Think my hen might be on her way "out" - UPDATE** CAPILLARIA WORMS

Mtn Laurel

Songster
7 Years
May 18, 2012
1,534
196
206
Northern Virginia
My Coop
My Coop
Lucy is a 2 1/2 yr. old red sex link. She's my lead hen and has consistently laid an egg almost daily for the past two years. She will miss 1 or 2 days a month. She has always looked like the devil with straggly worn-out feathers - she has never had a proper molt - but is the first out the door in the morning, the first on the nest, the first to greet me when I'm bringing food.

About three weeks ago she laid a soft-shelled egg, a first for her. The next morning she didn't run out the door and didn't greet me when I brought food. We brought her inside, separated her from the flock, examined her and found no evidence of egg-binding, swelling, fluid retention, swollen crop, or external parasites. She was wormed about 8 months ago. She didn't seem to be in pain, wasn't walking funny, no penguin walk, no sitting with eyes closed. She was fluffed up, wasn't moving much, wasn't eating [even favorites like boiled egg or rice]. I also noticed that her comb would sometimes change color, would take a purplish tinge. I know enough to know that's not a good sign. As luck would have it, I was to go out of town in 24 hours and didn't have the time to really devote to her. I started her on a 5 day course of Duramycin-10 as I had it on hand and was hoping I'd get lucky. Husband was to continue the Duramycin for 5 days, I was to return in 9 days. I figured she'd either be better or dead when I returned.

When I returned, Lucy was back in the coop with the rest of the chickens. Husband said she'd begun to eat and wasn't exhibiting any symptoms other than being lethargic. She is back to scratching and doing "chicken" things. She's still not eating up to par - will some mornings eat and some mornings not. Occasionally I get that "contented chicken" sound from her when I give them something she really likes. Her comb is withered and pale. She's not laid any further eggs since the last soft-shelled one three weeks ago. Her droppings are sometimes very watery and are sometimes green tinged from lack of food. The next one will look normal.

I'm puzzled. Husband talked to our vet, thinking she may have had a stroke. Vet said it was a possibility but no way to know. I'm wondering if she has an internal issue going on. I've read where some of the intensive layers such as red sex-links are prone to reproductive cancers. Was wondering if anyone else had experienced this and if there's anything else I should be doing for her.

Thanks!
 
Last edited:

Peep-Chicken

Crowing
6 Years
Jun 10, 2013
6,396
420
316
Michigan
She might have some type of heart issues, as if her comb is withered, she might not be getting the right amount of blood throughout her body.
 

Mtn Laurel

Songster
7 Years
May 18, 2012
1,534
196
206
Northern Virginia
My Coop
My Coop
She might have some type of heart issues, as if her comb is withered, she might not be getting the right amount of blood throughout her body.
That's what I'm thinking, too. Especially when her comb first took a purplish tinge. The purple color went away and now it's pale and flaccid. I'm afraid it's either heart or a cancer of some type, neither of which I can do anything about.

Thankfully, she doesn't seem to be in pain as I wouldn't allow that. She's been too good a gal to let her suffer. I'm thinking this isn't something she's going to bounce back from, though.
 

Traphill

In the Brooder
8 Years
Aug 26, 2011
85
7
31
Mtn Laurel
I too have a 3 yr old sex link that has very much the same symptoms, her crop took on a purplish color also and now its more of a strange coppery color and its shrinking. Tonight I noticed that her feet are turning green! she was drinking yesterday and did run towards me this evening when I came out with meal worms.and did peck some but then just stopped, I have her separated but at a loss of what to do for her
 

Mtn Laurel

Songster
7 Years
May 18, 2012
1,534
196
206
Northern Virginia
My Coop
My Coop
Mtn Laurel
I too have a 3 yr old sex link that has very much the same symptoms, her crop took on a purplish color also and now its more of a strange coppery color and its shrinking. Tonight I noticed that her feet are turning green! she was drinking yesterday and did run towards me this evening when I came out with meal worms.and did peck some but then just stopped, I have her separated but at a loss of what to do for her
Oh, my, I sure don't know what would be the cause of the green feet. Maybe someone else will have an idea.

Lucy was first out the door this morning. Wasn't interested too much in her feed but took great interest in strawberry tops and chopped up spinach. She's acting alert this morning. Will make her some rice as it's one of her favorites. Have no clue what to make of this. Maybe it's just the way some of the sex-links "wind down" after they're done laying. Whatever is going on doesn't seem to be a contagious illness. We had her separated for a week then put her back with the flock and she's the only one having a problem.

A big mystery to me, for sure.
 

Mtn Laurel

Songster
7 Years
May 18, 2012
1,534
196
206
Northern Virginia
My Coop
My Coop
WELL, I COULD JUST KICK MY OWN BUTT!!!

For the past 6 months I've been preaching "Get your chicken's poop tested if you don't know what's wrong" yet I failed to do that one simple thing in this case. I learned that valuable lesson when one of my girls got spirochetes and they almost did her in. If you ever run into spirochetes, the info on how to treat it is here> https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/...in-droppings-but-meds-dont-seem-to-be-working

Lucy seemed better while I was away but has been steadily going downhill again for the past 5 days. Not eating, hardly any poop and what she did was green and slimy, lethargic. Finally, a light went on in my head and I scooped her poop yesterday.

The killer is that my daughter is a vet tech. I just scoop and bag - hand her the poop - and she takes it to work. Not like it's an inconvenience for me or anything!!! [I'm really upset with myself.]

Daughter called with the results. WORMS!!! Two kinds. BTW, Lucy was wormed about 8 months ago and 6 months ago my flock was "group tested" and was worm free. Worms don't take long to bring a bird to deaths door.

The vet said she had roundworm and they could be easily resolved. The second worm was the one he was worried about - Capillaria - also known as hair worms or thread worms. My vet read off the list of symptoms and they are exactly what Lucy has been experiencing . . . egg laying stopped, no appetite, lose of weight, lethargy, etc. He advised that death came next and I'm pretty sure that's exactly where we'd be headed had I not taken her poop to be tested.

Problem with this particular worm is that earthworms are the host and we have a dirt bottomed run, which I'm sure is how she got it. It will spread to other birds through droppings so everything has to be cleaned out. All birds are to be wormed. The eggs of the Capillaria are so tiny that they're not visible in the poop so you don't easily see when they're present.

My vet is great as he's so honest. Like most vets, he knows little about chickens. He told me up front "I've no clue what medication will kill these things". I told him not to worry, that I had great resources at BYC and I hopped on the computer. Within seconds I was on the phone instructing DH to give Lucy 1cc of Valbazen, which I had on hand. [This was going on while I was at work.]

GOOD NEWS . . . she came hopping out of the coop this morning and was talking up a stream! I made her rice with plain yogurt - two of her favorites - and she made her "happy noise" and is actually eating! Checked under her roost and . . . UGH . . . yep, masses of tiny, thread looking worms.

I think we may have treated her in time. Fingers crossed. The moral of Lucy's story is . . . GET THEIR POOP TESTED, GET THEIR POOP TESTED, GET THEIR POOP TESTED!!!!

 

dawg53

Humble
Premium member
11 Years
Nov 27, 2008
25,985
9,065
746
Glen St Mary, Florida
Most likely there are plenty of large roundworm and capillary worm eggs on and in the soil and inside their house. Capillary worms thrive in deep litter houses...I dont care if anyone says different, it's true. You're lucky that your daughter is a vet tech and you get feces checked for free. Most folks have to pay to have samples tested and costs vary vet to vet. This is why I recommend regular worming schedules according to soil conditions. Most people only worm birds when they actually see worms in feces, too late when internal damage has already occured. Since capillary worms are barely visable in feces, can you image the damage that occurs by the time they are discovered? Apparently wormings take a back seat with most backyard chicken owners, yet they worm their dogs monthly to prevent heartworms, hookworms etc... and chickens spend more time pecking infective soil and eating infective insects containing worm eggs than dogs, so why not worm chickens?
It's always best to be proactive against worms, rather than reactive. Excellent job realizing how important it is to worm chickens; spread the word. Then you'll hear all the excuses why people dont worm their birds or use some worthless product that doesnt work.
 

Mtn Laurel

Songster
7 Years
May 18, 2012
1,534
196
206
Northern Virginia
My Coop
My Coop
Most likely there are plenty of large roundworm and capillary worm eggs on and in the soil and inside their house. Capillary worms thrive in deep litter houses...I dont care if anyone says different, it's true. You're lucky that your daughter is a vet tech and you get feces checked for free. Most folks have to pay to have samples tested and costs vary vet to vet. This is why I recommend regular worming schedules according to soil conditions. Most people only worm birds when they actually see worms in feces, too late when internal damage has already occured. Since capillary worms are barely visable in feces, can you image the damage that occurs by the time they are discovered? Apparently wormings take a back seat with most backyard chicken owners, yet they worm their dogs monthly to prevent heartworms, hookworms etc... and chickens spend more time pecking infective soil and eating infective insects containing worm eggs than dogs, so why not worm chickens?
It's always best to be proactive against worms, rather than reactive. Excellent job realizing how important it is to worm chickens; spread the word. Then you'll hear all the excuses why people dont worm their birds or use some worthless product that doesnt work.
We do deep litter and I know I'll need to totally clean out their house and run, which I planned on doing anyway since it's spring. Or, trying to be spring. I've got to get that done before the 10-day dose but we've got 4 days of rain on us right now. Hopefully the rain will be over when they say.

They were wormed 8 months ago and tested worm free 6 months ago which is why I didn't immediately think "worms". It's now obvious to me that worms can do great damage in a short time. I'm thinking we'll have to go to a 6 month worming schedule but am wondering about what type wormer to use other than Valbazen. I see that some people switch meds so that the worms don't develop a tolerance to any one product.

I'm glad you chimed in - I was hoping to hear from you. What do you recommend to use as an alternate to Valbazen? Or do you switch meds at all?

And, yes, we're really lucky that daughter is a vet tech. She began work there when she was in high school as we had so many dogs. They're very generous with us and give us a reduced rate on services. We also make sure the vet is kept well supplied in fresh eggs and that really helps, too!
 

dawg53

Humble
Premium member
11 Years
Nov 27, 2008
25,985
9,065
746
Glen St Mary, Florida
You're right, rotating wormers is best to prevent worm resistance to one particular wormer as in the case with all ivomec wormers. Ivomec products may work on other livestock, but not chickens. I quit using them due to their ineffectiveness against worms.
I use safeguard liquid goat wormer and pyrantel pamoate along with valbazen in rotation. I used to use wazine, but it only gets rid of large roundworms and no other types of worms in chickens. (I keep track by writing on the calender when and what wormer I used, and write down when and what to worm with in about 3 months or so....sooner if we're having alot of rain.)
The safeguard and pyrantel pamoate takes care of most worms that chickens can get. Valbazen gets rid of all types of worms. However, I've used Zimectrin Gold equine paste wormer to get rid of stubborn tapeworm infections. Praziquantel is the drug that kills the tapeworms, it is the same a drontal/droncit for tapeworms in dogs and cats.
I worm my birds once every 3 months due to our warm moist soil most of the year. I dont like discarding eggs like anyone else, but it pays off having healthy chickens to lay the eggs. Sick wormy birds wont lay eggs.
 
Top Bottom