Firm butt, lethargic, pale comb


In the Brooder
Jun 8, 2022
My one year old barred rock, Barbara, has been off since mid-April and I’m not sure what to do. I've checked everyone for mites/lice, bumblefoot, sour/hard crop and other common ailments and they're all fine in that regard. The avian vets in CT are not seeing chickens because of avian flu (I called every single one in CT) so I haven't been able to get a proper diagnosis. Here’s the story:

Starting one day in mid-April I noticed Barbara was not acting normally. At first I thought she was eggbound because she was lethargic, wasn’t moving much, wasn’t pooping, and didn’t want to eat. So I brought her inside, gave her a warm bath, and let her sit in a warm crate but she didn’t lay an egg.

I brought her to an emergency vet the next day. Unfortunately the avian vet was unable to see her but a general vet assessed her and did not feel any obstruction. They sent me home with meloxicam and Sulfamethoxazole with instructions for 1/4 tablet each, twice a day for 14 days. The vet believed she had an infection and swelling which was preventing her from pooping. After a few days of treatment she did perk up a bit and was able to get out a little poo every once in a while. Mostly, though, it's been urates. I returned her to her flock mates after a few days inside to hopefully liven her up. I only have 3 others and they all have distinct looking eggs so I was able to determine if she laid any (and would toss them if she did). For the next few weeks she became slightly more active but was still only producing urates or the tiniest bit of solid poop. She also was not laying and would not perch.

I let my hens free-range in my backyard for a few hours a day and each day Barbara would come out but move very slowly, often standing in one place for 20+ minutes, closing her eyes. Over the next few weeks in May I noticed she was starting to regrow feathers in random places on her body. She's about 15 months so I figured this may be her first molt and that's causing her discomfort. I increased her protein but she still wasn't eating very much. By mid-May I decided to try treating her for vent gleet because her backside was NOT a pretty sight and what I read here seemed to match her symptoms. I washed her bum and starting applying Lotrimin Ultra twice a day around her vent. After a few days her vent became noticeably less gross so I continued for another few days just to be sure.

By the last week in May she seemed to be on the mend, walking around, eating, foraging for bugs, etc. She still hadn't laid and still wasn't perching but I thought maybe her new feathers were still bothering her.

Fast forward to this week and she seems to be having trouble again. Her backside is less urate-y than it was but she's been struggling to poop. By struggling, I mean she gets in position and then starts shaking to push a tiny bit of poop out. Since mid-April she hasn't produced a regular, run-of-the-mill hen poop. It's been either entirely urates or the tiniest bit of solid poop.

I felt her backside and compared to her sisters, it's definitely firmer but does not feel egg-shaped. I circled the area where it feels firm. I also, umm, stuck my gloved finger into her vent but didn't feel anything hard or broken. She's also pretty much always trying to clean her underside feathers as shown in that picture.

I'm now wondering if she has cancer or some type of issue with her reproductive organs. Any advice would be great/recommendations for treatment would be very welcome.

Her comb and face is very pale pink today and she mostly just stood still while outside, occasionally pecking at a bug. She seems to be most at ease while laying on the ground and sunbathing.

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