Dark Marks on Comb Tips

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by ClareScifi, Jun 6, 2011.

  1. ClareScifi

    ClareScifi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yesterday evening I noticed that my hen, who is a little over 1 year old, had dark marks on the tips of her comb, the 3d, 4th, and 5th tips back from the front of her comb. In the past, several weeks ago, in the late afternoon the tips of her comb would some days go blood red but then the next day that coloring would be gone and her comb would be back to its normal shade. I researched and read that temperature changes could cause this. However, the tips have never gone black before, and these new markings did not disappear overnight, so I am worried.

    It was much warmer than usual yesterday. It was in the 80s and sunny. The hen laid a nice egg in the early afternoon. I let her out of the coop and decided, since it was a warm day, to try to get some of the dried off poop off her rear end.

    Earlier in the season she had gotten a poopy butt after eating spinach, which I stopped giving her, but a few days ago she had another poopy episode, looser than I've seen in the past. I assumed it was because I had switched her from 20% laying pellets to 18% laying crumbles. The poop occurred just a few days after starting her on this new diet.

    I also give her water with apple cider vinegar in it, and access to oystershell and grit, which I doubt she needs, since she is a free-range chicken. I've never seen her eat oystershell until the other day, when she did eat several pieces of it (before the poopy butt episode).

    She has a sister chicken who has gone broody and is under the house. I know she misses playing with her sister, but she doesn't seem terribly distressed, and she can go under the house and be fairly near her sister chicken.

    I gently threw some lukewarm water on my chicken's rear end yesterday, hoping I could get some of the dried fecal matter off her feathers. I have done this successfully in the past, and since it was a warm day, I thought it would be a good time to try.

    However, shortly after I did this, the chicken seemed to act strangely. I saw her sort of fall on her right side on the porch 5 or 6 times in a row, and she stretched out her wing as if trying to get air next to her breast. I thought maybe I had caused her to go into shock by throwing some water on her tail area? It scared me, because she kept falling over to her right side. She was in full sun, and it was hot, so I coaxed her into the shade, and then she seemed to recover fine and the falling on her side stopped.

    I had seen something similar to this falling onto her right side a few days ago when she was in the walkway, but I thought she was just lazing around, sunning, basking, like she does when taking a dustbath.

    I'm not sure, but she might be preening more than she usually does, although I haven't been able to spot any mites on her.

    Also, late yesterday afternoon when she was eating, I noticed she threw up a bit of liquid and proceeded to eat it. It didn't have an odor, as far as I can tell, and I read that chickens can throw up if they drink too much, and I did see her drink some yesterday afternoon (it was hotter than normal).

    The black spots, throwing up, and falling on one side in combination, though, have me terribly worried.

    Also, yesterday afternoon when I went to let her out of her coop, she was at the far end, resting, and didn't come immediately like she normally does to get out. I assumed it was because it was a warm day and she was a bit sluggish due to the heat.

    This morning she was eager to get out of the coop and actively roamed for quite some time and ate a rose bud, which I thought might be good for her (high in Vitamin C)?

    She has a very good appetite, maybe a little TOO good, although she's always been my good eater. Her legs are very white. She has always been a very good layer, and her shells on her eggs seem fine.

    I am so worried about treating for the wrong disease, weakening her with unneeded drugs, and I have no money for a vet.

    Do you suppose she could have a heart problem? I worried earlier that she might be too fat and so I discontinued Scratch, because of its fattiness in the diet. I notice the crumbles I bought recently have some corn in them. Maybe I should just put her back on the pellets and discontinue the crumbles.

    What do you think might be her problem? Do you suppose I should isolate her? I had thought if it was a circulatory problem, exercise (free-ranging) would be good for her, but I just don't know what to think.

    She is a pet hen, and I will be sad to lose her.

    Thanks for all feedback.

    Clare
     
  2. ClareScifi

    ClareScifi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Could it be mycoplasma, I wonder?
     
  3. Quinn4321

    Quinn4321 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 28, 2010
    P.A/M.D border, USA
    I am sorry, I have no answers, but hopefully someone else will.
     
  4. ClareScifi

    ClareScifi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Or gapeworm?
     
  5. Anianna

    Anianna Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do you mean the comb itself is discolored, or does she have black growths? If they are raised, it could be fowl pox. You can read about that at this ink. That is usually accompanied by reduced egg production, though. Has she been laying regularly?

    Has she been panting? Is she a heat hardy breed? She may need to be in cooler conditions. See "heat" in the first link in my signature for cooling suggestions.
     
  6. ClareScifi

    ClareScifi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for your help.

    Her comb is actually discolored. The black marks are not dark, dark black, but dark enough to be considered black, I think. They are on the right side of the comb only, on the 3d, 4th, and 5th tips back from the front of her comb. The mark on the 4th tip is the longest, about 3/4 of the tip. The left side of her comb has only a dark red mark on the 3d tip. So the black marks aren't all the way through the comb, just on the right side, for now.

    I have seen her yawning, making the gape, and she seems to be scratching at her ears some. I'm suspicious of gapeworm. Could it cause the blackening of the comb in this fashion.

    The black spots are not elevated. Once one of the hens got scratched by a rosebush, I think, and I saw black scab type things. This is different. It appears to be the comb itself. I touched it, and there was no scabbiness. It almost has a rusty dark brown appearance, perhaps the color of char? But most would classify it as black, I think. I tried to convince myself it was merely dark, dark red, but it looks more black.

    She's had times when her comb tips in the same area as well as other portions of her comb turned bright red, back in the early spring (and so did her sister's). It was usually late in the afternoon after an active day of free-ranging outside. I assumed the bright redness was from the extra activity, and I also read it could be temperature changes causing it, or circulatory problems in the chickens. One site said it was a sign of a contented chicken.

    When I look at pictures online, it looks most like frostbite, but it can't be that. They didn't get frostbite in the winter (I live in Salt Lake City, Utah), and it is warm here now.
     
  7. Anianna

    Anianna Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've been reading all over and I'm not seeing anything about gapeworm causing comb discoloration. I suppose if there are enough worms, they would affect blood flow, which could cause discoloration and certainly could cause weakness. Any vet should be able to test a fecal sample for worms, you wouldn't have to find an avian or livestock vet for that. There is information about worms in the first link in my signature.
     
  8. ClareScifi

    ClareScifi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Has anyone ever heard of a chicken getting sunburn on the tips of her comb? I wondered whether that might be it? I'm in Salt Lake City, Utah, and it gets pretty sunny here.
     
  9. ClareScifi

    ClareScifi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks, Anianna, for doing that research on gapeworms.

    I noticed what I think is gaping behavior quite some time ago, and I did take a fecal sample to a local vet, and she found no evidence of worms nor parasites of any kind. I need to see when this was. I think it was in late March.

    How many fecal samples would one need to have tested to find worms or parasites? I was actually quite shocked and pleased that the vet found nothing, but I wonder whether this could indicate something wrong with her testing equipment? She is nearby, and it was so handy, and her price was quite reasonable. Should I take another sample, do you think, or should I go to a different vet? It was this same chicken whose poop I had tested earlier.

    And since then I started putting some apple cider vinegar in their water, as I read that could help prevent worms.

    Do you think maybe I should go get some plain yogurt and give it to her?
     
  10. Anianna

    Anianna Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think the worm test might be worth a second go. The population would have increased since then and will more likely show up on the test if that is the problem. Was she exhibiting the same stumbling/falling symptoms back in March? I glanced over your op again and missed it if you mentioned it. I wonder if she is getting into a plant that may be causing these symptoms. Here is a list of toxic plants that may be worth a look.
     

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