Possibly An Internal Layer

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Mimi’s 13, Mar 15, 2019.

  1. Mimi’s 13

    Mimi’s 13 fuhgettaboutit

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    I have been putting off asking about my 3 yo BO hen, Butter, but I have finally gotten up the courage and am ready to hear the truth.

    Late last summer I noticed her abdomen was larger and harder than normal. About this same time I believe she stopped laying. During and after molting, the firmness and size decreased somewhat. Now that the day lengths are increasing, her comb and wattles have reddened up again and she has begun visiting the nest boxes once again, but not laying an egg. However, the firmness and size of her abdomen have increased again. She is about the size and firmness of a small cantaloupe.

    Everything about her is still normal, eating, drinking, socializing, roosting, foraging, etc. The only thing I have noticed is a noticeable difference in her breathing. She is not struggling at all, I’ll just call it a bit labored. I can see it and feel it by watching her body as she inhales and exhales while I’m holding her.

    I am fairly sure she is laying internally based on her physical changes, but I am uncertain of a few things.
    • Does internal laying lead to EYP after a while?
    • Does a bird laying internally also develop ascites?
    • If so, would it be of any benefit to drain her?
    Everything I’ve read about ascites mentions a squishy, water belly. This is definitely not Butter’s description.

    Based on what I’ve described, would she benefit at all from me draining her?

    Thanks for all advice and wisdom.
     
  2. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

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    You're in a similar situation as I was with a hen this past week. The symptoms were similar to your hen. Molly, a five-year old Welsummer had been slowing down for a month. I thought it was due to the especially cold winter we've been having.

    Then she began having very watery poop with yellowish-white and green coloration. She appeared to have stopped eating, and at that point, I took real notice. In retrospect, I should have noticed sooner, but a hen that prefers not to be touched usually will go unnoticed when things start to go wrong.

    I suspected a reproductive infection, and yes, internal laying usually will result in infection. That's what I began treating her for after treating for a possible yeast infection produced no improvement.

    After a full round of amoxicillin, Molly had only gotten much worse, and I decided to end it for her. But I wanted to satisfy my suspicions that she likely had tumors that were causing an enlarged abdomen with attending fluid buildup so I cut her open after I euthanized her.

    This is what I found. https://www.backyardchickens.com/th...-a-chicken-gross-and-disgusting-pics.1296324/ Some were suspicious she had reproductive track tumors that had spread. Because of her age, I'm inclined to also think that, though my flock does carry the LL virus which also could have been responsible. The bottom line is that a mother lode of tumors taking over her body was what brought Molly down.

    Draining fluid which lies just under the outer skin layer, wouldn't have given Molly much comfort. Ascites is a symptom of liver disease and usually something serious is responsible.
     
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  3. coach723

    coach723 Crowing

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    So sorry about your hen. I agree that it sounds like some form of reproductive problem. It could be internal laying, salpingitis, or a cancer. Some birds with salpingitis do not lay lash eggs, they just build up inside. Unfortunately, the definitive answer is often not known until necropsy. With ascites you can usually feel that it's fluid, but it can sometimes be quite firm from the pressure. Draining would be temporary, and it will likely recur. I've had very similar symptoms from birds with salpingitis, cancer, and internal laying. Honestly, I usually don't drain them. Once they are that uncomfortable that it seems necessary, I usually end their suffering. My birds with salpingitis have sometimes rallied during the winter when their bodies stop laying, and then in the spring it starts up again when laying resumes. Others have drained their birds, it may make her more comfortable for a time. Everyone has different opinions and it really depends on what you are comfortable with for your bird. If you do decide to drain, do it slowly. Too much, too fast can put them into shock. The fluid puts a lot of pressure on their internal organs and it needs to be done slowly.
     
  4. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Enabler

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    I'm sorry to hear about your hen:hugs
    Most of the time reproductive disorder "names" are sort of lumped together as "reproductive problems/disorders" because it's very hard to know which one a hen may be suffering from. In layman's terms (you can read more detail in the links below) Internal Laying is when partially or fully formed egg are found in the abdomen. EYP is like cooked eggs or albumen inside the abdomen. Salpingitis is inflammation of the oviduct - this is where layers of caseous exude can sometimes be formed and laid just like the shape of an egg (Lash Egg). There's also cancer, abscess and tumors.
    Ascites can accompany any of these conditions or it can be causes by decreased organ function. Fatty Liver disease is another cause of Ascites.
    Basically - unless a necropsy is performed either by you, a vet or state lab - you won't know exactly what she is suffering from (someone needs to take a look inside). I know that sounds terrible, but any of those mentioned above have very similar symptoms and actions (lethargy, bloat/swelling/fluid, crop issues, loose poop, weight loss, labored breathing, difficulty walking, infection and the list goes on). Does that make sense?

    I agree with @coach723 it would be up to you to decide whether she will benefit from draining. Some people do have good results, at least for a short while. A hen may need to be drained again periodically to keep her comfortable. I think success is also dependent on the cause as well, but that's speculation on my part. Antibiotics can sometimes be helpful for supportive care in conjunction with the draining. If you have vet care that is best of course. I will also post a youtube video that shows you how to drain.
    https://www.merckvetmanual.com/poultry/disorders-of-the-reproductive-system/internal-layer-poultry
    https://www.merckvetmanual.com/poul...eproductive-system/egg-peritonitis-in-poultry
    https://www.merckvetmanual.com/poultry/disorders-of-the-reproductive-system/salpingitis-in-poultry
    https://www.merckvetmanual.com/poul...tem/egg-bound-or-impacted-oviducts-in-poultry

     
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  5. rebrascora

    rebrascora Free Ranging

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    Usually, if the fullness in their abdomen is hanging low between their legs, then there is a fluid element and it can be drained..... the fluid sinks to the lowest point because it is heaviest and the egg yolks which contain a lot of fat float above in amongst the intestines. In my experience internal layers can go for months or even more than a year laying internally without EYP developing, but the sheer mass of eggs eventually causes issues. Drainage of ascites will usually buy the bird time but comes with a risk of introducing infection, even if you sterilise the site well because you can always nick an intestine with the needle as well as the risk of shock, but it can give dramatic and almost immediate relief to the bird if successful. I would do it sooner rather than later if you suspect ascites because the greater the pressure and fluid build up before you start, the greater risk of shock from removing it.
    Good luck if you decide to go for it and let us know how you get on. The above video posted by Wyorp Rock is my favourite on this subject because the lady has such a down to earth approach.
     
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  6. Mimi’s 13

    Mimi’s 13 fuhgettaboutit

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    Oh wow, @azygous, your poor girl was eat up with tumors. And the sad thing is we have NO IDEA. Even though I know my “loving responsibility” is right around the corner, I’ve just held off simply because she in no way seems in distress; however, I also don’t want to get to the point of her being in distress. Such a fine line.

    I am sorry for your loss of Molly. I will have to say though that when things like this happen it is sad, but hopefully we are able to learn from it, which makes the loss not quite so bad, I guess. :idunno Thank you for your response.
     
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  7. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

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    That is really the sad thing - that we don't want to jump the gun and euthanize when a chicken appears to be enjoying a more-or-less normal life. This is one reason I try different treatments before I face the ultimate decision.
     
  8. Mimi’s 13

    Mimi’s 13 fuhgettaboutit

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    And the thing about keeping chickens is...exactly this. Salpingitis, EYP, tumors, cancer, ascites, etc. Something is bound to happen if you keep them long enough I suppose. :(

    I have enjoyed this little girl even though she has given me a run for my money at times. She was one of my first four and was the one that managed (at 5 weeks old) to peck my diamond stud out of my ear. Needless to say, I don’t wear earrings anymore. :lau (During the forthcoming necropsy I will be checking her gizzard!) She is also the only one who went through a rebel stage and figured out quickly how to get my attention - by sneaking up behind me biting my legs. :mad: And she also is my only hen to have spurs, that I regularly trim. Good old Butter.

    I’ve got a job to do now and it sounds as though this weekend will be the best time. :hit Thank you for your insight as well.
     
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  9. Mimi’s 13

    Mimi’s 13 fuhgettaboutit

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    Thank you for the explanation of all the problems. It helps to see them all grouped together.

    Believe it or not I have watched that video numerous times. In my mind, if ascites was the problem, I would have been willing to drain her. However, after reading the responses thus far, I don’t believe that, alone, is what I’m dealing with.

    I will definitely be performing a necropsy on her...most likely sooner than later.

    Thank you again for your time and knowledge.
     
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  10. rebrascora

    rebrascora Free Ranging

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    If you do decide to despatch her and perform a necropsy, we would be interested to see photos and possibly help guide you to a diagnosis. I know it is a decision that is easily put off and we usually do it later than we should. I find it helps to see what was going on inside them afterwards to know that I made the right decision and enable me to make the decision to euthanize with more confidence and knowledge in the future. When you find a massive lash egg inside a hen, you realise how much discomfort she must have been in etc. It is a good idea to assess the areas of abdominal swelling externally before cutting them open so that you can correlate what you feel externally with what you find internally. In my experience, Salpingitis with large lash eggs generally lead to swelling around and just below the vent... kind of pushing out the back end, whereas internal laying and ascites hang lower between the legs.
    I'm sorry you have to make this difficult decision for your hen but it is part of the responsibility of keeping a flock and sooner or later you do experience these things and others like the Lymphoid Leucosis that azygous has to deal with and the Marek's in my flock.
     

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