Older hen w/dark-ish ascites fluid. Lethargic, frail, swollen abdomen.

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Squirlz2018, Nov 15, 2018.

  1. Squirlz2018

    Squirlz2018 In the Brooder

    Mar 8, 2018
    I'm dealing with a very unwell black Sex Link hen. I don't know her exact age but I'm sure she's up there in bird years. She used to be an amazing layer but it's probably been at least a year since she has laid. Our chickens are our pets and egg production is not a requirement to live.
    She has been living in my bathroom for a week now because I can keep that tiny room super warm. And she has since made VERY good friends with my portable heater. Whenever it reaches temp and turns off, she talks to it. Its pretty cute. Anyway....Her name is Alpha because for her entire life she has been the alpha chicken. Until recently. I thought she was as big as always until she got super lethargic and I picked her up. She is disgustingly thin. Her chest bone is very pointy and freaking me out! I brought her in because I felt like she was showing signs of internal laying, penguin stance, super slow, etc. After reading about that, it basically said if she wasn't miraculously healed in 2 days she would be dead. I figured she may as well enjoy her last 2 days in the warmth of the house. Its been almost 9days. Shes not dead. This evening I decided it wasn't internal laying and keept searching. I came to the conclusion she has some type of ascites/fluid building up. I watched some YouTube, went to the feed store, bought some needles and began! I got quite a bit of fluid out, but it doesn't really look/feel like it. But we both got tired so I'll try again tomorrow. The fluid seems much darker than the fluid in the videos I watched. Those fluids I could see through. Hers I cannot.
    She hasn't been eating like normal. In fact she has meal worms just sitting next to her and she doesn't care! I don't see her drink but again, its been 8 days and shes not dead so she must drink something?? Or her body is absorbing fluid instead.
    When I first brought her inside, the first 1-3 days her poop was sooooo runny and honestly the consistency of egg which is what made me think internal laying. But now she has very dry little poops.
    Yes our chickens are our pets but I can't justify taking them to the vet. She has had a very long reign as Alpha and if its her time, its her time. I just want her to be comfortable. I know if this is a heart/liver failure thing there is no cure but I can keep draining her so she can at least sit down, breath, walk, etc.

    I'm mostly just wondering if anyone has seen fluid this color and why it's not clear like the others. I'm also open to suggestions to make her more comfortable. I've considered antibiotics? On hand I have 400mg tabs amoxicillin for dogs or Bactrim for humans. I'm not really experienced in chicken wrangling and have no idea how to give a chicken antibiotics. I've read you could drown them if you lut liquid in their mouth and I'm not confident that she's drinking enough for me to put it in her water. Shes also not eating enough for me to hide it in food.

    I'm looking for any help I can get! Thank you!!

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    Saaniya likes this.
  2. micstrachan

    micstrachan Free Ranging

    I’m sorry about your hen. I think the brown might be from old blood, but I’m not sure. The cloudiness could be from egg yolk or possibly infection? I’m not sure. In her condition, I would take care not to draw too much fluid at once. One of my avian vets gave my hen subcutaneous fluid to replenish what she had drained from her abdomen. Unfortunately, I don’t think her prognosis is good. How much amoxicillin do you have? She would need to be treated for at least ten days, preferably 14, if she has a bacterial infection. I would cut thilose 400mg tabs in half and give one half twice per day. However, she needs fluids and eventually food to sustain her throughout treatment. Are you willing to learn to tube feed her? I haven’t done it myself, but I think it’s a skill all chicken owners should learn at some point.
  3. Squirlz2018

    Squirlz2018 In the Brooder

    Mar 8, 2018
    Hmmmm I was thinking about the possibility of infection because of the color. I did read not to take too much at once or she could go into shock so that makes sense. I wish they would let us buy some IV fluid bags. Its terrible to say but I also REALLY wish they would let us buy whatever magic pink solution the vet uses to euthanize when the time comes. I understand why they can't though. I probably have 14-15 pills. But they are huge dog pills.
    I never considered tube feeding. I feel like that would be so stressful for her. I'm not sure I want her to be my practice chicken. I'm also afraid of doing anything to exhausting because I'm not sure her body can take it. And I'll feel really bad if I do something that stresses her to death!
    micstrachan likes this.
  4. micstrachan

    micstrachan Free Ranging

    That is good thinking. Stress itself can kill. Is there any special treat she loves? Were the meal worms life meal worms? What about scrambled egg?

    Do you want to just keep her comfortable until the time comes for her to pass, it woukd you like to try giving her the amoxicillin. You’d be surprised how easy it is to feed a chicken a pill. I hold them wrapped in a towel on my lap, sort of pin them in place with my left arm, gently take the head in my left hand and force open the beak, then using my right hand, put the pill in the beak. They instinctively swallow it. Another (less stressful) option would be to crush it and either sprinkle it on or mix it into something she’ll eat or make it into a paste first.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2018
  5. coach723

    coach723 Crowing

    Feb 12, 2015
    North Florida
    I'm so sorry about your hen. It does sound like there is likely a reproductive problem going on, perhaps cancer. This is not uncommon in laying hens over the age of two, particularly prolific laying breeds. Draining and antibiotics may buy her some time, but my experience with ascites has been that once that happens it's really a matter of time. The loss of weight and appetite are not good signs. Most of mine with ascites have been from salpingitis, one from cancer. Organ failure can also be a cause of ascites. I leave mine with the flock until they are obviously feeling unwell, not doing normal chicken things, and then I don't let them suffer. It would be good to consider a necropsy if you lose her, that way you will know for sure what happened. I'm sorry the outlook isn't better.
    micstrachan likes this.
  6. micstrachan

    micstrachan Free Ranging

  7. Saaniya

    Saaniya Crowing

    Aug 31, 2017
    New Delhi India

    Dark.color liquid always indicate infection

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