is still happy to run with the pack when there's something tasty on offer!

    I know it seems terrible to leave her in pain but in all honesty, my girl, Hesta, took it all in her wobbly stride and showed barely any sign of stress at all...still ate well, chuckled away to herself, remained bright, alert and impatient to be free. We put her cat box in a side pen so she could still see and hear her girlfriends and put another, VERY DOCILE girl in with her to keep her company. Obviously any companion bird must be trusted to not take advantage of the weakness and attack or eat all the food!
     
  6. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote: Minus the layer pellets and vitamin drops (I used kelp instead) that's identical to what I did for one of my best bantam hens after a dog jumped on her and broke her entire skeleton. She's fine now.

    Quote: That reminds me of a cat I knew who was kicked by the neighbour. It shattered his thigh so badly they took the whole thighbone out. You would never know. He looks and acts completely normal and apparently this is not uncommon for dogs, cats etc... I would be worried about the displaced bone stabbing muscle or organs but it's not impossible that the hen can make it... If she's smart enough to rest up, probably with some helpful restriction to a catbox, lol. My catboxes do a lot of extra jobs around the place. Never too many cages and boxes!
     
  7. Marthamae21

    Marthamae21 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks to all so much - well, she's not moving around much, but she does change position now and then. She's eating like a horse, panting, drinking, chirruping, and giving me the stink-eye for forcing medication down her, so she seems not to be quite at death's door yet. That's a relief - oh, and did I mention that she's laid two eggs since breaking the bone? A chicken is indeed a mighty tough critter.

    Happyhens1972, thank you so much for your story. It's given us a great deal of hope and a bit of guidance in terms of how to house her while she heals and what we can do to help her stay tidy. There isn't room for a companion bird in Houdini's quarters, but she's getting frequent visits from her best flock-friend. She definitely wants OUT of the box, and she is occasionally getting up on the leg. For now, we're giving her every chance we can to get better.

    Chooks4life, thanks for the good wishes an dhope winter's all right where you are :). Oh and good thing you're not in new York or I'd come looking for your cat-hating neighbor and demonstrate with me trusty sledgehamer what that poor cat went through - ok, just kidding, no more blood. :-D

    Martha, with Theresa shaking her head in disbelief at what I just said
     
  8. Marthamae21

    Marthamae21 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 18, 2012
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    Here's an update on Houdini's progress. She's somewhat better, but there hasn't been much change. Still eating, drinking, panting, cheebling. She's better after her pain meds, worse as the day wears on. We've asked for (and received) copies of her x-rays and the reading report from the consulting veterinairan in California who read the x-rays. It's a bad break and the bone has displaced slightly toward her head. I'm not feeling as optimistic as I was. Both vets think she needs surgery to survive, and we simply cannot justify the cost. It's not over yet - she's still fighting to heal and we are tending her as carefully as we can. Martha & Theresa
     
  9. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Best wishes with your decision. If it's only slightly misplaced I would think she has a chance, though I haven't seen the X-Rays and she does sound like it's hurting a lot. Originally when I said I thought she would need surgery to survive it sounded like a clean break with the bone shunting off into tissue. If that's the case, she might need medical help to live but costs can be insane and being a bird she's quite likely to die under anesthesia. I've had a lot of animals I would have saved if I had the money but I didn't. Whatever your choice, don't feel bad if you can avoid it. Hope it all goes well. Sometimes second or third opinions are the better ones. ;)
     
  10. happyhens1972

    happyhens1972 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Awww, sorry to hear it's not looking good and try not to feel bad if the decision is to let her go. Only you, and with vet advice, can make the call and, as mentioned above, the likelihood of her passing during anaesthetic is quite high too so justifying the expense can be pretty difficult just on the 'means to an end' side of things, never mind the ridiculous expense involved in surgery xx
     

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