Lethargic chickens

hockeygirl56

Songster
Apr 21, 2011
157
9
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Allenton, MI
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Hoping for some experience and advice here. I euthanized a 5 month old Blue Rock yesterday as it was lethargic, not eating, seemed very painful on her abdomen. Crop was empty, no egg when I palpated internally. I did a rough necropsy myself and the only abnormality I could find was a very thickened gizzard that was very full considering she wasn’t eating. Today I have another that is displaying the same symptoms. Only difference I’m noticing is she keeps one eye closed at all times (both closed when standing/laying down) and head seems twitchy. Not painful in abdomen that I can tell yet. No bloody stool from either. I’ve attached pictures of the gizzard of the previous chicken. All my other chickens seem ok at this time. I’m very concerned this is going to continue through everyone. Any suggestions?
 

Wyorp Rock

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I'm sorry for your loss:hugs
Did you take photos of the other organs, intestines, etc.?

You mention she had a painful abdomen - how did she indicate that? Any fluid in the abdomen when you performed opened her up? Any blockage in the intestines?

As for the other one that is not well can you post some photos of her and her poop?
Any pus or discharge in the closed eye? The head twitchy...have you checked her ears for infection, mites, etc.?
Check her crop to see if it's emptying overnight, look inside the beak for any lesions or canker.
 

gtaus

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Sorry for your loss. Do your chickens have access to grit? I was expecting to see some grit in the gizzard to help break down the food. I am no expert, but I have been told the chickens can get backed up if they don't have access to grit. If they free range, they probably don't need extra grit. But I always have a small bowl of grit in my coop and they do eat it.
 

hockeygirl56

Songster
Apr 21, 2011
157
9
134
Allenton, MI
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I didn’t get pics of anything else but I didn’t feel any obstructions in her intestines at all. Her abdomen had felt fluidy and I anticipated aspirating it once she was gone, but strangely that went away after she passed. I’m guessing she had been pushing organs down due to adbominal breathing? She was reacting when I palpated her abdomen and grunting so I assumed pain. No discharge or abnormalities seen in the live one’s eye, nothing seen in her mouth. I will check her ears and crop this morning when I go out. Poop was watery but not discolored yesterday.

I'm sorry for your loss:hugs
Did you take photos of the other organs, intestines, etc.?

You mention she had a painful abdomen - how did she indicate that? Any fluid in the abdomen when you performed opened her up? Any blockage in the intestines?

As for the other one that is not well can you post some photos of her and her poop?
Any pus or discharge in the closed eye? The head twitchy...have you checked her ears for infection, mites, etc.?
Check her crop to see if it's emptying overnight, look inside the beak for any lesions or canker.
 

hockeygirl56

Songster
Apr 21, 2011
157
9
134
Allenton, MI
I had some grit thrown in a sandbox I had in the run for dust bathing, but I was told recently not to give access to sand so I just removed that and threw grit on the ground in the run yesterday. They do free range when I’m home so majority of the time they have access to everything outside too.

Sorry for your loss. Do your chickens have access to grit? I was expecting to see some grit in the gizzard to help break down the food. I am no expert, but I have been told the chickens can get backed up if they don't have access to grit. If they free range, they probably don't need extra grit. But I always have a small bowl of grit in my coop and they do eat it.
 

gtaus

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I had some grit thrown in a sandbox I had in the run for dust bathing, but I was told recently not to give access to sand so I just removed that and threw grit on the ground in the run yesterday. They do free range when I’m home so majority of the time they have access to everything outside too.

Sounds like it is not a problem with lack of grit.

Why were you advised not to give them access to sand? I use sand in the dust bath for my chickens and they are doing fine. If they eat any sand, it is so small it would just go through them in no time. Don't understand the rationale for keeping them away from sand.
 

hockeygirl56

Songster
Apr 21, 2011
157
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134
Allenton, MI
I’ve been emailing with a poultry vet from Michigan State, and he said that he’s seen issues with impaction when feeding chickens on sand. Granted I wasn’t putting their feed in the sand, but I took it away to be on the safe side.

Sounds like it is not a problem with lack of grit.

Why were you advised not to give them access to sand? I use sand in the dust bath for my chickens and they are doing fine. If they eat any sand, it is so small it would just go through them in no time. Don't understand the rationale for keeping them away from sand.
 

Eggcessive

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I think the sand (eating it) can be a problem with baby chicks, but I have used sand in my run. Others on here frequently use it in their coops as well in southern climates with a lot of rain.

I had a hen die and her gizzard looked much like yours. It was my first necropsy, so I may have missed a reproductive disorder or something else that may have caused the crop and gizzard to stop functioning. Howver I had given a lot of sunflower seeds recently for the chickens to scratch at, and her gizzard was full of the shells. I am reluctant to give them those anymore, but I get the sunflowers kernals instead. Who knows if the SF seeds were the cause or not?

Sorry for your loss, but kudos for trying to find a cause with your home necropsy.
 

gtaus

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I’ve been emailing with a poultry vet from Michigan State, and he said that he’s seen issues with impaction when feeding chickens on sand. Granted I wasn’t putting their feed in the sand, but I took it away to be on the safe side.

I ask questions because I don't know. I'm not an expert. I did not think sand would hurt a chicken as it would pass through very fast.
 

gtaus

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I think the sand (eating it) can be a problem with baby chicks, but I have used sand in my run. Others on here frequently use it in their coops as well in southern climates with a lot of rain.

I was told to provide sand, or #1 grit, to my baby chicks by the "chicken lady" at our local farm store. So go figure. Also, the dust bath is full of sand. Fortunately, my birds are healthy. Hope the OP finds out what the problem is with her birds and updates the thread.
 

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