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Swollen Abdomen

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Chickmunk, Mar 29, 2017.

  1. Chickmunk

    Chickmunk Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 20, 2015
    Oklahoma
    I have a hen, an ameraucana/rhode island mix, around three years old, and I noticed the other day that she was walking kinda funny, all stiff and scrunched up, so I felt around and her abdomen is swollen.
    She doesn't lay anymore, so I don't think it's a lodged egg.
    Could it be that she's overweight? It's warm and not exactly soft, but not firm either, which makes me suspect it's fat.
    Right now, she's still active, but there's a definite waddle in her walk because of the extra mass. I'm not quite sure what to do about it. I don't want to take my other hens off their feed just because one's displaying weird behavior since one of them is still recovering her stolen weight from a near death encounter with worms.
    What should I do?
     
  2. PD-Riverman

    PD-Riverman Overrun With Chickens

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    I had one like that recently----she was not laying either----I thought---she was laying internal----she walked like a penguin---eat fine---got to where she could not get on the roost----she was a lot heavier than the other hens her same age. I put her "down" she was loaded with busted eggs/whole yolk/etc---a lot of them. Might not be your problem but if it is she will get worse. Good Luck
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2017
  3. Chickmunk

    Chickmunk Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 20, 2015
    Oklahoma

    The thing is, she hasn't laid an egg in awhile, and this is a new problem, it's not a big difference, it's just big enough for me to notice.
    It's just slightly distended and bigger than the others, which is why I was worried. I don't know if it's a problem or not, so I thought I'd ask.
    She's nearer four than three years old, so I don't think she could be consistently laying internally. Should I get some rubber gloves and check it out?
     
  4. PD-Riverman

    PD-Riverman Overrun With Chickens

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    I would.
     
  5. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Consett Co.Durham. UK
    Hi

    There is no reason why she should not still be ovulating at 4 years old. The reason she is not laying eggs is most likely because they are not entering the oviduct but dropping into the abdominal cavity as PD-Riverman has mentioned. If this is the case you will not feel the eggs by doing an internal examination with your finger, because they are not fully formed eggs but just yolks that are released from the ovary but due to an abnormality, fail to travel into the oviduct. I have one that has had this problem for about 9 months. She is now incredibly heavy and some nights she sleeps in a nest box rather than roost, I would imagine because of the strain on her legs. She still gets about and eats and is quite happy most of the time but every now and then she looks like she is struggling to lay and her vent pulsates, but I think the build up of eggs in her abdomen is starting to put pressure on her intestines and probably other organs too and I really should euthanize her soon. Interestingly she was much better through the winter but of course, her reproductive system was in rest mode then. She has clearly started ovulating again as she is becoming noticeably more swollen and heavy now that spring is here. Thankfully there has been no indication of infection setting in yet, but I can't let it go on too much longer. Like PD-Riverman I will do a necropsy and probably take some photos and post them, so that I and others can learn from it.

    The other possibility for your girl is that she has ascites (water belly). This can be drained with a large gauge needle but will most likely reoccur as there will be an underlying problem that is causing it.

    Good luck with your girl.

    Barbara
     
  6. Chickmunk

    Chickmunk Out Of The Brooder

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    Gosh. So I'll most likely lose her? That's depressing. She's such a sweetie, and I remember the day she hatched. As to the issue pertaining the needle, yeesh. Whole reason I wasn't sure about my choice to be a vet (can't do things like that, it bugs me out). So there's pretty much nothing I can do but watch?
     
  7. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Unfortunately chickens don't live long lives and are prone to many ailments, particularly reproductive ones because they have been selectively bred for egg production over longevity. At 4 years, she has probably done better than many.

    If it is water belly (ascites) a vet could drain it if you feel unable to do so. That will usually give her instant relief and probably last for several months, but you will find that she fills up with fluid again eventually. Does it feel like a water balloon? I acquired a chicken last year from my neighbour who wanted rid of her. She had this problem. I kept her for several months and failed to find the courage to drain it. I had to keep cleaning her back end up because she was so swollen the angle of her vent altered, which meant that poop just ran down and caked in her feathers instead of dropping free. One morning I found her dead in the hen house with half her back end hanging out almost like she had exploded with the pressure of it. I bitterly regretted not dealing with it or euthanizing her as she must have had an awfully painful death.

    If the swelling is more solid, then it's most likely internal laying because the egg yolks that drop into the abdominal cavity solidify and usually become infected at some stage (egg yolk peritonitis)

    The oviduct is above the colon, so egg biding (an egg stuck in the lower part of the oviduct) would not cause a hard swelling in the abdomen. It may cause slight soft swelling as the faeces builds up in the intestines and colon behind the blockage (caused by the egg) but the bird will usually die quite quickly if the egg is not removed and they will stop eating and look very sick.

    I'm sorry the prognosis for your girl is not good. It is the nature of having chickens as pets, that there is much joy but also some heartache and difficult decisions to be made. Learning all you can will help you to make the right decision at those difficult times.

    I hope I am wrong and she makes a miraculous recovery. Keep us posted please.
     
  8. Chickmunk

    Chickmunk Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 20, 2015
    Oklahoma
    I'll have to feel it again, but I don't think it felt quite like liquid. I think my longest living hen has been about six years old (from my very first batch) and I eventually had to euthanize her (worst. experience. of. my. life. I used carbon dioxide to do it, and it scared me to death, no pun intended) because her legs quit working. She couldn't feel them at all.

    I've learned over the years to accept their inevitable death, but it's still saddening. I'll keep an eye on her and let you all know. I hope it's nothing horrible and it might just be a little bit of fat or bloating.
     

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