Need help getting food in a bird who can't eat on her own.

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Kinseth, Jul 24, 2019.

  1. Kinseth

    Kinseth In the Brooder

    5
    19
    21
    Jul 16, 2019
    Well, first off, it's pretty terrible news. Yesterday, a chicken who had been having trouble with coordination and balancing on her left leg started having awful muscle spasms, flapping and kicking uncontrollably. Luckily I got her in to the vet, and she says that the most likely culprit is viral meningitis (judging by her overall body condition and previous health-- no signs of Newcastle or Marek's, thank god). The vet feels confident that if she can make it through a few days, she will start to recover.

    Currently, Turkey is on an anti-inflammatory and a supportive antibiotic. Getting electrolyte water into her is pretty easy with a syringe, but I'm really struggling to find a way to feed her that works.
    She keeps her neck contorted, but she can mostly straighten it out. It just seems to take a lot of effort for her.

    I know she needs food to help fight off this infection, but it makes it really difficult to feed her when she can't stand or lift her head by herself.

    Thus far I've tried:
    1) plain yogurt in a syringe (not a long-term solution)
    2) chick crumbles dry, out of my hand (can't tell how much she is eating, if at all)
    3) moistened feed out of my hand (messier than dry and still can't see how much she eats!)
    4) really wet feed out of a baby medication syringe with an enlarged opening (difficult, she resists having her mouth so wide open)

    Any suggestions on how to feed a chicken who can't eat unassisted?
     
  2. azygous

    azygous Crossing the Road

    16,561
    17,261
    832
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    You need to learn how to tube feed. https://www.backyardchickens.com/th...d-pics-for-visuals-very-detailed-post.805615/

    It's much easier than it looks. You can get the catheter and syringe from your vet. I got a set from mine for just $3.

    Once you slide the tube into the throat and down into the crop, the chicken usually will not struggle. I use a very liquid mixture of yogurt and strained baby food. I've used raw egg mixed with yogurt. You can also buy baby bird formula from Petsmart.

    Good luck with your patient. I hope we can read here about her full recovery/
     
  3. ButtonquailGirl14

    ButtonquailGirl14 Crossing the Road

    7,027
    14,508
    917
    Jul 13, 2017
    Northport WA
    Well, you doing about all the ways I could suggest.. I know your pain, I have been force feeding a hen for several months and my favorite method so far is shoving balls of wet feed down her throat.. (small balls of course)
     
    black_fleet likes this.
  4. Kinseth

    Kinseth In the Brooder

    5
    19
    21
    Jul 16, 2019
    Me too! I will have to ask the vet about it tomorrow. She wants to eat, and is clearly hungry, she just can't get her head up to access any food.
     
  5. azygous

    azygous Crossing the Road

    16,561
    17,261
    832
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    I would also also ask the vet about including vitamin E 400iu once a day for neurological repair.
     
  6. Kinseth

    Kinseth In the Brooder

    5
    19
    21
    Jul 16, 2019
    Turkey died today while I was at work. The tube feeding went well but she was just too weak to make it. Tomorrow we're going to see about getting a necropsy so at least we know if what she had was contagious or not.
     
    black_fleet likes this.
  7. azygous

    azygous Crossing the Road

    16,561
    17,261
    832
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    I'm sorry you lost your little patient. I'm glad to hear you're getting a necropsy. The results should provide good information.
     
    Kathy Golla and black_fleet like this.
  8. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Enabler

    45,965
    32,078
    1,102
    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    So sorry for your loss. Keep her body cool but not frozen, and double wrapped in plastic bags. Most state vets do necropsies M-F, so I would try to hand deliver her early tomorrow. If not, the body must be shipped overnight via UPS or Fedex. on ice packs to arrive M-F. Here is contact info:
    https://www.metzerfarms.com/PoultryLabs.cfm
     
    Kathy Golla and black_fleet like this.
  9. micstrachan

    micstrachan Free Ranging

    I’m so sorry.
     
    black_fleet likes this.
  10. Kinseth

    Kinseth In the Brooder

    5
    19
    21
    Jul 16, 2019
    Finally got the necropsy results back today, and it seems Turkey had a pretty bad bacterial infection. Nothing contagious, but I'd bet anything she got it from the mosquitoes that hide out in the yew bushes over their run.

    At best, I can hope this doesn't happen again, because there's no way my dad is going to actually listen to me and get rid of those nasty things.
     
    black_fleet likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: