Help me identify why my hen died (blood in throat)

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Rivers, Jan 26, 2011.

  1. Rivers

    Rivers In the Brooder

    Oct 3, 2010
    This thread is a follow up from the one here:

    still need help!

    Basically the story is:

    In Early december I buy four young hens, I was told the age was 20weeks. This is the first time I have had chickens, so I mightve have missed precautions when buying. To begin with all the hens were quite smelly, their droppings looked like undigested feed pellets. After some time in their new spacious home and eating a lot of grass, their droppings were now huge and healthy looking. Like mini horse poo.

    All except one, a "bluebelle" who always seemed to have runny droppings. The hen was also always very timid, and almost too-docile when picked up. But I just attributed this as to her personality. She always ate plenty, despite the others being more boisterous around the feed/treats.

    One morning, I saw her stretching her neck and opening her mouth repeatedly with no sound coming out. I watched for a while but she seemed OK so I left. I cam back two hours later to find that she had died. This was a big shock, as the hen did not seem ill.

    I kept the "body" for a while, researching potential causes of death. I found out about gapeworms, for which the symptoms fitted. (The gaping and sudden death)

    I tested with the Q-tip method. Interestingly, on the first day I tried to look down her throat, but mouth was frozen shut, just couldnt open it. But by now the muscles had relaxed I guess.

    I noticed there were two passages in the throat, and I was unsure of which was the windpipe. I slid the tip down the large passage towards the rear first, very deep but it came out clean. I then carefully fed the q-tip into the smaller hole just below the tongue, this was more of a tight squeeze but I again got it in deep. When I pulled it out this time however, I noticed the tip was covered in blood, just the cotton tip that is. So it had come into contact with a bleeding area, I didnt feel any obstructions so I dont think I created any wounds to let out blood.

    Now, this is poultry basics I guess, but I dont have a clue which of these two passages is the windpipe and which is the food passage (oesophagus?). The blood I found was just blood, no worms. I looked VERY carefully.

    So now I need to find out what this means. If you guys think it may be some kind of parasite/gapeworms then I will buy some flubenvet ASAP (the only thing available in the uk that works on Gapeworms). If you think the blood was the fault of me sticking q-tips in places where it shouldnt be, then the death is a mystery. Perhaps choking?

    One of my other hens had made spluttery/cough noises for the whole time I have had it, she has also become scruffy, lost head feathers and become a more matted dull colour. However she is still very bold/agressive so whatever it is, it hasnt made her physically weak (yet). Getting to the bottom of these issues is really important for the health and survival of my remaining birds!
  2. jennh

    jennh Songster

    Jun 21, 2007
    Still sounds like gapeworm to me. I had lost one to this before I figured out what was wrong. Shortly after the 1st one died, another was doing the same thing, so I gave all my girls a pea-sized bit of horse- wormer (ivermectin), and then she was fine. That was over a year ago. I'm not sure if the med you were talking about works for gapeworms.

  3. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Loving this country life Premium Member

    It sure wouldn't hurt to go ahead and worm them for gape worm and all worms actually.
  4. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    I found one pullet dead with blood coming out of her beak. When we opened her up, we found pools of dark arterial blood in her chest cavity and one chamber of her heart had imploded (or exploded, it was collapsed). Seems she must have had a heart defect and coming into lay was too much for her. The night before, we found her out of breath with her heart racing, but there was nothing that we could do for her. A gapeworm will look like a Y on the side of her throat. Not sure if the blood would indicate gapeworm or not, though.

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