Hungry but not eating?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by deacons, Jan 15, 2016.

  1. deacons

    deacons Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have an almost 4-yr old RIR hen who has been "off" this week. She seems hungry, but isn't eating. She'll walk up to the food bowl, pick up a piece, and then let it drop out of her beak without eating. She's done this with her favorite treats- corn kernels and mealworms- as well as regular pellets. She is excited to eat lettuce/kale treats. I've seen her drink quite a bit. She also seems very eager to add grit- she's picking up very large pebbles and trying to eat those. They do have free access to appropriate grit at all times, but she doesn't seem interested in that at all.

    She also seems to be standing around in the "I don't feel good" hunched up chicken stance, tail down. However, she's not always like that. If she standing like that and I walk up to her, she'll run off looking perfectly normal, and go about her business of scratching and pecking. it's very cold and sometimes it's not clear if she's just fluffed up and warming or fluffed up and in pain.

    Some other context:
    -Her poop isn't quite right; mostly white urates and limited solids
    -She had an issue with sour crop back in the fall. I truly didn't think she was going to make it, but just when we both were seeming to give up, she turned the corner and started thriving again. Regained the weight she lost.
    -I've been checking her crop morning and night. It is filling up and emptying, so I don't think there's an impaction.
    -The timing of this coincides with the first week the ground has been fully frozen and completely covered with snow. This means they had an abrupt halt to their free ranging. The temperatures have also turned very cold (10-15*F overnight) after being unseasonably warm.

    I'm not totally sure what to do here. I'm obviously not with her all day, but I don't see her eating much at the times of day when she's usually top of the pecking order and controlling the food bowls. She hasn't lost noticable weight yet but I'd prefer to avoid that. It seems like the wrong time of year to worry about worms (it's been consistently below freezing) and they are confined to their large run almost all the time now because they won't go out in the snow and ice, so not foraging into things they shouldn't. Should I be doing anything besides just watching?
     
  2. bmayer

    bmayer Out Of The Brooder

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    Following this post for answers for my girl. (she does have an impacted crop that is very close to being empty but she's not eating well at all, only treats and now tuna thanks to several users here who suggested it!) she's super thin so I think she's just feeling crummy and not wanting to eat unless it's really something tasty.
     
  3. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

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    Have you wormed your birds recently? Worms are incredibly devastating on a flock. This may not be the time of year for worms, but if she or they picked up worms over the summer, now is the time they will be multiplying huge proportions in the intestinal tract. This can cause slow, sour and or impacted crops. Since worms are so common, it is always a good idea to worm just so you can rule it out. If they have worms, this will solve the issue, if they don't, you know it is something else. Birds need to be wormed at least once a year anyway, if not more depending on your location on the globe.

    Is she still laying? If so, you might give her an egg check to see if an egg might be stuck in her oviduct near the vent. Put on a latex glove with some KY-Jelly or Vaseline and go into the vent straight back. If there is a stuck egg, it will be right there within the first inch. If there is an egg at 2 inches or more back, it is still in the uterus and she is not considered egg bound. This is another thing you should rule out.

    Feel her abdomen on the outside between her legs back to her vent. Is it like a water balloon? You can compare her abdomen to the others. If so, she may have Ascities....fluid is leaking into the cavities of the bird pooling in the abdomen. Internal laying can cause this, reproductive cancers and heart failure can all cause fluid build up.

    She is pretty old for Coccidiosis, but it is always possible. This will cause them to stand around fluffed up, depressed, they go off their food and water. If you have any Corid, you might get some in the water for 5 to 7 days. Corid is a thiamine blocker, not an antibiotic or anything like this. No egg withdrawal either. So it won't hurt if she doesn't have Cocci to give the Corid.

    Keep us posted! :)
     
  4. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

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    Hello and welcome to BYC!

    Definitely take a look at my above post, especially the part about worming. An overload of worms will impact the intestines, causing the crop to become slow, sour or impacted. So if you have not wormed, I would get on this immediately. Safeguard Liquid Goat wormer. 1/2 ml for standard breeds, 1/4 ml for bantams and 3/4 ml for very large birds. Administer via an empty syringe, once a day for 5 days. Repeat in 10 days from the first day of the first round to get all hatched eggs.

    As for impactions, check out my article on crops and what ails them. https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/impacted-slow-and-sour-crops-prevention-and-treatments

    Here is a recipe from this article to break down impactions in the crop or gizzard, removes yeasty masses in the crop and it also works for soured crops as well. This will clear out an impaction in 24 to 26 hours...

    Doughy Crop:
    What is a doughy Crop? If you find your bird has a crop full of what feels like bread dough...you can almost knead it from the outside...the contents are pliable and hold it's shape. And sometimes it is literally attached to the walls of the Crop. This is caused by a few things:

    1. The Crop has become dehydrated due to a blockage and only the liquid is passing through the bird leaving all the food stuffs. The bird may also be very dehydrated from the lack of water.
    2. This is a yeast infection and you are feeling the growing yeast. If you find these things early enough, one morning you might feel what seems like a marble sized ball in the bottom of the crop. The next morning the marble is the size of a peach pit. The day after that it is the size of a plum. In both cases you will be able to actually "knead" this wad of gummy dough material in the Crop.

    So how do you get rid of it? I have seen this in two birds over my years. One was a week old chick that had something else going on with her at the time and when she finally did start to heal, she became dehydrated and had a gummy Crop. Another time I had a bird with a horrible yeast infection that started in her lungs and spread all through out her body. I believe she also had a bad case of worms at the time, which only compounded the situation. I tried hydrating with water and massaging it, (which only made this gummy mass worse), I tried hydration followed by vomiting and never did the thing budge. Especially with the second case where it was physically attached to the Crop walls.

    I had heard of the following method to break this gummy ball down many many years ago when I raised Cockatiels. If you don't feed baby Cocketielsl properly, they can develop this gummy doughy Crop as well. I used the following recipe on both of these birds and within 24 to 36 hours, the entire mass had moved. You can find most if not all of these things in your spice pantry:

    1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda (do NOT use baking powder)
    1/2 teaspoon Ginger Powder (you can even use the contents of a human Ginger capsule)
    1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon Powder
    1/2 teaspoon Chili Powder
    a squirt of Lemon Juice
    2 Tablespoons of water

    Mix this all together and use a syringe without a needle and suck up 1/4 to 1/2 ml at a time and squirt down the throat, in front under the tongue. Never give more than 1/2 ml at a time or you can aspirate the bird, having it go down the wrong pipe. Get this ENTIRE mixture down the throat. This will only take a few minutes to get it all down. Do this 3 times a day for one or two days and the mass will dissolve within 24 to 36 hours. If you know how to tube feed, you can give this one one fell swoop through a tube 3 times a day. Of course if you are dosing a very young chick, being that their Crops are so much smaller than adult birds, you will want to use half of this dosage or less depending on the size of the bird.

    Of course this condition usually arises because some other medical issue is going on at the time. So make sure to address what is going on after you clear out the crop.
     
  5. deacons

    deacons Chillin' With My Peeps

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    @TwoCrows , thanks for taking the time to respond. I generally worm my flock after "mud season" in the spring, so April-ish. But over the last few days, I've noticed some "milky" poop from other members of the flock. They all seem to be a little off their feed. So I decided to worm with Safeguard now.

    The original bird I was worried about still looks off, but I wouldn't say worse. I actually realized that she's more than happy to eat bread when I was worming (I did the "pea sized drop on bread" strategy), and she gobbled it up. So I've been soaking some bread in water that has vitamins and probiotics in it. Hopefully I'm getting some good things in her even if she's not eating enough on her own.

    I'll re-worm in 2 weeks and see how we're doing.

    Also, none are laying right now. It's an older flock, all between 3 and 4 years old. The weather has been swinging from very cold (highs barely hitting 20*F and single digits over night) to going up to slightly above freezing. I think the back and forth is a bit stressful for them, and they're not getting much, if any, freerange time because of ice. That's a huge change in their routine.

    I'm really hoping to get a handle on whatever's going on and get everyone safely through the winter.
     
  6. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

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    Keep us posted on how the worming goes. Worming is so easy to do and worms are such a common thing that effects poultry, by worming them, it is something we can rule out. When we don't know what might be wrong with birds, sometimes the process of elimination is all we have.

    Keep us posted and I hope this fixes the issues!!! :)
     
  7. deacons

    deacons Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I usually prefer to deworm only after a fecal test, but right now life is just getting in the way and I'm so busy at work it's hard to get to the vet's office.

    There were a couple of other factors that I wasn't thinking of before that made it seem worth it to go ahead with deworming; the timing was a bit too coincidental to overlook:
    1. We got a new dog about two weeks ago. He's up-to-date on parasite control, but you never know when you bring a new animal in. The chickens have a separate area where the dogs don't go, but they all walk on the same driveway and in the same parts of the yard sometimes, so there could be overlap.
    And 2., we had a contractor here at the end of December who was building a new solid roof over the run (it was just hardware cloth before), and without perfect biosecurity, there is certainly the chance that something came in with him.

    Anyway, my RIR was still a bit puffed up today and her poop was off, but in good news, I saw her willingly eat layer pellets on her own tonight. And she's still drinking well.

    I will definitely let you know how things go-hopefully we'll get through this.
     
  8. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

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    You might try using some apple cider vinegar in her water, and for the entire flock....1 tablespoon ACV to 1 gallon of water, use plastic containers only, change and make a new batch daily. ACV is a great tonic to help raise and stabilize the body's PH, it helps to reduce inflammation, reduces pain, and it helps to increase their appetite. There are all kinds of trace minerals and prebiotics in ACV, things they would not normally get in their feed.

    I have also found that by wetting down their layer feed so it is a bit damp, they become more interested in eating. I have jump started so many healing birds this way. Helps getting them back on their feed.

    Good luck and keep us posted! :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2016
  9. deacons

    deacons Chillin' With My Peeps

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    @TwoCrows , I think we use a lot of the same tricks with our flocks :)

    They get ACV in their water once a week. And, they LOVE a good mash. I will wet down their layer pellets to soften them, and then mix in some dried fruit or rolled oats so it's a treat on really cold days like today. I'll give it to them about 30 minutes before bed to "tuck them in" with full crops. Also helps to get some water in them- I find that on really cold days, they don't seem to drink nearly enough.

    As far as my little red hen, things are about the same. She will stand around a bit hunched up, but comes running for food and treats. She's still eating the soaked bread whenever I offer it, and seems to be eating a few pellets on her own. She has good color in her face and comb, but I have noticed she is losing some feathers- I don't know what has her so stressed out, but something has. The weather is bitterly cold today, so I'm sure that's not helping. At least the whole group seems to be huddled up together, keeping each other warm. We should see more favorable temps at the end of the week through the weekend, when it looks like it will go above freezing again.
     
  10. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

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    Sometimes it is hard to tell if a bird is sick, or just having an off day or week. Especially during the winter, birds can sit around conserving energy.

    As long as they are eating and drinking well enough, generally you can assume they are ok. They can have lazy days. Eating and drinking well are a good indication of health. A sick bird stops eating quite easily when they are not well. Birds that are taking a break from laying or are molting will eat less. I am a crop checker...everybody gets a crop feel at roosting time for fullness, and a feel first thing in the morning for emptiness. If the crops are empty at roosting or still full in the morning, something is definitely wrong.
     

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