Hen: Lethargic, hard abdomen, straining neck, standing, water doesn't stay down.....

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by mournlight, Feb 2, 2015.

  1. mournlight

    mournlight In the Brooder

    Jun 15, 2008
    Hi, all:
    I've spent several days reading about various possibilities for an ailing hen, and can't find anything that fits her symptoms. Help would be appreciated. I'm trying to list all I can think to be important:
    -2 yrs old, previously great layer, previously active and no health issues
    -pen mates include 13 peking ducks, 12 chickens of various ages (1 adult rooster)
    -weather had been abnormally damp and cold (Tennessee)
    -I noticed her sitting around more last week, which progressively got worse
    -Brought her inside on Friday when she didn't go on the roost
    -Empty crop but thirsty and hungry. Seems to drink too much.
    -Not able to feel an egg inside, per instructions on here
    -Her entire rear half feels abnormally hard
    -Drinks water, but then when she pecks the water runs out of her beak
    -Will only take bread
    -Excrement is greenish-black, not firm like it should be
    -I turned her up when I noticed the water run out of her mouth, and a significant amount of water came out. Repeated that one time for two days to try to ascertain if she had "sour crop". There was nothing foul-smelling, and it was fairly empty except for a few corn hearts, though she hadn't had scratch in 3 days at that time
    -She's now been letharic/abnormal for six days and seems no worse. No better, but no worse.
    -I have checked her vent a second time and just do not feel any egg; I was only able to reach in about an inch and a half; I"m not sure if that is far enough but wasn't confident I should reach further. I guess I should check a healthy, laying hen to know what that feels like.
    -She stretches her neck and seems to be trying to make food go down everytime she takes bread after every few bites, as though it is getting stuck.
    -There is no smell from her breath
    -I went ahead and gave her a pea sized Safeguard since I may have nothing to lose here.
    -I have not consulted a vet, and that isn't an option at the moment financially.
    -No one else is sick.
    -All hens originate from vaccinated hatcheries, though all original stock are gone (I haven't bought chicks in at least a decade, and all of these are offspring of those.)

    Thanks to any insight or suggestions you have time to pass along. I just can't make the hard abdomen/empty crop/lack of egg feeling match with anything.

    Also, thanks to everyone who contributes here. I learn a lot from what you all say.
  2. jbs

    jbs Songster

    May 23, 2011
    I'm not experienced enough to offer any real advice, but can tell you that I've taken 2 sick chickens to 2 different avian vets and I'm not sure that I would do it again. One hen had an obvious sour crop problem, the second was sick overall, not eating or drinking. The second chicken also had a mite infestation, which may have contributed or even caused her illness. Sorry to state the obvious, but if you haven't checked for mites yet, I'd recommend that you do that. I had no idea my flock had mites at all.

    Both avian vets (and others on BYC) told me that there's a lot that can go wrong internally in a chicken - tumors, internal laying, impacted gizzard, etc., and no matter what you do your chicken might not make it. Both vets prescribed antibiotics, and the more experienced poultry vet also prescribed a fungicide (which I think the second vet should have done as well).

    My course of action for the next sick chicken is:

    treat for mites/worms if necessary
    treat with antibiotics (Sulmet) in the water if the chicken is still drinking - I bought this at my feed store
    treat with a fungicide (nystatin) if there's any sour crop - I bought this (brand name Medistatin) at a bird supply store online
    syringe feed baby bird food if the hen is not eating - baby bird food is available at most pet stores

    This might not apply to you, but this article written by TwoCrows helped me better understand crop issues:


    I hope that someone else with more experience will chime in. Good luck with your chicken!
  3. mournlight

    mournlight In the Brooder

    Jun 15, 2008
    Thanks, JBS. She's still here, but weaker. I have amoxi here already so I've started her on that. I think I may have some fungicide as well. I hadn't thought about baby bird food. I'll make a run tomorrow for that and some fungicide if I can't find what's here.
    I'm not sure it isn't an egg situation even though I can't feel one. If it is, it's now been there since last Thursday, and I'd expect she will die from that soon.
    Anyone else have thoughts?
  4. mournlight

    mournlight In the Brooder

    Jun 15, 2008
    So, JBS, I put my glasses on and got a good light. She did have lice. I treated her today with a miticide and am satisfied that she is now mite-free. I also treated the rest of the flock and all structures and the pen.
    She has eaten very well today. However, everytime she bends over to get water, water runs out of her. She doesn't seem to be feeling particularly bad, though.
    I think my dad had a good question. He wondered whether she could have eaten a feather or something that is stuck somewhere and causing an obstruction? An thoughts on how to possibly determine that?
    Her stool is still too watery and too green.

    She still stretches her neck as though something is caught in there.

    This morning, she again went straight to a cup of feed and ate a large amount. She also drank a large amount. As she ate, everytime she bent her head over, water came out.

    As soon as she finished eating, she went and sat down. This morning, more than the other days, her wings are drooping.

    I'm going to try to check her again for being egg-bound with a bit more vigorous prodding and see if I find anything. It would seem to fit several of her symptoms, though not all.

    I'd still love to hear opinions from others.

  5. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General

    Has she been treated for capillary worms with Valbazen or Safeguard?

    Valbazen dose is 0.08ml per pound by mouth and repeat in ten days.
    Safeguard dose is 0.23ml per pound by mouth for five consecutive days.

  6. mournlight

    mournlight In the Brooder

    Jun 15, 2008
    Hi, Kathy-
    Yes, she was dosed with Safeguard on Saturday. I never found any presence of worms, before or since. I looked with magnification but not with a microscope.
    Here is today's events:
    She ate scratch first thing this morning and again drank a lot of water.
    She then leaked water back out - as much as she drank. No food came up.
    I inspected the poop and it still has no firmness at all. It is very green, like an algae bloom. It is slimy, also like an algae clump.
    I rechecked her for the presence of an egg, and feel none. It feels as though the cloaca must be closed, because I can reach in and down, but there is no opening to feel up. Feeling through tissue walls inside, I feel nothing like an egg.
    She's had another warm soak,
    She's had a bit of sunflower oil orally and rectally
    She had a full massage while getting her soak.
    She's had 500 mg of calcium
    After drying and warming up, she had quite the appetite and ate an entire slice of bread. She won't touch chick feed or other offerings.
    While eating, she was very wobbly, which doesn't alarm me after the bath and empty stomach.
    While eating, she would stop every few bites and crook her neck always to her right, as though there was something blocking the food from going down.
    I rested my fingers on her esophagus as she ate, and can feel the bulge of food enter, pause, then slowly travel down. I can't feel any obstruction. Her esophagus feels the same from top to the crop without food - it is soft, narrow and compressable like a straw made of jelly. I don't feel any hard areas.
    I can feel the crop as the food enters. It got larger as she ate, and there's more noise than I have noticed with other chickens eating.
    After eating, she's sound asleep.

    I'm in Middle TN. We've had an unusually high number of overcast, cloudy, damp days the last six weeks. In addition to everything else, I'm considering whether she got into a fungus, has a vitamin deficiency that was encouraged by the lack of sunlight, etc. I found a very comprehensive source that is apparently free to search. I thought others might be interested in this:
    http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=2114&page=83 You can go to any chapter, any page. Quite a reference for poultry issues.

    Is it reasonable to consider that the same deficiency which may lead to a lack of egg production can also make it difficult to digest food?

  7. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General

    Worming for capillary worms with Safeguard requires that one worm for five days in a row with 0.23 ml per pound. That means tha and average sized Rhode Island Red would get 1.5ml. If you gave what most people give (1/2 cc), you didn't treat capillary worms.

    cc = ml

  8. mournlight

    mournlight In the Brooder

    Jun 15, 2008
    Thanks. You're right, I didn't treat for cap worms. I've spent the last 45 minutes reading about them, and that would explain most of the symptoms and appears to fit with even the weather patterns we've had (wetter coop area, standing water due to all the rain, a few exceptionally warm days that brought out worms, etc.). I'm headed out to get more safeguard now. If this is the culprit, I hope the rest of the flock has enough resistance. It seems impossible to get rid of if it is in the earthworms.

    Any insight into why it would affect one bird and not the others? I can't find any info regarding that, nor regarding how long it should take after tx to notice improvement.

  9. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General

    Someone with a peahen just went through this. Her hen also had coccidiosis, so that made matters worse. She treated five days with both Safeguard and Corid. Her hen was very sick, like on death's door sick and required round the clock tube feeding for a about two weeks before she would eat on her own.

  10. mournlight

    mournlight In the Brooder

    Jun 15, 2008
    Okay she's had the higher dose of Safeguard and I will continue that 5 days if she makes it.
    I also picked up some electrolyte and started her on that.
    She has hardly moved since eating the bread earlier. She seems weaker.
    I won't be surprised if she doesn't make it 24 hrs.
    If she does, perhaps she'll end up being the strongest hen.
    I also picked up a medicated feed that I think is also for the cocids, if so I'll start her on that.

    It's kinda up to her now.

    Has anyone here had any experience with examining fecal samples on their own? I have a friend with a 100x scope that attaches to the computer.

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