Fatty liver hemorrhage- what about rest of flock


7 Years
Dec 15, 2012
Northern New Mexico
I came home today just as one of my two-year old Welsummer hens was dying.

When I did a necropsy it indicated she had an overly fat liver and died of a hemorrhage.

While she was living I would not have said she was too heavy. Active, moved well, maintained the more upright and slender posture of her breed, abdomen was not enlarged and her keel was lightly visible and easily felt. She was laying about 5 times a week.

Was there an outward indication I should have seen? Was it a fluke?

I am thinking about my other birds whom I would also have said are not too fat. I have a mix of Plymouth barred rocks, easter eggers, Welsummers and Delawares (all hatchery quality) and I wonder what to be on the lookout for given their varied physiology. What might I be missing in them as well?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
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I would read some information on fatty liver disease from a few different sources, such as Merck Manual, The Poultry Site, and some other scholarly articles. I believe with fatty liver disease the liver can be tan or normal colored, and there may be excess fat all over the body. The state vet can do a necropsy for a cause of death if you lose another.Did you feed things other than layer feed to your hens? Sorry for your loss.
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Two other symptoms that hens with fatty liver have are pale combs and they usually have a drastic decrease in egg laying. The liver may look putty colored.
Maybe I should have phrased the title and original post differently. Because fatty liver disease is caused by "overweight" birds I'm trying to make sure I can recognize that in my flock.

I sure didn't see it in her and really don't in my other girls.

They are fed standard layer crumbles and given only vegetables as "treats". The only exception was when we fed them some ground game meat during their moult this fall. Even that was only a few ounces each time. Over the course of two months they had no more than one pound precooked weight per week divided between the eight of them.
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That's a scary thought. I have heard of fatty liver disease in parrots but that's caused by a seed diet. Your hens seem to be on a "typical" diet. What brand of layer pellets are they consuming? Anything in the ingredients that raises a red flag? Are they free range or kept in a run?
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It does have me worried. Or at least thoughtful about the welfare/well being of the others. Im in a rural area and alternate between a local mill and layena depending on what the feed store has available.

They don't free range, but are in a large run with plenty of space. They coyotes are just too bad here.

I did just keep feed available but I've temporarily switched to feeding 2x a day until I can figure this out a little more. I thought their body weights were good, but now I'm second guessing. On the other hand I don't want to potentially make the other mistake under feeding them.

I feel like I watch them and have a good eye. Just questioning myself and wondering if I should have seen something. Probably what all of us conscious chicken keepers do when we loose a bird.
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Now you are getting me REALLY concerned as I also feed my hens Layena - free choice all day and give them vegetables and hard boiled eggs as treats. I also keep my hens confined to a run due to predation - mostly dogs that get loose and get in the yard. Although it does not happen often, we lost 3 hens one day a few years back and I swore that I would never let it happen again.

I just had one hen that was close to death. She's better now after veterinary intervention. She had a full blood panel done. Results were that she was very low in potassium, phosphorus, and calcium. She is on Cal-Nate for a week as a supplement. I was told to sprinkle bone meal powder on her food to supply the extra nutrients. Perhaps the ingredients in Layena are substandard...

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