Can’t lie down


Jan 24, 2018
SW France, not far from Toulouse
My 30 month old large chicken has been suffering from bumblefoot. Although the vet cleaned three weeks ago it out and gave her antibiotics I think she didn’t get all of the infection out as the swelling looks to me like it’s getting worse again.

For the last three to four days the chickens health has been deteriorating. She will not eat or drink and if she lays down she sounds like she is wheezing. When she stands up again her breathing is better. As a result the poor thing is standing up all the time. It’s obvious that she wants to lie down and rest. We cannot take her to the vet - the vet has to visit as the chicken becomes so stressed the vet acknowledged it was too dangerous to treat her. Unfortunately our vet is away, returning Monday, and the locum refused to come out. Even after explaining, in bad French, why we could not take her to the vet she refused to visit. I am very uncomfortable with the situation as the bird is clearly suffering.
She may have a crop disorder. A full squishy crop can cause noisy breathing, and it's also very uncomfortable. Feel the crop's consistency. Hard, full, soft, spongy?

What is her poop like? Antibiotics destroy the good microbes in a digestive system. Try giving her yogurt or/and probiotics for starters.
The crop feels empty to me. We gave probiotics as a precaution and she had been fine without any obvious symptoms. She had been pushing for food with the others up to probably last Wednesday. Poop is very little, creamy coloured and very liquid, hardly any solids.
It could be tumors enlarging her organs, and making it hard for her to breathe. Marek's and lymphoid leucosis are avian viruses that cause tumors. I had a young cockerel that couldn't breathe, his comb was purple, and when he died I had him necropsied. He had tumors on all his organs, and the liver alone weighed two pounds.

There's a possibility she has an infection, and you can try giving her an antibiotic to see if that could help. I feel it's always worth a try.

If this hen dies, refrigerate the body (do not freeze) and locate a state lab to have a necropsy done. That will tell you if you have something in your flock that could affect your other chickens.
Sadly she died when the vet was trying to find the underlying cause. She started to turn purple and fainting. Husband and vet got her quickly to a water bowl to help revive her ( which they have had to do a few weeks ago but it was too late. She had a seizure and I said euthanise now. By the time the vet had got the drugs and injection ready she was very still and looked finally at peace, the vet gave her the injection but I know she had already died. I’m glad she died at home rather than in the vets.
The vet took her back and examined her. We were worried that if she had tumours she would be the second of a group of four we had and would raise concerns for the surviving two. The vet discovered a very enlarged aorta and vein leading to the heart. This would explain why any type of stress or effort would turn her from red to purple.

Lesson learnt now is that any of my hens who stop laying for more than a month without a very good reason, such as moulting, should be investigated by the vet for any other underlying ailments.

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