Older hen looking ill with weight loss and swollen abdomen-UPDATED

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by I'M On Island Time, Jan 28, 2009.

  1. I'M On Island Time

    I'M On Island Time Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 23, 2008
    Chain O'Lakes IL
    I just lost a bird to these same symptoms, and now my favorite hen seems to be going this route.

    She is 3.5 years old. Seems to have been losing weight over the past few weeks. Poopy butt, but normal looking stool, depending on what she is eating.

    Ruffled feathers like she is cold (but it has been below freezing here for weeks and weeks with temps below 0 at night). Seems to be eating and drinking OK. Very swollen abdomen, but not hard. Almost filled with edema.

    I can't feel anything like an egg stuck.

    My other hen that died finally passed in the house after I brought her in when one morning she couldn't walk anymore. I noticed she had been 'off' for a while, but figured since she is a bit older and it was so miserably cold that she just was acting strange because of the weather. I had bathed her thinking she might pass an egg, squirted mineral oil up her vent, gave her mash, lots of rest in a warm house, but it didn't work.

    Well, now I am picking up all of my birds and checking them out almost daily.

    I'm just at a loss. Thought someone might have had a similar experience or have some advice. Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2009
  2. brooster

    brooster Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 14, 2007
    northwest Ohio
    The fist thing that came to my mind is worms, i copuld be wrong, but it just seems to fit. You could have your vet take sampled of the poo, and they will tell you.
     
  3. birdlover

    birdlover Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2007
    Northern Va.
    I thought worms too. Have they been wormed of late? brooster has a good suggestion. OR you could take the hen herself to the vet if it's possible.
     
  4. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    Do a search on here for 'ascites'--sounds like it could be possible. Some people have kept their hens with this alive for quite a while by draining the fluids, and it is not contagious. I wouldn't worm here unless you have a fecal float done, or can positively identify a worm in her poop. It could be hard on her.

    ETA--here's a quote from "Ruth"
    Wait and see if she lays an egg over the next couple of days. That way you'll know if she's egg bound or an internal layer. If she lays an egg she could be suffering from Ascites (fluid build up). I have a hen that has been suffering with it for several months and I drain the water out of her about every three months. The fluid that comes out is absolutely clear water. I use a needle/syringe and insert in water balloon that builds up and hangs down in back between her legs under her vent area. Feel around and you should feel just soft squishy bag. After I've poked mine a couple of times, she starts to drain on her own and I let her go. The bag goes down and she goes back to normal but she seems to fill up again after about three months. Other than that, she's healthy as far as I can tell, free ranges, lays eggs, runs around, sleeps on highest roost, she's one of the dominate hens.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2009
  5. I'M On Island Time

    I'M On Island Time Out Of The Brooder

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    39
    Aug 23, 2008
    Chain O'Lakes IL
    Well, I just finished washing her up in the sink. Thank goodness she is very calm and friendly (a light brahma).

    She soaked in warm water for a while, and I massaged her tummy, which is just like a water balloon. It is absolutely pendulous now that she is all cleaned up and I got a good look at everything. Nothing hard in it at all, and she is not straining to get anything out. It does not feel hot at all, and doesn't seem to cause pain when I massage it.

    While she was in the sink 'draining' the water off her feathers, she took a very large healthy poop. There is also no evidence of worms anywhere. I don't think it is that, as all the other birds are in nice condition.

    Fed her some calcium just in case, and gave her the crumbles in a mash with some oil.

    I'm keeping her in the house overnight so she can rest in a clean crate, and finish drying off (I used the blow dryer and got her 90%, but don't want to stick her back out in the 6 degree weather tonight).

    Could she have lymphoid leukosis? Considering the other bird croaked, and they both came from a hatchery 3.5 yrs ago, my guess is that it is almost like they are programmed to turn off after a while. I had 3 hens from the same batch drop dead within three weeks of each other this past summer. They are all different breeds, but a variety of heavy egg layers.

    Anyhow, she is comfy tonight. I am glad I caught this sooner than the other bird. She just got weak there wasn't much I could do really except keep her comfy and not picked on.

    Thank you all for your replies. Tomorrow I will get a syringe needle and see if I cannot drain anything from her.
     
  6. sammi

    sammi Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 21, 2007
    Southeast USA
    LL is possible..
    but I'm thinking ascites.

    don't feed her any veggies or fruit or grains.
    just layer feed with a little plain active culture yogurt, or some other probiotic, and see if that helps.

    describe the droppings..color and consistency.
     
  7. I'M On Island Time

    I'M On Island Time Out Of The Brooder

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    39
    Aug 23, 2008
    Chain O'Lakes IL
    Her last poop was a pile about the size of a tablespoon. Green with some white, but solid. Seemed pretty normal to me.

    She is eating like crazy now that she rested and dried off.

    Her rooster is crowing like crazy outside for her with a pitiful howl. She is in here clucking back every time he crows. Poor babies. [​IMG]

    What would cause ascites? I've looked and looked, but can't find anything substantial really. I did find that ovarian cancer would cause it, and it occurs spontaneously in laying hens, particularly high producers.

    It would seem that was what finally got my other girl. She just wasted away to nothing and had a swollen belly the same way. The last few days all she did was sleep with her head under her wing.
     
  8. I'M On Island Time

    I'M On Island Time Out Of The Brooder

    81
    0
    39
    Aug 23, 2008
    Chain O'Lakes IL
    Healthy normal poop this morning too. She's eating and drinking well. Seems happy enough. I'll update tonight after I try to drain the fluid out of her belly.
     
  9. I'M On Island Time

    I'M On Island Time Out Of The Brooder

    81
    0
    39
    Aug 23, 2008
    Chain O'Lakes IL
    She had eaten about 1 cup of mash (wetted chicken feed) while I was gone all day, so I was thrilled to see that.

    She was eager for dinner, and had some mashed potatoes with 1/4 crushed aspirin in it and then more of her regular feed.

    I wiped her bottom with alcohol. I parted her feathers on the lower end of her abdomen and used an 18 gauge needle (yes it is large, but I figured in case there was infection or something I would need the larger needle to get any junk out--plus it was the smallest size in the livestock section at Farm and Fleet). She didn't really like it when I stuck her with it, but the liquid just shot out all over my counter! She had objected at first, but then I think started to feel the pressure relieved and actually sighed and just sat there while it drained out. I used a syringe and pulled out 100 ccs of liquid, and then let it just drain out some more.

    The liquid was a clearish/whitish/pinkish sticky substance. It had no odor, and wasn't pussy at all. I don't think it was any infection, and her body isn't hot or painful.

    I can't quite tell if I got it all or not. The syringe wouldn't pull anymore out, meaning there wasn't any pressure left in her belly. It stopped leaking out of the needle when I took the syringe off too.

    I'll check again tomorrow. The bottom still feels squishy, but with as much as it was distended, I think the skin needs to tighten up.

    I washed her back up, and put her down on my kitchen floor while I cleaned up.

    She flapped her wings, did a little dance, and ran over to the cat food bowl. She feels much better! And weighs about 5 lbs. less! She is now in the dog cage talking.

    Hopefully this will keep her comfortable. For now, she is OK. I'll do anything for this bird. She is my absolute favorite. Her name is Snowbirdy, and she is a light brahma. She's my big girl and will always let you pick her up and hug her and kiss her beak.
     
  10. birdlover

    birdlover Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2007
    Northern Va.
    Oh, that is such good news! And you are so brave sticking that needle in her! You can sleep well tonight! [​IMG]
     

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