My 6 yr old hen has fatty liver

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Stockpilejoy, Jan 13, 2019 at 5:55 AM.

  1. Stockpilejoy

    Stockpilejoy In the Brooder

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    Sorry this is so long but is kind of an introduction and question since I'm new here. Harriet was my first out of 4 hens to start laying. Several months after she starting laying she abruptly stopped. When she went through her first molt during the summer I was concerned something was wrong so I took her to Vet. He did blood work and X-rays and diagnosed her with fatty liver. She has done great over the years although she does not produce eggs. You can clearly see she has fatty liver because of her size, sunken in eyes, and fluffed up appearance. Because of this I make it a point to only give healthy limited snacks. Lately she looks more fluffed up looking as if her britches are falling down and is acting somewhat different. I've noticed her sitting on the ground from time to time. She's been known to sit on roost I have in run daily but never on ground. Usually it is not for more that 1-5mins at a time. A couple times over the last week she all the suddenly drops to the ground but still manages to stay in an upright sitting position. Yesterday evening in the coop she was twisting around several times looking upward as if she saw something above her and minutes after she dropped to sitting position and got up immediately. There has been a newcomer to my girls recently that showed up on Thanksgiving day so maybe the added stress has made her health decline. My neighbor called thinking one of my barred rocks was in their yard but instead it was a stray injured barred rock rooster. No one would claim him so I took him in. I had an empty coop w/ run and kept him in there by himself and slowly introduced him to my 2 hens. I was very concerned since I only have 2 hens now. I'm thinking he is a young rooster about a year old due to his small spurs. He's very submissive to my girls and I've only seen him mate twice with my healthy Ester. He is second in the pecking line. When he dances around Harriet, Ester runs to the rescue and chases him off. Thankful for that with her health situation. I know the rule that one should have 10 hens to a rooster but I had no choice but to take him in. I lost my other two hens last fall to a hawk when I foolishly left them out dust bathing for 30min while I prepared lunch. I have honestly felt this barred rock rooster is God sent since he is as kind and gentle as they come. And to think he matches my girls. ;) Has any of you had a hen with fatty liver live past 6 years and do you think her symptoms of her sitting and dropping mean she is deteriorating or a sign of old age? A friend is giving me two 1 year old barred rocks next week and wondering if I should wait since Harriet's health is declining?? I will keep the new girls separate for a week or so. I do have a 4x4 tiny coop that I call a spa used for when a hen goes broody that I can put Harriet in if she declines. Right now I feel it's best to keep her with her bestie. Her and Ester have been best friends since chicks and I'm devastated at the thought of losing my Harriett and Ester being depressed over it. :(
     
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  2. Shadrach

    Shadrach Roosterist

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    Hello Stockpilejoy.
    Welcome to BYC.
    Did your vet advise you on a suitable diet?
    Just to clarify something; there is no rule that states you should only have one rooster for ten hens.
    6 years old can be getting on a bit for some breeds. A lot will depend on the type of life they've had, diet, exercise and of course genetics; much like humans in fact.
    If she and your hens like the rooster and the flock seems stable I would say keep them all together and let Harriot (the one with the liver problems?) live out the rest of her life with her mates.
     
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  3. Stockpilejoy

    Stockpilejoy In the Brooder

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    Thank you for your welcome and in-put. Harriet seems to really like Hansel. The vet recommended giving tuna once a week until she was out of slump and finished molting and suggested eliminating any unhealthy treats such as corn or sun flower seeds. Prior to vet visit Id give tablespoon of corn, meal worms or sun flower seeds to get them in their hen house each day after free ranging then switched to just meal worms as treat. I fed them Dumor layer crumbles and kept addition calcium and grit in separate containers. Once adopting rooster I switched to Purina flock raiser crumbles since I read blog recommending it with mixed flock or with older hens with rooster. I recently read that higher protein with less fat is better for hens with fatty liver. I had a time trying to decide which feed would be best for all of them. They free range twice a day for approx total 1-2 hours. Every couple weeks I hang a cabbage, romaine lettuce and or broccoli for additional nutrition. Summer snacks include berries from garden.
     
  4. Stockpilejoy

    Stockpilejoy In the Brooder

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    Harriet, Ester, and Hansel. ❤️ IMG_1274.JPG
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2019 at 7:57 AM
  5. rebrascora

    rebrascora Free Ranging

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    An I correct that Harriet has been living with Fatty Liver Disease for 5 years and has not laid an egg during that time? I am wondering if she has been internally laying and is reaching the point that she is at capacity and her abdomen is full of yolks and possibly fluid/ascites. Is she unusually heavy compared to her sister? Does she walk with a wide legged stance? What is her poop like? Does she soil her but feathers? Is she starting to experience respiratory distress.... could that be the reason for her head lifting and looking upwards perhaps to open her airways. Eggs or other masses or fluid in the abdominal cavity will put pressure on the air sacs (which are like bellows inside the chicken) as well as the lungs. Fluid (ascites) can be drained to give some instant relief but will return and comes with a risk of introducing infection or causing shock. It is not unusual for there to be more than a pint of fluid in there which is a huge amount for suck a small creature.... it equates to a human carrying round a couple of gallons of fluid in their abdomen which would make you want to sit down often and take a deep breath ever so often.
    A vet can drain the fluid or it can be done at home and there is a good You Tube video which demonstrates how to do it if you are interested. The fluid will usually feel like a tight water balloon between their legs as it collects in the lowest part of the abdominal cavity, so cupping your hand and feeling there and comparing it to your other hen will give you an idea of whether this is ascites and therefore draining may be beneficial. Fatty liver can also cause the liver to leach fluid into the abdominal cavity to cause ascites so it may simply be that or a combination of both internal laying and fatty liver or maybe even ovarian cycts.
     
  6. rebrascora

    rebrascora Free Ranging

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    This is the best video I have seen for demonstrating how to drain a chicken with ascites.
     
  7. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Crossing the Road

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    Welcome to BYC @Stockpilejoy. I too am a bit skeptical that your hen has lived with fatty liver disease for such a long time. Reproductive disorders, such as internal laying, salpingitis, egg yolk peritonitis, or ascites, are usually the most common cause of illness or death eventually in hens. Hens with reproductive disorders can lose weight, have a poor appetite, have runny droppings that may soil the vent, walk more upright or waddle like a penguin, prefer to sit or lie around, and sometimes will separate themselves. They may have a somewhat enlarged lower belly.

    Sunken eyes can be a sign of dehydration or conjunctivitis due to MG. Pictures might help.

    I would check her crop early in the morning before she eats or drinks, to make sure that it empties overnight. The episode where she was twisting around looking upward may have been her adjusting her crop, or something neurological. Crop problems also occur as a secondary problem to reproductive disorders.

    I have quite a few older hens who stopped laying after their first or second season, and I suspect repro problems. Each year I lose a couple and do necropsies just to see if I can figure out what was wrong.
     
  8. Stockpilejoy

    Stockpilejoy In the Brooder

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    She started laying right at six months and was a great layer on up till she had her 1st molt and has not laid since. Thinking she was diagnosed with fatty liver prior to a year old. I do think she probably has fluid/ascites. I'm surprised her breathing appears to be good. She is quite a piglet and a big girl. Last week she was digging in the leaves and found what appeared to be a baby snake about 6' long and she swallowed it whole. Funny thing is she does not like earth worms. I have not noticed her walking wide legged but have always had issue with her getting a pasty bottom even as a 4 day old chick. Her stool is very small compared to other hens I think because her belly is so swollen and she is prone to have diarrhea from time to time. I was told liver issues would reduce her egg out put and possibly stop it all together. Her legs and beak are orange color more so at times then others probably due to high bulirubin levels. I may call vet and ask if he can drain fluid and or reevaluate to see if something was missed in first diagnosis. I don't think I could handle the draining fluid procedure. Wondering if that would be a painful and how often it would have to be done? When I first took her to vet I thought she was possibly egg bound but he felt it was primarily liver issue. He showed me very swollen liver on X-ray and said all her liver enzymes where very high. I will try and take a close up pic of her and post a little later.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2019 at 9:09 AM
  9. Cragg Klefor

    Cragg Klefor Songster

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    Hi Stockpilejoy! And Welcome :frow
    Your poor chicken, she's had a good chicken mama for 5 years!

    Just a thought, considering you have mentioned you recently changed their feed, and that she ate a snake and therefore is likely to eat things while freeranging which may not be the norm..
    I would check that crop first and foremost in case of a blockage. Also, make sure she is eating those pellets and not just pretending to (picking up in beak and dropping in true "Oh I'm fine" chicken style). I am wondering is she weak and/or lacking nutrition through one or both of the mentioned.

    There is however no getting away from the fact that she is of a good age and she has an underlying issue, but there could be more life in her yet. Best of luck with her!
    Oh, and photo's would be great!
     
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  10. Shadrach

    Shadrach Roosterist

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    Fascinating thread this.
    This chicken was seen by a vet. This vet diagnosed fatty liver. He even provided X Rays and one must assume if he also said this hen had higher than normal enzymes in her liver, then other tests were carried out.

    Given you have a vet who it seems has not only the interest but also the expertise and equipment to make such a diagnosis and provide the evidence to back it up, I would completely ignore any advice you get on this forum where nobody has even seen your hen let alone examined her and stick with whatever your vet advises.
     

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