Deflating the turkey.

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by lengel, Apr 19, 2012.

  1. lengel

    lengel Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I posted the two sentence version of the diagnosis in the Emergencies thread. This is more of a story about turkeys.

    A quick disclaimer: My birds do not have the avian flu. Not. Not, not, not. You will read about my prediction that they did but all that means is that I'm not a vet.

    So, let's review. This is what a turkey hen should look like:

    [​IMG]

    This afternoon I went outside to refresh their water and this is what Maundy looked like:

    [​IMG]

    I promptly quarantined her, ran upstairs and looked up "swollen head" on every poultry site I could think of. While almost all respiratory related illnesses in turkeys result in a swollen head, I did what comes naturally to me and I panicked. Simply put, I concluded that my turkey had the most virulent form of avian flu in spite of the fact that she showed absolutely no other symptoms other than a swollen head. There is even a condition called Swollen Head Syndrome which pretty much shows itself simply in virtue of a swollen head but I saw Contagion and I was pretty sure that the CDC was going to show up and kill all of my birds on the spot.

    My husband is a speaker at a conference this evening and absolutely could not help me get my 22 pound turkey into the truck so I went out back and plucked a contractor who was hauling concrete blocks out of our backyard from his Bobcat and said, "Twenty bucks if you help me get a turkey into my truck." He didn't take the twenty but helped me out, got a good laugh out of it and wished me luck.

    And we were off! To the incredibly expensive exotic bird emergency vet. Again.

    Those of you familiar with my Christmas' trip to the vet know the drill. There's a crate, a turkey and a rolling cart. I slide the crate off the tailgate onto the rolling cart and maneuver through the door, shedding pine shavings all of the way then sit and listen to Muzak in a no longer immaculate waiting area while the turkey stinks up the place by panic pooping. I'm so freaked out that I actually give my bird's name as Easter then decide on the spot that all three of them will be Easter from now on. What's in a name, after all?

    We saw the same vet that Christmas had when Christmas was the vet's first turkey. Ever. Turns out she's gained some experience since then. I'd go so far as to say that she's now the area's turkey specialist. She's probably seen all of five.

    She's checking feathers, checking Maundy's heartbeat then cautiously starts feeling around her throat. Maundy is being so good, standing patiently as the vet starts pushing on the swollen areas. I'm proud of my bird for absolutely no particular reason. In the meantime, I'm babbling about every possible mishap that any of the turkeys have experienced, including Thanksgiving's extra long toenail that I used to clip. None of this, of course, has anything to do with anything but I'm hoping that if I distract the vet, it won't occur to her that Maundy has a potentially life threatening and contagious disease. As if it won't even occur to her to entertain the possibility or it will slip her mind and we'll get off with a lighter sentence.

    I need not have worried. The vet points out that turkeys have air sacs in their necks as well as lungs (where lungs would normally be, I suppose) and that it would appear that Maundy had sustained some kind of internal injury to one of them. Now I had something useful to say namely that our tom (the real Easter) is pretty enthusiastic when he mates and Maundy (who I'm calling Easter at this point) is his favorite. I then point out that he tends to step on her head.

    The diagnosis turns out to be that Maundy has a ruptured air sac and her head has inflated with air. The treatment is to attempt to deflate her head.

    I'm not kidding. I couldn't make this up if I tried.

    Another vet is brought in to consult since a surgery she had performed on a parrot once brought about something similar and she had to deflate the parrot's head repeatedly. She suggested places to try and the first vet did, in fact, try. Three times. In three different spots. During which time Maundy acted as if she was hanging out in our yard, sunbathing.

    This is how this procedure went. The vet stuck a 19 gauge needle (I know this because that's what she said) into Maundy's neck. The needle had an open ended tube attached. Then the vet squeezed Maundy's head and neck. On the third try, she stuck an empty syringe in the bottom of the tube and a tech sucked air out while the vet squeezed. We watched as Maundy visibly deflated and they stopped. Then, thirty seconds later, Maundy filled right back up again. At which point, they gave me Metacam, told me not to eat her eggs if I gave it to her, suggested I separate out our tom, the real Easter, and sent us home.

    This procedure cost $196.72.

    Maundy is not in pain. She is not debilitated in any way. She just looks really funny now.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2012
  2. Wayne&Kim1963

    Wayne&Kim1963 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wow I can't see your pictures but what a story. I never knew why turkeys did that . Thanks so much for your information.
     
  3. lengel

    lengel Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I resubmitted the photos. I think there was something wrong with the first batch. Thanks!
     
  4. Wayne&Kim1963

    Wayne&Kim1963 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    wow that is something. poor turkey. I had little turkey got nailed by chicken hawk and it got it in neck and head and chest where its lung was punctured and I just deflated it several times a day with 18g needle. Eventually it got ok.
     
  5. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon Premium Member

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    Thanks for taking the time to post the info and pics. With any luck, this might resolve on its own (like spontaneous pneumothorax in humans often does).
     
  6. Souperchicken

    Souperchicken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wow, that was interesting. I've never heard of that and I'm glad she's OK. Thanks for the info, and good read!
     
  7. msmeower

    msmeower Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Are you a writer? Because that was a good read! And I am glad to know that turkeys can have metacam. I am a vet and I must have been sick the day they taught anything about turkeys (or any poultry for that matter). Kudos to your vet for studying up on the birds!
     
  8. lengel

    lengel Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a blog but haven't published yet. Thanks for the encouragement though!

    This is the original turkey visit to the vet with Christmas:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/239037/my-day-with-christmas-funny-story

    Our turkey vet is fabulous! She an avian specialist and apparently has been seeing turkeys more frequently in the last year or two. Honestly, I think they make great pets and they're productive too.

    Just a few more details. Maundy is 22 lbs and was prescribed 1.5 ml of Metacam every 24 hours. I reread that part of my post and wanted to add that the eggs are inedible for six weeks.
     
  9. mkcolls

    mkcolls Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Very informational post. We have 7 turkeys and know that anything that can happen, usually will. This information will be filed, hopefully never to be used, but available if necessary. Thank you.

    I hope your bird is improving.
     
  10. semple33

    semple33 New Egg

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    One of our turkey stags is the same! Head blown up like a balloon. I also panicked and gave him antibiotics to no avail. It is definitely air. Did the air eventually go or did you have to keep deflating???
     

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