respiratory infection/blocked intestine link?

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Hello, everyone. I'm a new poster but a frequent lurker here at BYC. I've gotten lots of great information and advice from you in the past, and now I need some more.

I lost a hen today, a 2-year-old Buff Orpington. She'd been listless and droopy and losing weight and not very interested in food for almost two weeks. I gave the entire flock some Duramycin in their water for a week, but didn't see any change in the sick girl. I also force-fed her yogurt and some critical care food I got from the vet. She also felt tight in the abdomen, with a mass between her keel and left leg that felt kind of spongy and crinkly, kind of like a bean bag. The mass would change texture and get firmer or slightly softer even as I palpated it and I wondered if it was bowel or air movement. Last night, I gave her a warm water soak and massaged her abdomen and then kept her inside on a heating pad so I could watch her more closely. I suspected a blockage of some sort, since last week she had been showing all the signs of an impacted crop (full crop, a gurgling sound, writhing her neck and then lowering her head and having liquid come out.) The crop issue seemed to go away, but she never regained her appetite and I was suspicious of a GI tract motility problem. However, she did let go with some pretty smelly diarrhea every couple of hours while I had her inside last night. I had hoped to take her to the local vet school for a necropsy when she died, but she expired shortly before I got home from work and my husband had already cut her open by the time I got there. Her intestines seemed completely packed and distended, and there may have been a ~1/2" egg yolk in her body cavity, but I can't be sure of that since I wasn't there when he cut her open. It may have just been a more mature ovum, but there were bits that looked cooked.

None of the rest of my small flock (down to 5 hens now) are laying much either, and we've had a lot of broken/soft/no-shell eggs the last couple of months. In fact, the girls never really did pick up the egg production after their winter slowdown even though they seem healthy and normal otherwise.

According to our chicken encyclopedia, a respiratory infection can affect the reproductive system and cause the permanent reduced egg production and malformed egg issues we've been seeing. However, I don't remember seeing any sneezing and wheezing and other signs of a respiratory problem in our surviving hens.

Finally, my questions: Would a respiratory infection cause an intestinal blockage? If the rest of the hens had the same infection, is there any way to reverse the damage to the reproductive system or at least prevent them from dying this same way? Is there a way to find out if they have had an infection? I should mention that we had another sick hen last fall that started acting a bit listless, and I dosed her with antibiotic and gave her yogurt (didn't have to force-feed her), and she eventually recovered, or so I thought. She got weak and died fairly quickly in February during a long cold spell, but I didn't know then what other kinds of symptoms to look for, and so I don't know if she had the same problems as today's chicken did.

Any insight you have would be appreciated. I'd like to save the rest of my girls, even if they're not prolific layers.

I'm sorry I don't have answers for you. I'm not much good when it comes to poultry illnesses.

Here's a *bump*. I hope you get the answers you need.

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