Help! Sick/dying chicken

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by freetodream, Oct 30, 2009.

  1. freetodream

    freetodream Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 30, 2009
    Hi, I've got a 2 yr old leghorn that is very sick. i noticed yesterday morning that she had a bit of runny poo dried but otherwise seemed to be fine so i just watched her throughout the day. However this morning she is very bad. i found her laying on the floor of the coop under the heat light and she won't/can't move. She is usually very flighty so i knew when i touched her and picked her up and she didn't hardly even pick up her head and didn't move that she's really bad. From what i can see the only thing she has symptom wise is really watery (but streaked with white) and smelly diarrhea it just runs out almost constantly as she's laying there. The poop that is dried on her feathers was dark green almost black. We've only had her for about a month now and she was kept in very bad conditions before now (filthy enough her underside is scalded with no feathers) however she and the 4 others we got from the same place have been fine up till now. She's not coughing or anything that would tip me off to an upper respiratory infection and other than the edges of her comb being dark bluish and the diarrhea she looks fine. i have her in the house right now and have got a heating pad under her (making sure it's not too hot of course) and have tried offering food and water but she won't touch it. Any advice would be great I feel a bit over my head as I'm not familiar with sick chickens [​IMG] We've got other farm animals (horses, cows, pigs) and I have injectable pen-g and oral sulfa trimethoprim antibiotics on hand but I didn't know if those are used on chickens or even if it sounds like she's got something bacterial.

    Also how do I prevent this from spreading? Does it sound contagious? she's been with 7 other hens (3 of them form the same place she came from) in a coop and large outdoor run. (plenty or sunshine grass and bugs and they get an organic layer ration, clabbered milk (from our milk cow), and scratch grains, and leftover alfalfa leaves since there's not much grass now here in Idaho). Thanks in advance!
  2. The Chickens' Maid

    The Chickens' Maid Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 2, 2009
    Pictures would help a lot! Maybe pics of her and her poo. Here's the poo page:

    , how is she weight-wise? You can feel around her wishbone, below the crop. It should be pretty obvious if she's thin. How is her comb? Is it red like normal or darker? How full is her crop? Can you feel anything hard or large in it? Alfalfa can get stuck in their crop and block it so that they can't digest.

    Electrolytes may help (Gatorade). Pm threehorses, too she's very good with this sort of thing.
  3. grandegrimes

    grandegrimes New Egg

    Oct 30, 2009
    I have almost the exact situation with my hen. She is about 3 year's old, but the symptoms are close to identical. One other thing I noticed is the hen's comb is tilting to one side and is also a lighter color of red. She has problems with diarrhea, pasting and a foul smell. She is lethargic and cannot seem to keep warm, refusing to leave the hen house. She is eating very little and drinking some. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
  4. freetodream

    freetodream Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 30, 2009
    Weight wise she's skinny. She's been on the light side since we got her but i'm not sure how much she's lost since usually she's so flighty you can't get near her.

    She still hasn't moved from where i laid her this morning. She is just laying with her eyes closed. She won't even open them if I move her [​IMG] She's soaked through lots of layers of paper towels though from where the poop is just running out constantly as she lays there. it's just brown liquid now. It has a VERY foul smell! it has stunk up the Kitchen!

    Her crop is full and squishy probably about half the size of my fist. i'm not sure how it's supposed to be though so that's the best i can describe it.

    Her comb was mostly bluish when i brought her in this morning but it's since gotten better and is almost normal (i'm assuming because it's 20 degrees out side!)

    Here are a couple pictures I took just now Uploads/?action=view&current=1030091252.jpg Uploads/?action=view&current=1030091253.jpg
  5. threehorses

    threehorses Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 20, 2009
    Quote:Can you pm me possibly? I want to help, but I really think it's best to handle your situation differently as I think it's a different cause. Let me know. Or email me. Or put another new thread and email/PM me to tell me where it is and I'll for sure be there, too.
  6. threehorses

    threehorses Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 20, 2009
    I am going to assume a lot because time is essential here. But I do want to ask this:

    Does she free range? Does she have any access to compost, earthworms, maggots, overripe vegetables/fruit, any puddles or stagnant water, soured feed or grains?

    Is your bird unable to use its neck or legs?

    I suspect that your bird has either a serious exposure to toxic bacteria (Clostridium type - possibly botulism) or an imbalance bad bacteria because of a weakened system and possible compounded by worms, etc. I think the soured crop is secondary. However, it could be primary and be the cause of the the second option - a basic imbalance where the bad bacteria that are always in the gut anyway are taking over. Without a microscope and lab tech, we can't tell which.

    First things first - a bird losing fluids like this IS dehydrated. She will neither eat nor drink by herself. Her system is shutting down and she will be unable to eat anything that is remotely solid or requires any real work to digest. That means you will have to try to hold her upright to keep her systems and circulation working as they should. Rolled towels work well for this. You will have to offer her food and water (with electrolytes for the next four days) to her head frquently throughout the day as she can't eat/drink a whole lot at once.

    Also because of the smell, she needs a one time flush with molasses. Others use epsom salts - I find they're very very harsh on the system and it's a "last ditch effort" method. If you want that instruction, I can provide. However, a strong flush with molasses is important at the least for now. 1 tablespoon of molasses dissolved in very very hot water to make it liquid - then mix with 1/2 quart (no more) of water. You can add a little honey for taste and energy for her. Give some of that by beak every 1/2 hour for four hours. Her droppings, wear gloves to remove them. Papertowels behind her rear are a good idea to absorb and so you can throw them away. IF this is a Clostridium bacteria, it's very very toxic if ingested by anything - human accidentally on the fingers, an animal rummaging through stuff, kids who want to "help" etc. So have a bag to throw that away in - baking soda in the towels helps the smell if you don't allow it to touch her skin. Also put some in the bag.

    Massage her crop as she has a soured and toxic crop, full of pathogenic fungi and bad bacteria. The food settles in it and you have to massage frequently and gently, up only slightly to dislodge food - then down in the direction you want the stuff to move. Otherwise food just settles - like gunk in the bottom of a stopped up sink - and won't allow things to go through. Continuously massaging it throughout the day tomorrow will help the liquid at least go through. The ACV tomorrow will help reduce fungus/bad bacteria as well as helping to dissolve undissolved food in her crop.

    You MUST do this, or the crop will stay full and kill her eventually.

    You also must not let her eat tonight or most of tomorrow or it would be like putting more food in that proverbial backed up sink.

    Starting tomorrow only (not any tonight) start with some olive oil on small pieces of bread, and some yogurt.
    Starting tomorrow, for water, 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar per quart of water.

    Starting tomorrow, very late in the day, feed her any combination of the following - moist:

    Yogurt (a must have, any kind at thi spoint but remove any fruit bits) every time you feed her, give her a little.
    Oatmeal - made into a 'powder' when it's uncooked, then mix in with the yogurt. THis will help solidify her droppings and the fiber makes the good bacteria in the yogurt happy.
    boiled and mashed (with a little water) egg yolk. NOT scrambled, not whites.
    A little bread, tiny pieces, with yogurt in them - no crust.
    her crumbles, wetted with honey-water and mixed with any of the above.

    Try to lean most heavily on her crumbles as they have vitamins and minerals and are not a big change from her usual diet.

    In her water after 4 hours, use electrolytes (pedialyte, gatorade, etc) please. I like to dissolve honey in hot water and add that to their drinking water if they're reluctant to drink.

    After you get this started, please answer the following questions:

    When was this bird last wormed, if ever.
    What exactly is her normal diet exactly - what type of pellets/crumbles, how much of her diet is crumbles/pellets, what she has for supplements, all grains etc.
  7. freetodream

    freetodream Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 30, 2009
    Unfortunatley we lost her [​IMG] I really appreciate the advice though. Even though we didn't save her if we can get an idea of what it was hopefully we can prevent the other birds from getting the same thing. I'm interested to know though if there are internal clues that might confirm that this bacteria (clostridium) was indeed the culprit short of a lab testing. We live in Southeast Idaho and to my knowledge Clostridium is not endemic here (we also raise horses and horses are very very sensitive to botulism so that's why I'm familiar with it) however that doesn't mean that wasn't it. I looked up the symptoms and it does sound like what she had short of paralysis.

    She was able to move her head and neck if I bugged her enough. Like she'd move her head away from me touching her comb. and she could move her feet when I'd pick her up although not much. She just went to sleep at the end... wouldn't open her eyes at all and gradually stopped breathing [​IMG]

    She probably has never been wormed. We've only had her for about a month and the conditions she was in before were deplorable. So I'm guessing never and I didn't know you were supposed to worm chickens till a couple weeks ago and I haven't done it yet. I will worm all the others pronto for sure.

    Once in awhile they get fruits and vegetables but not rotten/spoiled and the only thing they've had in the last two weeks were scraps from carving pumpkins which they weren't fond of. They aren't free range per say they have a large run but it's got a fence around it. So there's fallen leaves and such on the ground but no compost piles or stagnant water.

    She has free access to an organic pelleted layer ration (Organic Pride brand)
    Also in the mornings they get a bowl of clabbered milk(allowed to sit out for a day or two and ferment, it's basically yogurt at that point). We have our own milk cow so it's just some of the extra milk. I will also throw a few handfuls of rolled barley for them to scratch for (not contaminated though since it's also fed to the cow, horses, and pigs). Every couple days I'll throw some leftover alfalfa hay to them also as there's not much grass. There hasn't really been bugs/worms/maggots etc for about a month now. We had a week of very hard freezes that pretty much wiped those out for the year.

    So I'm very concerned about the other hens she was with because obviously they've all eaten the same things and been exposed to the same environment and to her before this morning. I will be thoroughly cleaning their coop tomorrow. Would it be a good idea to start them all on antibiotics? (I hesitate to do that however I don't want any others to get sick either). Any other ideas or suggestions? I really hope that something I've been feeding or doing is not the culprit; but on the other hand I've had the same routine for several months now and they all have been fine but if there's something I should change feel free to tell me. Thanks again I really appreciate it.
  8. Trendy Chicks

    Trendy Chicks Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 27, 2009
    Sorry to hear about your hen.
  9. dlhunicorn

    dlhunicorn Human Encyclopedia

    Jan 11, 2007
    Probably a combination of things which were exacerbated by stress from the move (always baby a new bird while in separation and give a good general supplement like AviaCharge 2000 or if you cant possible do that then at least Polyvisol enfamil three-four drops in beak once a day for a week nd taper off the next along with some vitE and a bit of vitC (fizzy tab) in the water for stress)

    Always put a bath towel or equivalent over a heating pad as an ill bird has little control over their temp control (meaning the bird can easily become heat stressed)

    When a bird is so very ill it is IMPERATIVE that you put electrolytes in the water when she is refusing to drink sufficiently> dribble hourly along the beak as dehydration will kill a bird faster than anything ailing it.

    Sorry you lost her but it sounds as though it might have been pullorum perhaps? Seeing as how this is a new bird a necropsy would have been a wise choice> only through this can you know if she had something that might be a contagion danger to the rest of your flock.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by