Could really use some advice about a hen... and her poopy symptoms

NewFLChickenMama

In the Brooder
Apr 20, 2019
17
44
36
East Central Florida, USA
Glad you were able to find a vet.
It would be best to re-consult them and have them clarify the diet that they recommended.
We actually spent time in the visit trying to locate a low density diet available commercially with no luck. I mentioned that the resources here might have some suggestions, and he agreed it would be a great place to look for info. I'm hoping someone here has specific knowledge of either a commercially available diet, a recipe I can make, or perhaps some mix-and-match that has worked for them. Reading the knowledge is the posts from the community makes me believe that you guys pretty much have all the answers :)

Thanks!
 

Wyorp Rock

Enabler
Sep 20, 2015
27,214
36,207
1,182
Southern N.C. Mountains
We actually spent time in the visit trying to locate a low density diet available commercially with no luck. I mentioned that the resources here might have some suggestions, and he agreed it would be a great place to look for info. I'm hoping someone here has specific knowledge of either a commercially available diet, a recipe I can make, or perhaps some mix-and-match that has worked for them. Reading the knowledge is the posts from the community makes me believe that you guys pretty much have all the answers :)

Thanks!
Well, I'm not sure what the vet means by "low density diet".
@ChickenCanoe may be able to give you some tips.
 

Halfpasthen

Songster
Jan 29, 2019
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We actually spent time in the visit trying to locate a low density diet available commercially with no luck. I mentioned that the resources here might have some suggestions, and he agreed it would be a great place to look for info. I'm hoping someone here has specific knowledge of either a commercially available diet, a recipe I can make, or perhaps some mix-and-match that has worked for them. Reading the knowledge is the posts from the community makes me believe that you guys pretty much have all the answers :)

Thanks!
I am far from knowledgeable compared to a lot of people here. And hopefully someone will come along with advice. I can tell you really love your hen and I'm sorry she isn't well.
This is probably a silly suggestion but have you ever taken a break from the blueberries and grapes to see if that may not be causing the diarrhea? I only mention it bc I happened to see a post a few days ago where a lot of people claimed feeding blueberries made for... well, a mess.
Another thought I had is ( I read this somewhere) that wetting chicken feed helped them eat less bc the water makes the food expand. So they are hydrating better and getting full sooner. Maybe if you can't find a specific feed you can just change HOW you feed.
 

ChickenCanoe

Crossing the Road
9 Years
Nov 23, 2010
29,397
19,116
867
St. Louis, MO
Hi Everyone-

Update on Tilly- Man, are we learning a ton! I finally found a vet (Exotic avian... go figure) right in my backyard. So very grateful; it took a few tries, and I want to share where we are now, how we got here, and ask a question or 3 about low density feed.

Since my last post, Tilly stopped laying completely. She seemed swollen in her rear, but otherwise she's her usual self- diarrhea 85% of the time, but lately that's seemed a bit better actually. I can actually say I've seen something close to solid poo from her. The real concern was the swollen/distended rear that has been persisting for weeks.

The first vet I went to a few weeks ago diagnosed it as a massive tumor after an xray- the entire area from behind her legs and back appeared to be a single gray blob. Bad xray? Dunno. What I do know is that he barely touched her. Ever get the feeling that someone is clueless and just going through the motions? That was our visit with the first 'vet,' and we knew midway through the visit there would not be a second appointment. I continued my search for a vet to diagnose Tilly.

Today she was seen by the 'new' vet who clearly does have experience with chickens (as well as falcons, owls, macaws, etc). If you live in Florida, I'm in Brevard County and I will gladly share his name if you message me. I love it when someone loves to share information and educate me (Also why I love this forum, by the way!)

While the news today isn't great, it isn't hopeless either. After an exam, ultrasound showed that the cause of the swelling was fluid. Aspirate of that fluid was perfectly, crystal clear. No color, nothing suspended in it. She has ascities/congestive heart failure/Altitude sickness (misnomer there, considering we're close to sea level). At least treatable if not curable.

She's a little overweight, and the recommendation is to try to get a bit of weight off of her and monitor. The fluid isn't causing her any issues now (aside from a bit of a waddle- she moves just fine, and can jump on and off her perch without issue), and will just come back, so we are watching her for now.

That said, the recommendation was to feed a low density feed to reduce her weight. Google and I have been at it for hours (complicated articles on mass poultry feeding were incredibly hard to digest (sorry, couldn't pass that one up!), and I've spent a lot of time cruising through the info here too. What I don't find is a specific feeding recommendation for that low density diet. I'm new at this and details are a godsend. She's a young bird, easter egger, not laying, and has been getting a regular diet of layer feed with a month or two of Feather fixer due to the flock molting, but we are back to layer feed as of last week. Treats are a few grapes or blueberries each day. I can add veggies and restrict the layer feed (but how much should she get? She has been allowed to free-feed her entire life, unmeasured) Does that plan constitute low density feed? Is there a commercially available low density feed? Is there a good, home made recipe for one? I'm willing to do whatever I can for my Tilly- remember, she's a pet.

Your help/advice/experience is much appreciated!!

Thanks!
So I have to say that feeding chickens isn't complicated but then again, it can be very complicated.
We have to consider the physiology of the chickens' digestive tract, especially the crop, proventriculus and gizzard.
In nature, chickens eat a variety of foods of various shapes, sizes and nutritional makeup. During a day, they may eat a lot of tiny bugs and seeds as well as bigger things like mice, frogs, grasshoppers and occasional tender forbs. What that means is that the crop often should accept foodstuffs of varying sizes and textures. After they pass to the proventriculus where they get digestive juices added and then to the gizzard (mechanical stomach) where they are ground up so the nutrients can be absorbed by the intestines.
Sometimes, feeding strictly mash, crumbles or pellets flies in the face of the way their digestive tracts work.
For a lower density diet, we may from time to time need to add more fiber and lower protein.
One thing you can look for is a finisher feed. It will be a crumble and about 15% protein and 1% calcium. Several companies make it including Nutrena and Purina. Some call it grower but it doesn't matter what they call it, look for something under 16% protein.
A couple supplements you may want to consider are diced yams, parsnips, turnips or carrots. Maybe a small amount of whole black oil sunflower seed in moderation since it is over 20% fiber.
Always make sure they have appropriately sized grit available.
Once winter is over, you'll want to raise the protein a little above that in finisher.
Off the density topic, I would immediately cut out the layer feed. I seem to understand she hasn't laid an egg since October so she isn't a layer and therefore non-layers shouldn't eat layer feed. 4% calcium is way too much for a bird not building egg shells. Possibly the reason she is drinking so much water, trying to flush out that calcium that has overwhelmed the kidneys. One of the jobs of the kidneys is to regulate minerals in the blood. If the diet gives them too much work to do they can fail. A chicken has 2 kidneys with 3 segments each. When segments get damaged, it is known as urolithiasis. Kidney damage isn't reversible. A chicken can act normal as long as there are still two functioning segments. Once one of the remaining segments fails, death can happen within 24 hours and sometimes with no symptoms.
 
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NewFLChickenMama

In the Brooder
Apr 20, 2019
17
44
36
East Central Florida, USA
Thank you both so much-

Halfpasthen, I think you have an excellent point with wetting the food- much of what I read from a people perspective in low density diets involved adding more water. I can also vouch that even a few blueberries makes for a blue mess LOL

@ChickenCanoe- thank you for the education! Simple but complicated is soooo true! I'll get lower protein food tomorrow, and I'm off- time to go cut up some yams and carrots!

Thank you again! I sincerely appreciate that you took to time to read my post and share your thoughts, information, and suggestions!
 

ChickenCanoe

Crossing the Road
9 Years
Nov 23, 2010
29,397
19,116
867
St. Louis, MO
My idea about the yams and other root vegetables are in addition to adding fiber is that those things make good prebiotics. Adding some probiotics in addition may help with both digestion and the poopy butt.
 
Any updates on your hen?
I am not the original poster, but since I share a roof with her and she's put up with my rear for 20 years, I feel like I can speak for her.

So far, Tilly seems to be doing just fine. We've switched over diets and she still has her appetite, still alert and curious, and still really darn fast when she's snatching something we don't want her to have (she would probably eat an entire roll of toilet paper if left unattended with it). It's a relief that it may be an issue that we can solve, instead of the overwhelming feeling of dread that we got from the original 'it's a tumor nothin we can do' vet.

NewFLChickenMama had to have knee replacement surgery just a few days ago, and sitting at a computer chair is still a bit away, but I'm sure she'll be back soon with a better update.
 
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