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Golf ball sized lump in abdomen

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by jeepgrrl, Aug 10, 2018.

  1. jeepgrrl

    jeepgrrl Songster

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    Feb 25, 2017
    North Central Ohio
    Hi all,

    My Welsummer, Chipper, hasn't been eating very well lately and I've also noticed her walking around much slower, far back behind her sisters. Chip also hasn't been able to get up onto the lowest roost, which is only about 18" off the floor, and she has been sleeping on the floor for the past couple of nights. I got a hold of her to palpate her abdomen, vent area, etc. I located a round mass about the size of a golf ball on her left side, near her left inner thigh. It is definitely affecting her walking/running ability as she was limping on her left leg as she was trying to get away from me; Chipper doesn't like to be held. She has very little food in her crop but has still been free ranging and eating from the feeder. She also ate some dried mealworms yesterday. There is no foul-smelling stool that I can detect, and she doesn't smell either. Her vent area is pretty clean. Even though Chipper is 16 months old, she has only laid a handful of eggs in her lifetime. She had laid a few rubber eggs in early spring, but nothing for several months. Its difficult to ascertai.n her condition; Chipper has always been quite aloof, always dropping back behind her sisters, always letting them steal food/treats from her, but her appetite has definitely decreased. Does anyone have any ideas what might be happening to her? The avian vet won't be in until next Thursday. :confused::(
     
  2. rebrascora

    rebrascora Crowing

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    Feb 14, 2014
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    Hi
    I'm sorry Chipper isn't doing well. When you say she laid rubber eggs, what do you mean? Shell less eggs or "lash eggs" which are what I would consider rubbery? They are usually flesh/tan coloured and odd shaped and look like concentric layers of cooked egg and sausage meat when cut open. If you don't know what I mean, try Googling "images of lash eggs" If they were lash eggs then she probably has Salpingitis which is an infection of the oviduct which usually proves fatal sooner or later. Shell less eggs can just be a glitch in their reproductive system or if a regular problem then possibly a shell gland problem or a calcium absorption problem.
    The lump and the lameness and her lack of thriftiness suggests she may have Marek's disease and the lump could be a tumour.
    How does her breast bone feel? Is she losing weight? Does the mass you can feel seem attached to anything (her thigh or abdomen) or free floating? Does it feel like it is just under the skin, part of the muscle or actually in the abdominal cavity where her organs are ie deep inside her?
     
  3. jeepgrrl

    jeepgrrl Songster

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    Feb 25, 2017
    North Central Ohio
    Hello! Thank you for replying! Her eggs definitely werent lash eggs; they were shelless, only a thick translucent membrane. When I opened the eggs, they looked just like a normal egg. I get all of my chicks from a local hatchery and have them all vaccinated for Marek's. She has definitely lost weight, in part because I learned the hard way that I was overfeeding them with treats, so I cut that way back. That said, i do feel that she has lost some weight in spite of that. The mass feels attached. When the rain lets up I'll bring hubby with me out to the hen yard to hold her so I can get a better feel of it and get a pic of the location. I'm not sure what you mean regarding her breastbone? But I'll check that too and try to describe what I feel.
     
  4. rebrascora

    rebrascora Crowing

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    Feeling the breast bone is the best way to assess body condition because if they are eating into their body reserves, the breast muscle is some of the first to go and the breast bone starts to feel sharp under the skin. Tumours often go hand in hand with muscle wastage, so as the tumour grows the breast muscle diminishes, despite the bird appearing to eat well. Comparing with other healthy hens will give you a better idea both of what the breast bone should feel like and also if there is any abdominal swelling. Sometimes it can be hard to tell unless you feel another healthy bird for a direct comparison.

    The Marek's vaccine is unfortunately not perfect and does not prevent the birds from getting Marek's but it should lessen the effects of the disease. If however the vaccine has not been administered properly or the bird is exposed to the virus in the first few weeks before the vaccine has had time to take effect, then it is even less likely to be successful/effective, so we can't automatically rule Marek's out just because the bird was vaccinated as a chick. My first Marek's bird had a subcutaneous tumour in pretty much the location you describe and another on her thigh.

    Good to hear that they were shell less eggs and not lash eggs as that makes Salpingitis less of an option..
     
    Tesumph likes this.
  5. jeepgrrl

    jeepgrrl Songster

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    North Central Ohio
    I just now called our vet again; Chipper is going in today at 4pm. Now I am very concerned about Marek's based on your experience with it; I integrated five pullets (at age 7 weeks) into the coop about a month ago, before Chipper was acting oddly. So far, the older three seem to be OK (although one has gone broody again for the second time this summer) and the pullets seem to be thriving - they look bigger every time I see them. What happened to the rest of your flock when your first Marek's bird was diagnosed? Thank you for explaining the importance of the breast bone. Chipper was being most uncooperative yesterday when we were trying to evaluate her and was becoming increasingly distressed, so I let her go about her business of foraging and was going to try again today. But since she is going to the vet, my challenge will be trying to get her into the dog crate for transport. I just hope this isn't a trip to the vet for euthanasia :fl:fl:fl. I'll post later today when I find out what's up with Chipper. Thank you for responding to my posts, Rebrascora!
     
  6. rebrascora

    rebrascora Crowing

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    I have occasional bird with an outbreak of Marek's from time to time with months in between of a healthy flock. Birds having an outbreak get supportive care until they recover or lose their appetite at which point they are euthanized. The initial outbreak was worst as I might have 2 or 3 birds develop symptoms. Some recovered almost immediately but were prone to secondary attacks months or even a year later, others needed significant supportive care, some picked up, some didn't. I rarely had a couple of months between cases but it settles down after a while. Of course each one that you lose is heart breaking, but the milder strains like I have are manageable. It is a sad fact of life that chickens die from many different diseases, injuries, infections, laying disorders and predators. Marek's is just another one to learn to manage within your flock.

    Good luck at the vets. Please keep us updated with the result of your visit and her (hopefully) progress. I may be way out with a Marek's diagnosis. I cannot see or feel her for myself and from the end of a keyboard any diagnosis can only be guesswork.
     
  7. jeepgrrl

    jeepgrrl Songster

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    I started keeping a small flock of chickens for the first time a little over a year ago, so it is good to learn from master chicken keepers such as yourself! It is encouraging to know that some chickens can recover from Marek's. I thought it was a disease that only affected chicks, so this is something new that I learned today. I appreciate the words of advice, and giving a "keyboard diagnosis" is better than nothing - it would be most difficult to give a pinpoint diagnosis seeing how you are "across the pond" :D. Yes I will most definitely post what I find out at the vet's later today.
     
  8. rebrascora

    rebrascora Crowing

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    That should actually be "recover from an attack of Marek's" because the disease is with them for life and may well become terminal during subsequent outbreaks. Keeping them happy and as stress free as possible is important so you were wise not to over stress your girl earlier.
    I find examining them on the roost or in the nest box at night or wherever they are bedded down, really helps. If I am going to be moving them or processing surplus cockerels etc the following day, I always prefer to pick them off the roost at night when they are nice and calm, put them in a cardboard box with bedding and ventilation and leave them in a comfortable (not too hot or cold) dark environment until I am ready for them. If they are in the dark, they have no real concept of time and just wait calmly until I remove them. Of course there is no eating or drinking during that time but they will have gone to bed with a full crop so they have plenty of food and water still going through their system to sustain them..... unless they are left somewhere hot of course. I doubt this tip would be of any use for catching your bird today to take her to the vets but just something to remember for another time.
     
    micstrachan and jeepgrrl like this.
  9. jeepgrrl

    jeepgrrl Songster

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    Just got back from the vet and the news is not good. They did an X-ray and although they couldn't see much, there were "circles" present that indicates Chipper is egg bound with multiple shell less eggs. So they prescribed Tums, an anti-inflammatory and Epsom salt baths to try and move things along. Prognosis sounds poor but they said I should give it a shot since her demeanor indicated that we should try. :hit
     
  10. jeepgrrl

    jeepgrrl Songster

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    North Central Ohio
    Yes, I misspoke (mistyped) regarding recovery from (an attack of) Marek's. The vet pretty much explained things to me as you did. While I am relieved that it isn't Marek's, the egg bound diagnosis has me very distressed. I will be going out soon after the sun is up to give Chipper another Epsom soak and hopefully this will loosen things up enough so she can pass the eggs. She seemed a little better after yesterday's soak (I did it twice for about 30 minutes each time) and I fed her some cooked egg mixed with a few blueberries, a crushed Tums tablet (per the vet) and a little bit of crushed egg shell. She ate that and also did some foraging, even chased after some bugs. I got a real good feel of her abdomen while she was soaking as I was trying to gently massage her in an effort to move the eggs out. She definitely had more "lumps" than when I originally posted. The vet wanted me to keep her in the dog crate, but I chose to put her back with the other hens. If she is going to die from this, I would rather give her more free time to be a chicken than keep her crated up. I am certain that if she lays the eggs somewhere other than in the coop, I will be able to tell by the way her abdomen feels. I am just angry with myself that I didn't know of this sooner; because she wasn't laying any eggs it didn't cross my mind that this could be the problem, and my ignorance just made the problem worse. I also understand now what you mean regarding the breast bone - I could feel Chipper's beneath the skin. I appreciate your helpful advice on transporting chickens and also inspecting them after dark, both are things I will remember in the future, if need be.

    I will see how things progress/regress as the day moves on. If she won't eat anything for me by lunch time, I think it will be time to take her back to the vet to be euthanized; I don't see the point in putting Chipper through this for two more days if she won't eat. :hit If there is any good to come of this situation, it would be what I have learned about Marek's, egg bound, inspecting the abdomen, etc. I just wish it didn't have to be under these circumstances.

    Thank you again, rebrascora, for your words of wisdom and support. I'll post later on with an update.
     

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