Cancer in my Flock, Please Help! **GRAPHIC**

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by BlueChai, May 8, 2019.

  1. BlueChai

    BlueChai Chirping

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    Hello everyone, I am in serious need of help. This month has been absolutely chaotic, and I can't find anything that helps me so I came here to see if anyone knows anything.
    So, at the beginning of the month, my buff silkie hen named Gabby began to act very strange.
    This began with her devoting her time to sitting on eggs, I refused to let her sit as I know most of my flocks weights aren't what they need for committed mamas. When I tried to get her to stop and eat she wouldn't eat. She absolutely refused to eat and drink in my company. I forced her to eat some kibble and electrolyte water (and Gatorade) to keep her alive. She simply got more and more thin and dropped dead inevitably. Upon opening her up I found lots of fat deposits along the throat, inner thighs(where legs meet body), all around the gizzard and lots around the cloaca/tail base. Before I opened her up I was expecting leukosis; however there was no tumors of the liver, spleen or bursa. The most unusual thing was the chewy tobacco and stone look of the ovaries. I've opened up quite a few birds in the past and none have had ovaries like this.

    Soon after this, my favorite bird began to get sick. She is a buff silkie hen, around a year old. Her name is Ellie, and she is very special to me. She has a mental issue that made her slower than the rest of the flock for her entire life. She sometimes wobbled, ran into walls, and was easily frightened. Her face was also deformed, she had scissor beak and her nasal and maxilla region was bent to the side. This blocked off her nostrils and made it difficult to breath out of her nose. I debated euthanizing her, but she was a very happy bird and still made her way around well. Ellie was always on the thinner side, but she ate enough and she was never thin enough to be too concerning. But, as I said, soon after Gabby passed Ellie's condition began to deteriorate. But unlike Gabby, Ellie's physical behavior was almost completely normal. Although she didn't have her normally confident and spunky posture, she didn't seem too lethargic and was more than happy to eat and drink. Despite this, her weight began to drop rapidly. And even though I would see her try to eat, her crop was always empty. I thought she might've been struggling to eat because of her beak, so I cooked chicken food "pancakes" to break into little pieces and place into her mouth. I didn't have to force her to swallow, she would swallow it once it was in her beak. I would fill her crop 3 times a day, and I thought I was making progress with her. But, she died unexpectedly about a week after she began losing weight. I decided to also open her up, and she had no body fat on her like Gabby did. There was barely any muscle on her, either. All of her organs looked perfect except for her ovaries, which were very similar to Gabby's.

    It is important to note that Gabby and Ellie were kept in separate parts of the yard in different flocks. They have never seen or interacted with one another, nor are they related. And now I'm going to talk about my white silkie named Khaleesi, who is in the same flock Ellie was in. A few days after Ellie died, Khaleesi began to lose weight as well. Khaleesi is a white silkie hen, a few months younger than Ellie. Khaleesi was Ellie's best friend, so I originally thought the change in behavior may have been depression. She began to sit in corners a lot, and didn't want to interact with the other birds. She does eat a lot, though. I always see her eating, and her crop is very full all the time. But, she is losing weight rapidly. Khaleesi also jerks her head in a strange way from time to time, but I don't know if that is related. Khaleesi is my highest quality silkie hen, and I am very afraid that I'm going to lose her as well.

    I suspect that Gabby and Ellie suffered from ovarian cancer, but I could be wrong. My biggest questions are what is causing this? Is there any way I can cure or prevent this? Is this even ovarian cancer? I know hens can get ovarian cancer, it just happens. But I had two very young birds pass because of it in the span of a few weeks, and it is frustrating. If anyone has any advice or has any idea what this is/how to fix it, please let me know. I greatly appreciate it.

    Top picture: Ellie
    Bottom picture: Gabby
    The area circled in blue is their damaged ovaries.
    upload_2019-5-8_16-30-25.png upload_2019-5-8_16-31-0.png
     
    Texas Kiki likes this.
  2. Chicks 'n ducks

    Chicks 'n ducks Songster

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  3. BlueChai

    BlueChai Chirping

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    Khaleesi's condition is getting worse, and I don't know what to do to help her. She holds her wings away from her body like she is hot, and she constantly jerks her head like she's silently sneezing. I can't find the presence of any mucus in her throat or nose, and she's been eating and drinking normally. Her weight is thin, but seems to have stopped getting worse for now. Her crop is always huge, and yet she isn't gaining anything. I'm worried I'm going to lose her soon.
     
  4. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Enabler

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    I'm very sorry to hear about your losses and about Khaleesi :hugs

    I don't know of a cure for cancer. I would suspect you are dealing with something like Marek's but the only way to know for sure would probably be through testing from your state lab.
    The crop is not emptying, so you can try treating that, but often crop problems are just a symptom of an underlying condition.
     
  5. BlueChai

    BlueChai Chirping

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    Thank you, it's been hard but I'm just trying to get through it.
    If Khaleesi dies, I will take her in for lab testing. If she is having problems emptying her crop, how do I treat it? Will that help her gain some weight back?
     
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  6. Hugaroomomma

    Hugaroomomma Hatching

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    I am going through the same exact thing. I have a third beloved hen dying. It’s been vet verified as ovarian cancer and it’s killing young birds. From 18 mos to my not quite 3 yr old girl. The first was tested for marrecks and was negative. My vet has not seen a cluster like mine before. All unrelated one home hatched and not purchased. I’ve been reading a ton of different research. I’ve learned. No mealworms unless made in the USA. Mealworms can be fed toxins that are transferred to your hens. Feed flax seed. And this has been seemingly bred into heavy layers as well. In the egg industry hens are bred to produce more eggs. After their first year they are culled due to the drop in production. What they did not check was for early onset cancer. Why they were just culling right? Now researchers are seeing these cancers more and more and are only just getting some kind of data. According to a few university studies hens fed flax seed tend to survive longer. There will be no mealworms ever fed to another chicken I own and flax introduced as soon as possible to normal crumble feeds made right here in this country. I have a welsummer and so far she seems good...she’s the only healthy seeming hen I have left and she is a 180 egg a year layer. She may make it a few more years if she also has this cancer. Low production= better survival. First signs of ovarian cancer. Lack of or incomplete molt, drastically increasing egg size, rough bumpy shells, followed by soft eggs ( not just one, multiple with increasing frequency)in the late stage. Final stage, lethargy, eating dirt, confusion, no appetite, and shell less albumen less eggs. I’m sorry if anything is unclear but I am making the decision to put another hen down and heart broken. Feel free to ask anything and I will try to reply quickly.
     
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  7. BlueChai

    BlueChai Chirping

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    Oh my goodness. That's a lot to take in. So you're telling me that all this cancer we're having is because of mealworms? Wow, that's insane. I give my birds mealworms quite a bit. So if I cut mealworms out of the diet and give them flax seed every so often, it lowers the chances of hens getting ovarian cancer? Because my hens are very young and have a low egg productivity, it makes no sense for them to be getting cancer unless the mealworm toxins are true.
     
    Texas Kiki likes this.
  8. BlueChai

    BlueChai Chirping

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    Khaleesi is getting significantly worse. I have been giving her fluids and apple cider vinegar, and some food will pass through her crop but there is still stuff stuck in it, even though I massage it. Her weight is awful, she's very weak and confused. She eats poop and dirt if I don't watch her, and her neck is held very far back and her head always wobbles. She is more than happy to eat and drink if I put it in front of her, but she has no improvement. I don't know what to do.
     
    Texas Kiki likes this.
  9. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Enabler

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    It sounds like she is trying to clear the crop if she's eating dirt, possibly searching for grit.

    If the crop hard, soft, doughy, squishy, fluid filled and/or sour?
    I would cage her on puppy pads so you can monitor her.
    Is she able to poop at all?
     
    Texas Kiki likes this.
  10. Texas Kiki

    Texas Kiki Egg Pusher

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    I am sorry for your losses.
    Are you in the US?
    Do you know your state lab's contact info?
     

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