Odd Symptoms in Rooster

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by froggieogreen, Jan 6, 2014.

  1. froggieogreen

    froggieogreen Out Of The Brooder

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    I made a post earlier about my rooster and his frostbite (which is healing quite nicely - it happened 4 days ago), but now I'm not sure if his current condition is "normal" for how stressed out the poor guy has been, or if the frostbite compromised his immune system and he's sick. None of his symptoms match up with anything I've come across so far.

    On top of the frostbite, he was attacked yesterday by one of his normally submissive coop-mates and is spooked to high heck - he's afraid of his water dish. Seriously. He'll drink out of a deep spoon if I touch it, but if I lay down a container or even put the spoon down, he won't drink. So, here's a breakdown, in case someone with more experience notices a pattern:

    Wattles - swelling has gone down a bit, but they're still large enough that they cause discomfort and a weird resting posture (his walking posture is normal). They are warm to the touch, maybe a low fever - they're not hot-hot, though. Colour was originally bad - pale from the cold, then darker in splotches from frostbite. It's returning to normal, and the pallor is gone.

    He has a wound on one wattle from his coop-mate. It bled at first, stopped on it's own quite quickly, and the wound appears quite small and is not infected.

    Comb - Frostbite. Mentioned because it's still a physical symptom. He's healing well - looks horrid but the darker bits are regaining a healthier colour and he's now only black on the tip of only a few points. The part of his comb near the back was attacked by the same coop-mate who hurt his wattle - I'm not sure if this was a fight for rank, or a fight because of the sight of blood. These wounds bled so little that I only noticed them due to the change in colour between frostbitten skin and injured skin.

    Eyes - look great. Clear, normal blinking, follows movement, still has excellent predator detection instincts.

    Eating/drinking - Eating a lot less than usual. He's still eating, and with great enthusiasm, but it's definitely not as much as he used to. He's having a hardish time with solid food, so he's been switched to cooked cornmeal, yoghurt, and scrambled eggs. As I said above, I learned this morning that he's not been drinking because of fear of his water dish. Don't know how I'll deal with that later on, but for now, if I hold a container, he'll drink. So, he may be dehydrated - it's hard to tell with his comb being frostbitten. Up until this morning, he was pooping a lot (don't all chickens...) and it fell within the "normal" guidelines.

    So, all that doesn't seem like a big deal, but I'm a bit concerned because he seems to smack his lips a fair bit (didn't do that before), has stopped crowing, and seems like drinking/eating is perhaps painful. Does this line up with normal recovery symptoms for frostbitten and swollen wattles? He's been removed from the flock both to protect him while he heals and in case he is ill.

    In any case, thanks for any help anyone can provide - I've seen info on frostbite, etc... in hens, but swollen wattles paired with my guy's symptoms don't turn up anything in particular. I'm hoping he just needs to heal and is suffering from dehydration at the moment.
     
  2. froggieogreen

    froggieogreen Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 3, 2014
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    I forgot to mention that his earlobes are fine and there is no unusual smell at all.
     
  3. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict

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    I haven't actually seen frostbite so far, thank goodness, so I can't say if this is normal or not. I would also keep in mind that diseases like fowl cholera and coryza can also cause swollen wattles (just want you to be be aware since this is national frostbite month.) Whenever forstbite or some injury occurs, other flockmates, especially roosters will pick on them, so just keep that in mind. Also, it may be very difficult to re-integrate him with another rooster by removing him from the flock. Putting him in the flock in a cage might be better. Good luck.
     
  4. froggieogreen

    froggieogreen Out Of The Brooder

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    Yeah, I kept him with the flock yesterday because I knew that removing him would cause a shakeup and gambled that even though he was a bit under the weather, his intimidation would hold his spot for him. That worked for a while, but by late afternoon I heard a commotion outside and found blood on the snow. Since the weather is such that they'll be in the coop for most of the day for the next few days, I figured he'd get torn to shreds if I left him with them. Gah. The other roosters there are his brothers and they've quarrelled before, but never drawn blood (they're also slated for processing, which is why we have multiple roosters together). Still, I'm not looking forward to reintroducing them in the winter...

    The main illnesses I was considering are the two you mentioned, just because his wattles are so prominently swollen (but that's really the only symptom he has that falls under coryza). I really hate antibiotics, especially when I don't have absolute proof that they're needed, but I'm thinking of picking some up just in case, so that there's no waiting if it turns out that he needs them. The iffy part for me is that his diet is pretty high in foraging and greens, so his poop has always been greenish and looks both like "normal" pictures and like some pictures of choleric poop. >.<

    In any case, thanks for your reply! :)
     
  5. BigECarter

    BigECarter Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Maybe try a water nippler to get him to drink. The Water Fountain sells a brooder cap that works well. Quick shipping too.
     
  6. froggieogreen

    froggieogreen Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you - that's a great idea! It would also stave off the "wattles dipping in water on cold days" which started this whole mess.
     
  7. froggieogreen

    froggieogreen Out Of The Brooder

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    Ok, so I'm going to document things here since I've been having a really hard time finding good information online pertaining to treating severe frostbite in roosters other than "bring them indoors." Everyone cares about the hens and seems to ignore the poor roos! Right now, I'll just list what I've been doing day by day, and at the end I'll summarize.

    Day -3 (or maybe -2, I didn't write it down but I should have): Weather is fairly nice so we take the opportunity to process a couple roosters from the flock early. In retrospect, even though those roosters were low in pecking order, their absence no doubt caused a shakeup in rank which impacted behaviours later on. This is speculation and I have no way of knowing for certain if removing them actually had any real effect, but thought I'd mention it as I will certainly put more thought into the timing of processing vs. weather conditions (likelihood of being cooped up for long periods) in the future.

    (Assumed) Day 1: stupid cold day because of windchill (air temp roughly -15C. Windchill near -30C) - all chickens insist on going outdoors and running around like crazy heads. It was sunny, they kept moving, so I thought they'd be fine. The hen and pea-combed roos were fine. The roos with single combs got medium to severe frostbite - one in particular (flock leader).

    Day 2: Frostbite becomes apparent but there's only so much that can be done as the weather is extreme (blizzard on the East Coast). Everyone is checked over, the suffering roos are slathered in polysporin and massaged (edited to note: the healthy areas are massaged, the frostbitten areas are very carefully handled so as to not damage the tissue further) and given maybe a few more treats than they strictly should have been given... poor guys. Although they look horrible, they don't seem to really notice the frostbite at this point. Everybody stays inside all day long.

    Day 3: Blizzard has passed but chickens remain cooped up for most of the morning while I remove snow from their uncovered run (they are free-rangers, but have a semi-sheltered "run" - next year it will be fully-sheltered so that they can get more exercise during inclement weather) and dig little paths through the yard. Two roos have obvious frostbite - the others are all fine and don't seem to care that the world is covered in snow. They all opt to venture outside, even the severely frostbitten guys. The temperature are around 10C (quite a jump!) and it's sunny out - we're not wearing jackets. The most frostbitten roo (the leader.. why him?) has very swollen wattles at this point. We discover later that it came from dipping his wattles into the water as he drinks. He now has a fear of his waterer and any open containers of water... When they were all cooped up during the blizzard, his poor wattles must have frozen from the dipping and not moving around much. He appears off-kilter and is doing that "hunched chicken" pose. When he moves, he does move somewhat normally (think slightly drunk), with a normal posture. We decide to keep him with the flock, despite his condition, as he is the flock leader and we don't want him to have to fight to regain his rank when we reintroduce. Also, no one has dared even challenge him at this point. One rooster tried to mate with the leader's favourite hen, but was easily deterred. Between the morning and afternoon, the swelling began to go down a bit, so things are optimistic. Until a fight breaks out. Lead roo looses by a longshot. He got cornered and the deep snow meant he couldn't turn around and fight back - he has a few cuts to the back of his comb (where the frostbite was worst, which makes me wonder if it was an aggressive fight, or a sight-of-blood fight) and one at the base of his right wattle. Both stop bleeding very quickly and scab over by that evening. He's now afraid of pretty much everything and is constantly in a defensive posture, except when I feed him. It also made me realize that this is the first time he's ever been hurt in his life, which is something to bear in mind when you have an injured chicken who appears to be freaking out over something that, in your mind, may not be a big deal. He suffered pretty bad frostbite and got his butt kicked all in two days after having been king of all for most of his life previous. He hasn't crowed since Day 3. I brought him inside immediately - he refused to eat or drink for the rest of the day, but let us handle him and rub polysporin onto his comb and wattles. He made some sad gurgly noises, and mostly looked like he felt very sorry for himself. I felt like a terrible person for not watching them like a hawk to make sure that no one took it into their head to nibble at a pink, frostbitten comb. No one else has been nibbled on.
    EDIT: This is the day I decided to wash down the walls of the coop with a water/bleach mixture just to be absolutely certain (because it was a beautiful day and there was ample time to vent the coop of all potential bleach fumes). A neighbour suffered a chicken death a little while ago and her flock is made up of the parents and siblings of my guys - just to be on the safe side. Plus, I painted the walls in there white, which was a huge mistake - things looked pretty scuzzy.

    Day 4: Still no crowing. I realize from looking at his poop that he's not been drinking enough which makes sense given how I assume his wattles got frostbitten. Tip: the comb will flop over when a rooster is dehydrated. My guy's comb was a bit flopped over, though it's hard to tell if it's form frostbite damage (that's the part with the most damage) or from dehydration since he was suffering from both. Through trial and error I discover that the easiest way to get him to drink it to spoon-feed it to him (because he's afraid of the waterer and any open containers of water). It's tedious and achey, but he's drinking at least. He's on a diet of cooked corn meal with yoghurt, oats, and other grains crushed fairly small - his swollen wattles are maybe not painful (???) but they are definitely uncomfortable. His appetite is certainly not lacking, for all that he's eating slowly. He spends most of the day roosting, but when I can get him to walk a bit (tempting him with yoghurt, which he feels is chicken-crack) he extends his neck normally and seems to have completely regained his balance. His eyes are clear and alert (they have been the whole time), and he has no discharge from his beak or eyes. He smells like a chicken (no smell of infection or souring). His comb looks terrible still, but appears to be healing and not rotting. If it were summer, I might put him back with the flock and watch him closely, but since it's the middle of winter and there's currently freezing rain falling, that's not going to happen. The other chickens are all fine (the other roo with frostbite is uncomfortable as he shakes his head, but he seems to be healing well and is very happy to receive comb and wattle massages with polysporin).

    Day 5 (today): No crowing. Poop is looking a bit more normal (also he is pooping more, which is good), but is still indicative of dehydration and malnutrition. The other half will pick up a few vitaminy things on his way home today as well as some antibiotics if he can, just to be safe and so that I have it on hand if it's needed (we only have one car and he's got it in the city all day). Rooster has started breathing audibly in a way that the chickens have all done before in the past for short periods (a couple minutes when it's dusty because I've cleaned the coop, etc...), and while he's not done this for longer than a minute or two at a time, he is more susceptible to illness with his frostbite, so I'm making a note of it. He doesn't eat much in the mornings, which is odd. Now that I think of it, he always let the others go to the food first, so maybe this is his good-roostery instincts at work. In any case, he's still eating and taking in fluids so that's good. I've not been able to polysporin him yet this morning but it looks like yesterday's coat is still there, so it's not a big deal. Mostly, it's the massaging that seems to be helping a lot. I think of it the same way I think of my fingers - when they lose circulation, as they are wont to do, massaging my wrist, hand, and fingers helps them return to normal. Blood flow helps heal injured tissue, so we want healthy blood flow in his comb and wattles! Will update this evening with the day's events.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2014
  8. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict

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    It sounds like you are doing very well with him. I have heard not to massage frostbite, but I don't have experience with it. Drinking fluids is most important right now.Tube feeding can be done with aquarium tubing from WalMart, and a 35 or 60 cc regular-tipped syringe from the feedstore. If he is eating on his own well enough, I wouldn't do it, but here is info on tube feeding if you need it: https://www.backyardchickens.com/newsearch?search=go+team+tube+feeding
     
  9. froggieogreen

    froggieogreen Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 3, 2014
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    Getting water in him is definitely the most challenging thing right now as he's afraid of so many things since he was attacked. The local feed store doesn't have any nipple waterers, so I'm waiting on some ordered online. He's on a mushy diet to try and give him fluids while he eats, but I'm really considering a syringe (he's afraid of the tube... maybe it looks like a snake? I don't know if he needs a real reason).

    I'd read not to massage the damaged tissue, plus both roosters start twitching to get away when I apply pressure to the area (to get the polysporin to actually stick to them). Well, now I know that I can't trust their own assessment of how cold is too cold to be outdoors... :)
     
  10. froggieogreen

    froggieogreen Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 3, 2014
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    Day 6: Still no crowing. Wounds are healing, but look so godawful as they do so. His wattles are healing nicely though now I'm concerned that since he's becoming a bit more mobile, he's started scratching himself with his feet again. Ah well. Hopefully, this means he'll be grooming himself again very soon - wet food = messy rooster and he's not fond of me wiping down his feathers to get the goopy cornmeal and yoghurt off. I've switched him to a mixture of wet food and regular crumble (plus a few treats like millet and rice - rice is a close second to yoghurt in the chicken-crack department). Also, his youghurty poops are awful ("normal" but awful). Back to solid foods as soon as possible. Bad weather means he'll be back with the flock at the earliest on Saturday. If it were summer, I'd have let him out for sure today - maybe not back with the flock, but outside to move around a bit more. Air temp wasn't so bad, but windchill was -18C (so they claim, it felt a lot more like -25C at least, but I'm in a high-wind zone so maybe it actually was colder at my house) so instead he went through the excitement of changing the bedding.

    One thing I've learned: he always would eat treats out of our hands, but would flap away if we tried to pat him. If you can pat your chickens form an early age so that it doesn't freak them out, if something like this happens it will be a lot less stressful for them since you're going to need to handle them. He now sees me as the benevolent bringer of delicious foods and will let me pat him, clean him, and somewhat ploysporin his comb/wattles (I go for the worst patches first because he inevitably nopes out of it before I'm done). He's not at all aggressive, has never even made those angry-chicken noises at me. BUT, having him comfortable with me touching him would have made this SOOOO much easier.
     

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