my chicken has a large mushy swollen tummy, and very bony and skinny. I picked her up and her muscle tissue is almost gone, like she is starving. I didn't notice she was sick until she wasn't moving and sitting in the chicken pen.
Type of Animal: Chicken
Pet's Gender: female
Pet's Age: 3 years
Name of Bird: Pepie
I put her in a cardboard box with hay, and got on line to find out what is wrong with her. I am not a experienced chicken person.
Thank you for your question.I am sorry to hear that Pepie is so unwell.How long has you noticed this weight loss and abdominal swelling?Does her tummy feel fluidy?Has she had diarrhea?Has she been wormed?Has she been eating and drinking?Any changes to these?How is she behavior wise?
I just noticed when I texted you. I handle all of my chickens everyday! Tummy does feel fluidy. Can't tell she has had diarrhea. No she has not been wormed, how do you do that? She has been acting just like normal, but I don't know about eating or drinking.
Thank you for the additional information.I am glad to see you handle your chickens daily (it always makes me quite sad that so many people don't handle their hens even weekly and don't notice these kinds off issues until the are very late stage).Worming is quite straight forward especially with Flubenvet being licensed here in the UK (LINK). This is usually administered in their feed at least bi-annually (more if there was a worm burden issue in your flock). And it is worth doing if you are having any issues with your flock since worms can weaken the immune system, steal nutrients from the birds which can lead to weight loss, and can cause diarrhea. To assess if there is a worm burden that needs addressing, you can either prophylactically treat or consider having a fecal sample checked (then you know if it is a problem and what is present)But focusing on the wee one in trouble here, if this is a sudden then this abrupt loss of muscle bulk supports a cachexia (just like we see with starving children in third world countries) that is likely due to her body needing to pull its resources to fight something brewing internally. More so, this supports that this abdominal mushiness is likely going to be due to the accumulation of fluid in the abdomen. Now abdominal fluid (ascites), can arise with a range of causes. Therefore, it is often a case of having a vet sample the fluid to tells us what type it is, which will tell us what may be causing it and thus how to treat it.Just to give you an idea of the range of fluids that can arise and could be what Pepie is suffering from, I will outline the range for you.
First, trauma induced hemorrhage can appear as a bloated belly hen and can be very quick in onset. That said, you would also expect you to also see a paling of the comb, collapse, possible death. That said, a slow bleed could still be a consideration, so check her comb/mouth color for paling of the mucous membranes.
Tumours in the abdomen are not uncommon, and are something we have to consider if one hen is affected. Often they will manifest as a hard mass in the abdomen but we can see fluids arising because of the tumor (since they tend to have abnormal
vasculature) Still, she is younger, so I would probably put this lower on my list initially.
If we then turn our attention to the pure fluid diseases, we have to look through the range of 'ascites' . There are transudates, which are most like ‘water’ on gross appearance. This is the fluid we tend to find with heart disease related conditions or those that arise will protein imbalance in the blood vessels. If the hen has a heart condition, the mismatched pressures in the circulation will cause a back pressure and fluid will leak from her blood vessels into her body cavity. As well, if she has liver disease (which you might also notice a yellowing tint of her skin/comb/mucous membranes) can cause ascites since a suffering liver won't be able to produce albumin (a blood protein it makes to regulate osmotic pressure in the vessels) and thus cause an imbalance in the blood's protein levels. (Often the fluid will have a yellow tint as well)
A similar problem can also be seen if the hen has had a long history of diarrhea. Because with diarrhea protein is lost, thus over a longer period (or profuse output), the blood protein balance will again be imbalanced. And we must consider, that some tumors can cause ascites, as well as take up space, by their mucking with the body's blood supply.
As well, we can see bacterial infection cause signs of this nature, though the fluid they cause will be pus like and the bird often behaves quite poorly. This tends to arise when the bird has had a deep injury or any issue that would allow bacteria to get into the sterile abdomen. This turns into a bacterial free for all and the fluid that results will be pus (full of bacterial + inflammatory white blood cells) Finally, the worry we must always have in female birds, egg peritonitis. This is a very common abdominal ascites producing condition that we see specifically in the bird species. Because the hen's ovary and reproductive tract aren't actually connected (imagine the ovary throwing the ovum into a basket ball hoop to make a successful egg), a stressed hen can occasionally have their ovum not make it into the tract. When this happens the material ends up free floating in the abdomen. This is problematic, as I am sure you know, because 1) it doesn't belong there and inflames the delicate tissues, 2) it is the perfect media for growing bacteria. So, if a hen ends up with an egg peritonitis, we can see bloating, lethargy, anorexia, and it can progress to a fatal state. So, when a bird has ascites these are the issues we have to consider and rule out. We do need to remember that despite her behaving quite normally, this is a huge red flat. As I am sure you will appreciate, birds are very good at covering up when they are sick. This is because as a prey species, attention to your illness will make you a target for predation. So, all too often they hide the early stages of disease from us and our only hint is the ascites and sometimes that is when the problem is too advanced to treat.
So, in Pepie's case, these are the differentials we need to consider. Each will have a different treatment option and prognosis associated with it. Therefore, the most straight forward way of determining which is the cause and what must be done would be to have your vet take a sample of this fluid with a sterile needle and evaluate it under the microscope (as a lot of the ascites have distinct appearances) Depending on their findings, the vet will to provide appropriate treatment and give you the best chance of getting Pepie back to being herself. As well, this will allow you to make sure this isn't something that is a concern for the other birds in your flock.
I hope this information is helpful. Please let me know if you have any further questions. If you have no further questions, I would be grateful if you would press the wee green accept.
I can't afford to take her to the vet. I don't think she is passing fecal materical, and I think she has had an egg break inside of her. Her tummy is also warm. She is content just staying in the box with hay. Should I try to make her walk or move around?
I can't afford to take her to the vet. I don't think she is passing fecal material, and I think she has had an egg break inside of her. Her tummy is also warm. She is content just staying in the box with hay. Should I try to make her walk or move around?
I am sorry to hear that is the case, since not knowing the nature of the fluid will make her very difficult to treat at home. Your mention of decreased fecal production is not a surprise. If she has something like fluid distending her abdomen, then we can see a drop in fecal production because the space occupying entity is compressing the gut. This makes it difficult to pass feces, so when they do we may see a larger volume of feces passed and possibly a change in consistency.If an egg has actually broken in the oviduct, then this needs to be removed and antibiotics would be indicated to prevent infection. Walking her around will do little if nothing to aid her situation.If finances are an issue, consider contacting local veterinary practices to see if one can can assist you and work within your means (often hens exam fees are lower the cats/dogs). Dr. B.nekovet41020.6402806713