hen with serious bloated abdomen like a balloon


11 Years
Jun 24, 2008
BC Canada
Hi, I just found one of my three year old bantam buff orpington hens in the coop tonight, not on a perch, who has a seriously bloated abdomen, almost like an inflated balloon. I can't feel any hardness like an egg, but it is so bloated and stretched it is hard to tell. I don't see any blockage for her poops, although she has a bit of very dry poop stuck to a couple of feathers, but had to look for it.
I just lost a hen recently to my first case of sour crop (don't know the cause of the sour crop), if that is relevant. This one's crop feels normal thank god, but the bloat seems serious. It is bulging past and around the rib cage.
Any ideas? I don't even know what this could be.


9 Years
Apr 9, 2010
San Juan Islands, WA state
Is there any discoloration of the underlying skin, i.e. looking reddened or slightly bruised? Does it run from keel bone all the way down between the legs? If yes, it could be edema caused by a Vitamin E/Selenium deficiency. You could try treating her for that by getting some 400mg vitamin E gelatin capsules (with selenium) and squirt one capsule into her beak twice a day.

If she improves on the vitamin treatment you might consider switching to a more well-balanced, vitamin enriched feed.

If she doesn't improve, then the search goes on for the cause.


12 Years
Nov 14, 2008
Lynn Haven, FL
Your hen sounds like it may have ascites, or 'water belly'. Ascites is a potentially life threatening accumulation of fluid in the abdomen caused by fatty liver disease or congestive heart failure. A vet can use a syringe to remove the fluid and if its fatty liver disease, proscribe milk thistle extract or a diuretic for congestive heart failure. If left untreated, the accumulation of fluid will cause difficulty breathing and eventually circulatory failure as the heart has to work too hard to pump. If you can't find a vet, some folks have been successful using a syringe themselves to remove the fluid...but it must be done. This will not clear up on its own.
I had a silver laced wyandotte with this problem a year and a half ago and after vet treatment, she has recovered and is doing well.

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