Hen losing weight, having difficulty walking.

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by sevenbabychicks, Nov 13, 2012.

  1. sevenbabychicks

    sevenbabychicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My wonderful BA hen Nigella has been losing weight for about a month now. I didn't think much of it, but came back last night from a week-long trip to find her severely emaciated (her face even looks gaunt) and unable to walk properly. The other chickens all seem fine. Nigella seems to have a full appetite, and her droppings look normal. If it matters, she started losing weight right after a really heavy molt. Could she have worms?

    Feel free to direct me to a thread that's already been written - I looked around, but couldn't find any.

    Thanks!
     
  2. buckabucka

    buckabucka Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is interesting. I posted this week about a hen who had lost a lot of weight and can't walk or stand. I never got any feedback, but I have read that chickens can lose a lot of weight when molting. Mine is mid-molt.

    Did you check for mites/lice? Mine has no sign of injury or mites, and she was wormed in early August. Like yours, she has a good appetite and normal droppings.

    I brought mine inside, and have been giving her lots of high protein feed mixed with buttermilk for probiotics. Mine does have another symptom: if she tries to stand or walk, she pants really hard, like it leaves her winded.

    I figure she either has an underlying disease, or perhaps got weakened by a hard molt and pushed away from the feed, weakening her further. The first day I brought her in, she acted ravenous. She has only shown slight improvement, but it has only been a couple of days.

    Are you sure yours is getting enough feed? Have you separated her from the others? I suppose she could be weakened by worms. I think worming can be hard on them, so you will need to proceed cautiously, maybe up her protein first.

    Good luck! I hope she is better soon.
     
  3. sevenbabychicks

    sevenbabychicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for replying! Sounds like we're in the same situation. Mine's at the end of her molt and has never had any other problems during her 2.5 years of life. My flock does have lice, but I really don't like the idea of dousing them in chemicals, and it's never been a problem. I figure that most animals have parasites and their systems have evolved to deal with them. Although, I have noticed that when one of my birds has been sick with an infection, lice becomes an issue. Nigella has a few here and here like the rest, but she's definitely not infested.

    I have her in the house, but she still seems to be getting weaker. She has a full crop of food, but doesn't appear to have gained weight (although it has been just a couple days). I'm feeding her a smorgasbord of chicken delicacies: dog food soaked in warm water and cider vinegar, quinoa, scrambled eggs, shelled sunflower seeds, etc., and right now I'm sauteeing some potatoes for her dinner (she loves them). I've started lacing her food with an electrolyte/vitamin mix, so hopefully that'll do something.

    I wonder what's causing this in our birds! I hope your girl gets better! Would you mind posting updates to either your thread or mine?
     
  4. buckabucka

    buckabucka Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I can post updates here. My post was never answered, so it's not much of a thread :D.

    My hen is also 2 1/2 years old. She may have shown very slight improvement, but it is really hard to judge because I am working late this week. This morning, I moved her out onto the floor while I cleaned her cage, and she attempted to take a few wide-legged awkward steps and never showed the usual gasping for air behavior. DH did set her outside in a chicken tractor of sorts for several hours today, and she picks at the grass from a seated position. I don't think she ate as much, but her appetite is pretty good.

    I had a sick hen last spring. I never figured out what was wrong with her, but she just sat puffed up, slept all the time, and refused to eat. We were force-feeding, but she didn't improve. The day that she looked like she was definitely going to die any minute, I got some Ivermectin pour-on as a last ditch effort. She had a pretty bad case of mites, and I think Ivermectin does treat some kinds of worms, too. She very slowly recovered. It was about a month before she could go in with the flock.

    This time, I really have no idea. It's not like she is a very valuable hen, or even a favorite, but I'd like to give her a fighting chance at recovery.

    Is your hen still unable to walk at all? I hope she starts showing improvement!
     
  5. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member

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    When I have one that's sick, I do the following:

    Day 1
    Bring inside and keep warm.
    Do thorough exam.
    Dust for mites/lice even if I cannot see them.
    Weigh on food scale in grams and record weight.
    De-worm with Safeguard for Goats/Cattle (Fenbendazole 100mg/ml), by mouth, .5cc/kg.
    Place in box/crate and observe.
    If not drinking, tube feed small amounts of fluids every few hours until hydrated.
    Inspect droppings.
    Maybe give antibiotic by mouth.

    Day 2 - Day ???
    Weigh and record weight.
    If still not eating, tube feed small amounts of baby bird food every few hours.
    Inspect droppings.

    If the bird lives to day 10, de-worm again.

    This can go on for several days. Note that you should never force feed or water a chilled bird.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2012
  6. buckabucka

    buckabucka Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for your input. I hadn't planned to worm her, since she was wormed in early August, but I have some Ivermectin in my fridge, so I may try it. I used a different wormer last time that kills everything, but it was borrowed from a friend.

    I haven't weighed mine, but I do have a scale, so maybe I'll do that.

    Another friend says (half jokingly), get some ethyromycin, it cures everything. What antibiotic do you use? I hesitate to just blindly start pumping her with medications. At least she has an excellent appetite, so I won't have to tube feed.

    Sevenbabychicks, this link is an old thread and I only read the first page, but it is an informative discussion about worming if you decide to go that route:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/...nd-piperazine-dosage-for-bantams#post_2525157
     
  7. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member

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    The only wormer that kills *all* worms is Valbazene (Albendazole), piperazine gets just round worms.

    When you wormed in August, did you do the 10 ten follow up worming? Even if you did, it wouldn't hurt to do it again. I have some peachicks that have been fighting off blackhead (histomoniasis), and they have been wormed several times since June.

    What antibiotic I choose really depends on the symptoms I see and what the poop looks like. But the two I use most are Baytril and Metronidazole (both banned for use by the FDA for use in food animals), and I always give all medications by mouth, never in the water.

    These charts have good info on worms and wormers:

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  8. buckabucka

    buckabucka Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks. I did use Valbazen, and re-dosed 10 days later.
    I'll probably hold off on the antibiotic for now. She is improving, but it is very, very slow. I notice she is much more alert and attempting steps more often, but her legs just aren't cooperating. It happened suddenly, but I can't imagine how she injured herself. Maybe it is just weakness. I guess we'll wait and see.
     
  9. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

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    I've read through this thread. It could be a vitamin deficiency. Purchase some vitamin B complex tablets at a pharmacy, crush a few into powder and sprinkle the powder on her feed for her to eat. Do this for about 7 days and see if there's improvement. Good luck.
     
  10. buckabucka

    buckabucka Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks dawg! I have vitamin B complex, so I'll crush some up and start that today.

    Sevenbabychicks, how is your hen? I don't want to highjack your thread, although it sounds like we have a similar issue.
     

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