Dark combs, weight loss

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Allieharmon, Oct 23, 2014.

  1. Allieharmon

    Allieharmon In the Brooder

    Jun 3, 2012
    North Carolina
    I need some help! I've had chickens for two and 1/2 years and have never seen anything like this. Some of my hens have darkening combs and are showing weight loss. One is severely underweight. Last night she was walking backwards and today my rooster almost fell over. I know these are signs of wry neck. Is it contagious? And could the problem be worms? I've never treated for worms but they are also molting! I can't figure this out!! Need help today!!!
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Crowing

    Apr 8, 2013
    The list of diseases parasites can cause is extensive and varied. If they're never been wormed, they probably need it; if you have a body you can send off to a vet or lab for testing, might well be worth it.

    'Wry neck' is a symptom of various diseases, some caused by things such as heavy metal toxicity, others by vitamin deficiency, others still by parasite cysts on nerves... Viruses such as Marek's can also cause neck twisting. So can bacterial overload.

    Unfortunately all the symptoms you describe can fit many different causes.

    Has anything changed in their water or feed or environment within the last few weeks? Even months back can still be relevant, even years back. Many things are cumulative. Even if nothing has obviously changed it doesn't mean it hasn't changed nonetheless, i.e. well or bore waters should be semi-regularly tested. Feedstuffs vary in quality despite attempts to regulate it.

    Sounds like you're describing cyanosis, basically heart failure, showing in their combs. That is obviously quite serious and generally fatal. It's common enough for commercial layers or meat birds kept on commercial diets to die of cardiovascular or digestive system diseases or cancers; generally it's liver failure if it's digestive system-based; once they start dying though, or showing symptoms, the problem is usually too far advanced to remedy.

    To me it sounds like maybe a mass poisoning case, but there's too many possibilities for me to guess in any helpful way. A lab test would be ideal, failing that, an autopsy you do yourself, at home. There's all sorts of charts to help one identify disease symptoms in organs etc.

    I would give them all freshly minced raw garlic in their food, at least a clove per bird, and keep it up for at least a week, and try to find out what it is, which may well take professional help.

    Cold pressed extra virgin olive oil can help, basically it acts like aspirin for the heart and restores flexibility to all mucosal and cardiovascular walls, including in the capillaries. One easy way to administer it is on wholemeal bread, preferably with a good helping of cayenne pepper as well; the cayenne, garlic, and olive oil all act as potent anti-inflammatories which will help ease the heart congestion and restore circulation, while the cayenne and garlic, the former though caustic properties and the latter through both volatile oils and sulfur levels, will help launch an assault against internal parasites, bacteria, viruses, etc. Don't worry about overdoing it, one tablespoon of cayenne per 5 hens is fine. They not only can't taste hot things the way we can, they have a vast appetite for them. As much olive oil as they want to consume is also fine, even if it gives them temporary diarrhea, it'll just help shift pathogenic and parasitic overloads.

    What are their poops like? It's possible you've got classical blackhead symptoms there, in the darkening combs. Most modern blackhead cases don't show the classical blackening faces but some still do. But, as I said, there's a LOT of things that this could be. Clearly they need help asap as you said.

    Best wishes.
  3. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Crossing the Road

    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    Are they alert and actively pecking and scratching for food? With some of the symptoms I would worry a little about a virus that was spreading among the flock. A dark comb usually means they are not getting enough oxygen to the heart. Are they eating and drinking? I would start vitamins and electrolytes right away in their water, and feed them some scrambled egg for protein and selenium. Chickens can look pretty bad and be very stressed with a molt, and can even die. Have you seen any swelling of the faces or any nasal drainage or other respiratory symptoms? Worming them with Valbazen can be done during a molt. Look them over for any lice and mites. On Monday, I would contact the state vet to find out if there have been any cases of avian influenza or strange diseases reported in your area. If one dies, I would wrap the body in a garbage bag, and refrigerate it (no freezing) to send off to the state vet for a necropsy. Here is a link for Valbazen, and below is a vitamin/electrolyte/probiotic all in one that Tractor Supply carries: http://www.kvsupply.com/valbazen-suspension-16-ounces?gclid=CIap0Nq-yMECFU8LMgodTWMAMA

    Last edited: Oct 25, 2014

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