PLEASE HELP! 3yr old pet hen with messy vent, straining to poop

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Eika, Dec 29, 2014.

  1. Eika

    Eika In the Brooder

    Apr 1, 2013
    Hi all,

    Haven't been online here for a while but am very worried about my brown shaver hen at the moment. With hindsight I have made a few mistakes/wrong judgements which I hope can be remedied. Sorry in advance for the long story but I thought it best to contain as much info as possible.

    She is around 3 years old, so has been slowing down a lot on the laying this year (which is fine, we reckon she's earned her retirement haha). A couple of weeks ago we noticed the feathers around her vent were messy and clumpy. She was otherwise eating well and showing no signs of stress, and it turned up so suddenly we thought she had maybe sat on a rotten egg or in a muddy dust puddle, as it was a light brown/sandy colour. We watched her closely and when it was clear that her vent wasn't getting any messier (if anything it seemed to be slowly clearing up) we assumed it was nothing to worry about (mistake #1). I'd never heard of bathing a chicken so it didn't even cross my mind, I just planned to keep an eye on her and thought seeing as she is due a moult, the remaining mucky feathers would just fall out soon naturally (mistake #2).

    Fast forward a couple of weeks and I notice she has started stealing the grower crumble from my young ducklings, which makes me wonder if she's getting enough nutrition. Also, she looks a little thin (though she has always been a bit of a scrawny chicken), so I wondered if she had intestinal worms and treated her with Aviverm. That was about 3-4 days ago.

    Today, when I was feeding her, I noticed she was straining to poop and only tiny bits were coming out. The bits that came out were normal in colour and consistency, though a little runnier.

    At this point I'm finally starting to put 2 + 2 together and realise something isn't right. I mixed in some MyBeau Avian, a vitamin/mineral mix suspended in oil with a little Diatomaceous Earth in her food, and locked her into a clean dry coop with some water.

    I'm wondering now if A) She's had a big infestation of worms and is straining to pass them after the worming treatment.
    Or B) She's egg bound due to being an older chook and eating grower food instead of layer pellets. She is free range so has plenty of natural grit and calcium available to her, I did offer her some oyster shell but she wasn't very interested.

    PS. I would happily pay for a vet but nobody around here takes Chickens. The last time I took a bird to my usual vet she had to double check with me what species it was. It was freakin' budgie. If the supposedly qualified vet can't recognise a budgie, I don't want to risk my chicken with her. I do have a chicken-loving friend who used to be a vet nurse but she hasn't answered her phone yet. Please, please help!
  2. Eika

    Eika In the Brooder

    Apr 1, 2013
    Update: When I let her out this morning she passed a lot of yellow liquid. Still straining and closing her eyes looking unhappy. Going to bathe her today unless anyone suggests otherwise?
  3. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    I doubt it's egg binding or she would be making frequent trips to the nest box and by now would likely be dead if she didn't pass the egg.

    The following is my opinion and conflicts with what most people will tell you on here but many veterinarians agree with me.
    I'm dead set against any medication unless I know what I'm treating for.
    The best course of action is to have a fecal sample read before any medication is given.
    I had a few hens in 2 different flocks with some pretty bad diarrhea. I assumed roundworms but rather than guessing, I had a fecal sample read. Turns out they didn't have worms at all but a severe clostridia bacterial infection. Had I just wormed, matters would have been protracted and gotten worse. A coarse of prescribed tetracycline took care of it.
    On another occasion I had a sick hen that was very lethargic and was getting worse by the day. Most people I know would have treated her with some kind of antibiotic. I took her to the state vet lab to be euthanized and necropsied. It was almost 6 hours round trip. Turns out, she had cancer and was a few days away from death. Had I gone the antibiotic route, I would have prolonged her misery and unnecessarily treated the flock and contributed to resistant bacteria.

    Any vet SHOULD be able to read a fecal sample but they may not want to. After all, worms are worms and all animals get them. Most in urban areas are dog/cat/parrot vets. Finding a good avian vet with poultry experience is difficult but worth the search.

    When feeding grower to hens, oyster shell must be available all the time in a separate container - for when they feel the need. They won't eat it all the time but usually they only get the urge when the egg enters the shell gland and then only a few bites.

    I wouldn't assume anything is wrong. After a bath, you'll know if she still has diarrhea. If she's always been thin, then nothing has changed there. If I have hens that get into the chicks pen, they'll always eat the grower food instead of layer pellets. All 3 year hens will have slowed down with laying this time of year (if you're in the northern hemisphere) and now that we're past the winter solstice they should start laying again in the next couple months.

    Do you have other hens and if so are they laying?

    The only big difference between grower and layer is protein % and calcium %. All feeds except layer will have about 1% calcium. Layer is about 4% calcium, significant difference.
    Starter is usually between 18 and 22% protein, grower about 18% and finisher about 15%. Layer is usually 16-17%.
    When I don't have a flock with all the birds laying eggs, I feed them grower. 4% calcium is too high for birds not actively building shells.

    Here's a good article for you.
    Keep us informed.

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