Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Naz223, Mar 31, 2017.

  1. Naz223

    Naz223 Chillin' With My Peeps

    OK! So, it started with a 1-year-old chicken laying eggs with no shells or soft shells. I am an RVT, so I brought her to my clinic and took 2 rads (below) on 3/29, not really knowing what I might find.
    Her problem seems to have resolved, however, the xrays showed a much more disturbing incidental finding. I found, clearly a pellet in her crop as well as a BB. In her gizzard, are multiple oblong radio opaque objects. Possibly smashed pellets, possible dense pebbles. The BBs are copper coated steel. The MAJOR issue is that the pellets are lead! My husband and I recently bought pellet guns to target rats in our yard. Little did we know, the chickens have been ingesting them! We honestly didn't think about it. I wouldn't think chickens would pick up and ingest a metal pellets. I feel terrible.
    Today, I re-x-rayed Arrow (the original problem hen), and at least I know now that the pellet and BB moved into her gizzard. I also grabbed my favorite hen, Georgie, and shot an x-ray of her as well. In her gizzard, she has multiple BBs and at least one distinct pellet along with a couple oblong bright objects (possible spent pellets or rocks). SO, now I'm thinking all 7 of my chickens have been eating them. I plan to take the rest of the hens in on Sunday to x-ray the rest. I want to know.


    I have a nice metal detector and I plan to clean up the yard.

    I have already ordered lead-free pellets and plan to use them sparingly and clean them up more often

    Looking into lead testing the eggs (old and new)

    Plan on getting my 12-year-old daughter a blood lead test as well


    How long do heavy objects stay in their gizzard? Do they pass naturally?
    (When they eat pebbles, do they pass or wear down?)

    Can I feed them anything to help them pass the metals?

    Can I give them enemas? If so, with what and how?

    How long will the lead stay in their system and leach out into the eggs?

    How much of the lead would be passed to the eggs?

    Do I have to destroy my flock and start over? :(

    Any info or expert suggestions would help.
    (I think it's worth mentioning that my Vet clinic doesn't have an avian vet, but does have a vet that knows a bit about chickens.)


  2. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

    Mar 9, 2014
    My Coop
    Oh, my! Yes, chickens are notorious for picking up all sorts of things that we wouldn't expect them to want to eat -- small, shiny objects (like your bb's) are definite chicken bait -- even if not shiny, their size and shape and the fact that they are found while foraging through the grass makes them seem like seeds. An enema will not be any help as any pellets that would be expelled from that would have already been at the point of the digestive tract to be expelled anyway - an enema is not going to reach those hanging out in the gizzard. Those in the gizzard will pass, well, when they pass --- the stones held in the gizzard are there until they have worn to a size that causes them to be swept up with the food and passed through the's are of a size that makes them passable, just a matter of when they will do so.
    Honestly, at this point, given your very specific concerns and questions I would suggest reaching out to a clinic that does have an avian vet - or to your state veterinarian - to get your answers....there may actually be little to no risk, you won't know until you talk with someone that can tell you.
    1 person likes this.
  3. Naz223

    Naz223 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks for the info on their digestive habits, I definitely have plans to consult and avian vet.
  4. Naz223

    Naz223 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Is there any kind of digestive supplement or type of food I can feed to help move things along faster? OR anything that will detox the birds?
  5. DwayneNLiz

    DwayneNLiz ...lost... Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2013
    @casportpony i remember you had someone near you that had a peahen eat lead, (and a bunch of other stuff) do you know anything about this?
    1 person likes this.
  6. Seattlite

    Seattlite New Egg

    Jun 11, 2017
    We have the same concern and are not eating any eggs until resolved - may have to give up on the chickens (and sacrifice them). I tried to be careful with the pellets, and taught my kids to be, but they are kids - so who knows. I am sure there were at least a few loose/spent pellets in the gardens that I was letting our chickens forage in, because we targeted a few rats in them. This all was before we ever thought about getting chickens, and we just realized this might be a concern.

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