Hen lost to fatty liver - want to protect the rest of the flock

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by menotti, Apr 18, 2018.

  1. menotti

    menotti Chirping

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    Sadly we lost one of our hens a few days ago. She was a young 18 months old. :(

    Their preliminary results were for Hemorrhagic liver disease (fatty liver). I personally feel pretty awful about this because it means there is something we probably could've been doing differently to prevent this.

    The small flock are on a standard 16% layer crumble w/ oyster shells available. They occasionally get treats like mealworms - maybe a handful or two a day spread across 4 of them. They self regulate their feed out of a treadle feeder. The hen herself seemed like a healthy weight and didn't appear to be overeating.

    They live in an 11x11 run, have a 4x4 coop, and have at least a couple of hours of larger backyard foraging every day.

    It seems there are a few ways to try to prevent this, though sometimes the hen can be genetically predisposed?

    What would you recommend we do preventatively for the rest of the hens? We can change up feed, do away with treadle feeding, supplement, whatever might help. This was particularly hard because she was fine and happy merely hours earlier and next thing we knew it she was gone. I'm worried others might be in the same condition and asymptomatic.

    Thanks so much in advance for your help.

    ----

    We submitted this description as part of the necropsy:

    Results:

     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Rolling Down The River

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  3. menotti

    menotti Chirping

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  4. Hen Pen Jem

    Hen Pen Jem Crowing

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    Greetings menotti,

    First, I am so sorry for your loss. :hugs

    In reading your necropsy report, I noticed that the examiner, found the chicken to be in good body condition, and an abundant amount of reserve fat. But in the case summary, the disease is described to have an, over abundance of reserve fat. Abundant and over abundant are two different quantities.

    Chicken health literature describes postmortem findings as follows: excess body fat, often pink; mushy yellow, greasy liver, pale, yellowish heart, dark, smelly matter in small intestine, sometimes blood clots in abdomen "fatty liver-hemorrhagic syndrome".

    Perhaps some of these symptoms will be documented in the additional reports, to come.

    There is usually a stressor such as hot weather that precedes the death, also, some hens have a drop in laying. Diarrhea, pale comb and wattles are also noted. In my experience, when the liver is stressed from illness, you will notice a change in the color of the urates in the poop. Instead of a white cap, there will be a yellowing to the urate. You mentioned the hen was fine and happy just hours earlier. Chickens become lethargic when their vital organs are not functioning well.

    Besides the possibility of a genetic predisposition to the disease, there is also a possibility that the hen was kicked, or something heavy hit her, or she fell from someplace high, causing the liver capsule to rupture. An impact trauma will rupture a chicken's liver easily, and death will follow quickly, as they bleed out internally. There could have been an accident which lead to her death.

    Hopefully your answer will come in the additional reports. But, if you are worried about the flock, just make sure they get plenty of exercise, balanced feed, no more than 10% of their food in treats, provide fresh greens, and other vegies, some fruit, extra protein only when healing or molting. Also, get a good scale, and weigh all of your hens. Then, compare their weights to the standard for the breed. This is something all keepers should do at least once a year, if not twice. Weight gain or loss, is a good indicator of poor health.

    I know you are heart broken, but, it sounds like you have been doing a good job caring for your flock. Be patient and wait for the additional reports. Then, post the results so other keepers can learn from your experience.

    God Bless and peace to you. :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2018
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  5. Relleoms

    Relleoms Songster

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    Have you received a follow up report yet? We just got preliminary results from our hen who died yesterday and she also died of fatty liver, and like you, ours seemed perfectly healthy and happy. The onl thing I can think of is that our girls raid the droppings from the wild bird feeder when they free range which has sunflower seeds. Otherwise, their “treat” is fermented corn-free scratch & peck feed in addition to layer pellets. I feel terrible and really hope the rest of the girls are ok :barnie
     
  6. Ms Biddy

    Ms Biddy One chicken short of crazy

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    Wow, it would be good to know nutritionally how much is too much of various feeds. We give oyster shell and flock raiser, which is 20% protein, free choice with afternoon free ranging. No treats, but a pretty generous buffet.
     
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  7. Ms Biddy

    Ms Biddy One chicken short of crazy

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    I'm coming back to this thread with an update from our own flock. We culled two hens today. One had huge deposits of yellow fat and a completely yellow liver. I didn't even save it for the dogs, it just looked unhealthy. The other had much less fat overall but still had a relatively fatty looking liver, about half shot through with yellow. Both hens were in their first laying year but weren't laying regularly like the other hens, which was why we culled them. Each was in a separate flock, but eating the same 20% protein feed plus free ranging every afternoon. Occasionally if I can't let them out they get garden vegetables such as broccoli, kale or cabbage stalks. Otherwise they get no treats. Should I assume something is wrong with my feeding regimen or that these two hens were just predisposed to fatty liver?
     
  8. Relleoms

    Relleoms Songster

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    Here is a partial reply from our vet: “I've researched into the fatty liver syndrome, and it appears to have a genetic issue, as well as a whole host of predisposing factors. You guys are feeding a good diet, and your hens are free range, which greatly decreases the likelihood, but unfortunately does not completely negate the risk.“

    She also attached this link for additional information:http://www.hyline.com/userdocs/pages/TU_FLHS_ENG.pdf

    So, the takeaway (at least for me), is to continue doing what we’re doing and realize some things are beyond our control. We’re still going to keep them from the wild bird seed, though.
     
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  9. Relleoms

    Relleoms Songster

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    I’m not a vet, but the reply from my vet indicates some are predisposed. If you’re feeding well and they get proper exercise, I wouldn’t change anything. It really stinks to lose a bird though...
     
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  10. Ms Biddy

    Ms Biddy One chicken short of crazy

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    Thank you for sharing this info. The pdf didn't go into a lot of specific detail about feed recommendations, but did point out symptoms such as decreased laying and poor egg shell quality. These two had production issues when they shouldn't have, which was probably a symptom. They should have been in their laying prime. Had we not culled them, it was likely they would have eventually experienced hemorrhaging and death, most likely in summer after heat stress. Very interesting! It makes me feel confident that culling them was a good choice, and a little hopeful that our other hens are okay.
     
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