Yellow liquid poo, lethargy, decreased appetite and activity, red bottom

LaKon

In the Brooder
Jun 8, 2016
6
0
10
My 2 yr old laying hen (unknown breed) has been acting uninterested in snacks for 4-5 days. She was fluffed, hunched, squinty eyed, and showed decreased activity. I thought vent gleet and bathed her and fed her yogurt and offered an electrolyte drink (1 gal water, 1tbsp sugar, 1tsp salt, 1tsp baking soda) for 3 days now with no improvement in her condition. 2 nights ago I saw her try to jump to her roost and fail to reach it, so she spent the night standing on the floor of the coop. Now she only stands, squinty eyed sometimes eyes closed, won't sit or roost, and only walks a little, though she doesn't hunch or fluff as much, her wings r droopy. During the baths I noticed the skin around her vent is red and irritated from about an inch or two above the vent and reaching down her belly. Her belly itself seems like it may be a bit swollen, but as she is the only hen of this breed I have, I don't have any reference of what it should feel like. She has been passing strange yellow poops that are liquid and a stringy mucus, and has not had a solid normal poop for 2-3 days as far as I have noticed, maybe longer. I tried massaging her belly in case she was egg bound, but she only passed more of this yellow stuff. I also, for lack of a better word, fingered her vent to try feeling for a stuck egg, but didn't get very far, and didn't feel anything. I brought her into the house this afternoon for a bath, and after let her relax in the dark bathroom. No egg passed. I offered her yogurt which she was only slightly interested in, apple cider vinegar water which she drank lots of, blackstrap molasses water she tried once and hasn't touched since, fresh water she hasn't touched, and layer pellets (her usual food, a feather fixer blend because she and her sisters have a history of pecking) that she also hasn't touched, and oyster shells that she seems to be picking at but not actually eating very much. I am at a loss for what to do now and cannot afford a vet bill. I don't know if it's advanced vent gleet, if she's egg bound, if it's a combination of the two, or something more uncommon like blackhead. She was recently pecked pretty bad and lost almost a quarter of her feathers, and suffered some frostbite on her comb, but was on the mend from those when this started. But before the pecking she used be about half light cream colored and half tan/brown (mixed together so she was speckled, hence her name Speckies) and is now almost completely tan/brown. One spot where she was pecked on her head looks almost grey, but I think the feathers only look that way because they're growing back. I included a pic that shows the top of her head and her "poop". The poop is a bit hard to see, but it's sort of on the left side of the pic. She is now in the house, with everything she could need in the bathtub, and I've made her as comfortable as I can. Any help or advice would be much appreciated.
 

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micstrachan

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Apr 10, 2016
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Oh, poor sweet, lovely, Speckies. I am SO glad you brought her inside. Her comb is flopped over more than I would expect a smaller comb to be flopped, but you said she's drinking, right? It would be good to add poultry vitamins to her water. Also, she may be more interested in her feed if you wet it down. Can you please post pictures of the yellow liquid poop and her swollen red back end? The yellow poop could be egg material, but hard to say without seeing it. Can you tell us about her diet? The other birds are probably picking on her because they can tell she is ill. How does her breast muscle feel? Is the breast bone sharply protruding when you feel beneath her feathers? This could indicate weight loss, which could be caused by a number of different things. It's possible she's been bullied from food since falling ill.
If you are pretty sure she is not suffering from a parasite infestation (internal or external), the first thing that comes to mind is a laying disorder. Do you know when she last laid an egg? If we all banter back and forth on details, we may be able to help you. If she has suffered a great deal of muscle loss, tube feeding may be in order if you can't get her to eat. If the wet feed doesn't work, you might try things that she really enjoys, especially protein-rich things like scrambled eggs, canned tuna or sardines, or meal worms. Live meal worms are especially effective at stimulating appetite.
Please tell us about her breast muscle and diet and we'll go from there. There is lots of expertise on this forum, so the more information you can provide, the better. I hope we hear back from you soon.
 

LaKon

In the Brooder
Jun 8, 2016
6
0
10
Well, first off, I cried to my husband we agreed to use the credit card to pay for a vet visit. She's going tomorrow morning. I'll post what the vet says in case anyone else has a similar problem in the future. But, I would still like to know what you all think.
Her breast muscle feels like it probably falls within the normal range. I've looked at charts and I'd say she's easily in the middle of the scale.
For food she and her sisters get Nutrena's Nature Wise Feather Fixer, which is a16% layer blend that has a bit higher protein than we fed them last year which is supposed to help with feather regrowth. The pecking has been an ongoing problem with all of the birds, each have had their turn being the bullied. They get oyster shells and insoluble grit too. For snacks, they usually get a cup of wild bird seed that has millet, cracked corn, a small amount of sunflower seeds, and another seed I don't know the name of but is in your average basic wild bird seed. We have 5 birds, and idk how I'm doing estimating how much snack seed is the right amount. They occasionally get dandelion greens, spinach, a half cup of black oil sunflower seeds, and since it's cold I sometimes give them oatmeal with ground flaxseed, blueberries, and anything else I have around that might be yummy.
She has been spending half the day in the house and the other half with her sisters for the past 2 days because we don't have a proper sick bay set up for our birds (which I'm kicking myself for not doing while it was warm n we didn't have snow), and I don't have a proper set up to reintroduce her if she's away from the others too long. Plus I worry being in the house is stressful because I have 3 dogs who bark a lot and she is not used to the house or being handled a whole lot. I also have some family issues that have been taking me away from the house a lot lately.
I thought her comb was droopy because of the frostbite, but haven't seen a case this bad on a comb before, so I don't know what to expect anyway.
Yesterday I got her to eat some spinach, and today more spinach and some sunflower seeds. In the coop she's spending a lot of time in the nesting box area, I think it's because it's more peaceful since we have a curtain up.
Worms or internal parasites is a good possibility. I've inspected her and can't find anything external. But we haven't done any deworming. And she hasn't laid an egg in at least 3-4 days, maybe more. But I'm not sure if she was sick first or stopped laying first, so that is possible as well.
I'll try to get a picture of her red butt when I close them up for the night, but it's harder to see when her feathers r dry.
Thanks so much for the response. It's great to know there r people will
 

LaKon

In the Brooder
Jun 8, 2016
6
0
10
Willing to help, was what I was going to type before accidentally touching the post button. Thanks again. :)
 

LaKon

In the Brooder
Jun 8, 2016
6
0
10
The vet found that Speckles had an impacted crop. I knew chickens had this little pouch-like organ, but didn't know where to look for it. She had been impacted do some time without my knowing, so the prognosis wasn't good. The vet suggested I give her plenty of fluids, restrict food for a day or two, and massage the crop in a downward motion. The clinic gave me antibiotics to give her because everything had been sitting in her crop for so long there were likely some pretty nasty bacteria hanging out in there too. After 3 days, I wasn't sure if Specks was making enough progress to eat, and we'd run out of antibiotics, so I took her back to the vet. She was cleared to start eating softened food, and we got our meds. I fed her when we got home, but the next morning her crop was firmed up again, so I softened food and strained out the solids and fed her the broth that remained for the next two days. At that point her crop was soft enough to try moistened food again.
She's still not 100% and has been in and out of the house in an attempt to get her re-acclimated to the cold temps outside and to being back with her sisters. Speckled does a few hours out in the yard and spends the nights in the house. She's still getting some softened food as well as some dry food. I'm concerned that her crop still isn't functioning properly, so I'm continuing the massages and doing the soft food to try to keep enough moisture in her crop to keep it from firming up too tight for the food to pass. I plan to try giving her plain yogurt soon to help replace the good bacteria she lost while on the antibiotics.
She's doing well overall, though not as well as I'd hoped by now, but we're sticking this out until she's healthy. We've finished the antibiotics, her poop is nearly normal only slightly watery, and she has her appetite back. Hopefully soon she'll be totally back to being herself. I will post again with an update at some point.
My advice to new chicken owners is to make sure that you know how to check for simple health issues that can be remedied at home. If I'd known where the crop was, Speckles might not have ended up in such bad shape and I could have caught it earlier. Some basic chicken health problems every owner should know how to handle (in my experience) include: impacted or sour crop, vent gleet, prolapse, egg bound, and feather picking. There may be more that I don't yet know about though, so I'm thinking of starting a thread about advice to new chicken owners so they won't have the issues I've had to deal with (which is all of the above except sour crop) or will know how to handle these problems should they arise. There are tons of resources online with advice on how to handle these problems, and of course there are very helpful threads on this site to offer owners advice for these relatively common chicken health issues. Knowing the anatomy of a chicken is also very important as well. I'd felt Specks chest area and thought her breast muscle felt normal, I came to find out that it was her very impacted crop I was feeling. I've learned this lesson the hard way, don't learn it this way for yourself, get informed if you don't already know and if you do know offer that knowledge to those of us who are new to raising chickens.
I still wish I'd known more when we got our chickens, but my father in law surprised me with them two years ago, and owning chickens has been a learning process the whole way. Don't let anyone tell you it's easy to care for chickens, because it can be a lot of hard work. For me, it's worth it all because I love my birds, and I'm so grateful that I've been able to help Speckles before she got so bad that she died, because I believe she was getting close at one point there.
If anyone has any questions about Speckle's treatment and recovery, feel free to ask. I may not be back on this site for a week or two, but I'll respond when I get it.
I hope everyone is well, chickens included, and that everyone has a great day. Thanks again for the help offered! Great to know there r people so willing to try to help out. =)
 

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