Swollen, pale comb that's hot to the touch, and miserable hen. Help!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by LittleNCFarm, Mar 11, 2014.

  1. LittleNCFarm

    LittleNCFarm New Egg

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    Hi all!

    I'm always so grateful the the wealth of experience & knowledge here, and I'm hoping someone might have some thoughts on what's going on with one of our girls.

    She's about 5+ yrs old and came to us last year after the entire rest of her flock got massacred by a dog that got into their coop. When she came to us, she had to adjust to a new flock and living free range vs. in a coop, but generally she's been doing pretty well. She's always been a little slower and quieter than our other 5 hens, but not bad.

    A few weeks ago, I noticed she seemed a little off (lower energy than normal). Upon further inspection a day or two later, her comb looked swollen. Since then, it's gone pale pink, is still swollen, hot to the touch, and her legs are warm, too. She's apparently only eating/drinking enough to keep her ticking for now, and she spends much of the day puffed up with her head tucked under a wing, or seeking the sun. (Despite all that, she seems to get a boost of energy when I try to catch her.)

    It may be too late for this hen, but it's so hard to watch, and I have *no* freaking idea what to do for her. The only vet around here who sees chickens charges $116 just to walk in the door for an office visit, which we can't afford, especially knowing it would very likely be higher than that by the end.

    Any thoughts? I've read on other threads here that broad spectrum antibiotics don't usually work, and I suspect she's not eating or drinking enough right now to really take in what she'd need, even if it could help.

    I'm at a loss. Thanks for any thoughts you might be able to share!
     
  2. chicknmania

    chicknmania Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Well, it's an emergency. For starters, coax her to eat. Give her a pen or cage by herself where she has some privacy but can still hear and see the others. Try goodies like chopped fruit or tomato, oatmeal, yogurt, banana,fruit or vegetable, rice,cottage cheese, or even maybe babyfood mixed with her regular food, really anything she likes except for chocolate of course, or junk food.We find that our sick chooks like applesauce mixed with their food. I don't know what would cause a swollen comb and fever. You could try a mashed up baby aspirin twice a day for the fever, mixed with her food. they must eat when they are sick, and drink. If they don't within a day or so, you will have to tube feed them, which is not difficult. But try to get her to eat on her own first.
     
  3. LittleNCFarm

    LittleNCFarm New Egg

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    Thanks, chicknmania. I brought her inside today and was able to get her to eat some banana and tomato innards. It's progress! She's now resting quietly in our bathroom. Am going to look into the baby aspirin route and keep researching other options. I appreciate your input!
     
  4. chicknmania

    chicknmania Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    I was curious so I searched on here and there are some other threads. I didn't spend a lot of time but what I did see was some people thought maybe an allergic reaction to something? They were talking about swollen faces too though. Pale comb and wattles sometimes mean heart condition also.
     
  5. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Overrun With Chickens

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    Pale combs/wattles are often an indication of an anemic condition which can be caused by many things. If you haven't wormed your birds, I would suggest doing so. You don't want to complicate matters with foods that are limited in nutrition / difficult to digest such as fibrous fruits/vegetables. A moistened layer feed and vitamin-electrolyte-probiotic dispersible powder in the waterers would be beneficial. If the bird isn't showing any respiratory problems, then the problem could be intestinal since immunity begins in the digestive system. If enteritis is brought upon the bird from diseases like coccidiosis, worms, etc., and is left in that condition for too long, the damage can be beyond repair.

    You didn't mention the appearance of droppings, so I can't be sure.

    The common practice when seeing anemic conditions in birds is to check for external parasites, worm them, then treat for coccidiosis. Always supplement with vitamin-electrolyte-probiotic powder in waterers a few times a week, and always after a course of antibiotic treatment or medications. There are preventative measures that can be taken to avoid these problems in the future. Much revolves around nutrition and environment.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2014
    1 person likes this.
  6. chicknmania

    chicknmania Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Last edited: Mar 13, 2014
  7. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Overrun With Chickens

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    You can disagree all you want. If the intestines are damaged beyond repair, no amount of feeding or hydration will keep the bird alive. If the intestinal tract or gizzard is compromised, the crop will become impacted. The easier food is to digest, the likelihood of that happening lessens. The key to successful treatment is recognizing symptoms, and using the appropriate medication before too much damage is done, or a secondary infection occurs.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2014
  8. chicknmania

    chicknmania Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Well, unless you're a an avian vet, I'm going to continue to disagree. Vets do go to school for a reason. I guess we will agree to disagree.
    I've never had a bird be damaged by giving them food that will tempt them when they are ill. No, don't give them junk food, is all I'm saying.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2014
  9. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Overrun With Chickens

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    Raising poultry since 1976, I'll recommend what has worked. recommending fruits and vegetables which do not contain the formulated nutrients essential for poultry, especially during a period of stress or illness, won't help. I never suggested "junk food", so your statement is moot. Much of what I've learned has been through professors of poultry science who are well known, and treatment based upon their findings. Avian vets are a dime a dozen. Some are knowledgeable, and some aren't. Now I've mentioned what I've found to be helpful in order to assist LittleNCFarm. He/she will decide without you trying to derail the thread.
     
  10. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict

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    A swollen comb can be from frostbite and from avian influenza. Swollen wattles are common with coryza and fowl cholera--are you seeing any swelling there? Do you have any close-up pictures of her comb? Have you had any diseases in your flock previously that she might have? Michael Apple has given you very good advice on diet and probiotics. Many of us have learned a great deal from his experience.
     

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