List of general "sick bird" care guidelines? (update: hen died)

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by StPaulieGirls, May 8, 2009.

  1. StPaulieGirls

    StPaulieGirls Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 14, 2007
    Oakland, CA
    Hi all,

    I have a bird that is presenting as "sick chicken" in the textbook-unhelpful way that poultry seem to do. Below are details, but I'm looking for a list of generally helpful measures that could be beneficial to the bird in any case, including prophylactic medications you use and differential diagnosis tips. Like a "basic first aid" manual for chickens who are off their feed but don't need anything excised with a penknife, yet.

    1) What type of bird , age and weight.

    Brown leghorn hen, 1.5 years. Don't know weight. Seems appropriate in comparison with our other leghorn.

    2) What is the behavior, exactly.

    Lethargy, sitting fluffed in the coop, avoiding other chickens. She still scratched and perched today.

    3) Is there any bleeding, injury, broken bones or other sign of trauma.

    Lots of broken feathers at the apex of her shoulder, but no wounds.

    4) What happened, if anything that you know of, that may have caused the situation.

    She's been free ranging in the yard in the afternoons for the last few days. Also, lots of mice in the coop (grrrrrrr) -- can they carry illnesses?

    5) What has the bird been eating and drinking, if at all.

    Some crumble, a little water with electrolytes.

    6) How does the poop look? Normal? Bloody? Runny? etc.

    Vent's clean, signs of yellow poo, but nothing sticky. I'll check her quarantine cell in the morning to see her poo in isolation from the rest of the flock.

    7) What has been the treatment you have administered so far?

    Isolation, heat lamp, high-protein chick crumble, electrolytes in water.

    8 ) What is your intent as far as treatment? For example, do you want to treat completely yourself, or do you need help in stabilizing the bird til you can get to a vet?

    This is not a crisis, though I know sick chickens can be dead chickens in short order. We'll treat at home. The last euthanization bill was $250, so we'll only go to a vet in extremis.

    9) If you have a picture of the wound or condition, please post it. It may help.

    [imagine a fluffy leghorn with half-closed eyes]

    10) Describe the housing/bedding in use

    Indoor coop (in garage) with straw, outdoor run with dirt and fresh grass clippings. They're out in the yard for 4-6 hours/day, too.

    Thanks for any basics that I can apply now and in the future!

    - Kerri (& Kasha, in the "sicko box" dog crate)
    Last edited: May 10, 2009
  2. DANNY

    DANNY Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 27, 2009
    Have you checked for mites?
  3. Renee

    Renee Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 7, 2008
    Check for lice and mites by laying her on her back, butt end toward you. Look at the vent area for crawly things or dirt.

    Check her crop in the morning to be sure it is empty.

    See if she is still laying eggs, check the color and consistency of poop.

    Separate from the other chickens and keep her in a warm dark place.

    Feed soft foods and water with electrolytes and make sure she stays hydrated.

    You can try Poly-Vi-Sol liquid baby vitamins, three drops a day on the beak.

    Keep posting any other observations you make.

    Don't give antibiotics unless you have a positive diagnosis of a bacterial infection, since they can accelerate a fungal infection.

    That's my list of stuff to do. It hasn't helped my Quasimodo, but maybe your hen will get better.

    I'm trying a wormer next.
  4. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    I suspect she has had a trauma and is in pain. You can use baby Aspirin for this- I'd examine the wing more closely before deciding whether to separate her or administer anything.

    I believe the dosage would be 1 baby aspirin crushed in 1 cup water.
  5. dlhunicorn

    dlhunicorn Human Encyclopedia

    Jan 11, 2007
    Have you ever wormed her? If not do so with a broad spectrum wormer like ivomec Eprinex. Offer a live culture plain yogurt (you can also add in some dried acidolpholus or probiotic) daily free choice. Get a general supplement like avia charge 2000... it is not the cheapest but lasts a long time and you can give this daily till she perks up.... it is available to purchase online from McMurry.
  6. StPaulieGirls

    StPaulieGirls Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 14, 2007
    Oakland, CA
    Thank you all for your general tips! They're very helpful. Very grateful!

    She shows no improvement today, but she's not dead, either.


    I forgot to mention that she has a VERY wilted comb. She's not laying, so I thought the comb was kind of normal at first, but now it's getting very shrunken and floppy and it's very pale.

    Upon examining her quarantine cell, I found no poop. I checked her vent just now and it's got streaks of YELLOW. Is that a key?

    She's pecking at the food a little, but doesn't seem to be eating anything.

    She seems very dehydrated. Her eyes look sunken. I'll administer some fluids with a syringe as soon as I'm done posting.

    I've checked her for bugs and found nothing. No other chickens are showing signs of any infestation.

    Here's a big question on my mind: can isolation from the flock stress a chicken more so that she declines faster?

    Thanks and good luck to all with ill chooks!

  7. Glenda L Heywood

    Glenda L Heywood Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 11, 2009
    basically she has some nerve damage and touch of E.coli
    before giving asprin always feed some of the wet mash probiotic for the chickens gut to absorb the asprin
    do this immediately
    need neurolodigal vit E and Vit B complex for nervous disorder

    you will however NEED to take a eye dropper

    (1 and feed the chicken water with apple cider vinegar
    1 tbsp to pt of water
    Do this till after the chickenise better. Should be able to put the ACV water in a small waterer for the chicken

    (2 immediately give the chicken 1000 mg capsule of liquid Vit E by cutting the end of the capsule and taking the vit E capsule and let the oil run into the chickens beak

    (3 also need to crush a vit B complex pill in a tbsp and put it into a tsp of water and put it in the chickens beak after it is disolved
    Do both Vit's twice today then for 7 days till you see some improvement in the chicken

    then give twice a week for two weeks should see much improvement

    (4 generally the shock of a event like E.coli will cause chickens to have this nerve damage
    the manure color is E.coli color

    (5 after today I would see if the chicken will eat a
    natural probiotic wet mash
    2 tsp of dry crumbles
    4 tsp of milk sweet, sour or buttermilk
    1 tbsp of non flavored yogurt
    mix good and put the
    vit E liquid as directed in the wet mash
    and crumble the Vit B complex tablet in a tabsp and add to the wet mash

    (6 Do this twice a day for 7 days to see if the chicken is better
    then do this once a day for another week then once a week for a while
    this should give the nervous system some stability

    you can email by PM for more information and include this inf so I remember what is happening
  8. dlhunicorn

    dlhunicorn Human Encyclopedia

    Jan 11, 2007
    She seems very dehydrated. Her eyes look sunken. I'll administer some fluids with a syringe as soon as I'm done posting

    A bird feeling ill for any reason will often stop eating and drinking... of the two, the dehydration issue must be addressed first... put electrolytes in the waterer (DURVET is a common brand found at feed stores, you can also find an electrolyte mix in a smaller quantity at the pet store or even diluted childrens pedialyte in a pinch will do)... dehydration/electrolyte imbalance will kill your bird quicker than that which is ailing it.

    I checked her vent just now and it's got streaks of YELLOW. Is that a key?

    This can indicate worms... (again> if you have not wormed your birds then the chance is exceedingly high that you need to do so > worms can and do kill > if not as primary cause then by weakening your bird so that naturally occuring intestinal flora (E.Coli is one) will becaome pathogenic and cause secondary problems)'Droppings mustard poultry'
    "Internal Parasites
    Birds appearing listless, pale in the face, losing condition and producing mustard-coloured droppings can be suspected as having worms..."

    in addition to worms (and over 80 percent of free ranging birds have worms):
    Avian Chlamydiosis
    When clinical signs occur in birds, they include yellow-to-greenish or watery gray droppings..."

    If the yellow is the URINE portion (bilirubin from not eating will usually be green and not yellow) this can indicate problems in the liver:
    4. Urine
    a. In most birds urine is present as both a watery portion and a solid paste (urates). Desert adapted species, such as budgies, parakeets and cockatiels pass more formed urates. More tropical and frugivorous species, such as Amazon parrots and macaws, pass more watery droppings.
    b. Causes of polyuria include excitement, anxiety, consumption of fruits and vegetables, renal disease, increased water consumption (polydypsia), etc.
    c. Causes of bloody urine include renal disease, lead poisoning, and bleeding in the cloaca.
    d. Causes of green colored urine (biliverdinuria) include liver disease (especially common with psittacosis), and bile staining from feces.
    e. Yellow urine is rare. It is usually caused by severe, rapid liver disease.."
    BASIC AVIAN CLINICAL PATHOLOGY-Heidi L. Hoefer, DVM, Dip ABVP-Avian Practice
    Bilirubin testing does not have diagnostic value in most species. This means that birds do not become jaundiced (skin and eyes turning yellow). Birds lack the enzyme which converts the bile pigment biliverdin into bilirubin. Birds with liver disease will therefore have excess levels of biliverdin. Biliverdin does not accumulate in tissues; it is rapidly excreted in the urine. Green/yellow urates represents biliverdin in the urine and can be loosely considered the bird equivalent of jaundice. Birds do not become "yellow" from jaundice like people or other small companion mammals..."

    My suggestion is to treat for worms, give electrolytes as sole source of water for at least five days (lukewarm not cold) and give a good general supplement and live culture yogurt free choice as general support measures to help support the birds own natural immune system (or at least ensure that deficiencies do not further weaken the bird) as microorganisms irritate or damage the absorptive intestinal lining (eg coccidia, c.albicans, rotavirus), or excrete toxins that interfere with the normal electrolyte and water exchange in intestinal cells (eg E.coli, clostridium, cholera, salmonella) so when your bird is feeling poorly it is crucial you give a supplement. more info:
    Last edited: May 10, 2009
  9. ZepChick

    ZepChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 27, 2008
    coos bay OR
    I have no advice, but usually when I see dlhunicorn's post I take note....very good info. I just wanted to say good luck, it sounds like you are a good chicken mama [​IMG]
  10. StPaulieGirls

    StPaulieGirls Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 14, 2007
    Oakland, CA
    Well, we tried everything we had at hand (electrolytes, Vits. E & B, ACV, giving her fluids by hand) but we lost her last night. I don't know what the cause of her death was, in the end. We didn't have time to deworm her or get any Corid last night following some of the suggestions in the post.

    Thank you, everyone for your advice. I feel sad wondering if I didn't note symptoms soon enough or if I was too conservative with the initial response.

    I'll try to learn something from the experience.

    I'm grateful for this community and its wisdom.

    - Kerri

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