Deceased chicken(necropsy) - maybe too detailed for sensitive stomachs

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Annichka, Feb 10, 2009.

  1. Annichka

    Annichka Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 27, 2008
    I posted yesterday that one of our hens died. She was crouching when I came home, I picked her up, and she began to cough blood and died in my arms. No idea of the cause.

    It was recommended that I take the chicken into an extension service and have it necropsied but I wasn't able to do that. Being a veterinary technician, I decided to do the necropsy myself, but not having seen the innards of many chickens, it's difficult to know what I'm looking at. I don't work for agricultural vets.

    The only thing I saw that looked abnormal was the crop contents, but the problem is that I actually don't know if it's abnormal or not.

    pieces of glass that are rounded and look like beach glass
    several 1/8" beads
    general gritty stuff
    2 folded staples (sharp sides in)

    Now, it wouldn't surprise me, I suppose, if one of these was the culprit - she was the most curious of our chickens and I wonder if she didn't get into something the others would simply have ignored or stayed away from. So far, they look perfectly healthy and are laying like clockwork (we had three hens and now have two). But I don't know what normal crop contents are or how tough the chickies are in response to that stuff. At no point did the crop look distended while she was alive or after she died.

    Furthermore, she died coughing blood, and her trachea and lungs at least look normal. There was nothing in the stomach and very little in the intestines. No developed eggs present. She hadn't laid for 3-4 days before she died, but didn't seem egg bound and in fact was acting relatively normal. I didn't notice her looking a little droopy until Saturday night - she died Sunday afternoon.

    So...I'm thinking it's something like this, or something I don't know is abnormal because I haven't seen the insides of many chickens, or a pathogen. Ideas?
  2. nzpouter

    nzpouter Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 19, 2009
    new zealand
    I would've tried to trace where the blood come from.....

    When you said blood coughing yesterday I thought she might have sustained some hit around the rib cage area... but if lungs and trachea looks normal then must be something else..
  3. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    Did you document it with pictures?

    The contents don't sound disturbing really. I've found screws and bolts in crops that were worn down, in addition to rocks and the normal sandy stuff in older birds taken for stew at end of season. I am not sure what the blood came from though, especially if she coughed it up.

    If the intestines were empty, she probably hadn't eaten in at least 12 hrs. Could the blood been from the nasal passages if you say the trachea and lungs looked ok?
  4. Suellyn

    Suellyn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 7, 2008
    SouthWestern PA
    Was there anything in her esophagus, or HIGH UP in trachea (back of mouth/throat)? Foreign object or tear/rupture of either?

    Just wondering since she seemed to get into/swallow different items, could something have partially (or fully) blocked her esophagus and/or ruptured it (either directly, or by causing a necrotic area)? That would also explain her empty crop/GI tract... ???????????

    and if lungs/trachea appeared clear, then the "event" HAD to have occurred either higher up, or in esophagus...

    PS: I'm a Vet Tech, too, but have been working as a full-time Zookeeper for the past 15+ yrs [​IMG]
  5. maine chicks

    maine chicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 10, 2008
    Sorry about your bird. I just lost one of my gunieas and did a similar thing with my vet. I am not a vet tech but have a biology background. It was very interesting since I had never disected a bird-not counting the cooked ones. I always wondered where the dropped nuts or bent staples went. I don't think we have found the answer to the missing sock in the dryer but chickens/birds are similar to fish in what you can find inside them.
  6. Annichka

    Annichka Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 27, 2008
    That is funny. I never suspected my chickens could be the dryer-sock-thieves. It sounds like it's right up their alley, though!

    That's the funny thing. I really found very little that seemed abnormal. Granted, as my first chicken disection (and necropsy is not something we do often, particularly on small animals) I was probably a little clumsy. If there were tears in certain organs, I'd be suspicious they were from my blunt dissection rather than an already-present injury. I hope, however, that this is not something I will have to get good at!

    There didn't seem to be any injuries that would make me suspect an attack. The bloody fluid definitely came from lower down than her mouth/throat. She seemed to have a large amount of it, in fact, which continued to drain after she died.

    I wish I were better at this, because the theory that resonates most at this point is something lodged in the esophagus, maybe something she was trying to cough up and couldn't?
  7. picklespickles

    picklespickles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 27, 2007
    geez. you are very brave to have tried this. i have learned from reading your post. eek.s
  8. Suellyn

    Suellyn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 7, 2008
    SouthWestern PA
    As much as I love the animals I care for (at home AND at work), I find necropsies (& veterinary medicine in general) FASCINATING, and very informative/useful in keeping "the living" safer & healthier...

    Yes, the "esophagus theory" seems to fit the situation, but it's SOOOO hard to say!

    Couple other thoughts: like Silkiechicken said, she hadn't eaten in a number of hours, so I think we could guess that "something" was going on for several hours, was not a case of acute/instant "swallowed.... choked or ruptured.... died".

    Carotid artery/jugular veins are right there, too... Maybe "whatever" shifted (thru coughing or just her moving around), and injured one of those & bled out???? Blood would not nesc. have been in trachea/lungs (unless she aspirated it in), may have been in surrounding neck tissue & leaving body via mouth...????

    Just more guesses/theorizing...

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