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What happened to my hen? Finding answers and closure

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by inplacebo, Feb 13, 2016.

  1. inplacebo

    inplacebo Hatching

    Feb 4, 2016
    Sunderland, UK
    Today my beloved hen, Olive, died today. She'd been unwell for quite some time, but the problem was that not me or anyone in the family knew quite what was wrong with her. She did get to see the vets a few times, but it was not until the final few days I was able to get a clear diagnosis that she had a pendulous crop, probably as a result of an impacted/sour crop.

    I am full of despair and hurt that she had to suffer like this. She was showing the symptoms for quite some time but when we found out the crop was in bad shape, the vets emptied 2/3 of her crop and surprisingly that made her worse. Once it was emptied she went from standing up and sleeping, to no energy, eyes always closed, I knew she was gravely ill. When I checked on her today, she was not on her roost and so I decided to see the vets again in order to give her the best chance of recovery. But it was not to be, as she passed away whilst the vet was fully emptying her crop.

    All these emotions, I am left with many questions, but not particularly good ones.

    As she died at the vets during the emptying of her crop, I wonder what it was that actually killed her? Did she have a heart attack during the crop emptying procedure? Stress? Starvation? I have no idea, but I know it was nothing to do with the vet's incompetency as he'd done these procedures before...

    Also, in hindsight, could she have been treated and perhaps recovered to full health again? These questions float around my head and it's really killing me. I have nobody to talk to about this and I miss her very much.

    The only thing that reassures me somewhat is that the vet told me her prognosis wasn't very good. Even if he was able to empty her crop, the crop itself may never fully heal and she'd have a re-occurrence even if she had recovered to full health. Yet I am left with grief, despair and regret... even during her final moments I gave her the best possible care, love and attention and yet feel hopelessly helpless, and this is what throws me over the edge.

    Enough of my guff, this is my first post on this website. I found it whilst looking for remedies and answers when my hen got ill.. I've found these forums welcoming but I hate to bid my welcome in such an unfashionable way. Either way, thanks for spending the time to read through this, any response is greatly appreciated in helping me to find some sort of closure after such a traumatic day.


    Olive June 2013 - February 2016.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2016

  2. ryanhodapp

    ryanhodapp Songster

    May 5, 2010
    St. Louis
    Welcome to BYC and I am so sorry about your Olive.

    We are here to listen.
  3. inplacebo

    inplacebo Hatching

    Feb 4, 2016
    Sunderland, UK
    Thankyou. It's good to be here. Not feeling great. Miss her loads and asking myself loads of questions.. Could she have been saved. God dammit.
  4. rebrascora

    rebrascora Crowing

    Feb 14, 2014
    Consett Co.Durham. UK
    Hi Ed and welcome from a fellow North East resident.... I'm near Consett, in County Durham.

    So sorry to hear about Olive. I understand how you feel, as I'm also very self critical and look for what I could perhaps have done differently to have changed the outcome, but the certainty is that you did the absolute best for her with the knowledge and resources you had available and that is all anyone can do.
    Hindsight is a wonderful thing and maybe, if you had more knowledge you might have spotted the problem sooner and/or been able to prevent it getting so bad, but maybe not. The only positive thing you can do at this point is to stop beating yourself up about it and use her death as motivation to learn more, so that maybe another hen can benefit from her death.

    I had to euthanize one of my pullets that was very sick a year and a half ago... it was the first creature that I had ever deliberately killed and I cried a lot. Afterwards however, I psyched myself up and I opened her up and discovered that she had two huge tumours. This helped me diagnose a disease that several of my other chickens have subsequently suffered from and enables me to make difficult decisions about supportive care or culling for them...it is not easy, but I have more confidence in dealing with these difficult decisions as a result of my increased knowledge and experience. Finding those tumours helped me with closure because it confirmed that I had made the right decision for her. I'm not a vet and whilst I did biology at school, that was far too many years ago to be of much benefit, but I am determined to learn as much as I can.

    The internet is a great learning tool and so is experience and her death is unfortunately part of that experience.... put it to good use and move forward... read all about sour crop, watch your chickens closely every day for little tell tale signs that they are not quite right. Perhaps consider feeding them fermented feed if you don't already and maybe a bit of natural yoghurt as a treat every now and again. I'm a big fan of a drop of Apple Cider Vinegar in their waterer (as long as it's not a metal waterer). I'm not saying to do all these things or that they are necessarily beneficial.... but it's worth researching them and making your own mind up.

    The other thing to remember is that death is as much a part of life as birth. It happens to everything living.... some sooner, some later. If everything lived forever, the world would not be a good place. Olive's time had come and even the vet was unable to change that.

    Now go out there and spend time and enjoy the chickens that are living, rather than tearing yourself apart for the one that died.

    Sincerest sympathies and best wishes moving forward.


    PS. Not sure if the vet offered it, but there is always the possibility of having a post mortem exam done to establish cause of death if you don't feel able or competent enough to do so yourself. Just in case the problem was something other than a sour or pendulous crop.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  5. inplacebo

    inplacebo Hatching

    Feb 4, 2016
    Sunderland, UK
    Hiya Rebrascora, [​IMG]

    It's really cool you're in the north-east. I don't totally feel alone with the only one ever having chickens. Thank you for the very nice reply, it has helped me a lot. The position I was in was a perilous one, having found out she was out of sorts somewhat early, it didn't seem enough even when she had seen the vet several times. I'll never know 100% how she died, but I know she was a very ill chicken.

    Unfortunately, I won't be able to get a necropsy done as she was buried the day she died. Emotions were running high and perhaps burying her next to Gladys who I also lost in November was the noble thing to do. Maybe a necropsy would help somewhat, especially knowing if what she had was terminal. All I do know is she had something quite severe and debilitating. Something I'm not sure I'd like to go through again. She wasn't just a chicken, but a pet, a member of the family. It is and always will be a grave loss.

    Olive had all the support and treatment she could have ever been given. She had been wormed, given anti-biotics and even lubrication to help get her crop moving. Perhaps though with the crop not emptying the poison in her crop killed her... by the time we established she had a pendulous crop, it was also very sour and very fungal. It was too late before she could receive anti-fungal treatment. But this was the stage where she was not eating, she always wanted to lie down with her eyes closed and looked utterly miserable. Her droppings were green and very liquid-like. It's all quite heartbreaking really as it wasn't sudden like Gladys, it was over a 3-4 week period which makes it all the more painful for me.

    It is quite possible though even if she could've had surgery to her crop that her quality of life would've not improved. It was quite probable that her condition would re-appear even after veterinary intervention. I cannot dwell on it too much, she is gone, and she is next to her sister Gladys. I'll always remember her though, and I'll not have anybody tell me what I feel is pathetic.

    Following these events, we've got 3 more chickens today and introduced them to Pearl, the only chicken remaining after the other two passed away in the months of November and February. It wasn't my decision, but it's probably best Pearl isn't left alone.

    I'm sorry to hear about what you had to do to one of your beloved hens. It was a very strong thing to do, and in reflection the right thing for you in order to ease her suffering. I know myself I could not do such a thing. If anything, the furthest I could go is euthanasia, but even that isn't easy.
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2016
  6. dekel18042

    dekel18042 Songster

    Jul 18, 2013
    Welcome! Sorry to hear about Olive. Sometimes even with the best care chickens will sicken and die and even with medical care and advice we can't get a handle on it. I've had a few that after consultations and check ups have just died. In those cases we could rule out many things but the exact problem couldn't be pinpointed.
    In your case it does look like a sour crop at least played some part, but chickens and birds in general are not the easiest patients to treat and sometimes you never know exactly, just educated guesses.
  7. umarson

    umarson Chirping

    Jun 1, 2015
    Sorry to here about your bird's lost. Sometimes you just can't do anything to help them. I lost two last week.
    I was just wondering if your chicken got injured in the crop on the emptying process cos that process is dangerous. To me, I rather isolate the chicken and give her a lot of antibiotics but this is just an assumption.
    I always hope we find a better alternative to emptying crop.

  8. inplacebo

    inplacebo Hatching

    Feb 4, 2016
    Sunderland, UK
    Yeh it did play some sort of part. She definately had crop problems, but we only found out once she passed away she also had sour crop. Though I made sure she was given anti-biotics, she only had 1 day on anti-fungals. Perhaps not enough to alleviate her. I know that her poop showed serious signs, diarrhoea with green poop. The prognosis was never good.

    I think the process of emptying her crop was okay. Either way her condition was deteriorating and emptying the crop gave her the best possible chance of recovering in future.. it was all perhaps a little too late and she got too weak especially during the crop wash and gave way. Her prognosis was never good though and her quality of life wouldn't have been the same even if somehow she did pull through.

    I've learnt chickens are both hard to diagnose and treat, it's a shame that in most cases they have to suffer.

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