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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Bird Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 21419
Experience:  As a veterinary surgeon, I have spent a lot of time with bird cases and I'm happy to help you.
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I've got two birds with swollen bellies.. from 80 hens, its

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I've got two birds with swollen bellies.. from 80 hens, its strange that two have it at the same time.. trying to work out what it is.. if it's maybe poisoning from some weeds they may have eaten.. :(
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Did you see what the bird ate?
Customer: I was trimming a passion fruit vine, which had a milky weed / vine growing through it, and threw the lot into the run..?
JA: What confuses you?
Customer: Out of 80 hens its only two that are sick.. but I did start giving them lucern hay two weeks ago as we're out of grass, wondering if the protein content is too high.
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about the bird?
Customer: No,

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you today. I do apologize that your question was not answered before. Different experts come online at various times; I just came online, read about your situation, and wanted to help.

Again I do apologize that my colleagues could not aid you sooner, but can you tell me:

Are the bellies firm or feel fluidy?

Any paling or yellow tinting to the inside of their mouths?

Any fever, diarrhea, straining or breathing changes?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Thank you, ***** ***** squishy, combs are turning black, runny stools. No breathing changes.. eyes closed and sleeping all the time, standing up, or sitting..

Hi again,

Now I am quite concerned about these two birds.

We can of course see abdominal distension for a range of reasons, but to see 2 together like this means we have to consider toxicities and to a lesser extent infectious processes. That said, given your very good history there, if that plant was milkweed then we'd be suspicious of poisoning. The plant can affect the heart which often leads to fluid accumulation and reduction in comb blood circulation (turning it black). It can also cause blisters in the mouth, irregular heart rate, wobbliness and, collapse. We can see liver disease appear similarly but that isn't usually a feature of these plants (and passion flower vine isn't toxic itself, just the fruit).

With this in mind, I do have to warn you that these 2 lasses have a very poor prognosis with the signs we are seeing (even if we had a different toxin). It is possible to treat heart disease but usually its not considered practical in a flock setting (especially as eggs would have to be discarded). So, you may need to think about culling these two but most importantly remove any milkweed and similar plants from the flock's access to ensure we don't see further cases here.

Just in case you do need an avian vet and do not have one already, you can check where you can find one at near you at AAV (, Avian web( or Birdsnway(

Kind regards,

Dr. B.


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Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Thank you, ***** ***** thought I may have to cull these two ladies, so I appreciate your feedback.

You are very welcome, my dear.

Yes, I hate to have to suggest it but unfortunately they don't tend to do well when these signs are advanced as they are here.

Take care,

Dr. B.