Chicken died today, large liver

dugtoni

In the Brooder
Jun 16, 2022
6
3
11
Northern Vermont
Hello all,

It has been a very sad and challenging day for me. Today was the day I decided to cull my overly aggressive rooster. When I went to catch him, I noticed one of my hens barely able to stand up. She seemed to be suffering, so I quickly turned my attention to putting her out of her misery. I was already stressed enough about needing to kill my rooster (have never done this before), and then finding this hen just made things so much worse. When I cut her open I noticed her liver being huge. There also seemed to be a lot of fat in her abdomen. Based on a little research it seems like fatty liver hemorrhagic syndrome might have been the cause? I attached a photo of her liver. They are able to free range in my backyard so I wouldn’t think exercise is the issue. I’m worried for my other birds and wondering if I should change their food. Right now I’m feeding them poulin grains layer pellets (ingredients attached). I’ve been working on my compost pile recently and haven’t been giving them a ton of scraps, so maybe that has led to a nutritional deficiency? I just feel terrible if that’s the case, but I want to do whatever I can to change things for the better for my other hens. Please let me know your thoughts. Thank you!
 

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The lumpy surface of the liver, irregular color, mottled yollowish nodules are certainly suggestive of a trend towards fatty liver, though the picture quality isn't great on my monitor and of course I can't feel it with my hands. That said, by the time fatty liver is starting to cause birds to drop, its usually much worse, with more obvious lesions, and sometimes bleeds.

Was the liver firm and flexible/elastic, or was it sort of crumbly??

Your feed, based on the numbers, isn't bad. As in, better than many. Its certainly not "high fat". And its not a whole grain feed, so your hen wasn't selecting the most tasty (and usually highest fat) bits and leaving the rest. That begs the question, what else might you be feeding/treating them? Or is there something in their environment which might be a ready fat source right now?

["Nothing" IS an acceptable answer]

Lots of other things can cause a swollen/oversized liver, and cause mottling of irregular white/yellow coloration. Some are symptoms of infection by parasite or toxins.

In short, maybe? I don't honestly know.

Curious as to what Eggcessive Azygous and @Wyorp Rock might have to say.
 
The lumpy surface of the liver, irregular color, mottled yollowish nodules are certainly suggestive of a trend towards fatty liver, though the picture quality isn't great on my monitor and of course I can't feel it with my hands. That said, by the time fatty liver is starting to cause birds to drop, its usually much worse, with more obvious lesions, and sometimes bleeds.

Was the liver firm and flexible/elastic, or was it sort of crumbly??

Your feed, based on the numbers, isn't bad. As in, better than many. Its certainly not "high fat". And its not a whole grain feed, so your hen wasn't selecting the most tasty (and usually highest fat) bits and leaving the rest. That begs the question, what else might you be feeding/treating them? Or is there something in their environment which might be a ready fat source right now?

["Nothing" IS an acceptable answer]

Lots of other things can cause a swollen/oversized liver, and cause mottling of irregular white/yellow coloration. Some are symptoms of infection by parasite or toxins.

In short, maybe? I don't honestly know.

Curious as to what Eggcessive Azygous and @Wyorp Rock might have to say.
Thanks for weighing in! I wasn’t feeding them anything else. Just this feed and whatever they could find free ranging. All of them seemed so healthy, and then suddenly this one was about to croak out of nowhere. She seemed like she was struggling to breathe. I have no experience butchering chickens but my wife has a little and the only thing that stood out to her was the size of the liver.
 
With the evidence of a large amount of fat and the tan liver, you may be right about this being fatty liver hemorrhagic disease. Did you any evidence of a blood clot near the liver? That is what I found with the one hen I did a necropsy on with the same findings. My hen also was eating layer feed.

Another disease that can cause a large liver is avian lymphoid leukosis.
 
Thanks for weighing in! I wasn’t feeding them anything else. Just this feed and whatever they could find free ranging. All of them seemed so healthy, and then suddenly this one was about to croak out of nowhere. She seemed like she was struggling to breathe. I have no experience butchering chickens but my wife has a little and the only thing that stood out to her was the size of the liver.
Here's a reference - its a roo, so it will have less fat than a hen - that's the nature of the beast, but it may offer you a point of comparison. I'm not sure if I have any recent hen photos, I mostly cull males currently. I had one little girl a bit overweight, she found a bunch of the seed right now in season, and fattened right up. I'll go look.
 
With the evidence of a large amount of fat and the tan liver, you may be right about this being fatty liver hemorrhagic disease. Did you any evidence of a blood clot near the liver? That is what I found with the one hen I did a necropsy on with the same findings. My hen also was eating layer feed.

Another disease that can cause a large liver is avian lymphoid leukosis.
Thanks for your reply! I’m not sure about any blood clot near the liver. My wife was butchering her, and she doesn’t seem to recall seeing one.
 

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