Hen with suspected Ascites

darlingdarla

Songster
Oct 28, 2018
206
378
146
Laurel, Maryland
My hen has had a swollen abdomen for a few weeks now. I believe it is Ascites. She is obese, all of my other birds are a fine weight, they free range all day every day and very rarely get treats (mostly greens like kale). I recently switched them onto a daily ration to combat this.
She's almost three years old, still laying pretty often, she's a mixed breed.
I need help treating this, I've read some mixed answers. I've read that adding oregano oil to the feed could help increase survival rate and the same about vitamin c/ascorbic acid, the herb eyebright, flax oil, and brewers yeast. I realize that there probably won't be a happy ending for this hen, but if there is a chance this seemed like the right place to turn as there are no vets who treat poultry around here and limited information in my veterinary textbooks. I haven't been bothering her since she's still eating, drinking and laying at least twice a week. I've been thinking about draining the fluid with a needle and syringe but i don't want to increase her suffering if there is no hope long-term.
 

bobbi-j

Enabler
11 Years
Mar 15, 2010
15,707
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On the MN prairie.
We put down our hens with ascites. The first time I had one, I didn't know what it was and she died what was likely an uncomfortable death within a week or so. From what I understand, even if you drain it, it's likely to return again and again. Draining it does not resolve whatever caused it in the first place. I would think you'd also be risking infection with the puncture wound.
 

Wyorp Rock

🐓 ❤ 🐛
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Sep 20, 2015
36,736
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Southern N.C. Mountains
My hen has had a swollen abdomen for a few weeks now. I believe it is Ascites. She is obese, all of my other birds are a fine weight, they free range all day every day and very rarely get treats (mostly greens like kale). I recently switched them onto a daily ration to combat this.
She's almost three years old, still laying pretty often, she's a mixed breed.
I need help treating this, I've read some mixed answers. I've read that adding oregano oil to the feed could help increase survival rate and the same about vitamin c/ascorbic acid, the herb eyebright, flax oil, and brewers yeast. I realize that there probably won't be a happy ending for this hen, but if there is a chance this seemed like the right place to turn as there are no vets who treat poultry around here and limited information in my veterinary textbooks. I haven't been bothering her since she's still eating, drinking and laying at least twice a week. I've been thinking about draining the fluid with a needle and syringe but i don't want to increase her suffering if there is no hope long-term.
You mention that she is obese. Is the abdomen "fatty" instead of fluid filled?
If she is still able to lay eggs a couple of times a week, then I'm going to say that she isn't suffering from fluid in the abdomen (Ascites).
Can you take some photos of the abdomen - if she has fluid, then you might be able to see it through the skin.
Does she have any symptoms like lethargy, weight loss in the breast, slow crop, isolating herself from the flock, etc.?

@coach723 may be able to help you with herbal treatments, hopefully she will chime in.

btw - Same hen?https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/hen-with-swollen-abdomen.1278968/
 

darlingdarla

Songster
Oct 28, 2018
206
378
146
Laurel, Maryland
You mention that she is obese. Is the abdomen "fatty" instead of fluid filled?
If she is still able to lay eggs a couple of times a week, then I'm going to say that she isn't suffering from fluid in the abdomen (Ascites).
Can you take some photos of the abdomen - if she has fluid, then you might be able to see it through the skin.
Does she have any symptoms like lethargy, weight loss in the breast, slow crop, isolating herself from the flock, etc.?

@coach723 may be able to help you with herbal treatments, hopefully she will chime in.

btw - Same hen?https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/hen-with-swollen-abdomen.1278968/
Thank you for replying.
Yes same hen, it doesn't feel like fat to me, more like a water balloon. I keep close tabs on her weight. None of those symptoms, she hasn't seemed sick hardly at all and there is very little fluid in her abdomen, more has accumulated over the last week i can feel it, it's not really visible yet if she's just walking around. Ascites seems most likely to me according to research I've done, despite her laying eggs, but of course I've never seen it in person before so i could be completely wrong.
I'd rather not get pictures, this hen hates being handled and i don't want to stress her, i don't see how they'd really help much either her skin looks normal. But i will try tomorrow morning, it may not work out, she really fights me.
I'm going to try some herbal remedies, i figure it can't hurt. I'm tempted to attempt to drain some of the fluid so i can see what's going on, but as bobbi-j mentioned there's risk of infection, i don't want to put Gilly through that needlessly.
And thank you for replying to both threads and trying to help i appreciate it.
 

rebrascora

Free Ranging
5 Years
Feb 14, 2014
7,127
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556
Consett Co.Durham. UK
If you do decide to drain her, this is the best video on the subject I have seen. The lady explains it very well and as a lay person should hopefully give you the confidence to do it yourself.
That said, I would probably wait until she is having issues with getting around or starting to show respiratory distress before doing so. Many birds with ascites improve when they stop ovulating and this is the time of year for that to happen ie moult and winter break. Is her comb bright red and plump or pale, dry and shrivelled looking?

Also what type of feed do you use? ie pellet, crumble, mash or grain mix? Grain mix feeds like Scratch and Peck can cause some birds to become obese and suffer fatty liver haemorrhagic syndrome if fed that type of feed ad lib because they selectively eat the high carb components. The liver structure becomes weak due to becoming impregnated with fat and starts to leak fluid into the abdominal cavity. Sometimes the build up of thick layers of fat around the vent will cause them to have difficulty passing eggs and the strain of trying to push an egg out can then cause a large rupture of the weakened liver and sudden death due to a massive haemorrhage.
I wish you luck in helping your hen.
 

coach723

Free Ranging
6 Years
Feb 12, 2015
6,534
10,931
611
North Florida
I've used this in hens with ascites: http://www.lilyofthedesert.com/product/aloe-herbal-detox-formula/
It's available many places including Amazon. I gave 4 ml a day for 7 days, it has to be refrigerated once open and you need to let the dose warm to room temp. before giving.
It helped with the ascites in my cases, but it's temporary, some of mine had to be treated repeatedly when the ascites returned. The underlying condition, what ever it is, will likely cause the ascites to return. My cases of ascites have been associated with reproductive problems, and the birds ultimately did not recover. I've not drained mine, there is risk in that. If you drain too much too fast the bird can go into shock and die, so be aware of the risk. It's best to allow the puncture for draining to leak/drip slowly onto towels or puppy pads to reduce that risk. When mine reached the point of needing to be drained for comfort, I made the decision to euthanize. So sorry she's ill, wish you the best.
 

darlingdarla

Songster
Oct 28, 2018
206
378
146
Laurel, Maryland
If you do decide to drain her, this is the best video on the subject I have seen. The lady explains it very well and as a lay person should hopefully give you the confidence to do it yourself.
That said, I would probably wait until she is having issues with getting around or starting to show respiratory distress before doing so. Many birds with ascites improve when they stop ovulating and this is the time of year for that to happen ie moult and winter break. Is her comb bright red and plump or pale, dry and shrivelled looking?

Also what type of feed do you use? ie pellet, crumble, mash or grain mix? Grain mix feeds like Scratch and Peck can cause some birds to become obese and suffer fatty liver haemorrhagic syndrome if fed that type of feed ad lib because they selectively eat the high carb components. The liver structure becomes weak due to becoming impregnated with fat and starts to leak fluid into the abdominal cavity. Sometimes the build up of thick layers of fat around the vent will cause them to have difficulty passing eggs and the strain of trying to push an egg out can then cause a large rupture of the weakened liver and sudden death due to a massive haemorrhage.
I wish you luck in helping your hen.
Up until a few weeks ago i kept them on layer pellets, recently switched them onto an all flock feed with oyster shells on the side as i have three pullets in the flock. The pullets should be laying soon and once they do they'll be back on layers pellets.
Her comb is normal, still pretty red since she's laying. She generally lays one egg a week, the only hen in the flock who hasn't molted yet. She's the most productive layer in the flock, without her the number of eggs i get collectively will be slashed in half.
 

darlingdarla

Songster
Oct 28, 2018
206
378
146
Laurel, Maryland
I've used this in hens with ascites: http://www.lilyofthedesert.com/product/aloe-herbal-detox-formula/
It's available many places including Amazon. I gave 4 ml a day for 7 days, it has to be refrigerated once open and you need to let the dose warm to room temp. before giving.
It helped with the ascites in my cases, but it's temporary, some of mine had to be treated repeatedly when the ascites returned. The underlying condition, what ever it is, will likely cause the ascites to return. My cases of ascites have been associated with reproductive problems, and the birds ultimately did not recover. I've not drained mine, there is risk in that. If you drain too much too fast the bird can go into shock and die, so be aware of the risk. It's best to allow the puncture for draining to leak/drip slowly onto towels or puppy pads to reduce that risk. When mine reached the point of needing to be drained for comfort, I made the decision to euthanize. So sorry she's ill, wish you the best.
Thank you, I'll look into it.
 

coach723

Free Ranging
6 Years
Feb 12, 2015
6,534
10,931
611
North Florida
Up until a few weeks ago i kept them on layer pellets, recently switched them onto an all flock feed with oyster shells on the side as i have three pullets in the flock. The pullets should be laying soon and once they do they'll be back on layers pellets.
All flock feed should be fine for all as long as oyster shell is available for the laying ones. I've fed that way for years, mine do better on the slight increase in the protein of the flock raiser, and I have roo's who I don't want getting too much calcium.
 

bobbi-j

Enabler
11 Years
Mar 15, 2010
15,707
32,312
1,092
On the MN prairie.
I do feel the need to clarify - when I had hens with ascites, they were quite obviously fluid filled - much abdominal distention and waddling like a penguin. One of them had over 40 oz. of fluid. (I pulled it off and measured after we dispatched her.)
 

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