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I went out to check on my hens this afternoon, and found one…

Customer Question
Hi Pearl, I went...

Hi Pearl, I went out to check on my hens this afternoon, and found one of them hunched over in an odd position. When I went to move her, she did not squawk and run away like normal. I got her out of her unusual position (under a shelter) and put her on the ground. Her legs just spread out and she started swaying side to side. She is approx. 6 months old, has not yet started laying, and has, to date, been very healthy and is one of my most active hens.

Veterinarian's Assistant: I'll do all I can to help. Could be a lot of things that cause lethargy. The Expert will know how to help your bird. What is the bird's name?

Rita

Veterinarian's Assistant: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Rita?

She seemed to be panting (no tongue out, but open mouth breathing). I have her inside right now in a heated bathroom. She has accepted a little water with vitamins in it.

Submitted: 6 months ago.Category: Bird Veterinary
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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
Feed is Scratch and Peck brand organic Layer feed. Birds are supplemented with raw vegetable scraps and garden waste (organic) - most recently a lot of broccoli leaves. She is one of the lower birds on the pecking order, but I just checked her crop and it seems full, though not distended or solid. Hens have oyster shell and grit available. Last night we had a hard freeze, but she was fine earlier today, so I don't think that's a factor.
Customer reply replied 6 months ago
Feet look good, no wounds found on feet, legs or body, vent is clear and looks good, and vent area is clean.
Answered in 11 hours by:
12/22/2017
Bird Veterinarian: Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian replied 6 months ago
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 34,825
Experience: University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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You're speaking with Dr. Michael Salkin. Welcome to JustAnswer. I'm currently typing up my reply. Please be patient. This may take a few minutes.

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Bird Veterinarian: Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian replied 6 months ago

I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. Please let me know if you still need help. May I have an update on Rita, please?

Unfortunately, her behavior can indicate any number of illnesses or health issues in chickens. They’re signs of “sick bird syndrome” - part of an array of highly nonspecific clinical signs. Her posture and swaying can indicate a badly weakened hen or, instead, paresis/paralysis as might be seen with Marek's disease (herpesvirus), other infections involving the nervous system, or perhaps a toxin. Her open mouth breathing often indicates severe respiratory compromise. Thus, in avian medicine we usually begin with a list of differential diagnoses and use lab tests, X-rays, and physical exams to differentiate one from another. Necropsy of a newly dead or a sacrificed severely ill bird then refrigerated (not frozen) can be an important diagnostic particularly in large flocks. With this in mind, your best course of action might be to reach out to your county-extension poultry personnel or avian-oriented veterinarian (please see here: www.aav.org) for help in that regard.

It's best to bring her inside as shown here: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2015/02/how-to-help-sick-chicken.html.

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Bird Veterinarian: Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian replied 6 months ago
Hi,

I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?

Dr. Michael Salkin
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Disclaimer: Information in questions, answers, and other posts on this site ("Posts") comes from individual users, not JustAnswer; JustAnswer is not responsible for Posts. Posts are for general information, are not intended to substitute for informed professional advice (medical, legal, veterinary, financial, etc.), or to establish a professional-client relationship. The site and services are provided "as is" with no warranty or representations by JustAnswer regarding the qualifications of Experts. To see what credentials have been verified by a third-party service, please click on the "Verified" symbol in some Experts' profiles. JustAnswer is not intended or designed for EMERGENCY questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals.

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