Hen walking with Tail Down-laying broken eggs

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by clamccauley, Apr 28, 2017.

  1. clamccauley

    clamccauley Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 27, 2017
    I've had a broken egg in my nesting boxes every day for a week and 2 times I found one on the ground. The shell seemed strong enough, but I could tell it had not been pecked. It looked more like it was lightly crushed with the yolk inside still. A few days into the week, my 3 year old Austalorp hen started walking around with her tail pointed down. It was late one evening and she would walk "normal" and then drop her tail back down as she walked. The next morning, she came out of the coop "normal", but would occasional do the same thing with her tail and started sitting around a little more than usual. She's pooping normal, eating and drinking the same as the other hens and otherwise seems fine. I looked up possible reasons and found some info on egg binding.

    The next morning, she was the last one out of the coop and was leaning a little on her perch using her wing to hold her up! I went to help her down, but she flew on out. She walked around fine for a short time, and then dropped her tail and then sat down.

    I gave her a warm bath, lightly massaging het vent area and even used a little vaseline. I did not feel an egg inside, but also don't really know what I was looking for.

    She was sitting on the lawn just that evening, so I placed her in a nesting box. I didn't want her being too weak to sit on a perch and falling off in the night. She stayed there all night. This morning, the other hens came out as usual and she stayed put. I changed water and filled feed and she finally hopped out. She looked great for about 10 minutes but then went and sat down while the other girls kept foraging around the yard. Eventually, 2 other hens went and stood by her.

    Her eyes look good and she seems to go back and forth between looking like she normally does, and then looking uncomfortable. I've been watching her so much that it seems like she's walking odd. Like her pelvis is dropped. Compared to the other hens, her legs are set wider, but for the life of me I can't really recall if she's always walked that way. My husband says she has.

    I'm not sure if she's laying broken eggs or if that's not related and I just have an egg eating hen. We live 90 miles from town and we will not be taking her to a vet, however, I will do anything within reason to help her feel better. I don't want her suffering or having something that could spread to my other girls. I gave her some scrambled eggs the past two days and put some ACV in their water. She also had a bit of greek yogurt with her feed. She seems to be eating just fine! Is there any thing else I can do?

    Is this something that could possible pass?
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2017
  2. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    Hi [​IMG] Welcome To BYC

    How is your hen?
    The broken egg- is it a whole egg? Could it possibly have been stepped on?

    When you examine her again, feel her abdomen for any swelling, fullness or bloat (feeling like a water balloon). Compare to some of your other hens if necessary. Walking with the tail down and acting like she's not feeling well, to me, the first thing that comes to mind is reproductive/internal laying disorders like Egg Yolk Peritonitis, Ascites, Salpingitis, cancer or tumors.

    Provide her with some poultry vitamins and see that she is drinking well.

    Keep us posted.
     
  3. rebrascora

    rebrascora Overrun With Chickens

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    Hi

    How old is she, what breed and when is the last time you can be sure she laid an egg....I appreciate this is difficult if you have all the same breed.
    I agree with Wyorp Rock, feel her abdomen again and compare to your other hens. This is easiest at night when they are roosting. If she is walking strangely, it is usually because there is a mass pushing her legs apart. This can be due to fluid build up (ascites), internal laying or a tumour. She would not be pooping if she was egg bound and they usually deteriorate quite rapidly with that. Internal laying can go on for months, as can ascites, so your husband could be right and she may well have been walking like that for quite some time, but maybe getting slowly and progressively worse. Does she feel unusually heavy when you pick her up.... again compare with other hens.

    If she has an abdominal swelling and it is ascites, then it can be drained and give immediate relief, but will most likely build back up and need to be drained again as there is an underlying problem causing it. She could have months of comfortable living in between though. If it is internal laying or a tumour, there is no treatment and euthanizing when quality of life becomes unsustainable, is best.

    It might be worth separating her from the others so that you can assess her more accurately. See if she is laying and how much she is eating, drinking and pooping. If she is laying eggs then that would rule out internal laying, but my gut feeling is that the broken eggs are a different issue or perhaps they are eggs from other hens that she has accidentally broken because of her poor coordination and possible excess weight..

    Reproductive problems are common in chickens because they have been selectively bred to produce so many eggs.

    If she is young (usually under a year), another possibility might be Marek's disease as this affects the neurological system and sometimes causes paralysis which can exhibit in the form of lameness, walking with a strange gait or dropping a wing and/or neck and tail distortion. My experience with it is that sufferers initially eat well and are bright eyed and don't appear in pain but seem to get frustrated when their limbs don't work properly. Unfortunately, there is no recognised treatment for Marek's and the best you can do is support the immune system with good nutrition and keep them as happy and stress free as possible, or some people euthanize them straight away as it is a very infectious and easily contracted disease.... I give supportive care because my flock has already been fully exposed to it. Marek's chickens typically lose weight even though they eat well, so feeling unusually light and bony when you pick them up is a tell tale sign with that, as oppose to unusually heavy with ascites and internally laying.

    Anyway, hopefully that has provided you with some information that will help you better assess her condition. Once you have examined her again and compared her to your other chickens and come back to us with results, we should be able to guide you on the appropriate action but be prepared for this not to have a happy ending as most of the possible causes are fatal.

    Best wishes

    Barbara
     
  4. clamccauley

    clamccauley Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 27, 2017
    Thank you for your reply!

    The sick hen is a 3 year old Austrolorp. I do not think she had laid an egg for about a week.

    No more broken eggs which is really weird. If I had an egg eater, she gave it up

    It is definitely something internal. Her abdomen is getting a bit larger each day and is squishy. It is causing her difficulty when she walks and I catch her sitting down a lot more than usual. She is eating and drinking fine, but the poor girl has trouble getting on her roost each night. If I catch her before hand and place her in a nesting box, she will stay there for the night. Last night while we were holding her and looking her over, her breathing seems a bit labored. I'm assuming it's from whatever the mass is causing pressure internally?

    I'm all for quality of life but really can't tell if she's hurting or not.
     
  5. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    I'm sorry she is not improving.

    Internal laying/reproductive disorders can cause difficulty breathing. You are correct in assuming that if she has a mass or fluid in the abdomen that it is causing pressure. It's hard to know *which* disorder she may have as symptoms can be very similar. As @rebrascora mentioned above in her post, if it feels like it has fluid in it, sometimes that can be drained, which will give some relief.



    Ascites:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1074049/chicken-abdomen-like-water-balloon#post_16400670

    Egg Yolk Peritonitis:
    http://www.chickenvet.co.uk/health-and-common-diseases/egg-laying-issues/index.aspx

    Warning - graphic photos of reproductive disorders:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/...scites-and-eyp-very-graphic-necropsy-pictures
     
  6. clamccauley

    clamccauley Out Of The Brooder

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    She looked very uncomfortable this morning and was in the floor of the coop moving slowly. Her mass is growing quite a bit each day and her breathing is very labored. We are going to put her down today because she is not thriving. :(

    Is there anyway to prevent/protect their hormones and reproductive system from stuff like this?

    I do not use supplemental lighting in the winter for egg production. I feel like that if the days are shorter and they natural do not lay eggs, then we should let their bodies rest accordingly. They free range almost 95% of the time and are only cooped up when we are gone overnight.

    She's one of the 1st of 6 hens I ever bought and the first of those to get sick. Is it fairly common for them to get this at this age?
     
  7. rebrascora

    rebrascora Overrun With Chickens

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    I'm like you in that I feel it is important for their bodies to have a natural rest during after moult, when the days are darker. Unfortunately it is the luck of the draw as regards these problems but any birds that have been bred for higher production are more likely to be at risk in my opinion. The egg industry is not interested in longevity as birds are usually culled and replaced anywhere from 18-30 months before most of these problems set in.
    It is a fact of life that chickens don't have long lives so losing your first one at 3 years is not bad. Some could live to 7 - 8yrs or even beyond, but that would not be the norm with hatchery production breeds. I don't think there is anything else you can do to prevent this sort of thing except perhaps buy heritage dual purpose breeds, but they come with their own set of problems.

    I'm sorry that she is deteriorating and I hope you are able to end her suffering quickly. I know from experience it is not an easy task. [​IMG]
     
  8. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    I'm so sorry to hear she is not improving. [​IMG]

    As @rebrascora has posted above, there really is not much that can be done. I agree with letting their natural cycle progress, molting, reduction in laying in winter, etc.

    I personally feel that reproductive/internal laying disorders are fairly common - at least, I would say that I answer questions here on BYC about these issues almost on a daily basis. There seems to be an "upswing" of production problems in late winter/early spring when the days start getting longer and after molting. I have not kept records/information but this seems to be the time of year when I see a lot more posts on the emergency threads (although they keep coming all year long too).

    I agree that 3yrs is not a bad age and can be considered "old". I understand that doesn't help much, because we do become attached and care about our girls very much.

    So sorry.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2017

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