"Inflated" chest in ISA chick

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by smaug, May 7, 2011.

  1. smaug

    smaug New Egg

    Apr 19, 2011
    This is a repost from a while back, I went back 30 pages and couldn't find the old topic so I wanted to see if there would be anymore insight I could get on this situation.

    I've asked around and even contacted the vet about this, but so far no one has been able to help me figure out what's going on with my chick. I've read quite a few websites and looked up symptoms of chicken-related diseases and nothing is matching what is happening here.

    She is an ISA Brown pullet, and will be eight weeks old on Monday, May 9th. I got her as a day-old chick along with 24 other chicks from the Townline Hatchery in Michigan. All chicks were vaccinated for Mareks, and have been on a medicated starter/grower feed from a local mill since day one.

    When this particular chick was about three or four weeks old, her chest started inflating with what feels like air. The crop isn't hard and she eats, drinks, and passes normally. The breast area is best described as a balloon. It is soft and easy to massage and the skin is still flexible. (After a light, gentle massage in this area she seems to be much better. Before and after she is very talkative, but during she is quiet and goes to sleep, so I think that in someway this may be helping her?) She is quite top heavy, so has some difficulty walking, but otherwise she behaves normally. I have had her separated from the other chicks for several weeks now, and since she stays alone she spends quite a lot of time napping, but on clear days I get her out and she really enjoys walking the yard and being a chicken. She is a very talkative chick and tells me all sorts of stories, and she is terribly fearless.

    She is also not growing at all. Since about week four she has completely stopped growing. The other chicks are progressing at a normal rate but she still looks like she's four weeks old -- still has down feathers, her comb is not coming in and neither are wattles, her feet are half the size of the other chickens and she is just... very small. She has started making the sounds that the other chicks are though, instead of the typical chick peep, she's started humming and bawks occasionally.

    There is no discharge from the eyes or nose, she is not coughing or sneezing and her breathing is fine. Her eyes are a clear and bright yellow-green.

    At five-six weeks I ran all chickens on a five-day dose of Sulmet, and at seven weeks they were wormed with Wazine 17. The little chick isn't showing any signs of improvement after this.

    I think that it is possible this is a genetic defect, but would like input from others in case this is something that can be fixed.

    This is a picture of the chick (picture taken at seven weeks) compared with one of my healthy pullets (picture taken at six weeks old).


    Some more pictures:

    Last edited: May 7, 2011
  2. codymax2

    codymax2 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 7, 2010
    Liverpool, NY
    Wow never seen or heard of this before! Sounds like your a very caring dedicated owner so heres a bump for ya [​IMG] Good luck
  3. lebentier

    lebentier Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 1, 2011
    i wanna know too. bump. [​IMG]
  4. Chickengal505

    Chickengal505 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 4, 2010
    Bolivia N.C
    Hmmm. I think it's best to try and get up with a vet here (if you already haven't). I've never heard of this... its quite disturbing... I don't know [​IMG] bump. oh and [​IMG]
  5. smaug

    smaug New Egg

    Apr 19, 2011
    Haha, thanks for the bumps. [​IMG] Yep, the local vet doesn't know either. He just recommended keeping her separated and contacting him if the symptoms get worse... My vet is less than a mile down the road from us, but there is another vet on the other side of town I'm thinking about talking with, he may have other opinions. I just can't find a good time to make that trip just yet, so I'm looking on the web first.
    Last edited: May 7, 2011
  6. Qi Chicken

    Qi Chicken Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 3, 2009
    Whoa, The pictures were not what I expected. The poor girl! I want to preface this by saying that I have absolutely no idea, I'm just trying to brainstorm a little bit.

    Is it better in the morning and worse later in the day? When you say much better, does the air/swelling go down significantly? If it is air then it has to be getting in there somehow. There are intestinal gasses and then actual air. It seems kind of high up and bilateral to be intestinal but who knows?

    Do you hear any sounds when you massage her? If the swelling goes down the air is escaping somewhere. I would put my face next to hers and listen closely. Maybe check the vent too. I don't know if chickens fart or not! Are you sure it is air and not fluid?

    I don't know what it could be, but symptomatically I wonder if she would be helped by wrapping vet wrap (coban) around her kind of tightly to see if that would reduce the swelling. Same idea as tet hose for a person with oedema in the legs. I think it could help leaking air though too.

    Good luck to you, I am very interested in what this could be and will subscribe.
  7. smaug

    smaug New Egg

    Apr 19, 2011
    Thank you for all the good suggestions and input!

    I can't really say there's a difference at various points in the day, it seems to be pretty much the same throughout. I'll try keeping some accurate records and measure her though, that would definitely be an important observation to make. The veryveryvery first time I ever massaged her, I heard what I would describe as burping noises, and she opened her beak a few times as if she were hiccuping. I don't know if this had anything to do with the massage because it hasn't happened since. I feel like it could be actual air as opposed to gasses because she doesn't seem to have any other internal problems, but I have no idea how it would be getting there.

    It feels more like air than fluid, I would expect it to be "mushy" otherwise, but it is a firm yet movable mass. It also isn't so heavy that it creates a major problem, which I would expect fluid to do if the entirety of the swelling was -- but that's just what I would expect, I have nooo experience here, haha. She's still pretty lightweight despite the bloating, but it's heavy and awkward enough that she's pretty well glued to the ground.

    I can try the vet wrap, but a couple questions first. How tight would you recommend I bind it, and how long to leave it on? Would it be a problem to wrap her wings?
  8. Qi Chicken

    Qi Chicken Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 3, 2009
    Hmmm, I really don't know, this is puzzling! The only thing I can think of is that there is some kind of problem when she breathes and that air is escaping into the chest cavity. On a chicken I really don't know what one would do about this. I don't think I would wrap her wings. Imagine at a too tight vest, the arms are still out. I feel kind of uncomfortable recommending this, I would hate for it to make her worse. Obviously don't make it so tight that it restricts her breathing, or impairs the function of the crop. I would call the other vet. You could also try the online chicken vet, Peter something. He doesn't charge unless he thinks he can help. He has never charged me, also hasn't really helped either but it may help. We have had some weird things so I don't really blame him! You could find his number on here somewhere.

    I think he would definitely need photos. You could email them to him. I agree that that much fluid would be very heavy. Her poor little beak would be glued to the ground. Let us know what you find out!


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