Suddenly Blind, Very Sick Hen, Not Eating, Probably Starving

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by MelanieS, Mar 6, 2015.

  1. Here are the details. I've put them into days because she has exhibited a lot of symptoms and they are different on different days.

    Orpington mix hen, not sure age (definitely older than 2 years), not sure when she last laid. I've had her 1.5 years and got her as an adult with three other hens who are not exhibiting any symptoms.


    - Found her on her perch in the coop, not getting down - uncharacteristic. Her comb was very blue-ish / purple on the edges. Something seemed wrong. Brought her in.
    - Seemed confused. Inspected her and discovered a hard lump on her chest. Thought it was an impacted crop. Gave her oil. Then realized that it was just her breastbone and she was severely underweight. Very fluffed up, so I didn't realize.
    - Inspected her vent - somewhat messy. Potentially some mite or lice eggs around vent but not many. Some dried blood. Treated with Ivermectin between shoulder blades. Vent seemed swollen and was moving a lot. Gave her a long soak in hot water with epson salts.
    - Realized after her bath that she seemed really confused. Like a chicken that you woke up in the middle of the night. She did not respond to movement and her eyes stayed dilated even in bright light but otherwise seemed bright and healthy.
    - Gave her a second half hour bath, thinking being egg bound was a possibility.
    - She drank a little in the bathtub but would not eat or drink on her own. I did not force feed.
    - Had a solid poop in the bathtub, but it contained a lot of white. Had liquid poop the rest of the day.
    - Early in the day, she would not stand up. Mid way through the day, she would not lay down.


    - Seemed to be alert but still not eating or responding to visual stimulus.
    - Comb still purplish.
    - Would not eat or drink. Force fed her water in the late afternoon (after finally realizing something was really, really wrong.) She ate a few seeds with coaxing but didn't understand where anything was.
    - Could stand or sit fine.
    - Poops were liquid and yellowish or greenish.
    - Eyes wincing with pain.


    - Unable to stand for long without being wobbly and sitting down. She sits to one side and her tail droops to the that side (see photo.)
    - Poops are liquid and greenish. I've read that this can indicate starvation, which makes sense. Her last poop contained more white in it (see photo.)
    - Force feeding water with antibiotics and a pureed mix of raw egg, cat food and vitamins.
    - Still cannot seem to see but pupil is now constricting in bright light.
    - Eyes still wincing with pain.
    - Her comb no longer purplish in the late afternoon.

    Poop, day two

    Poop, day three (most recent)

    Today - she lays to the side with her tail to side.

    Her face today, showing her eye a bit more constricted in the light. The wetness on her chest is from feeding her.

    My internet searches aren't telling me anything concrete and neither is this forum. She has so many symptoms that it's almost impossible to search. Suspected problems: stroke, Marek's, egg yolk peritonitis. Her blindness isn't an issue - I'm prepared to care for a blind hen long term but obviously there is something else at play. And ideas or other questions to help me narrow it down would be great.
  2. Sorry for the bump, but I don't want her to die if I can do anything about it. Advice would be great!
  3. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Crossing the Road

    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    Sorry about your hen. I'm not sure that I could tell you exactly what could be wrong with her, but I think you are on the right track with looking at Mareks, stroke, etc. I would probably just treat her symptoms, trying to help her eat and drink, and make her comfortable, keeping her warm and dry. I would stop any further baths, since that will only stress her. Offer some egg, feed moistened with water or a small amount of buttermilk, chopped tuna or meat. Fluids are more important in the beginning, and vitamin/electrolytes could be added. . My chickens will just stand and drink buttermilk if I let them, but she shouldn't have a lot.
  4. Okay great. I've been feeding her raw egg blended with tuna cat food and vitamins & antibiotics. I don't have a feeding tube so I've just been dropping it on her beak and she gets most of it. Feeding her directly in the beak with the dropper seems to stress her out beyond belief, so the dropper method on top of her beak seems to be working. It doesn't get a lot in her at once but I've been keeping at it. I assume that small amounts over time are better than a large amount anyway, if she has been starving? When I worked at an animal shelter we were alwats cautious about feeding starving cats too much at once.
  5. She finally took the eye dropper full of food without much resistance and I got a lot in her - her crop is maybe 1/4 full now. I'm going to go slow, just in case I overload her system. Does anyone have any pointers to make sure I don't get anything down her esophagus? From what I've read, I just have to make sure I'm getting it far down her throat, past her tongue. I just want to make sure I don't get any in her lungs and kill her that way.
  6. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Crossing the Road

    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    You can melt one end of a length of aquarium air tubing (from a pet store) with a lighter to round off sharp ends, and connect it to a 60 cc syringe to make a feeding tube apparatus. Look for the thread "Go team tube feeding" to get full instructions. Most use baby bird feed to tube feed chickens. Getting fluids into her right now is most important.

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