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Dr. Pat, Bird Veterinarian
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Experience:  25+ years working primarily or exclusively with birds
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My hens will be 1 year old in June, they are just pets. Betsy,

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My hens will be 1 year old in June, they are just pets. Betsy, in the last couple of weeks, her comb has turned orange. She is eating and drinking ok, but does prefer to be alone. She still comes when called and still wants me to hold her. Is she ill or just pouting because I am holding someone else?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Bird Veterinary
Expert:  replied 2 years ago.
Greetings, I am Dr. Pat. I have worked with birds for many years. I will do my best to help you.

Her comb is pale, and like people who are pale, it is an indication of illness and not anything specific. It could be anemia, infection, parasites, viral infection, toxins, etc.

The problem you have here is to find out what exactly is the cause. There is nothing specific in what you describe, quite literally 100 different diseases can have the same presentation. Luckily there are labs that work with small producers and an start diagnostics for a very reasonable fee.

There are so many myths in poultry medicine and diseases that I do not have the time to go into every detail, but botXXXXX XXXXXne you need facts to do right by yourself AND your birds.

She is in very serious trouble, and needs local veterinary attention. These signs are of a very sick bird, and not specific to any one disease. And that means it is not fair to you or her to guess, there are so many possibilities.You are going to need local help on this, and a scientific and solid diagnosis to find safe and effective treatment.

You can examine the bird thoroughly again, including opening the mouth and having a good look in there for mucus, redness, masses or anything else unusual. You can take the temperature gently with a rectal thermometer. Anything above 105F/40C is significant. Palpate the tummy for an egg, fluid, lumps or anything else. Check all the joints for swelling, pain, and mobility.

Move the bird indoors to an aquarium, box or carrier with soft towels or hay in the bottom, no perch, and food and water in low bowls that can be reached easily. Keep her partially covered, warm and quiet.

Do not try to force food or water. You can offer warm cooked rice, pancakes, cornbread, grapes, melon, greens in addition to normal food.

I know it is expensive, but you may not have many home options, because the first thing you need a vet for is to find out what is going on. Treatment is only as good as the diagnosis. If you call around, you may find a vet to work within your means. We certainly try to do our best in my clinic.

She needs to see an avian/poultry-experienced veterinarian ASAP for complete examination, diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Check
http://www.aav.org/association/index.php?content=activeMembersList
for members of AAV in your area.

The expense for this is going to be a lot less than inefficient, ineffective, dangerous treatments, guesswork, and loss of the flock; not to mention possible implications to human consumption of tainted eggs. Many states/governments have poultry diagnostic labs that charge very reasonable fees to test for common diseases.

Because you have others and presumably use the eggs, it is important to have a solid diagnosis and treatment safe for egg consumption. You can check with local County Extension offices, the closest Ag university with a poultry department, or with the closest vet school for a local referral.

If this were my patient, I would start with complete fecal analysis and direct smear, for multiple parasites; bacterial culture and sensitivity of the feces and choana. Depending on the case I might do a fungal culture. Routine blood work is necessary to rule out other issues. I would very likely order a number of DNA tests for poultry viruses as well. Generally I start them out on antibiotics as indicated by the tests (I use human antibiotics that are injectable).

Pet/feed store medications and home remedies are harmful, ineffective, immuno-suppressive, and make them much worse and may interfere with the veterinarian's diagnosis and treatment. Do not use them.

The flock should be on a high quality pelleted diet with extra greens/pasturage. Of late, I have been recommending TOP pet bird pellets TOP
http://totallyorganics.com/t-pellets.php
as they are more appropriate for the pet chicken. Overcrowding, cleanliness, proper water, environmental temperature, humidity, ventilation, photoperiod, and toxic exposures should be addressed. Check this
http://www.poultryhub.org/index.php/Welfare_of_poultry_in_periurban_environments for husbandry advice.

Check http://www.poultryhub.org/index.php/General_tips_for_small_scale_poultry_production for basic care, set up and maintenance. You need to check for fly and mosquito access, as they can carry certain diseases, and check for external parasites. Mites, lice and fleas (in some areas, ticks) can contribute to over-all health issues, anemia, and disease transmission.

She may need injectable antibiotics, calcium and many other medications. Act quickly and good luck.

Here are some sites of general interest:

backyard poultry

backyard poultry statement

http://www.freewebs.com/professorchickensdiseases/

http://poultrykeeper.com/poultry-vets-uk/poultry-veterinary-practices-services-uk/

http://www.thepoultrysite.com/about/

http://mypetchicken.com/backyard-chickens/chicken-care/guide-toc.aspx

http://www.brittonclouse.com/chickenrunrescue/

http://www.shopthecoop.com/chickens/links.html
Dr. Pat, Bird Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 4078
Experience: 25+ years working primarily or exclusively with birds
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Dr. Pat
Dr. Pat
Bird Veterinarian
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25+ years working primarily or exclusively with birds