Lost my first girl, looking for answers

Hickorychickens

Chirping
Mar 29, 2015
14
20
67
I lost my first girl this morning, a 3+ year old New Hampshire Red.
She shares a coop/run with 9 other birds her same age.
I noticed 2 days ago that she was sitting in a corner of the coop midday. I ushered her outside. That night all my chickens were on the roost in the coop at bedtime.
Yesterday all my chickens were outside however at bedtime I found her beneath the coop and unwilling to move. I gently retrieved her and looked her over. Her comb was normal color, no discharge from eyes or mouth, abdomen was soft, feet looked fine, but her vent was rhythmically opening and closing and there was what looked like diarrhea with a little bit of bright red bloody streaks in it. I inserted a gloved petroleum-jellied finger into her vent and did not feel anything (with that said this was the first time I've ever done this and upon further reading discovered I did not go deep enough). I work overnights so I isolated the chicken, left her food and water, and went to work.
This morning the chicken was alive and in the same condition. No more stool but her vent was still rhythmically opening and closing. I did another internal exam and still found nothing that felt like a retained egg. I put her in a bucket with warm water and let her soak for about 20 minutes, I was able to drip a few drops of water into her mouth with a syringe that she readily took. During this time her breathing was fast and she had a slight wheeze when exhaling. I dried her off, placed her in a dog crate with blankets and food and water inside my garage and ran to Tractor Supply to get some Nutri-Dench. When I returned home about 30 minutes later she was dead.
Since this was my first loss, and I had been up all night, I elected not to perform a necroscopy but I did do a more aggressive internal exam. What I noted was with my index finger completely inserted into the oviduct it returned with a yellowish brown substance coating my gloved finger. With a brief whiff I did NOT notice and strong foul odor. I did not feel anything that felt like a shell. I looked her over and externally I could find anything abnormal.
I buried my chicken in the woods after that.
Any ideas what was wrong with my girl? My thought is egg peritonitis.
What should I have done differently?
Thanks.
 

Hen Pen Jem

Crowing
Sep 19, 2017
1,691
5,514
362
Southern California
Greetings Hickorychickens,

I am so sorry for your loss. The first death is so hard. I too bury my girls on the property, they are important members of my pet family!

I am not a vet, I am just a chicken keeper like you. I too have New Hampshire hens, they are a very hearty and gentle breed. But, like all hens are subject to illness.

Based on what you have described, I believe your hen died from an infection. Without blood testing or a necropsy, there is no way to identify whether it was bacterial or viral. A hen's vent can pulse for different reasons, some reproductive issues like egg binding can cause it to pulse, or even infection of the oviduct. But, it will also pulse when there is diarrhea or irritation of the intestine from infection. The color of the diarrhea indicates liver failure, due to infection.

I am leaning to Infectious Bronchitis as the possible cause to her death. I have had hens with this, and it doesn't always affect the respiratory system (there can be some slight symptom), but instead will work it's way to the reproductive system. It is common to find soft shelled eggs during this infection, or egg laying will cease. Sometimes, as keepers we don't notice that a hen has had ongoing diarrhea, or is not eating as it should. It's only when their behavior, is sullen, lethargic, or they are hiding, that we are alerted.

Most infections are contagious, the flock has been exposed either to the diarrhea dropping, or any mucous particles that she may have expelled during an unnoticed sneeze. So, you will have to be vigilant for any symptoms of loose stools or diarrhea, wheezing, sneezing, crusty eyes, lethargy, decreased appetite, excessive drinking of water or reluctance to drink.

If another hen comes down with symptoms, isolate the hen in a crate to monitor the poops, eating and drinking. Treat with a broad spectrum antibiotic, if the infection is bacterial the hen will respond in 24 hours. But, if it is viral, such as Infectious Bronchitis, then, the antibiotic will protect them from a secondary infection while their immune system fights the virus. Secondary infection is usually more than the hen can take, and they succumb to the illness. Provide good supportive care: soft diet, cooked grains, fresh or cooked vegies, diced fruits (red or black in color), feed offered daily, mash is easiest to digest (wet or dry), fresh water.

Monitor droppings, any yellow, means they also require liver support. Liquid Hepato is a great product for this. Blood streaks, indicate tissue damage of some sort, possible anemia, a blood building supplement is needed for this, I use .1 mL, Lixotinic orally. So, along with antibiotic treatment, supplements will also increase the hen's healing ability and strength.

This is the healing strategy that I use for sick chickens.
Of course, the sooner you catch these infections and start treatment, the better the outcome.


These are my thoughts regarding your hen's death; I hope they are helpful in some way.

God Bless and peace to you. :hugs
 

Hickorychickens

Chirping
Mar 29, 2015
14
20
67
Greetings Hickorychickens,

I am so sorry for your loss. The first death is so hard. I too bury my girls on the property, they are important members of my pet family!

I am not a vet, I am just a chicken keeper like you. I too have New Hampshire hens, they are a very hearty and gentle breed. But, like all hens are subject to illness.

Based on what you have described, I believe your hen died from an infection. Without blood testing or a necropsy, there is no way to identify whether it was bacterial or viral. A hen's vent can pulse for different reasons, some reproductive issues like egg binding can cause it to pulse, or even infection of the oviduct. But, it will also pulse when there is diarrhea or irritation of the intestine from infection. The color of the diarrhea indicates liver failure, due to infection.

I am leaning to Infectious Bronchitis as the possible cause to her death. I have had hens with this, and it doesn't always affect the respiratory system (there can be some slight symptom), but instead will work it's way to the reproductive system. It is common to find soft shelled eggs during this infection, or egg laying will cease. Sometimes, as keepers we don't notice that a hen has had ongoing diarrhea, or is not eating as it should. It's only when their behavior, is sullen, lethargic, or they are hiding, that we are alerted.

Most infections are contagious, the flock has been exposed either to the diarrhea dropping, or any mucous particles that she may have expelled during an unnoticed sneeze. So, you will have to be vigilant for any symptoms of loose stools or diarrhea, wheezing, sneezing, crusty eyes, lethargy, decreased appetite, excessive drinking of water or reluctance to drink.

If another hen comes down with symptoms, isolate the hen in a crate to monitor the poops, eating and drinking. Treat with a broad spectrum antibiotic, if the infection is bacterial the hen will respond in 24 hours. But, if it is viral, such as Infectious Bronchitis, then, the antibiotic will protect them from a secondary infection while their immune system fights the virus. Secondary infection is usually more than the hen can take, and they succumb to the illness. Provide good supportive care: soft diet, cooked grains, fresh or cooked vegies, diced fruits (red or black in color), feed offered daily, mash is easiest to digest (wet or dry), fresh water.

Monitor droppings, any yellow, means they also require liver support. Liquid Hepato is a great product for this. Blood streaks, indicate tissue damage of some sort, possible anemia, a blood building supplement is needed for this, I use .1 mL, Lixotinic orally. So, along with antibiotic treatment, supplements will also increase the hen's healing ability and strength.

This is the healing strategy that I use for sick chickens.
Of course, the sooner you catch these infections and start treatment, the better the outcome.


These are my thoughts regarding your hen's death; I hope they are helpful in some way.

God Bless and peace to you. :hugs
 

Hickorychickens

Chirping
Mar 29, 2015
14
20
67
Hi Hen Pen Jem,
Thank you for taking the time to post all that detailed information. It is very helpful. Question: do I need a prescription from a vet for antibiotics or are they available online.
Thanks!
 

Jemma Rider

Songster
Nov 25, 2017
456
488
141
Maryland
Hi Hen Pen Jem,
Thank you for taking the time to post all that detailed information. It is very helpful. Question: do I need a prescription from a vet for antibiotics or are they available online.
Thanks!
You can get them online like on Amazon or at a feed store. I've been treating my hen for a respiratory infection with Tylan50 with a dosage of one ml orally twice a day. I will do this for five days total and my Rosie is already seeming better. I had to drive to another county to get antibiotics because they could only be prescribed by a vet where i live. It's also injectable but i chose orally so it wouldn't stress Rosie out any more.
Hope this helps.
 

Hen Pen Jem

Crowing
Sep 19, 2017
1,691
5,514
362
Southern California
Hi Hen Pen Jem,
Thank you for taking the time to post all that detailed information. It is very helpful. Question: do I need a prescription from a vet for antibiotics or are they available online.
Thanks!

Here in California, new laws were passed, and we can only get antibiotics with a prescription from a licensed veterinarian. The laws are different from state to state, and sometimes even in certain counties, within a state.

You can purchase some antibiotics at your local feed/farm store. Call and see if that is something you can do in your state. If you chose to purchase them online, and your state requires a prescription, they won't sell them to you without your vet's information and the Rx number. Believe me, I tried...:(
 

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