Chicken sick for 8 weeks (mystery illness)! Lemon needs help!

Pyxis

Hatchi Wan Kenobi
Project Manager
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Mar 27, 2012
21,340
49,620
1,192
Vermont
My Coop
My Coop
Hypothesis E: Worms/Parasites
  • Treatment: SafeGuard Goat Dewormer (fenbendazole 10% suspension). 3ml per gallon of water. 1-2x daily for 3 days.
  • Results: ❌No improvement

Hey! So sorry she's still not doing well after everything that you've tried.

So, this deworming won't have worked because it's not the correct dosage. You can't mix Safeguard goat dewormer with water, it's not water soluble. The correct dosage is to give .23 ml per pound of body weight. You do that for 5 days straight and it will kill most worms. So it might be worth redoing this, just to see if there is any improvement.

I also agree with @casportpony that it couldn't hurt to try an antibiotic. If she has some kind of infection going on it could easily make her feel like she doesn't want to eat much (but she will still expend the effort for 'high value' foods like the treats you mentioned). If you're open to this, Baytril is a good choice since it's very broad spectrum.
 

LemonAid

In the Brooder
Sep 5, 2021
10
33
42
fpp1Hqw.jpeg


Lemon Log: Day 58
  • Over the past 24 hours:
    • Weight change: -44g (-3% of total body weight)
      • However, her crop was smaller this morning vs yesterday morning
    • Small uptick in activity level
      • She demanded to be let outside (loud squawking) and proceeded to take a dirt bath (image above)
    • Leaked fluid out of her mouth multiple times. Forced vomiting required :(
    • 13 bowel movements
  • Treatment yesterday:
    • Tube feeding 1: Water, probiotic powder, electrolyte powder, oil of oregano, 1.5 tsp Harrison's food, Nutri-Drench.
    • Tube feeding 2: Water, probiotic powder, electrolyte powder, oil of oregano, 1 tsp Harrison's food
    • Forced vomit (very sour smelling)
    • Tube feeding 3: Water, probiotic powder, electrolyte powder, oil of oregano, 1.5 tsp Harrison's food, 1.5ml Miconazole
  • Crop size:
    • Size at bedtime: Golf ball sized
    • Size this morning: Almost entirely empty
Expert Opinion

Heard back from another university vet:
  • "A blockage is a very likely suspect, but it's also possible that your bird is suffering from a latent form of Newcastle Disease (not the virulent strain).
  • "Crop stasis is usually indicative of a disorder deeper within the coelomic (abdominal) cavity. Palpate the belly and compare it to other hens to determine if it is soft, enlarged, firm, or like a water balloon. Older hens can develop oviduct infections or tumors that can lead to long-standing problems."
New Hypothesis
  • Hypothesis L: Newcastle Disease (latent, not virulent)
    • Literature:
      • "prevalent in poultry and wild birds"
      • "Chickens are readily infected by aerosols and by ingesting contaminated water or food. Infected chickens and other domestic and wild birds may be sources"
      • "transfer of virus, especially in infective feces... are the main methods of virus spread between poultry flocks."
      • "Young birds are the most susceptible"
    • Symptoms:
      • ❌ Respiratory signs of gasping, coughing, sneezing, and rales
      • ❌ Tremors, paralyzed wings and legs, twisted necks, circling, spasms, paralysis
      • ❌Stumbling, lack of balance
      • ❌Abnormal head/neck position (Lemon did have a strange neck kink briefly, but this disappeared after the acidified copper sulfate treatment)
      • ✅ Watery greenish diarrhea
      • ✅ Reduced appetite
      • ✅ Reduced egg production / no egg production
    • Conclusion: Plausible, but seems unlikely given the primary symptoms don't match Lemon.
Replies to Posts

Have you considered trying an antibiotic?
@casportpony - Yes. Where do you recommend acquiring them? Which brand should I use? I don't have any chicken vets available in my area. Looks like @Pyxis recommends Baytril.

this deworming won't have worked because it's not the correct dosage. The correct dosage is to give .23 ml per pound of body weight. You do that for 5 days straight and it will kill most worms.
Yikes, that differs significantly from what I read elsewhere. Thanks for letting me know.

You can't mix Safeguard goat dewormer with water, it's not water soluble.
Sorry, to clarify, I mixed it into a water solution and directly tube-fed it to Lemon.
 

LemonAid

In the Brooder
Sep 5, 2021
10
33
42
Lemon Log: Day 59
  • Over the past 24 hours:
    • Weight change: -42g (-3% of total body weight)
    • Activity level slightly lower than yesterday
    • 105.2F temperature (measured under wing)
    • 15 bowel movements
  • Treatment yesterday:
    • Tube feeding 1: Water, electrolyte powder, oil of oregano, 2 tsp Harrison's food, Nutri-Drench.
    • Tube feeding 2: 1t Epsom salt + 2T water
      • Although crop is empty in the morning, it doesn't drain much during the day, and sours by evening
      • Trying Epsom salt flush again
  • Crop size:
    • Size at bedtime: Golf ball sized
    • Size this morning: Almost empty
Expert Opinion

Heard back from university poultry specialists:
  • I don't think she has pox. I doubt that coccidiosis is a concern. It's not usually a problem in older hens in situations like this, as they have usually developed resistance.
  • I would suspect an internal tumor, or an infection. When you mentioned the red swollen appearance of the abdomen, I usually think of peritonitis or salpingitis. I'm a little surprised that it seemed to improve. In my experience, hens just usually live with that for a while and it eventually kills them.
  • If it's an infection, and you could find a veterinarian to prescribe something, an antibiotic 'might' help. I don't know what antibiotic to suggest, so it would just be sort of a "shotgun" approach.
  • If it's a tumor, there's probably nothing you can do. Unfortunately, they are fairly common in laying hens.
  • You typically don't see every symptom for a disease in any one specific case (although Lemon may not have every symptom associated with disease X, she may still have disease X)
  • Black spots on comb may be a sign of extreme dehydration.
A local chicken expert at a feed and grain store says:
  • Not coccidiosis - She would be dead by now. Given she's still alive but still sick after 8 weeks, cancer/tumors seem likely.
 
Aug 19, 2020
1,232
4,509
431
Victoria, Australia
My Coop
My Coop
Lemon Log: Day 59
  • Over the past 24 hours:
    • Weight change: -42g (-3% of total body weight)
    • Activity level slightly lower than yesterday
    • 105.2F temperature (measured under wing)
    • 15 bowel movements
  • Treatment yesterday:
    • Tube feeding 1: Water, electrolyte powder, oil of oregano, 2 tsp Harrison's food, Nutri-Drench.
    • Tube feeding 2: 1t Epsom salt + 2T water
      • Although crop is empty in the morning, it doesn't drain much during the day, and sours by evening
      • Trying Epsom salt flush again
  • Crop size:
    • Size at bedtime: Golf ball sized
    • Size this morning: Almost empty
Expert Opinion

Heard back from university poultry specialists:
  • I don't think she has pox. I doubt that coccidiosis is a concern. It's not usually a problem in older hens in situations like this, as they have usually developed resistance.
  • I would suspect an internal tumor, or an infection. When you mentioned the red swollen appearance of the abdomen, I usually think of peritonitis or salpingitis. I'm a little surprised that it seemed to improve. In my experience, hens just usually live with that for a while and it eventually kills them.
  • If it's an infection, and you could find a veterinarian to prescribe something, an antibiotic 'might' help. I don't know what antibiotic to suggest, so it would just be sort of a "shotgun" approach.
  • If it's a tumor, there's probably nothing you can do. Unfortunately, they are fairly common in laying hens.
  • You typically don't see every symptom for a disease in any one specific case (although Lemon may not have every symptom associated with disease X, she may still have disease X)
  • Black spots on comb may be a sign of extreme dehydration.
A local chicken expert at a feed and grain store says:
  • Not coccidiosis - She would be dead by now. Given she's still alive but still sick after 8 weeks, cancer/tumors seem likely.
I hope she'll pull through. Best of luck. You're doing incredibly great job of caring for her. :hugs
 

LemonAid

In the Brooder
Sep 5, 2021
10
33
42
Lemon Log: Day 60
  • Crop size:
    • Size at bedtime: Racquetball sized
    • Size this morning: Half a golf ball size
  • Over the past 24 hours:
    • Weight change: -29g (-2% of total body weight)
    • 16 bowel movements
    • Activity level: Slept most of the day, but would walk around and scratch at the dirt a bit when let outside for a few minutes.
  • Treatment yesterday:
    • Tube feeding 1: Water, 1tsp Harrison's food, electrolyte, water, Nutri-Drench, Durastat with oregano, acidified copper sulfate
      • Acidified copper sulfate is one of the only treatments which led to significant improvements (see first post). Trying it again.
    • Forced vomiting required
    • Tube feeding 2: Egg yolk, water, antibiotic (metronidazole), 1.5ml miconazole antifungal
      • A local chicken expert gave me the antibiotic. Lemon is continuing to decline, and antibiotics are one of the few treatments we have not tried. This is a 5-day treatment, and we should see results after 3 days.
 

LemonAid

In the Brooder
Sep 5, 2021
10
33
42
Lemon Log: Day 61
  • Over the past 24 hours:
    • Weight change: None
    • ⚠️🚨3 bowel movements
      • This is way less than past few days
      • Poop is also extremely watery and large amounts
      • Presumably this change is the result of antibiotics, given nothing else changed since yesterday.
    • Activity level: Slept most of the day. She is noticeably wobbly when walking. Steps are small and unsure. Sometimes she puts her wings down like an extra arm to help balance.
  • Treatment yesterday:
    • Tube feeding 1: Egg yolk, water, miconazole antifungal
    • Tube feeding 2: Egg yolk, water, antibiotic (metronidazole), Nutri-Drench
    • Allowed her to eat 3 earthworms, which she was extremely excited about.
 

LemonAid

In the Brooder
Sep 5, 2021
10
33
42
Lemon Log: Day 62
  • Over the past 24 hours:
    • Weight change: +6g
    • ⚠️🚨 2 bowel movements (see notes from yesterday)
    • Activity level:
      • Will drink water on her own (this is true most days). However, I sometimes must stop her, or she overfills her crop.
      • I believe she is severely dehydrated due to diarrhea, forced vomiting, slow crop, dry comb, and dry skin (visible near vent)
      • Still wobbly when walking. Slow/quick steps. Her legs are becoming weaker.
  • Treatment yesterday:
    • Tube feeding: 1.5tsp Harrison, water, miconazole antifungal, Nutri-drench, antibiotic (metronidazole)
 
Aug 19, 2020
1,232
4,509
431
Victoria, Australia
My Coop
My Coop
Lemon Log: Day 62
  • Over the past 24 hours:
    • Weight change: +6g
    • ⚠️🚨 2 bowel movements (see notes from yesterday)
    • Activity level:
      • Will drink water on her own (this is true most days). However, I sometimes must stop her, or she overfills her crop.
      • I believe she is severely dehydrated due to diarrhea, forced vomiting, slow crop, dry comb, and dry skin (visible near vent)
      • Still wobbly when walking. Slow/quick steps. Her legs are becoming weaker.
  • Treatment yesterday:
    • Tube feeding: 1.5tsp Harrison, water, miconazole antifungal, Nutri-drench, antibiotic (metronidazole)
Sorry to hear. I really hope she'll be okay.
 

LaFleche

Meadow Devil
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Sep 22, 2012
7,947
29,605
952
Germany
Please stop the forced vomiting, it will weaken her even more and is dangerous as she might aspirate.
 

LemonAid

In the Brooder
Sep 5, 2021
10
33
42
Lemon Log: Day 63
  • Over the past 24 hours:
    • Weight change: +100g (due to fluid injections, see below)
    • ⚠️🚨 1 bowel movement (see notes from past few days)
    • Crop size didn't decrease much overnight. This is the first morning in weeks where her crop has not drained after vomiting the evening before + tube feeding.
    • Activity level:
      • Lemon can no longer stand up. She will attempt to "crawl" a few steps and/or flap her wings to lift her weight.
      • The antibiotics appear to have caused a huge "nose dive" in Lemon's health. My understanding is that antibiotics kill both good and bad bacteria - They appear to have killed off probiotics in Lemon's digestive system, resulting in the sudden drop in bowel movements.
      • I'm stopping antibiotic treatment, given results are the opposite of expectations.
      • Although her body is weak, her mind is still 100% normal. When I take her outside for a few minutes each day, she gives "warning" noises if she sees squirrels or birds. She "tells off" other chickens when they're too close. She's still super excited to eat treats, she drinks water, etc. Her eyes are still full of life, alert, and focused (not zombie chicken, not 1,000 yard stare, not cloudy).
  • Treatment yesterday:
    • Tube feeding: 1.5tsp peanut butter, egg yolk, probiotic powder, Durastat with oregano, nutri-drench, miconazole antifungal
      • Tried peanut butter, since it's fairly high calorie and existing food sources are not showing significant improvements. Watered it down significantly so it wasn't sticky/goopy. Lemon eagerly ate this formula off my fingers, but I needed to tube feed most of it.
    • Continues to drink water on her own if allowed
  • Subcutaneous fluid injection

Replies to posts

Please stop the forced vomiting

I have no desire to force vomit her. The challenge is, we're stuck in the following cycle:
  • Crop is overfull. Fluid comes out mouth when head is down.
  • If crop is left overfull, contents sour.
  • After force vomiting, Lemon is more perky / seems to feel better
  • I tube feed Lemon before bed
  • Crop is near-empty in the morning (drains successfully)
  • Tube feed over the next ~1.5 days
  • Crop doesn't drain, fills up again, cycle repeats
In other words, if I don't force vomit her, crop stasis occurs, and crop contents sour. What's interesting is that after vomiting + tube feeding, her crop contents drain overnight.
 

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