Just adopted a poorly hen to try to save her...advice appreciated

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Rosie Dosey, Apr 9, 2017.

  1. Rosie Dosey

    Rosie Dosey Hatching

    Apr 9, 2017
    Hello :)

    I have just rescued a very poorly hen from her previous owner who was not helping it. She's an old ex batt, been living a lovely life roaming fields but recently contained for a while.
    One of her legs has given up, possibly strained as there is no obvious sign of injury. She can't walk or stand for long. She started limping a week ago, now she can't walk so it's progressed quite fast.

    She has very runny, black and green poo.....it appears she hasn't been able to properly get to food over the last few days. I've fed her grain poultry food and she's had some cooked pasta....I wasn't prepared for the quck adoption so don't have much in the way of hen food. A friend sugested cat food to help feed her up. She is very light and although obviously hungry and bright, she doesn't seem to want to drink much. I'm wondering if she may have a yeast infection or similar or if the poo is a food related thing. It's all over her bottom poor thing as she's been sat down in it.
    She also has lice, a lot of them.
    As far as I know she hasn't been laying at all for a year or so.

    I want to help her asap so any suggestions would be great. I plan to bath her tomorrow and take her to the vet....but don't want to have her put to sleep as she's still bright and seems ok in herself. I'm hoping she's fixable! She's currently sleeping on a cushion in a box indoors until I can make her a comfortable house outdoors....she can't roost on her leg or climb into a nest box.


  2. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Free Ranging

    Sep 20, 2015
    Southern N.C. Mountains
    Hi [​IMG] Welcome To BYC

    Does she have any swelling/bloat about the abdomen?

    It sounds like she most likely hasn't been eat/drinking well since she isn't getting around. Bringing her in was a good idea. I understand you have quite a few things to address with her.

    First order of business would be to get her hydrated - plain water or water with vitamin/electrolytes for a couple of days would be beneficial. If you don't have poultry feed at the moment, you can give her a some chopped egg, tuna, a little cat food, oatmeal, etc. Since she isn't laying and she's your only chicken(?) you can either buy her some layer feed or she can eat chick starter or an all flock/flock raiser formula - whatever you can find. See that she has a source of poultry grit (crushed granite) free choice.

    Second order of business would be to get rid of the lice and clean up her bum so you can take a look at that. You can bathe her in a warm soapy tub of water (dish soap works well), work the soapy water into the vent feathers - if she has a lot of buildup and stubborn clumps, you can carefully cut those out with a small sharp pair of scissors. The bath may help kill some of the lice too. Inspect her vent for any prolapse, discharge, etc. You can use a permethrin based poultry dust or spray to treat her for lice, treat her again in 7days.

    Inspect the bottom of her feet and look for any scabs (Bumblefoot), feel the legs and hocks for any swelling that may have caused her limping.

    Seeking vet care is always best.

    Keep us posted.
  3. Louise Waffles

    Louise Waffles Chirping

    Feb 1, 2017
    You can make a sling for her so she can take the weight/pressure off her leg. I used a pillowcase held over a small plastic tote with giant binder clips, and put pine shavings under her. Taking a bird to the vet is the best thing, and have a fresh fecal sample with you when you go. Good luck! :D
  4. Rosie Dosey

    Rosie Dosey Hatching

    Apr 9, 2017
    Thank for the replies :)
    The poorly hen went to the vet, who seems to think she's eggbound. I was told she wasn't laying anymore....but maybe she is. I'm even more worried now because if that's the case she's been hobbling for a week....can hens even survive being eggbound for that long?
    The vet apparently didn't do an internal, just felt her tummy. She's still really thin and not eating enough.
    The vet gave her a calcium injection and painkillers.....
    She's now sleeping indoors in a nest box. If she's ok in the morning I'll sit her in a warm bath and lubricate her vent.
    Is there anything else I can do presuming the vet is right.....?

  5. Bocktobery 10

    Bocktobery 10 Songster 7 Years

    Oct 8, 2010
    Were you able to get rid of the lice? A sat water bath might help with that if you don't have any anti-lice treatment for chickens around. The lice could kill her alone!

    I don't think your vet meant that she is eggbound... as you said you thought that isn't possible for a week. I agree with you. She would have been dead by now if its been a week. Maybe the vet meant Egg Yolk Peritonitis? Its where the eggs are sort of "laid" inside the ... ovum.. .I think it is called... So it keeps building up and building up and puts pressure on the organs and veins. Its quite a sad thing to see and unfortunately its common in hens- especially if bought from a non breeder. There is not much hope for them if this is the diagnosis. The bird will often be very skinny everywhere -think bony- but the lower abdomen will be very round and very heavy there. This leads to the hens just sitting. I wish so much there was a way to help them. I've tried two surgeries for two of my hens that had it- I waited too late and lost both. From what I hear, its very difficult to get any hen to survive it- I think I heard the chances are 50/50. One of my hens survived the surgeries but when the pain pills wore off, it was too much for her and she seized and died.

    If your bird doesn't have a big heavy tummy, it could just be some sort of parasite or virus or bacteria. The painkillers probably helped your hen for a day, but why not prescribe something you can keep giving her? I'm confused by that vet's decision. Most vets do not know much about chickens or avian health, so if you have an avian vet in the area, be sure to go to them and not the regular kind. I don't think they are taught too much about birds. (Imagine having to learn about all the systems of all the beasts in the world! That would be difficult!) If she was eggbound you would notice her comb turning purple... I think... not sure because its been years since i read about this stuff!

    Anyway, I'm sad to hear about your hen... and if were me, I'd have her on an antibiotic regimen, and maybe some sort of painkiller. The limping suggests to me something like mareks, but maybe it is just an injury? Any clues as to what her history is and what might have happened to her? If its mareks, its difficult also to pull a hen through- lots of hard work and vitamins I think I read.

    I would highly suggest tube feeding her if she is off food. Not sure if you'd have the utensils at hand, but this would surely help if she just needs something to get her 'over the hump'. She'll need hydrated first before you put the food in there though.
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  6. Rosie Dosey

    Rosie Dosey Hatching

    Apr 9, 2017
    Yes, the vet did say she thought she was eggbound and prescribed calcium. It confused me too....I wasn't actually there so couldn't query it. I wondered about the ovum thing myself, and I wrote a note asking about antibiotics. Maybe the vet doesn't know much.....she didn't do an internal so there's no confirmation. My gut is telling me she's wrong, lets hope not.

    I've used diatom on the lice and bathed poor henny beforehand. If there is no egg tomorrow I don't know what to do. Getting to a vet is near impossible unless a friend can give a lift, we are rural and I have no car...the vet is only open for 1 hour a few evenings a week when the buses have stopped running.

    We haven't seen any straining coming from the hen either, no behaviour that made me think she was trying to lay....but then I am new to all this. She is thin and has a hard abdomen. Her comb is a pale red, not purple.
  7. Bocktobery 10

    Bocktobery 10 Songster 7 Years

    Oct 8, 2010
    How old is the hen? If she is past two years there might not be an egg you are waiting for-- at least right now, as they can lay a sparse egg here and there.

    If she is thin, and has a hard swollen abdomen, then I would say its egg yolk peritonitis. Sadly. [​IMG] Antibiotics would be then only thing that could keep her going for a while, but eventually she'd succumb. (Sometimes remarkably they pull through too without the antibiotic... what happens is the pressure causes tears and rips internally- the chicken can either heal or succumb.. it depends on the severity and placement of the rupture) Its very painful for them and difficult to watch. [​IMG]

    The real remedy would be to give her what is equivalent to a hysterectomy. I've also heard of some sort of birth control implants used to stop the egg laying (internally of course). All these things are like 'so high end expensive' and risky and not well known that it would be difficult to find a vet to do them. Its just not common. I think my vet didn't quite know what she was doing, but when talking with her and with me offering payment for her expertise in the field and agreeing to the risk, offered to try it. Its a real learning curve for them.

    SIDE NOTE: This is also why I did it- Its a shame that we hail cats and dogs as 'valuable enough' but when it comes to a chicken or a fish we think "disposable". Its just not right. I realize this makes me the town dummy paying for what others deem as 'throw away' or dinner, but if something is loved and cared for by someone, that's all the value it needs. I value veterinary research and learning, so its not a waste of money to me but look at it as an investment- perhaps my vet is not able to save my hen, but maybe with the practice, she might be able to save someone else's beloved pet hen in the future. She can add 'chicken hysterectomy' to her repertoire of procedures done! (chuckles) . In my opinion, there would be a market for this type of surgery- many people care and love their chickens enough to want them not to suffer and provide adequate care. I don't believe that makes anyone stupid.... just human, and overall, HUMANE. Thanks for what you are doing!

    Anyway, that's my guess... but I could be wrong! It might be somethign other than EYP. (I am actually dealing with a case right now in my flock who may or may not have it- I'm treating her for worms right now to see if she will respond to that.) If you live in California, I think batril is available on the market... maybe you are in another country? If you are, maybe you can ask around if anyone knows any where you can get a hold of an antibiotic... then again, not all antibiotics will help- try to get a broad range antibiotic to try first. Baytril is one of those and that is what my vet prescribes mostly for my hens. Maybe try another vet? I really do not agree with her diagnosis, but please keep in mind I do not have formal medical training. Sometimes when doctors and vets don't know what to do, they will just do anything to feel like they tried... keep in mind that theirs is a difficult job and they want to most likely help. They can't know everything all the time and always make the right decisions... just like us.

    A few more questions... would you be willing to tube feed her? And do you think you could get a hold of any antibiotics? Even if its not EYP, if its a virus or bacteria, having both of these things would increase the chances of her pulling through. You can also use a needleless syringe to squirt a bit of mush food in the middle of her beak and holding her beak shut to swallow.... but you have to be careful of choking her. it must be little bits at a time and in a consistency that is not runny/soupy. Yogurt is good. I also use a product that is for hand feeding baby parrots. You might be able to find this in a pet store near you.

    I wish you and your hen the best. Its a good thing you are doing- even if there is loss, there is learning. Hugs to you and your hen.

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