my first experience with chicken illness

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by elmo, Nov 8, 2009.

  1. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've had chickens only since May of this year, so this is my first experience dealing with a hen who is not healthy.

    Billina, our favorite hen, is six months old and just started laying last month. About a week ago, I noticed about three or four crusty scabs forming on her comb that looked like fowl pox to me. Didn't seem to bother her any, and she was eating, pooping and acting normally.

    This morning, though, when I went out to open up the coop, I immediately noticed some abnormal poop on the droppings tray under the roost. Clear, mucousy, with light brownish/yellowish unformed material within. All the other birds jumped out immediately to go about the yard, as they usually do, but Billina hung back, pecking around on the floor of the coop. When she did jump out and go into the yard, she stood still frequently, fluffed up.

    So I put her back in the coop by herself when I went to set up a hospital cage. When I returned, she was in the nestbox, and she's been in the nestbox now for an hour. Usually it takes her only about 30 minutes in there to lay her egg.

    I'm going to give her a little more time to see if she can lay her egg, before disturbing her by moving her to the hospital cage. Gah, why did it have to be Billina?!
     
  2. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Update

    Billina laid her egg, but she's still listless, just not herself. I noticed she had food in her crop first thing this morning, so I read up about impacted crop and have offered her bread crumbs in olive oil, ACV in her water, and have been massaging her crop. She scratches around for a bit, then fluffs up and rests.

    She had another watery, mucousy poop, then a more formed mucousy yellow brown one, and the last one was a mucousy formed green, rather than yellow/brown. If you had told me a year ago I'd be following a chicken around to observe her poop, I would never have believed you.
     
  3. tulie13

    tulie13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What makes you think she has a crop problem? The "mucousy poop" makes me think she laid a shell-less egg, if anything. If her crop goes down overnight, it's fine. You need to isolate her and watch her, so you don't have to "follow her around" to see her poop... You can also control and observe what she eats, and how her crop does.
     
  4. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    She can't have laid a shell less egg; we would have seen it. The egg she laid this morning was completely normal.

    The reason I suspect something with her crop is that it was full this morning when she came down off the roost; that's not typical.

    Yes, I am isolating her. She's in a hospital cage inside tonight with a heat lamp. Poor thing. We're taking her to the vet first thing tomorrow morning.
     
  5. tulie13

    tulie13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Is it full and squishy/gassy or full and hard? If it is squishy/gassy and smells, it's probably sour. Apple Cider Vinegar can knock this out. You mentioned taking her to a vet - let us know how this turns out. He'll probably flush her crop.
     
  6. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Morning update

    Billina is much better this morning. The last poop she had was formed enough to sit up on the flat roost like a marble, although it was squishier than a normal poo and a bit slimy. Still, better.

    What is more marked is Billina's demeanor. She had enough energy to begin pecking and scratching, and ate a bit of layer crumble, too. She struggled while I was examining her this morning, when yesterday she just lay quietly in my arms. Her crop was pretty much empty this morning.

    She was desperate to rejoin the flock (yesterday she couldn't care less). I let them all out to free range a bit while I watched; Billina had enough energy to pick on the only chicken lower in pecking order than she is.

    Right now I've got her separated again in the winter coop so she has access to the prime nesting box, the one they all prefer to use. She's in there right now working on her egg.

    As soon as the vet opens, I'm still going to make an appointment and have them look at the black spots on her comb, and check her over thoroughly.

    I need to learn what a normal crop is supposed to feel like so I can recognize when something's not right. So I plan to grab all my chickens today and feel their crops.
     
  7. tulie13

    tulie13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Good to know that she seems better - she may have had a wad of grass or hay in there that was slow to move down but has resolved itself. Black spots on the comb/wattles is most often Fowl Pox, which is a common viral disease that can be spread by mosquitoes. It is more of a nuisance than anything else, only causes occasional problems if it gets around a nostril or eyelid. Usually it just looks NASTY for a few weeks, then clears up. It can make them feel a little poorly, and you have to watch for picking, but it's nothing that a vet could do anything about. There is a vaccine, but IMO it seems like a waste of time, because if you have one bird with it, the other ones probably already have been exposed, and a vaccine is "too late" at this point. It will likely run its course and be gone.

    It also COULD be another hen pecking on this one, since she has been feeling poorly.

    Since you are going to the vet anyway, it would be interesting to hear what he has to say about it. Let us know! [​IMG]
     
  8. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Good news! Just got back from the vet. He confirmed dry pox, checked Billina for wet pox...all clear. Whew. The vet thinks the poop abnormality was stress related. He thinks that Billina is feeling under the weather from the dry pox and the other chickens (particularly the chicken below Billina on the pecking order) were bullying and stressing her. That's why she perked up pretty quickly once we isolated her and gave her TLC.

    He checked her over, did a fecal, and other than the dry pox, she looks fine. Whew.
     

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