My old hen is slowly dieing, how can I help her during her last days?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by firehog, Mar 7, 2013.

  1. firehog

    firehog Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 27, 2009
    I made the mistake of becoming too emotionally attached to my hens, they became pets, then daughters. Ii started with 12 and now down to 9. I believe the first 3 that died had internal egg laying, one went very fast , 3 days after getting weak with a putrid smell from her vent, some sort of internal infection. The 2nd lasted 3 months after I noticed the hard lumps inside her abdomen, even an expensive vet visit could not get her to eject the eggs. I lost my third one last fall, no lumps inside her but she just got weaker and wouldn't eat. She had a beautiful big comb that was bright red, but it flopped down and started turning blue. She loved worms and I would make an extra effort to give her those treats but then she just got so weak she couldn't jump on the roost so i brought her in the house and she died in her little box next to my bed after being in a coma for 5 hours on my lap.

    Everytime one dies it just tears me apart emotionally and wil still cry when i think of them.

    Now a 4th one has the same symptoms. Her comb is blue and i had to lift her up on the roost the last 2 nights. She has a huge belly but still passes normal droppings but hardly eats except for a little corn/wheat scratch and soft bread. She also loved worms but will not take them anymore. I feel especially bad for her because she was always the "slow" chicken, the others would always beat her to any scraps i threw the flock and even if I isolated her and presented lettuce or other treats she would first 'study' it before slowly nibbling at it. She is always standing by herself all fluffed up and i am worried she may be in pain.

    Is aspirin toxic to chickens? and would a small dose help ease any pain she may be in, like 1/2 of a 80 mg aspirin ground up and put in some soft bread which is one of the few things she will nibble at.

    I just cannot bring myself to kill my girl, I had her for about 5 years and she was 2 or 3 years old when i first got her. i am sure she has not laid eggs for at least 2 years but with her huge belly, i am guessing it is internal egg laying like the others.

    Anyone know of some over the counter medicine i could give her in case she is in pain so her last few days will not be bad? Thanks
  2. henkatie

    henkatie New Egg

    Feb 13, 2013
    Hi, I'm not sure about asprin - this isn't something I've heard of being used with hens before. Usually when it's internal egg laying you can identify this pretty easily though and resolve it usually - or at least what I've read leads me to this understanding.

    When you say her belly is big- are you referring to the crop? Has she been wormed recently? If so, it might be useful to start on antibiotics - baytril is my first 'go to' treatment after ruling worms out. I also like to massage the crop - this can help digestion along and might possibly shift anything that's stuck? My vet told me that their muscles can loose control quite quickly and massaging the crop can help - if this is what you mean is big..

    I know what you mean about them being like children I'm too emotionally involved with mine too- I lost one to a fox and was crying for two solid days!

    Just try to make her as warm and comfortable as you can if you think there's nothing that can be done.

  3. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

    Nov 27, 2008
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Worms are a possibility. Try worming your birds if you havnt done so. Also inspect them for lice/mites. Sorry for your losses, it seems it's always our favorites, real tough.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2013
  4. firehog

    firehog Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 27, 2009
    It is not her crop, it is her abdomen, she even walks with her legs spread out it is so big. she is passing poo but her vent feathers need a cleaning, caked with a white yellow mess. She was still alive this morning and I helped her off the coop so she can roam with her sisters.

    Just wish there was a over the counter medicine for pain relief in case she is in pain.
  5. Bogtown Chick

    Bogtown Chick Chicken Obsessed

    Mar 31, 2012
    Northern Minnesota
    My Coop
    Sounds like you have another that is egg bound. Aspirin is okay to give chickens. I gave a 1/5 baby aspirin to my roo when he needed it this winter without any ill effect. To be honest though not sure what aspirin is going to do for a chicken in that much misery. do you have somebody who could help you with her?
  6. etammy

    etammy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 10, 2012
    I would not worm her. I am sure she is dying and worming a dying chicken will just make her feel worse in my opinion. She may have ascites(fluid in her belly) probably from liver failure. If she has not laid in two years, I don't think she has started laying again in side, either way a five year old hen is old, per my farm vet who has had chickens his whole life. He says the chicks we get from these farm stores are breed to only live a short time. If you get your hens from a local breeder with a strong genenic line they may live to be 10 years old and just like people, some make it longer than others. It is always hard to watch them go. But I have had a hen with one time ascites that cleared up with several warm baths, she lived another 7 months, but did die in the end she was 4 years old. Also, the more they lay eggs the sooner they die. Producing an egg everyday takes alot out of them. I am with you, I have fallen in love with my hens and each death is really tough, but would I rather not have them, I am not sure, they have been a source of great joy, lots of laughs and a great experience. I would never have thought I could love a chicken, now I know it is possible. So, I would just keep her warm, safe, try to get her to eat and drink, and let mother nature have it's way or take her to a vet for an injection into her heart to end her life. Mine charges 35 dollars and it has been quick, but he is a farm vet. Good luck
  7. firehog

    firehog Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 27, 2009
    Etammy: Thanks for the kind words. Sonja, my sick hen is probably either 7 or 8 years old. I noticed she had a lot of poo caked on her backside so I sprayed her with warm soap water, took a scissors and trimmed her feathers so that is one less discomfort for her. She just has such a full abdomen, but she is having bowel movements. I was actually going to post here and see if anyone has ever given a chicken something to give them diarhea so maybe I could flush her out. She still does eat a little, she likes tomatoes and grapes and corn scratch and soft wet bread.

    She does not have the strength to make the 12" jump to the roosting 2 x 4 in the coop, she tries, falls down and seeks refuge in one of the laying boxes, so I take her out and put her on the roost so she can be with her sisters.

    My first hen that died had what you described I think, I moved and when I hauled all the chickens out of my truck, one by one I noticed Li'l Squawker had a very liquid abdomen, like it was full of water. She died within 5 days. Lady Gaga, the second who died had internal egg laying. I spent nearly $200 for the vet to induce laying but it didn't work. I tried several warm baths too. She did last 2 months though and many on the forum predicted death within a week. She was super intelligent, a lap chicken and would always come to the fence closest to where I was working and watch me,a very curious chicken.

    I agree, the chickens have brought me a lot of joy and laughter over the years and companionship since I have no family but I am tied down with them and can't seem to be away more than a day and then I just worry about them.

    That is a nice chicken you have in the photo. I have 2 Rocks, Heidi and Droopy. Heidi is one of my favorites, a lap chicken and spoiled rotten. When she lost all her feathers during a Winter molt and the others were attacking her as an alien chicken and she was cold, I brought her in the house every night on her own special roost till her feathers grew back. Naturally as the House Chicken she was spoiled with extra treats and would protest every morning when i picked her up to go back with the other chickens. She to this day waits by the door expecting me to pick her up and take her inside. She is also the same age as Sonja.
  8. BackyardCountry

    BackyardCountry Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 31, 2011
    My Own Little World....
    This is such a painful thing...its wonderful to hear that they've become pets to you. In her final days, keep her comfortable and loved much like humans. animals can sense love and care and i think providing her with these is good. So sorry she's in pain! i send her healing!
  9. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

    Sep 6, 2007
    spring hill, florida
    It's sad when they start to die. I guess you'll have to decide if you want to euthanize, or a vet , or let her die on her own. I've done all 3. I was euthanizing myself and really just could not do it anymore. My vet does not do chickens, but any vet should know how to give them a shot to put them out.

  10. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

    Nov 27, 2008
    Jacksonville, Florida
    "I was euthanizing myself and really just could not do it anymore."
    Well Karen, I'm glad you couldnt do it anymore, BYC wouldnt be the same without you anymore!!!!! LOLOLOLOL.

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