Fat Hen or Health Issue?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by MelissaA, Dec 17, 2009.

  1. MelissaA

    MelissaA Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 7, 2009
    Gaston, OR
    Hello,
    I have 8 Bantam Cochins and 2 Standard Cochins- they are about 3 yrs old. I have one hen that seems to be overweight, but I am starting to wonder if it might be a health issue. We moved about a month ago. We moved the hen house (so they aren't in a totally new environment). The new yard is about 16 x 24. It was fully of grass about 3 inches high, which is now pretty much gone. The first thing I noticed a couple weeks ago was that this one hen, who is usually the top of the pecking order seemed to be ousted. All my hens huddle together on top of the nests to sleep, but this hen was over alone on another set of nests. A couple days later I picked her up and noticed that she had a squishy feel to her. A few days later she seemed to be waddling- all the while she was still hanging out alone. The last couple days she seems much worse. She is so bad that her wings across her back are really spreading apart, she can't make it up the coop ramp and she can't make a jump 4 inches to get into a nest- she falls down. None of the other hens seem to have a weight issue- they were eating their own eggs the last week, but that stopped after I figured out what was going on and added oyster shell to their food (they have never done this before). They usually only get any "treats" every couple days, but since the egg eating issue they haven't gotten anything other than their food. I do feed an all purpose feed 19 % protein because usually my hens are somewhat broody, don't lay consistently and seem kind of skinny!

    What can I do to help her?

    Thanks!
    Melissa
     
  2. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    That sounds like it could be ascites. You will probably need to drain her soon if you don't want to lose her. I'll try and find a link with some info, but you probably want to post in the "emergencies" section.

    From RUTH:


    If it feels "liquid" and feels like a water balloon, it is probably Ascites, a filling of fluid. I have a hen who had it. She had gotten so bad she could no longer walk. I was going to put her down but then decided I had nothing to lose by trying to drain out whatever it was.

    I drained her "balloon" using a regular needle and syringe and got out a cup full of clear water. I placed her on a stack of folded towels in a bin and she continued to drain for an hour and soaked the towels. After that she was as good as new. I had to repeat the draining about every three months but haven't had to do so in several months now so maybe she's over whatever was causing it. Through it all she continued and continues to lay an extra large brown egg every day. She's a two year old Black Sex Link.

    I did learn that if I used a needle with a large syringe I wouldn't have to stick her as many times but she actually never seemed to mind or feel being stuck. She would even eat/drink if I put food/water in front of her while I "drained" her. Just insert the needle in the bottom of the baggy part hanging down - there are no vital organs or anything you can hit.

    You can buy needle/syringes at feed stores, pet stores, Wal Mart, TSC or stop by any vet's office.

    Here's the whole thread, I'm having "pasting" issues--
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=205682
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2009
  3. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    Could also be that she is full of infection/fluid, in which case, the draining may not be successful. Had two hens with full, distended abdomens. Used strong penicillin injections for 3 days for each and they are both with me, healthy again, and one is laying again. A third hen did die with the same type symptoms and besides the fluid in her abdomen, there were quarter-size pieces of solidified infection floating in it. Draining wouldn't have reached those. The penicillin she had wasn't a strong dose and didn't do the trick with her. Win some, lose some.

    If you see her comb is dark and purplish, that would mean fluid is putting pressure on her organs, especially her heart.
     
  4. MelissaA

    MelissaA Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 7, 2009
    Gaston, OR
    thank you so much for your help! I will see what I can do for her. THANKS! Happy Holidays!
     
  5. MelissaA

    MelissaA Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 7, 2009
    Gaston, OR
    In reviewing the sites for Ascites, it seems like it is caused from poor ventilation and eating too much? It doesn't say anything about draining or how to do this.....my main worry is that it was something that is contagious, which is seems that it is not? My coop doesn't have a ventilation issue and it is pretty clean (my girls are pretty spoiled).

    Her comb has always been a bit purple red, I don't notice anything wrong with her other than she is retaining fluid (which I couldn't tell if she was just getting really fat). She seems tired now.

    Right before I moved the hen house I had two different hens - 2 wks apart, they both were found paralyzed in their yard. The first one I thought might have had a heat stroke, she was looking around, but couldn't stand up, then her right side- eye, wing, etc went droopy for a few days. We took her in and nursed her back to health and she is fine. Then a few wks later found another hen in the yard unconscious, breathing heavy. It wasn't hot then. We had to end her suffering. I was thinking something was going on that I am doing. I have never had a sick hen until this point- and of course it is with all my favorites. UGH!

    Thanks!
    M.
     
  6. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    From second article:

    It also occurs frequently secondary to the red blood cell rigidity of sodium toxicity and less frequently from lung pathology. When ascites occurs at low altitudes in meat-type chickens, which have a high metabolic oxygen requirement, it is usually caused by primary or spontaneous pulmonary hypertension because of insufficient capacity of the pulmonary capillaries.
    In poultry, liver damage may be caused by aflatoxin or by toxins from plants such as Crotalaria

    What I am taking from this is that common causes are too much salt, diseases that affect the lungs, and liver damage from molds or plants. It might be that what you saw in the other hens is related, impossible to know now. Meaties might overeat, but I have never heard of laying hens overeating (uncaged ones), so I doubt that is the cause. If it is ascites, it is not contagious. Have you established that it is not just the crop? that is distended? (on one side....)
     
  7. MelissaA

    MelissaA Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 7, 2009
    Gaston, OR
    I wanted to thank all of you that helped me with this! After reviewing all the info and comparing my hen, I think it is Ascites. It is pretty much just her abdomen area that is distended. She has been like this for about 3 weeks, just seems to be getting bigger with no other physical symptoms yet. She still wants to go outside and scratch, she continues to eat regular food....I am hoping she will pull out of it! Thanks again for all the help!
     

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