Gasping hen, trying to lay but can't

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by JessCanberra, Nov 27, 2014.

  1. JessCanberra

    JessCanberra New Egg

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    Hi everyone. I am new here but have been told that this is the best place to come for advice, so I'm hoping someone might be able to help me.

    Just less than 3 years ago I got my first ever chickens, two RIRxLeghorn girls (Penny and Bernie). They seemed quite happy and healthy until the start of this year, when things changed a little. They had both been laying well, but then pretty much stopped completely. Then at the start of this month, Penny became very lethargic. I took her to the vet but he couldn't tell what it was without further testing and just suggested that I treat both chooks with antibiotics. Unfortunately I lost her ten days later, but I had an autopsy done and found out that it was 'egg-yolk peritonitis'.

    Now, a few weeks later, I'm starting to really worry about my other girl. She is not lethargic at all and is eating/drinking normally, but almost every day she goes into the nest box and looks like she is trying to lay an egg, but never actually lays anything. She is also breathing heavily with her beak open almost all the time. This has probably been going on for about a month now.

    I really just don't know what to do. I'm completely new to dealing with sickness in chickens, and am reluctant to take her back to the vet just to have her put on antibiotics. To make things worse, I'm heading overseas for six months at the end of December, and am dreading having to leave my baby in this state.

    I guess that I am wondering if anyone here has experienced this before? Is it worth getting tests done by the vet, and is there much that they can do even when they find out what it is? I thought that if it was a reproductive disease then they might be able to remove her ovaries, but I live in Australia and I'm not sure whether this is a procedure that is performed here (I know that it is illegal to desex a rooster, so I'm not sure what other restrictions there may be on operating on chickens).

    At the moment my plan is to start worming her (something that I haven't done in a couple of years), just in case worms are the cause of the problem. Is there anything else I could do, or should I just take her straight back to the vet?

    Sorry for the giant post, but any/all advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Jess
     
  2. chalidobrenz

    chalidobrenz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'd go straight to the vet! Can you feel if she is egg bound? Is her abdomen distended or spongey or unusual at all? Look up egg binding and yolk peritonitis, and the symptoms for each. If you suspect egg binding, warm water baths can help relax the area and make it easier to pass. Steamy, hot rooms can also help (in a bathroom with the shower running). Soaking a qtip in olive oil and gently and shallow-ly lubricate the vent area can stimulate passing of the egg. Yolk peritonitis is more tricky. But here is a forum that talks about that! Like I said before, if this is a beloved bird, like mine are, save yourself the worry and take her to a vet as so as possible!
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/...hells-and-other-egg-problems-causes-and-cures
     
  3. JessCanberra

    JessCanberra New Egg

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    Thanks very much for responding, and thanks for the link! I've read a bit about egg-binding and it doesn't sound quite like that, but I am worried that it could be peritonitis. I am thinking more and more that it might be worth taking her to the vet just to see if there is anything he can do, and maybe get some tests done before it gets worse.

    Thanks again!
     
  4. chalidobrenz

    chalidobrenz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hopefully you got your little bird to the vet! Any news?
     
  5. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just wondering how your girl is going?

    EYP is not as common as many people think, and I suspect that the odds of owning 2 hens and both of them having it is unlikely. I'm not saying it's not impossible, but it's unlikely.

    I don't know about you, but here in Victoria is has been darn hot of late. Most of my girls will pant whilst on the nest at the moment. The heat also does tend to inhibit some birds from laying regularly so perhaps that is something that could be affecting your girl too? I know you are recognising some of the signs your other girl had (the lack of laying in particular) but that might not necessarily be EYP - it could be caused by other factors too. My girls will often just go to the nest to just fluff around, sometimes with absolutely no intention of laying an egg. They just do it because they can!

    Definitely worm her. Always a positive thing to do in my opinion. And while you're at it you could give her a nice dusting for lice and mites as well. Not that I am suggesting that is your problem, but just because it's nice to cover all your bases. If you suspect she is egg bound you could try giving her a nice soak in a warm bath for 20 minutes. Dry her off well afterwards, and repeat each day until such time that she hopefully passes her egg.

    As she is eating and drinking normally, and is not lethargic, I would just keep an eye on her for now. It would not be unreasonable to take her back to the vet for an opinion, but I understand that is pretty costly too. She doesn't sound as if she is unwell - again, no guarantees, but if she were mine I wouldn't be overly worried. I very much understand where you are coming from though - it's hard not to be concerned, especially since you have recently lost one. I'm really sorry you had to go through that, and wish you all the very best.

    Please let us know how she goes,

    - Krista
     
  6. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    Actually I do consider EYP to be fairly common, especially among hatchery bred birds. Certainly not unusual to have more then one bird develop that condition. We've dealt with it several times in recent years. A couple birds I took to our avain vet and some others were necropsied so they were all definitely confirmed cases.

    I would check your birds body condition carefully, especially her lower abdomen, check to see if she feels bloated or swollen there. If she is, there are several causes but that can certainly contribute to the breathing issues.

    An x-ray is worth a thousand words, definitely a helpful thing to have done if you do decide to try the vet again.
     
  7. JessCanberra

    JessCanberra New Egg

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    Thanks again for the replies guys.

    I got her into see the vet this morning, and he is pretty confident that she is carrying a mass of internally-laid eggs. Apparently it is something that they see fairly often, but he was very surprised that both my girls seem to have developed it around the same time.
    He syringed about 80ml of liquid out of her belly and gave me some anti-inflammatories to give her, so now I just need to decide what to do next.

    I have the option of getting an operation done, but the vet suggested that there was a good chance that she might not survive the anesthetic. What worries me is that even if she survived the operation, the problem might come back unless her ovaries are removed (which the vet seemed to think was pretty risky). I've done a bit of reading and heard that you can get implants to stop them ovulating, which might work, but I'll have to ring the vet back to find out if that is something he can do.

    Has anyone had this sort of thing done before? If you've had internally-laid eggs removed, has the problem come back? I'll be devastated to put down, but I also don't want to make her suffer unnecessarily.
     
  8. chalidobrenz

    chalidobrenz Chillin' With My Peeps

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  9. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    Who is going to take care of her while you are gone for 6 months?
     
  10. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    If she is an internal layer and has ascites (water in her belly,) she will probably need to have the fluid removed from time to time. She may or may not live very long in this condition, but will need special care. If you are going to be gone away from her for 6 months, then I would consider putting her down, honestly. Cafarmgirl and others on here have dealt with internal layers/EYP, and are more knowledgeable than I am.
     

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