Help! Sick hen: fluid in abdominal cavity

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by thferguson, Sep 15, 2011.

  1. thferguson

    thferguson New Egg

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    Sep 15, 2011
    Tama, our NH red hen, is usually very energetic, and hungry. She is the first to eat scaps. My son noticed today that she was not eating and upon picking her up, noticed that her belly was swollen, her heartbeat weak, and her breathing labored. Her usually, vibrant red comb was dry on the tips and turning a dark color. We took her to a vet.

    They were able to extract a sample of the fluid from her abdomen and observe it: clear and no white blood cells. They concluded that there was fluid building up in her abdomen. Inorder to relieve pressure, they drained as much fluid as possible (~300 ml). Tama's breathing became less labored. They administered fluids and Tama is now on antibiotics.

    Their initial diagnosis: ovarian cyst or the equivalent of an ectopic pregnancy (egg not developing correctly) is causing the fluid build-up. Surgery would be required for a fix. Vet suggested we go see a bird specialist if we are to move forward. Could the problem be something else?

    When we came home, my son noticed that the hen's vent is elongated, about 2-3 cm. After doing some research, he is thinking that maybe there is an egg stuck. We soaked Tama's vent/ bottom in a warm bath for 20 min. (a treatment he read about somewhere to help dislodge any "stuck" eggs). She hasn't laid in 2 - 3 days. Vet didn't say anything about the vent being large. How is this symptom related to the fluid build-up?

    Has anyone out there experienced these symptoms in your hen? Tama has been such a great, sweet pet. We'd like to do what's best for her... but am thinking that surgery is above and beyond. Maybe there's another diagnosis or fix?

    Thanks for any advice, insight, knowledge.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2011
  2. Enchanted Sunrise Farms

    Enchanted Sunrise Farms Overrun With Chickens

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    i'm so sorry about your hen. i honestly don't know a lot about internal laying, which is what it sounds like your hen is suffering from. i think i have read about others using a syringe to extract the fluid. The dark comb, or a purple colored comb is an indication of lack of oxygen.

    i have a hen that i have my vet give hormone shots to on a regular basis, like very couple of months - depo provera i think it is? Spelling is probably wrong. It stops her from laying eggs, and i treat her because she is so tiny she has trouble passing eggs. Perhaps something like that could keep your hen from developing eggs?

    As for a stuck egg, i have only been able to help when the egg is close to the vent. You will usually see it or feel it. Your son is right that the treatment is to soak the bum in warm water for about 10 minutes. This can be done several times. Once you see the egg and she is pushing, you can help by gently pushing behind the egg, to help her get it out of her vent. Helps to lube up the vent outside and inside with KY Jelly. But many times, i have rushed a chicken to the vet with a stuck egg, then once she got there the egg just fell out. It really is worth trying to help her yourself.

    A bird specialist isn't necessarily a chicken specialist. Can you find someone in your area who has treated chickens? i have been to avian specialists and they don't seem to have the down-to-earth knowledge to treat chickens. You can use them in a pinch but it doesn't beat seeing someone who is familiar with chickens specifically.
     
  3. thferguson

    thferguson New Egg

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    Sep 15, 2011
    Hello,

    Thank you for your note. Do you know a farmer or someone with practical chicken knowledge? I live in Marin County, CA. I've e-mailed one farmer, but have not heard back.
     
  4. Enchanted Sunrise Farms

    Enchanted Sunrise Farms Overrun With Chickens

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    i just sent a message to our administrator who lives in the San Francisco area. He may have some leads for you. i will also post in this section asking if anyone else might know a good chicken vet.

    BTW - How is your hen doing today?
     
  5. Spinster_Sister

    Spinster_Sister Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello, I hope Tama is feeling better. I have a hen, Parsley, who is dealing with something similar. The diagnosis could be Egg Yolk Peritonitis or being Egg bound. EYP is when the yolks are not "caught up" by the oviduct and are instead deposited into her abdominal cavaity. Egg bound means an egg is stuck in the vent area....then there is Internal Layer...which means instead of the eggs making their way out, they somehow are diverted to the abdominal cavaity. The eggs pile up and makes your hen walk upright like a penguin, etc.

    What antibiotics is your Tama on? Mine was on Baytril 22.4mg / 2X day.

    When you let your hen soak in the warm water, quite a few people add epsom salts to the water and let her soak for at least 30 minutes. You can use a gloved finger and very gently and slowly insert a well lubed finger UP the vent. if you feel something hard, don't break it...instead just put more KY or petroleum jelly around the area. Of course, she will need to dried completely and alot of people report that a warm hairdryer held at a distance is relaxing for the hen.
    Some people also keep a heating pad wrapped in towels in the cage so she can sit on or near it to help relax the muscles.

    Try giving her calcium now...crushed up a Tums tablet or pulverize eggshells (heat in microwave for 40 seconds) in a small amount of yogurt , oatmeal with some buttermilk or whatever treat she loves.

    For inflammation / pain, my vet also prescribed Metacam.

    I have read that hormone shots are available for chickens to stop them from producing eggs, even an under the skin birth control implant!
     
  6. Enchanted Sunrise Farms

    Enchanted Sunrise Farms Overrun With Chickens

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    Apr 26, 2007
    Fair Oaks, California

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