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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 23827
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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My 2 year old Plymouth Barred Rock he has shown signs of

Customer Question

Hi, My 2 year old Plymouth Barred Rock he has shown signs of decline for more than a week. I noticed that she hung out in the coop more, did not range much, less active. I could find nothing obviously wrong with her upon head to toe exam. Her vent feathers are stained with greenish white ?diarrhea. There are no visible worms. Her 22 sister hens are all healthy. I isolated her 2 evenings ago when I found her unable to perch for the evening, just sitting in the hay under the other birds. She has declined slowly since then. At first she would peck at her food, loved a little watermelon. She has walked around her space, a greenhouse, with wings slightly drooped, head up, eyes clear but puffy. The greenish poo persists. This morning, she is just sitting in the rushes, head down, comb and wattles turning dark red. Looked at me, but barely reacted when i picked her up, She does not seem to be in resp distress, no accessory muscle use or rocking. There is not a vet within 50 miles that can treat this bird, except the regional vet ER, who suggested over the phone that a sick hen should probably just be put down, so I am not going there. Any hope? Thanks, Carole
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Have you looked to see if there is a wound on their foot?
Customer: She has clean legs and feet, no open wounds that I could see.
JA: What is the bird's name?
Customer: Sweetums
JA: Excuse me?
Customer: Sweetums
JA: I'm not following. Could you please explain?
Customer: You asked what the bird's name is?
JA: Anything else I can tell the Veterinarian before I connect you two?
Customer: Thanks, ***** ***** know what else to tell you.
JA: I'm sending you to a secure page on JustAnswer so you can place the $5 fully refundable deposit now. While you're filling out that form, I'll tell the Veterinarian about your situation and connect you two.
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Bird Veterinary
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
In the past hour, the hen has given up, lying on her side, eyelids bluish, closed. Breathing without effort, barely responsive to touch.
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
The hen has just died, quietly. Liquid greenish yellow via vent.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 6 months ago.
I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. We don't have many avian vets on this site. Please contact***@******.*** if you wish to close this question. My initial thought is that when just one hen out of 22 is ill, you're looking at a non-infectious disorder such as egg binding, a toxicity, or perhaps neoplasia in the form of Marek's disease (which always should be considered when just one out of many hens is ill; this herpesvirus is infectious but many birds can become carriers without becoming clinically ill) or avian leukosis caused by the avian leukosis virus. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
I do believe that this hen's death was inevitable before I asked for your advice. I did palpate her abdomen daily this past 10 days while alive and thoroughly post-mortem, and found no mass or hardening. I have experienced other birds that were egg bound, and she did not present as that. This flock of 1 and 2 year old mixed hybrid hens have been Marek vaccinated as day olds. They do free range over several acres of organic gardens, orchard, pasture and mixed woods. They are free fed organic grain. I use herbal supplements in the winter if a bird looks stressed. I had 2 "sudden deaths" this past six months of hens from the same hatch day, maybe 4 months apart. I witnessed both...the healthy bird just keeled over while ranging in the yard, in different places. Completely normal looking, definitely seen in the nest with grand daughter's favorite, our only Delaware. The second bird was a very good layer, healthy looking pre and post death, a Rhode Island Red. My local vet thought not to worry, that this sounded like "yolk stroke", although she did not examine the birds. My concern is for the heath of the flock, the health of the eggs. I thoroughly spring cleaned the hen coop about a month ago, and keep clean dry litter at all times. None of the other birds look or act unwell, nor have I noted diarrhea vents or unhealthy droppings, once I isolated the now dead hen. Thanks for your response. What actions might I take now to assure the flock health?
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 6 months ago.
Thank you for the additional information. It sounds as if you've already done what you should. A confirmed etiology for these three deaths isn't known and so "spring cleaning" as you've done should suffice. I would make sure that one of the over the counter disinfectants for the coop available at your local feed store is used. Here's an excellent resource for you: Some important notes for you:1) The Marek's vaccine doesn't prevent infection but should lessen morbidity - severity of symptoms. 2) "Yolk stroke" refers to a yolk peritonitis which will cause a progressive malaise and finally death. It isn't exected to cause peracute (sudden) deaths. Such deaths can be seen with certain respiratory infections without any other symptoms such as fowl cholera or infectious laryngotracheitis as well as with Marek's. 3) Consider having unknown deaths necropsied. Remember to refrigerate - not freeze - the carcass. There's a considerable upfront expense for having this done (private lab, county animal disease diagnostic laboratory, e.g.) but when you have so many other hens you might discover something that if treated in the survivors will save you money in the long run.4) I believe that worming for roundworms with Wazine (piperazine) and treating coccidiosis with Corid (amprolium) is reasonable prophylactic care every 4-6 months for backyard flocks. Please continue our conversation if you wish.
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
What is the egg loss time for these meds?
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 6 months ago.
There's no official egg withdrawal period for Wazine; in fact, the label states not to use for egg producers which is ignored the great majority of the time. Thus it's used extra-label for egg-layers. It's recommended not to slaughter broilers for 14 days post-dosing and so it's reasonable to assume that the eggs are safe after 14 days (and likely much sooner but if you sell to the public you should be cautious.) Amprolium is commonly withdrawn 4 days before slaughter in broilers to meet regulatory requirements. There is no egg-withdrawal period for this drug. Take a look at this site: There's a lot of controversy concerning residues and oftentime we have to make up our own minds which drugs to use or not.