Egg yolk peritonitis

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Oxfordian, Feb 22, 2017.

  1. Oxfordian

    Oxfordian New Egg

    Feb 22, 2017
    I periodically lose a hen to "messy tail feather syndrome". This happens to my hens who are over 3 years old. Rather than episodic diarrhea, the messy tail feathers return even when the hen has been bathed and is clean. These hens have a slow decline resulting in an enlarged and very firm abdomen, lowered tail, little to no appetite, darkened comb. It has happened to hens of every breed I've had; I have about 1 hen a year that travels this road. My very favorite hen (Golden Comet) started the slow decline. I took her to the vet (Auburn Animal Hospital in MA) and we treated her for a month with 2.4 ml Sulfatrim twice a day and .75 ml metcam once a day. She improved when on the full dose of the meds but as soon as I backed off the Sulfatrim she declined rapidly. She also started to really hate the oral meds and I had a hard time getting them in her with a syringe or mixing them into a mash. It was clear she was not going to recover and I decided to put her down and do an autopsy. I've attached the notes and resulting photos. My main question was: was she suffering one incident of egg yolk peritonitis which created a well-established infection or was she having multiple episodes. The answer was clearly that she had many egg yolks in her peritoneal cavity and nothing short of a hysterectomy was going to stop the mis-firing of yolks. I've concluded that today's breeds are bred for productivity and with age come reproductive problems, especially for the good layers. Very sad end for these wonderful hens. Below are the notes from the autopsy:

    Masked/maintained iso/02. Pentobarbital 2 ml IV basilar vein R wing. Removed 190 ml yellow turbid fluid with fibrin strands via coelomocentesis. Opened coelom; air sacs, liver, spleen, kidneys NSF. Ventriculus NSF, SI loops with some firm white nodules dispersed over surface and throughout mesentery. Large volume (approx 250 ml) yellow fluid with multiple large fragments of yellow friable material, and 3 free larger, more clearly identifiable as yolk structures. Ovary with multiple dark, uniform sized follicles, as well as 2 attached larger yolks. Oviduct very thickened, firm, and also covered in white, firm nodules. Wall of oviduct very thickened, mild caseous yellow material within. Clear fluid with granular material in crop. RIO bacterial salpingitis with secondary EYP (multiple free yolks). Clinical improvement on antibiotics may have been secondary to salpingitis resolution and possible immunomodulation by the sulfa drug component. Cannot rule out viral (esp Marek's) involvement, although no other gross necropsy findings were seen to indicate Marek's (ie enlarged sciatic nn or other peripheral nn; iridal changes, or primary GI lesions) 2/20/17

    Egg yolk from coelom

    Inflamed oviduct and free yolk

    Normal air sac

    Normal liver

    Ovary and oviduct

    Ovary buried in fluid and free yolk

    Oviduct impacted area


    Peritoneal fluid - .5 liter was removed
  2. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Flock Master

    Sep 20, 2015
    Southern N.C. Mountains
    Hi @Oxfordian Welcome To BYC.

    I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your hen.

    Thank you for sharing your experience and the photos of the necropsy. This is very interesting and educational. Hopefully it will help others understand more about EYP.
    micstrachan and Pyxiqueen like this.
  3. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member Project Manager

    Jun 24, 2012
    My Coop
    @Oxfordian , welcome to BYC and sorry for your loss. [​IMG]
  4. angelofwoodford

    angelofwoodford New Egg

    Jun 10, 2017
    Egg Yolk Peritonitis and Hormone Implants - What to watch for
    I have had 3 out of 5 ex-battery hens who have died with EYP in the last two years. My last Chicken who was the boss was nearly 5 years old when she died this week.
    About a year ago I had a hormone implant put in her to stop her laying eggs. My experience is that initially when they lay embryos internally they seem to cope for a while, sometimes months, then after a while they either get an infection from the embryos, water created internally from the inflammation, which is also painful or a very swollen belly.
    My chicken Tiddly got a massive infection and we had 880ml of watery liquid syringed off her belly. She survived this amazingly with antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and vitamins and TLC afterwards. It took a month for her to get back to health.

    My chicken was on her fourth implant last week. They normally work very well but you have a small window between when one wears off and putting a new one in. With my chicken it was around two and a half months. I looked at her last week and she had a very swollen belly. I knew this because her legs were so far apaprt from each other.

    Normally I would know she needed a new implant because her breathing would get faster (pressure on her lungs) and/or her crest would get redder (it shrinks when they have an implant and dont lay eggs). This time I was tricked and neither of these things really happened and she go a very swollen belly low down so no fast breathig and her crest was still quite small. I spotted her 'waddling' and was shocked!
    I took her to the vets to get a new implant and thought that once it was in, her belly would go down and she would be able to absorb the egg yolks back in to her body, which has happened before. After a week her belly was still very distended so I took her back to the vets and had her belly syringed. The vet took 250ml of yellow liquid off her belly. We put her on antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. Two days later she died. The vet said she will have been quite toxic inside. In hindsight I should have had the implant put in two weeks before. Two weeks of laying eggs internally can be devastating for a chicken.
    The photos above are brilliant thankyou! This shows what your chicken is dealing with when she internally lays eggs/embryos. The yolk is a ripe breeding ground for bacteria and the chicken does its best to absorb the yolk/embroys back in to her body but they are often being laid quicker than she can get rid of them. Added to this she is getting inflammation of her surrounding tissues which is very painful and she will more than likely have bacteria inside her.
    I was devastated my chicken, Tiddly, died. It was sudden and quick, I didnt spot the signs despite her having hormone implants to stop her laying eggs.

    Implants are good and will give yor girls extra life if they are your pets.
    My advice it to watch your chickens like hawks if they have implants, keep a diary and get a new implant in before any signs of inernal egg laying start.

    The signs are:
    Crest becomes red and bigger
    Breathing becomes faster, particularly sitting down
    Tail bobbing
    They go to lay an egg and there is no egg there afterwards
    Mucky tail feathers which dont get clean
    Legs are very wide (sneaky one, no other symptoms) chickens will almost cross their legs over when walking in normal circumstances, their bellies are so small.

    Generally I have found that hormone implants last between two and three months.
    Obviously I am grateful for the wonderful times I had with Tiddly and she died in my arms. What more can I ask for. x
  5. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member Project Manager

    Jun 24, 2012
    My Coop
  6. missypebble

    missypebble Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 11, 2011
    My pet hen had an exhaustive journey of battling with EYP. I spent every hour I had to read up about it here, and other sources to find out what I can do. I took her to the vet numerous times, and she also had double dose of implant done several times. In the end, I had to make the hardest decision to let her go and the vet euthanized her. She came down to the point of not being able to walk. She tried taking a step, and she kept falling on her side, with her wing tried to support her. She fought with all her breath, and whatever energy she had left. She was still alert, bright eyes, yet her breathing was hard, slow, and she closed her eyes.

    She was my little rock, my brightest jewel ever, and my beloved pet. There'll be no other hen like her for me. I don't consume animal products, and eggs in any form. The cost is too high, and it cut a hens life short. I'll always mourn over my pet hen and I'll carry on trying to ask myself if I did the right thing for Pebble.

    I'm sorry that I hijacked your post. I'm glad you put it up to help others. Truth is, EYP is a cancer with no cure.
  7. micstrachan

    micstrachan Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    Thank you @Oxfordian for your very informative post. Thank you @angelofwoodford and @missypebble for sharing your stories.
    I, too, lost a hen through an exhaustive (and expensive) journey of hospitalization, numerous avian vet visits, multiple drainings, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, two (at separate times) implants and lots of TLC to EYP. (In the end I think was actually salpingitis, but the start was definitely EYP.)
    Before I brought her to the first avian vet appointment (of course she fell ill on a Friday and no vet was available until Monday, so she declined rapidly and was near death), she hobbled to me and climbed into my lap for comfort while I was sitting with her on my bathroom floor, even though she was my only non lap sitter. She fought SO HARD to live. I tried so hard to help her. EYP is a devastating illness and I don’t wish it on anyone. I dread the day I am faced with it again and cherish every monent with my chickens. Sadly, that is the last time I will go through so much expense to save one of my girls since my clock is growing, so I am trying to learn as much as I can to better equipped to care cor them myself.
    I feel very fortunate to be part of this lesrning and sharing community.
    missypebble likes this.
  8. Rubysword

    Rubysword Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 19, 2017
    USMA, NY
    Thank you, @Oxfordian, for all of the information about the necropsy. One of our chickens died yesterday, and this seems to be the most viable option, but later today we are going to do a necropsy to make sure.
  9. Thank you so much for joining Back Yard Chickens and sharing your story with us. I am so sorry for your loss but your hen's demise will have a purpose in helping others.

    Your 'autopsy' was very well done, very informative and well presented. Your hen's tragic end will undoubtedly help all of us who have hens that are heavy layers.

    I am starting to see some signs of reproductive disorders in my 3 year old Buff Orpingtons, having lost one last month to a oviduct prolapse. No symptoms prior. Her fluffy butt hid the prolapse and there was no mucky feathers to clue me into something being wrong. They were all molting and not laying regularly so no clue there. Sometimes they just blow past you till you find them dead.

    I have birds mainly as a hobby and for fresh eggs. I don't eat my birds but not object to others eating them if they are so inclined. But now your article and observation about high production layers, which is one I have had myself, has me seriously wondering if birds who have lower laying rates aren't the way to go if you want longevity in your birds.
    Rubysword and micstrachan like this.

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