Dare I? Flatulence problem with hens

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Wol1, Jun 11, 2016.

  1. Wol1

    Wol1 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This line of inquiry usually devolves into a lot of humor, but please humor me for a moment before the fun starts. Several of my hens are getting swollen bellies. I took the first one to a vet, expecting egg peritonitis or ascites or such, She took an x-ray and found lots of gas in her gastrointestinal system, but had no idea what the cause could be. Now another one is swelling up and she's actually passing gas. I pick her up and out it comes. A lot. Every time. She is also having trouble laying eggs. Takes her hours, and she seems miserable.

    It seems impossible to find anything serious online about this as most info that comes up is either joking or about humans and dogs passing gas after eating chicken.

    I did find this, though:
    "Birds don't typically need to pass gas, but their bodies allow it should the need arise. It's not that they can't. They just don't need to, says Mike Murray, a veterinarian at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. Birds have the anatomical and physical ability to pass gas, he explains, "but if I saw gas in a bird's gastrointestinal tract on an x-ray, I'd suspect that something abnormal was going on in there."
    Birds don't typically carry the same kinds of gas-forming bacteria in their gut as humans and other mammals to help digest food, so there's nothing to let loose. "
    http://www.popsci.com/environment/article/2009-05/it-true-birds-cant-fart
    Does anyone have thoughts on what is happening and how I can relieve the misery these girls are enduring? Could it be necrotic enteritis? Would an antibiotic help? If so, what would work on this type of intestinal bacteria?
    Thanks!
     
  2. CluckerCottage

    CluckerCottage Chillin' With My Peeps

    [​IMG]Have you ever thought of feeding the girls some plain greek yogurt?
    Or a probiotic powder as a top dressing on their food or mixed in their water?
    Probiotic organisms really do help chickens stay healthy. Mine are yogurt addicts!
    Oh, and their poop isn't so offensive to the nose!
     
  3. Wol1

    Wol1 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for replying. I do feed them yogurt from time to time, but not regularly. I don't have probiotics that aren't part of electrolyte mix, and they don't like to drink that. What kind do you recommend to sprinkle on the food?
     
  4. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Hmmm....I'm sure you have considered all these things.
    Just brainstorming here...any change in feed or has your manufacturer of the feed changed it's formula any? Did this start with a new bag of feed by any chance, possibly some wrong ratio of ingredients? bad batch?
    Any new treats by any chance.
    Probiotics is a good idea to see if it helps. Check your feed to make sure it doesn't already have "probiotics" listed. (the commercial feed I use has probos already in it).
    Since it is affecting several, it's either something they are eating or possibly bacterial. Have your vet do a fecal float to check for bacteria and internal parasites just to be sure.
    What does their poo look like?
     
  5. Wol1

    Wol1 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for your reply. I know all those things to think about, but failed to apply them all here. The first bird and the later birds are in separate areas but eat the same food. I have tried a few different foods lately, as I was unhappy with all the powder in the Dumor pellets we were feeding them. I have to sift it out or it clogs up the feeder slots so that pellets can't come out into the tray. I've been keeping the powder and occasionally feed it to them mixed with water for a treat. I've been doing this for over a year. A few months ago I gave them Feather Fixer for a few weeks as many of them were molting late and it was very cold. I also tried Layena Oyster Strong a couple months ago to see if it had less powder, and picked up a bag of Kalmbach 17% feed about three weeks ago as I was OUT of feed and couldn't get to TSC. My husband bought more Dumor a couple days later and poured it on top (he likes cheap food and doesn't like it when I buy more expensive feed). Due to some fragile eggs, I sifted some oyster shell from the bottom of the bag into the powdered feed a couple weeks ago and gave them that. So, it does seem that the feed may be the culprit. Any suggestions of how to get them past this and back to health?
    (It also occurred to me that my hen may be miserable for hours before laying because it must hurt to have a big egg pushing past a lot of gas!)
     
  6. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Switching feeds may be part of your problem.
    I would go back to feeding what you used before you started encountering any problems and give it several weeks to see if that helps. Every company has a different formula and a quick change in diet may not be agreeing with them.

    If you don't like the TSC brand, then maybe find a happy medium that you and your husband can agree upon. I understand, some feeds are expensive. I would think most layer feeds are fine, but consistency in brand/type is most likely what you need right now, so hopefully you can get your girls back to optimal health.

    Limit treats to no more than 5-10% of daily intake. The lower in protein of food the less treats need to be offered.

    Offer oyster shell free choice instead of adding it to the feed that way they take what they need without having to pick through the food to get it. I also save my egg shells and bake them, crush them and feed back to the girls as well. (offer free choice as well).

    Since you have a good relationship with your vet, a fecal float test would still be beneficial, just to make sure it's not bacterial.

    I use crumbles (20% protein) so powder is the norm for me as well. Mine love wet food, so I just mix some of the powder with crumbles, water and maybe some chopped veggies/fruit - they think I am awesome[​IMG]

    Just my opinion.
     
  7. ChickenChaser9

    ChickenChaser9 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Unflavored plain Greek Yogurt is a great starting point to create that good gut bacteria. Apple Cider Vinegar could be mixed into their water as well. There has been a lot of good advice mentioned already so I wont repeat it. Observation is important so you can catch any changes good or ill that happen as soon as possible to determine what effect your treatments are having.
     
  8. HnkyDnkyZZFarm

    HnkyDnkyZZFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm just sort of musing aloud here, but I was thinking; flatulence is a build up of gas in the intestine, roight roight, captain obvious I am. (CHICKEN FARTS!!! OMG!LOL, I had to, sorry.)

    So what might be in her intestine that is causing food to not break down completely, grow bacteria and ferment - causing gas ? Bacteria imbalance doesn't necessarily mean infection, or antibiotics, because that kills the good bacteria too and if it's just an imbalance, it might be throwing away the baby with the bathwater.


    So food, yes of course, but the question would be why is it not breaking down and being absorbed or excreted rather than sitting long enough to cause gas, and to not be excreted by her system manageably over the days as it normally would?

    What would cause reduced intestinal function in chickens? (parasites? diseases?)


    Water would be where I might start. Is she getting enough Is there any way you can monitor her water intake? Check the waterers for any build up of algae or debris that might be throwing her off, maybe add apple cider vinegar to the water which increases it's acidity and can lower the bacteria present in the birds system and growing in the waterers for a bit. I'd give everything a good scrub out just to be on the safe side.

    I would definitely follow up as others have said with a pro-biotic, yogurt(as little sugar as possible), sauerkraut, sourdough bread and soft cheeses like colby or mozzerella - some, none or all as you have it on hand and cross check what works for you.

    Feed that may have gotten wet before you bought it, or had been contaminated by other bacteria - bad bacteria, the droppings of other animals such as rodents is a strong maybe for your cause. Since we can't always know how the facilities we purchase from store their supply, it's hard to know outside of the obvious signs like discoloration or mildew if this has happened - and they don't always show on a visible level. You may have gotten a bag of bad feed.

    On a more long term question, is this something in the bird, causing her to be less able to excrete this gas than her flock mates, or is she one of the more dominant hens - getting more of the food would cause her to react to it faster than her buddies. If it's flock wide I'd bet it's the feed, if it's just this bird, I would be watching for other "different" behaviors. I don't know if chickens can be intolerant to feeds though. Thinking in human digestion, gas is caused by things we lack the enzymes to break down that sit and ferment, make bubbles, like milk, wheat or fats, on humans we use water to flush it through, fiber to increase bowel function and we avoid the stuff that we can't digest well. In chickens, I guess water is the place to begin. Flushing is pretty universal. An inferior source of protein in the feed might cause gas from the undigested protein sitting in her gut.

    Where in her intestine is the gas building if you recall? I'm way too interested in chicken butts.
     
  9. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Reading the opening thread, more than one has the problem.
     
  10. graygiant

    graygiant Out Of The Brooder

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    Wol1, I'm glad you posted even at the risk of flatulence jokes! We have an almost 2 week old chick who, while I was holding her this afternoon, I could hear little gurgles in her "belly" and then a few moments later, little tiny puffs of air would come out her bum. I had to come here to the forum to find out of chickens really can pass gas! Apparently, they can! I watched this little one eat some grit this morning, but I'm not positive she's had enough water, so I'm going to see if I can get her to take a couple sips of water. I'm learning SO much on this site! :)
     

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