Is it ascites? Huge watery growth in front of crop enlarges, but then firms and goes away on its own.

jodievaughan

Songster
Dec 29, 2016
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For the second time now, my hen Pickle has developed quite a massive watery growth in front of her crop. This all started around 2 months ago. Both times this has happened to her, it has gradually reduced to nothing on its own. As it grows, it becomes a huge watery growth that swings as she runs. When it's at its biggest, she tries to make herself comfortable in the nesting boxes for most of the day, but at the same time she is still sociable, full of energy and eating and drinking as normal, but just acting frustrated by the discomfort of it. As it reduces, it stops being so watery and feels almost as though its becoming thicker and firmer. Also, as it reduces, I can distinctly feel the growth (or at least part of the growth) stemming from the area to the left of her crop, and I can distinctly feel the two things apart from one another in my hand. However, I'm not sure if this is her only issue. Her crop does feel as though it's either bigger than it should be (like pendulous crop, not impacted) or as if there is a growth around it.

The first time it happened, I was looking into what it might be and it seemed to be ascites. I was trying to learn how to use a needle to remove the fluid when it started to become firm and go away on its own, and that's when I got confused. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I've not read anything about ascites firming up and reducing down to nothing on it's own. This is why I'm not really sure what's going on with her. Currently, the second growth is decreasing and firming up, just like it did the first time.

This whole time, she's been as bright and active as ever and never acting lethargic, becoming unsociable or going off food or water. The only way it effects her behaviour is when the growth is at its biggest. She seems to become frustrated, darting around from one place to another and pulling straw over her back a lot in what seems like an effort to get comfortable. I'm very grateful that she has managed with it so well up to now, but I hope with the help of this community we can figure out what the cause is and help her in some way. I think it would also be worth mentioning that I gave all the chickens a wormer 2 weeks ago and am currently treating for red mites. The vets where I live have told me there's nothing they can really do for my chickens so I'd really appreciate anyone's insight or advice.
 
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azygous

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Dec 11, 2009
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Ascites fluid usually accumulates in the lower abdomen just in front of the legs.

Your hen may have pendulous crop or a leak from the crop sac into the outer tissue. It may absorb and disappear between consuming of liquids and food.

A crop bra might solve this. If the crop is supported so the crop drains more quickly, it could prevent excessive stretching of the crop tissue. If there is a small tear in the crop sac, supporting it could allow the tissue around the possible tear to heal and seal itself as the bra prevents the crop sac from stretching and preventing the tear from healing.
 

jodievaughan

Songster
Dec 29, 2016
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Thank you so much for your input! I didn't actually think of the possibility of her crop leaking but that does seem to make sense of her weird symptoms. Would it be at all advisable to minimise the solids she's eating to help the growth diminish quicker? I've just ordered a crop bra for her, thank you for that great suggestion. I notice that laying in certain positions causes some pressure on her breathing right now, so I might wait until the growth is a bit smaller before adding the pressure of a crop bra to it. I've also just started giving her Nettex Power Drops in case she needs the extra nutritional support. I'll keep updating!
 

jodievaughan

Songster
Dec 29, 2016
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I think you're right, thank you! All the hens love a warm mash of pellets so I shouldn't have a problem giving her that only for the time being.

There's nothing to really update on right now, but in case it's relevant I thought I'd mention she does eat a lot of the greens that naturally grow in the garden, noticeably more than the other hens. She pretty much grazes on them throughout the day. I never thought of this as a problem, but maybe it's a sign she's overeating which might relate to a leaking/stretched out crop.
 

azygous

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Dec 11, 2009
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Do you have a water source out where the chickens are grazing on greens? That can help a lot to avoid impacted crops. And do they have adequate grit? Some soils are mostly clay and lack suitable grit. In that case, you need to buy it at the feed store and provide it free choice as you do oyster shell.
 

jodievaughan

Songster
Dec 29, 2016
59
54
111
Do you have a water source out where the chickens are grazing on greens? That can help a lot to avoid impacted crops. And do they have adequate grit? Some soils are mostly clay and lack suitable grit. In that case, you need to buy it at the feed store and provide it free choice as you do oyster shell.
Sorry, I somehow missed your reply! Yes, they've always got a water source in close range. Our soils here are very clayey yes, and I do offer them all oyster shell but they've never even acknowledged it so I'm not sure what to make of that. For the record, this hen is still having these same symptoms, but honestly it doesn't seem to bother her and she's fully functional which is a pleasant surprise.
 

jodievaughan

Songster
Dec 29, 2016
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111
Oyster shell is inadequate for grit. It is water soluble and dissolves in the crop and gizzard. You need to get granite grit from your feed store.
Oh thank you, I had no idea! I checked and it's actually a mixed grit rather than pure oyster, I bought it quite a while ago. I have read that if they don't take to it then that suggests they don't need it, which is odd considering the soils we have here
 

azygous

Enabler
12 Years
Dec 11, 2009
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You might want to take a sample of your soil and examine it with a hand lens /magnifying glass. If you see gravel in it at least a sixteenth of an inch in diameter, that's adequate for grit. But do keep offering what you have to your chickens. Grit is essential. Without it, chickens aren't able to digest their food properly.
 

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