Necropsy of pullet revealed gizzard encased in fat

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Lobzi, Feb 16, 2016.

  1. Lobzi

    Lobzi Chillin' With My Peeps

    Im wondering if anyone knows anything about this. I tend to do a cursory necropsy on my birds looking specifically for evidence of fatty liver and all have looked normal internally but this one, who I found dead in the yard tonight after showing lethargy during the day, had what appears to be a lot of fat around the gizzard.
    Ive heard of fatty liver but never fatty gizzard. Is it related? Do you think it was the cause of her death?


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    I would appreciate any information on this.
     
  2. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop

    How old was she? Pretty much every pullet and hen I've cut into who was laying age or older had a layer of fat around her gizzard. In fact I would expect them to. What's your bird's diet like?
     
  3. Lobzi

    Lobzi Chillin' With My Peeps

    OK, well then it would be unusual not to find fat? I guess Im not clear on what is normal.

    This one was under a year but should have been laying or ready to lay. I didnt find any evidence of ovum development though.

    I give them treats of mealworms and sometimes I though them raisins. They normal diet is wild bird seed which they eat. They will not eat the manufactured feed.

    I also cook for them, putting out scrambled egg with rice and sometime they get to clean chicken bones when I cook a store-bought chicken. That is rare though.

    I also bake a special bread for them that consists of ground day old bagels and cooked fruit slurry.
     
  4. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop


    This is your problem right here.

    Fat is normal. All mature laying hens should have a layer of fat encasing the gizzard and beneath the skin of the abdomen. The amount will vary by hen, but it should be there.

    Wild bird seed cannot sustain chickens healthfully. It will keep them alive, sure, but I would expect to see a significantly shortened lifespan, heavily reduced laying ability, and most likely severely underweight birds. I would suspect internal damage as well. Do you have any photos from the autopsy? How did her liver look? Her lungs? He kidneys? How about her spleen?

    The most common type of misfeeding occurs because people don't understand the difference between scratch and feed, and so they feed scratch as a complete ration. This usually ends in birds with decent, but still underdeveloped muscle, and an absolute ton of fat. These birds are almost always very obese. One time, at work, I had a woman bring in the victim of a dog attack for me to look at, a beauitful New Hampshire hen. She had a nasty tear in the skin of her back, and when I pulled the feathers back to look, I was greeted by bright yellow. Lo and behold, this hen must have had a good 1/4 inch of fat on her back. I'd never even seen a chicken with fat on it's back prior to this. It just shouldn't occur. But here one was. I asked the owner what she was feeding them; she answered "scratch."

    Wild bird seed is formulated differently. It's got less fat. It's still extremely low in protein; so birds fed on solely bird seed (and treats) will have the same undeveloped muscle and body of birds fed on scratch. They will, however, lack the extreme fat of a scratch-fed hen and indeed most fat whatsoever that a hen fed on an appropriate feed will have.

    Another point. As I mentioned before, people sometimes bring their mysteriously sick birds to my workplace to be examined, if they don't want to drop the cash on a vet visit. One of the hazards of working at a chicken shop, I suppose. I would say that half, if not more, of the owners of these sick birds, when asked what they were feeding them, answered either "scratch", "wild bird seed", or "scraps". The birds themselves have displayed a wide variety of issues, from ascites to lethargy to what sounded like CRD. Birds who aren't fed an appropriate diet just aren't as healthy; they won't be as productive or as vigorous, and their immunity against any disease which may enter the flock will be very poor. That's why half the birds I see are the birds fed improperly; they're just far more likely to succumb to these issues because they don't have the proper energy or strength to overcome it.

    I would really suggest moving them to a commercial grower crumble ration (around 18% protein). If they won't eat one brand, shop around for another. At this point, they need the grower because chances are they are all underweight. Feeding the wrong nutrition can cause starvation the same way feeding them nothing at all can. The grower will help bulk them up. If they refuse to eat for a day or two, that's what has to happen. You can put their treats directly in their feeder to encourage them to eat, but don't feed many treats during the initial transition as we want them hungry enough to be willing to eat. They will eventually consume the commercial feed. After feeding out one bag of grower, they should be ready for a laying feed (16% protein). After a few months on an appropriate feed you should begin to see good healthy fat layers (fat packs as I call them) forming on the abdomens on your birds, and the muscle of their breast should thicken up as well.
     
  5. Lobzi

    Lobzi Chillin' With My Peeps

    No sense in my throwing money away on food they wont eat (manufactured chicken feed). I forgot to add they get raw, shelled sunflower seeds (fat there) and lots of fresh lettuce and other greens.......no fat here but healthy.
    Unless a member is sick they are plenty heavy for their size (all bantams). I dont think their diet is an issue. I was worried about fatty liver that is why I open many of my birds up to see. The one young pullet I sent to Davis for necropsy was not reported to have fatty liver but the report also could not identify a reason for her demise. Just trying to find answers.
    If fat around the gizzard is not a problem then I will not consider what Im seeing here a reason for her lethargy and quick death. Thank you for giving more information.
     
  6. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

    20,955
    4,213
    421
    Apr 17, 2015
    Long Beach, WA
    They won't starve themselves. If feed is all you offer them, they will eat it. They need proper nutrition, and they won't get that from eating mostly seeds and greens. Chickens are not meant to be vegetarians. They are omnivores and need about 13 different amino acids, some of which can only be sourced from animal proteins.
     
  7. Lobzi

    Lobzi Chillin' With My Peeps

    "They are omnivores and need about 13 different amino acids, some of which can only be sourced from animal proteins."

    Funny that is what I tell those who sneer at my feeding my chickens cooked chicken and eggs. I tell them cannibalism is a human issue and that animals eat what ever they want disparaging if it is a near or distance relative.

    My chickens also get bunches of live meal worms. They dont want tor protein.
     
  8. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

    20,955
    4,213
    421
    Apr 17, 2015
    Long Beach, WA
    You must feed a ton of mealworms then.
     
  9. bigt447

    bigt447 Chillin' With My Peeps

    170
    10
    50
    Jul 10, 2015
    I agree that it appears they are not getting a balanced diet. Try Purina Game Bird layer....costs a little more but they need less of it since its 20% protein. My layers love it and are great egg producers. Oyster shell is also always available in separate container.
     
  10. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop



    x2 on both of these, although I wouldn't necessarily recommend the gamebird layer long term... for a few months to start and then transition to a normal layer. For non-mixed, adult hen-only flocks it's best and easiest to keep them on a 16-18% feed most of the time, excluding molting season and times of high stress.

    If this is the first time you've seen a gizzard encased in fat and that's something unusual in your autopsies, something is wrong with their diet.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2016

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by