Not an emergency but a problem child

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Three Buffs, Sep 1, 2013.

  1. Three Buffs

    Three Buffs New Egg

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    Hi, I just posted as a new member in the introductions section. Sorry, this will be a long post, so feel free to skip it if you want!!

    We have three buff orpingtons that I got as young pullets, and they came vaccinated against Mareks. They are now about 2 1/2 years old I think. One is a really big hen, Pearl, and she is the one with the health problem. The other two are Phoebe and Penelope, and neither of them has had any problems.

    Two winters ago Pearl became egg-bound. When I discovered her she was looking hunched and uncomfortable, so I brought her into the house, put her in a warm water bath, dried her off and kept her inside overnight in a cage with a space heater nearby. The next day she still had not passed the egg, so my vet friend took her into the office. She passed a very large egg there while they were in the process of examining her, so she came home and I put her back with the other hens the next day. The other hens had some problems accepting her, but she was eventually accepted back into the flock at the bottom of the pecking order. She has never laid another egg as far as I know, and never moulted the next fall. She also has had loose stools since that time, and her feathers looked pretty bad because they were never replaced.

    Last winter she got some black spots on her comb, although I am not sure if it was fowl pox or frostbite. None of the other hens had it, and she seemed well, so I wasn't too concerned, and she no longer has any black spots now. There was an episode early this spring where she seemed to have some weird respiratory issue. I went out to the coop and she was making a sound with every exhale, similar to the "buuuuck" sound that the hens always greet me with, except it was with every exhale. She was also doing some mouth breathing, but didn't seem to be in major distress, and was eating and drinking. I brought her in the house overnight, and in the morning she was no longer making the noise, although she was still opening her beak a little for breathing. I put her back out with the others, so they wouldn't reject her again, and brought her back in for the next few nights.

    This summer when it was really hot (July), I went to the coop and found her in full blown heat exhaustion, panting and prostrate. She was in the pen and was too overcome to make it into the coop where the water was, so I brought her into the yard and offered her water there, which she drank. When I picked her up to bring her in the house, she vomited up the water she had drank and aspirated it, and started choking until she turned purple. I watched her thinking she was going to die in front of me, but she recovered, so I brought her in the house and fed her bread soaked in water for several days until she seemed better. She was off her feed for the first few days and would only eat the bread and water. During this time I also brought her friends in overnight and for the hottest part of the day so they wouldn't reject her. During this time she was also panting and having some respiratory distress, I assume because of aspirating the water, but it could also have been aftereffects from the heat exhaustion.

    She kept having some respiratory issue enough to breathe with her mouth for a few weeks after that, but she is not doing that anymore. She also has gone into a full moult now, for the first time since her first moult as a pullet, I assume because of the stress from the heat episode. My concern now is that she has dropped an enormous amount of weight. She used to outweigh the other hens by a lot, several pounds I would say, but now she weighs considerably less than either one. She also has watery stools, and her comb and wattles are pale. I know they can be pale when the hens are not in breeding condition, but this seems to be more than I would expect. However, her energy is high, she runs around the pen, and seems alert and happy. She doesn't seem to be having any respiratory issues that I can see. She is still at the bottom of the pecking order, and is looking very bedraggled in her half-moulted state!

    I have thought about worming her or giving her some kind of antibiotics, but since I don't know what her problem is, I am not sure what to do. I also don't know where to send her stools for testing if that's necessary. My friend is not a chicken vet, she just helps me out if there is an emergency, so I don't really want to bother her with this. It seems like some animals just struggle more in this world, but I would like to try and help her if possible. It concerns me that she may be weakened enough from all these problems that she may not make it through the winter this time, and I would hate to see that if there is something I can do that doesn't require a full veterinary investigation!

    Sorry about the long post, I just want to try and help my big mama. It's sad to see her struggle this way when the other two are in blooming good health!
    Robin
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    I wouldn't give antibiotics. If you haven't wormed your flock, Valbazen gets all worms and is relatively easy on their system. The wo treatable conditions I always think about when chickens are flagging like this is worms and lice/mites. She may not have worms, true, but they are pretty common unless you are in a desert type environment. Where I live, with our warm, moist soil, they are guaranteed. And if they are in the soil, she will have at least some. Many vets will do a fecal for $20 or so if you bring the smaple, but that's really no guarantee, either. In people, they always do 3 screenings when looking for worms, and then I'm sure miss them sometimes. Her dose for Valbazen is 0.5 ml by mouth, repeat in 10 days, toss eggs for 21 days. I give it by putting it on a bit of bread for each chicken, but you can also just squirt it in their mouth. (If you do worm, I would worm them all.)

    She could easily have some condition you couldn't treat, such as a tumor or internal laying, especially since she doesn't lay. Internal laying and ovarian tumors are unfortunately fairly common in hatchery birds (if that's what she is.) Many members here don't take their chickens to vets because it is so expensive and, frankly, most vets aren't that familiar with chickens. Many won't even see them.

    If she were mine and I'd never given a chemical wormer, I would give Valbazen, and I would check closely for lice/mites. I'll give you some links to look over. If you hapen to see little white bits in her poop, kind of like rice, this is an indication of tapeworms, which require a higher dose of Valbazen. And I wish you both good luck!

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/79443/tell-me-about-your-internal-layers/80_20#post_6235380

    http://ohioline.osu.edu/vme-fact/0018.html

    http://healthybirds.umd.edu/Disease/Deworming Birds.pdf

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/...ll-seeing-live-worms-in-poo/0_20#post_9315842

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/...r-crd-parasites-are-rampant/0_20#post_7474271

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/...peworm-or-any-worms-really/0_20#post_11670181
     
  3. Three Buffs

    Three Buffs New Egg

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    Thanks for all the info, Judy! The hens don't seem to have any external parasites that I can see, although I have seen them in other birds so I know what that looks like. I do dust them anyways once or twice a year, especially after they molt, because wild birds can get into their pen. She and her sisters did come from a hatchery, although I bought them from someone who raised them until they were out of the incubator. Do you know why the hatchery chicks are more prone to tumors and internal laying?

    Worms are definitely a possibility. They eat earthworms when they can find them, and I seem to remember that they can carry tapeworm that can infect dogs if they consume them. I've also seen them eat frogs. However I have not seen anything in their droppings.

    Is Valbazen something I could order or get from a feed store? The store I buy their supplies from doesn't have any medications, and the only one I know of otherwise is a long way from here. Also, how long after worming with Valbazen do you have to throw away the eggs? The other two are still laying, although I expect them to molt soon. Those two look absolutely gorgeous, so hopefully it's just a problem with this one hen.

    Robin
     
  4. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Feb 5, 2009
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    You can get Valbazen from Amazon or Jeffers Livestock online. The smallest bottle is 500 ml, about $40, but mine t least had about a 3 year expiration date so at least I can use most of it before it expires. As I wrote above, you give two rounds of it 10 days apart to get the hatching eggs, and toss eggs for 21 days. I see Amazon is more expensive. Jeffers Livestock is an established, dependable company.

    Hatchery birds are selected for good laying strains as people generally are looking for eggs. So they are less likely to go broody, in general, though some breeds are more likely to thatn others. Evidently this seleccting for high production has created a situation where the incidence of internal laying and ovarian cancers rises. This is discusssed at length in the first link I gave you.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2013
  5. Three Buffs

    Three Buffs New Egg

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    Thanks again for the info, Judy, sorry I didn't see the part about tossing eggs for 21 days!

    The links were very informative! I am wondering now about internal laying or some kind of tumor, that is a definite possibility. I'll probably get some wormer and try that soon as well.

    Thanks!
     
  6. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Feb 5, 2009
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    Haha, no problem! It would be nice never to make a more serious mistake, wouldn't it?

    Good luck with your chicken!
     

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