Need some help with my Silkie !

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by Anniebee, Mar 5, 2013.

  1. Anniebee

    Anniebee Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hi Everybody. Hope someone can help me here..

    My little Silkie ( Moppit ) became ill almost 2 weeks back. Scouring badly with a milky watery bowel, not interested in food, and preferring to sit or squat for most of the time. She hardly walked anywhere but was alert enough. She would stand or sit for a long time staring at a fence or some other structure in front of her. She still does a bit of that. As though mesmerised.

    Anyway, I took her to the Vet, who applied .04ml ivermectin ( Ivomec) to her skin which is of course very thin and absorbent, to kill off any and all parasites and nasties that might have been affecting her, and prescribed a 1/2 Baytril anti-biotic pill down her throat twice a day, which she has the last of today. At times I thought I would not see her the next morning alive, but she is still with us, a little more alert and drank a lot of water last night - which I am not sure is a good or bad sign. This morning she is waiting to be let out with her friend Mindy ( Australian Araucana ). Yesterday, she had a dust bath, although she might have just sat next to the Araucana while SHE dust bathed. I have seen her do that before, getting second hand dust, and not bothering to do it herself.

    She was 'hospitalised' in our bathroom for 4 days - WITH the Araucana as she had shown absolutely no signs whatsoever of whatever got into little Moppit. All my other 4 chickens are healthy and doing everything they should be. I administered her meds. and kept a close eye on her. She still doesn't walk very far at all - and when she does, it is very slowly - she prefers to sit - and digs a small 'nest' for herself in the dirt, but not in the coop. I cut away the terrible mess around her backside near the vent initially, and I think she has managed some very soft more normal poop - but that has turned a little green in colour yesterday, although she has been in a slightly grassed area and may have been picking at that. Yesterday she was attempting to preen herself and clean her vent area. She is a lot cleaner there now, than she was at the beginning. I have cut away the messes as they have occurred. It is almost impossible to wash the area as the feathers stick together when wet, and makes it worse.

    The Vet said she may have picked up an infection - which seemed to be not only upper respiratory, but in the gut as well
    (gastro ) and it more than likely would have come from a juvenile rat we have seen in the area they used to be in. That area is now off limits to all my chickens - and the larger group of 3 have shown no signs whatsoever either, of picking up whatever Moppit has had. She was not egg bound and did not have an impacted crop. There was nothing unusual about her vent, nothing that the Vet could detect that shouldn't have been there ( like a crushed egg - she layed 1 egg about 4 weeks back ).
    There was no sign of anything like coccidiosis.

    I have no idea whatsoever, how much she eats - and this is my main query. How much do Silkies eat - are they voracious eaters normally ( like my big girls - they are healthy, large and laying eggs, but always run to me as though they are starving !! ).
    Or do Silkies survive on very little food. I must say, since the arrival of the Silkie and Araucana who live separately to the others for safety reasons ( the big girls don't like them at all ), their food intake is very small compared to the other 3.

    I am a newbie at having chickens, but love them all. Sorry that this is such a long query, but thought I should tell you the whole story. They all would be quite immune to coccidiosis, as they have been fed high grade pellets right through their age stages, which is laced with something that immunises or prevents cocci.

    I also have no way of telling if she is becoming broody ( don't know much about that ) ... and the Vet was more concerned with her infection than anything else.

    Trust someone who is far more experienced than I am with Silkies, can shed some light on it all - especially how much they eat.

    Thanking you in anticipation,
  2. kellysmall87

    kellysmall87 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Good Evening,

    Sorry to hear about your Silkie. Sounds as though you and the vet have done all possible in order to help your little chicken.

    Silkies, in my experience, are just as individual as any other chicken. They eat just as much or just as little as any other chicken. My Silkies tend to eat more grass and vegetation than the other chickens I keep, however. They tend to prefer vegetation rather than pellets. Also, Silkies tend to be smaller and so eat less. I would say that you are doing the best that you can regarding the meds and keep on doing such a great job.

    If you are really worried about how much she is eating, you can feel her crop to see if it has food in it. If it does, it will feel grainy and round. Then you can rest assured that she has eaten recently. You could also include sugar and tonic into her water supply so she is getting fed via water. This may boost her up. Chickens get depressed when ill, and may not eat as good as usual. It si good that she is following her friend around though - that's really positive.

    She is trying, and just keep with it. It doesnt sound like anything nasty, just a run of the mill virus or infection. If she was broody, then she wouldn't really get off her nest, although it could be possible as silkies are notorious for broodiness (my hen just hatched 8 chicks!) Silkies, while broody, dont eat hardly anything and they really suffer as a result of their motherhood. If she was broody she would be in a trance-like state and not get off her nest apart from to defecate and feed..she would rarely get off her nest to dustbath.

    I would suggest to carry on with the meds, maybe add sugar and tonic to the water to feed her that way, and to remove her from her nest (destroy her nest/block off nest boxes) to discourage broodiness.

    Hope I've helped! Good Luck.x

    P.S After my silkie raised her chicks, I noticed her sternum (bone running down middle of breast) really sticking out further than my other hens. This is down to the fact she hasnt eaten as much due to being broody. She is underweight. Maybe you could compare your chickens in this way, and adding sugar to water and feeding high protein food like meat and mealworms may conmbat this. Cooked egg is good for them too.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2013
  3. Anniebee

    Anniebee Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thank you so much Kelly for your quick reply - and yes, it did help.

    Nesting boxes of which there are two in their 'upstairs' coop, are blocked off because of summer heat here in Australia.
    They would surely die in such a confined space up high. And it is still absolutely wretched with heat here - which is not helping. March and we have another 7 days ( at least ) to go with temps 30°C which is 86°F and more than that forecast. Min. is 30. So, although there is plenty of straw that they sit on, there is no sign of her scratching out a nest. She has scratched out small 'nests' in dirt though in the past, and I think she made one yesterday. Or that might have been a dust bath - I didn't see.

    Interesting that you mentioned 'trance like state'. In my first query here, I said she stands ( or sits ) as though mesmerised.
    This is continuing and for long periods of time. She also sits very near the water container, and when I pick her up, often find one of her wings a bit wet from it being just in the water. And last night as I said, she drank a lot of water - more than I have ever seen her do.

    Both she and Mindy adore water melon. She has had quite a few pecks at it today, but not with the same enthusiasm as usual. I cannot tell how much of the pellets she is eating. I have supplemented the layer pellets ( which is what they should have at their age - 23 weeks ) ... with the 'Finisher' pellets which are smaller, and contain more of the meds. against cocci and other things. I did that to make eating easier for her. Neither Mindy or Moppit like greens much - which is strange. The big girls love a bit of greenery ( broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, grass etc. ). Have not resumed giving them chicken mix but might try that to see if she is interested. As I said before, neither of them are big eaters AT ALL.

    If the crop is directly under the wattles then there is not much there - but I might be feeling in the wrong spot. My big Rhode Island Red, also doesn't have much in what I think is her crop at this time ( it's 2.15 pm here ) and she is about to lay as she is making a great deal of shriek noise. I am not at all sure what I am feeling for. The Araucana seems to have something that feels a bit larger than Moppit's, but then also more pronounced than that of my RIR who is an absolute pig of an eater. The 3 big girls have just had a good dish of strawberry yoghurt - which I was told they love, and they do. I didn't like to offer that to Moppit, because of the dairy content - although it has got good stuff for the gut in it .... but then that's for us - haven't a clue for chickens, except a lot of people swear by it as a treat.

    Today is the final day of the anti-biotics, although I could get more if I have to. So I have had to pick her up at least twice a day to administer those. When I do, she clucks a little, occasionally waggles a wing - but now - when I put her down, she loses her balance immediately - but regains it very quickly, takes a few steps and then stops. That's it. Stands and resumes staring into space. Or eventually sits down and stares. I left her deliberately standing in the bathroom ( where I have been giving the pills ) ... for 20 minutes and when I returned, she was still standing in exactly the same spot. I had hoped she might drop a poop on the floor for me, so's I could see if it has improved. No poop - but her vent area is much cleaner than it was yesterday. I guess that's something. She would have done that herself - I am sure Mindy wouldn't do it for her ... !!!!! [​IMG] would she ?

    Again, thank you for your quick and helpful reply. If I can find the exact spot where a crop is, I will pursue those investigations. I know if their neck is gently massaged they do a kind of swallowing action.

    Will just have to wait and see I guess - here's hoping and praying she makes it.

  4. kellysmall87

    kellysmall87 Chillin' With My Peeps

  5. Anniebee

    Anniebee Chillin' With My Peeps

    Again - thank you so very much for the effort you have put in, to help with my little girl.

    The links you added were exceptionally helpful and I viewed them all thoroughly from my email inbox.

    Last night she ate a little of her pellet food, and had pecked some of the water melon yesterday. This morning I can feel her crop and that of the Molly ( RIR ) ... so now I know what I am feeling for. Her crop seems to have something in it - a small fullish bag, and Molly's also has some - but she is such a piggy eater, she would have been eating again since day break. The Aruacana's crop seems to be empty.

    I am off up the street to purchase some yoghurt as that was so strongly recommended. Makes good sense, as humans can suffer gut reactions to anti-biotics, and should have pro-biotics to help when we are ill. I was concerned at the dairy content initially for little Moppit. Will syringe about a teaspoon or so into the side of her mouth. Will also buy a granny smith apple and cook it up with raw sugar. She will probably eat that by herself. But will only offer a little of it at a time. Maybe a teaspoon.

    The little girl doesn't look exactly happy at the moment and is taking in breaths through her mouth ( again ). This happens intermittently. She can go for whole day, particularly outside in the puppy pen, and breathe through her nose - inside the coop it is sometimes a different matter. On and off that happens ???

    Interesting about the rain and wet. We have excessive heat at present - relentless, but I forgot - a little over 2 weeks back, we had a storm downpour and the upper coop got wet inside, overnight. Newspaper and straw ... which I removed immediately and left the floor to dry completely in the following heat -[ the floor is wooden ], without the chickens there. The upper coop should not be getting any rain in it at all, so will have to find out why - it has a roof and is tarp covered. Am getting a new coop this weekend, so that should help. I had read somewhere, that Silkies do not like wet - and their feathers tend to keep / retain the water, whereas other hens shake it off their somewhat slick ( almost oily for want of a better description ) feathers. She will be brought inside in the cat carrier on extreme heat days - 9 more of which we have coming, which is utterly ridiculous. And she likes the cat carrier, actually.

    As mentioned before - I can only now hope and pray that she pulls through this. I am hopeful the yoghurt and cooked pureed apple will help.

    Again - thank you for your efforts and excellent advice, searching out links etc. You can't imagine how much I appreciate all that you have done.

    Take care

  6. LeBlackbird

    LeBlackbird Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 17, 2009
    SE Pennsylvania
    Are you sure they're immune? Symptoms sound exactly like Cocci. I've been through cocci before. Birds were lethargic, went off feed, and had bright yellow/green poo. Antibiotics won't stop Protozoa. As far as I know, pre-feeding them anticoccidial drugs will not "Prevent" an infestation. Due to the fact that Cocci is considered a Parasitic Disease, antibodies have very little effect on stopping onslaughts. After they recover from their infestation, they won't get it again, but I've never heard of anything "preventing" the parasites from having effect unless you're feeding an anticoccidial in your feed right now. Good luck, regardless :) hope she recovers ok!
  7. Anniebee

    Anniebee Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thank you for your reply LeBlackbird. Much appreciated. Unfortunately, I have to finally make the painful decision to have her put to sleep - probably this afternoon, to put her out of her misery. She is breathing only through her mouth now. She does stand up and walk, but mostly sits, and I hand fed her 5 mls of yoghurt this morning. She is sitting, breathing through her mouth at present - but I can see no sign of drinking anything - although of course I am not with her all the time.

    If it is cocci - my chickens have all been fed a premium grower, finisher and layer pellets plus other treats that has anti-cocci and other anti-things for chickens in it .... will it go through the entire flock ? At present she is with her mate - an Araucana ( Australian breed ) ... and the Araucana is as she always is, happy and healthy with no signs of any outbreak of anything. My little Silkie did get wet a couple of weeks back - from a big storm we had before the onslaught of relentless heat EVERY day - ( even in March ???) which shouldn't have happened as the coop was covered with tarp as well as having a roof but it got in somehow ... and the Vet thought most of her problems were upper respiratory. She improved, began to eat last night and drank what I think would be a lot for a chicken - had some water melon etc. but has slipped back today. There is no blood in her stools, and the bowel she is dropping looks like thin cream. There was a stage of green yellow poo, but that has absolutely gone. If the Vet says further anti-biotics, then I will try that - but at the same time she will be hand fed yoghurt 3 times a day - about 5 mls of it each time ( roughly a teaspoon). She is very tiny, and weighs now only 700 grams. She was 1 kg 2 weeks back.

    I rather think though, the painful decision will have to be made. Will see what the Vet thinks this time.

    Thanks again,

  8. LeBlackbird

    LeBlackbird Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 17, 2009
    SE Pennsylvania
    I'm sorry you've been pushed to do this. If you can, you should send her remains to a lab and have an autopsy done. They'll tell you exactly what's wrong with her and help you make moves to prevent further problems in the future. What drug is in your feed? Sometimes they advertise antibiotics in feed as anticoccidials. Antibiotics aren't going to stop protozoa. The wheezing and breathing problems is probably upper respiratory, but often times upper respiratory comes as a secondary infection.
    About the whole "Blood in stool" symptom. Yes, blood in stool is a dead giveaway for Cocci. This said, often times older birds never have this symptom. (I've only seen bloody poo in little birds, my older birds that grabbed the infestation never showed this, which left me dumbfounded. The autopsy of one of my dead came back with Cocci Diagnosis. I never suspected it)
    As for your other bird not showing symptoms, I've found that my silkies have weaker immune symptoms than my other breeds, and they always show disease in advance, way before my other stock gets sick. I'm not sure why this is, but this seems to be the case with my birds. Your Araucana could potentially have a sickness without showing it, so I would be careful and watch her for the next couple weeks. (even if it doesn't turn out to be cocci)

    I have heard of Aussie Araucanas, if I remember correctly they're crested? [​IMG] Our American ones have no tails, little rumpless things...
  9. Anniebee

    Anniebee Chillin' With My Peeps

    Again, thank you for your concern. Little Moppit was put to sleep yesterday. I buried her when I came home, so there will of course be no autopsy, although I did briefly consider it at the time. She slipped very badly by mid afternoon, and I took her straight down to the clinic.

    My Vet was very sure it was not cocci. Upper respiratory definitely, a semi-recovery mid way, and then a relapse. Stress, weakness ( relapses are always worse for birds, animals and humans ) as the first bout weakens the immune system immensely ...had her depressed, not eating on and off, and stress of any kind of course ( as I have learned ) to any birds can cause a form of diarrhoea and other unhappy symptoms. So before her organs began shutting down in the extremely painful stage, I did the right thing by her - which was the most important decision to me, for her. I am not sure about cocci in the northern hemisphere, but there are many forms of it here, and there are different varieties of cocci in e.g. dogs, than in birds and other animals. Cattle, goats, sheep - all kinds of animals / birds can get it ( all this advice from my Vet, who is a small and large farm animal vet ). My Vet has seen cocci in little chicks many times, but not in a grown to lay stage chicken. There was never any blood in the stools she had passed and was passing. But it's all academic now, and she is at peace.

    My Araucana indeed is crested - they are very pretty and certainly not rumpless - displaying in fact, a very proud and upright tail. She has yet to lay. She is distressed at having lost her mate and has been calling for her today. She has a small stuffed dog toy in her little temporary quarters for company. ( there's nothing wrong with me !! LOL ) I don't think she is fooled by it though - but who knows. I have yet to thoroughly clean her normal quarters - as today I very badly sprained my right ankle - and have to have it x-rayed in case it is actually broken. So the cleaning of the coop has been put back aways. Silkie Moppit became ill to begin with about 2 weeks ago, and was possibly sickening with the problem before then. I check my Araucana daily, that she is eating, drinking and that things appear normal. Her fluffy backside is pure and clean and while any or all of my chickens can pass the occasional weird poo - they are all hale and healthy - so far thank heaven.

    Weird bowels apparently can be caused by just about anything - what they might ingest which is ANYTHING, the weather ( which is utterly stinking and unseasonally hot - got 6 more days of that to come ), stress or distress. My RIR passed some very loose tan coloured bowels for a couple of days quite a few weeks back, and then it all came back to normal. She then laid her first egg and has laid one per day ever since. My Barnevelder began laying about 2 weeks after the RIR.

    It does not surprise me one bit that a Silkie has a much weaker immune system than other birds. Their fluffy feathers absorb and retain water rather than throw it off like other hens - and they are such tiny frail little pets. Their skin is rice paper thin too, and they are prone ( from what I have read ) to be badly affected in rain or when they have been wet or cold. I am now figuring out my next move to get a friend for Mindy Araucana - or not. My 3 big girls tend to be bullies to her, so have to figure it out somehow - although she does like their company through a wire fence, and they accept her that way too.

    Thanks to everyone for your help ...

  10. Anniebee

    Anniebee Chillin' With My Peeps

    Kelly - I have to say that sadly, my dear little Silkie "Moppit" was put to sleep yesterday by our Vet. She had seemed to make a recovery mid-way through the anti-biotics etc. but then very suddenly slipped back - very quickly. So before the extreme pain of organs shutting down began, I did the right thing for her. There really was no hope for her in the end.

    My Vet ( small and large farm animal Vet ) said he was sure it was not cocci. She just didn't have the strength or endurance when - with a weakened immune system from the first lot, she fell to another problem, passing creamy coloured very thin stools, was gasping for the best breath of air she could get - and was utterly depressed and weak. She was given a sedative before being given her last administration, and when asleep - yet still alive, she was breathing through her nose, as I'd wished she had been during yesterday. The gasping was ( apparently ) a mild form of panic and distress ... and I could not let her go through any more of anything.

    My Araucana seems well, is eating, drinking water - has passed a couple of thin stools but is quite distressed without her little mate - and has been calling for her today, so I am not surprised at the slight change in bowel. But her fluffy backside is pure and clean. I know I am nuts [​IMG] but I have given her a soft dog toy as company .... I doubt that she is fooled - but one never knows, it might help.

    Just thought I'd let you know what ultimately happened.


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