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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 28934
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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My Polish hen has become very pale in the beak and around

Customer Question

My Polish hen has become very pale in the beak and around her eyes. She is lethargic and not eating
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Bird
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 9 months ago.

You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin. Welcome to JustAnswer. I'm currently typing up my reply. Please be patient. This may take a few minutes.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 9 months ago.

Maureen, I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. We don't have many avian vets on this site. How old is Lucy, please? How long has she been ill? What is the active ingredient(s) in the drench?

Unfortunately, her lethargy, anorexia, and paleness can indicate any number of illnesses or health issues in chickens. In avian medicine, there's rarely one cause of such a presentation, so 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. I understand that you wouldn't want to sacrifice a pet, however.

It's best to approach the diagnostic process with a clear sense of Lucy's financial value to your operation. Although some services such as your county animal disease diagnostic laboratory might be available free of charge through a county agency or land-grant extension office, the expense of some diagnostic tests and treatments can add up quickly. While it’s always worth your time and money to identify a bacterial or viral infection that could potentially impact more than one member of the flock, this might not be the case with a condition that only affects one hen. It frustrates me that I can't be more specific for you but such is the dilemma of poultry owners and vets alike.

Are there any other symptoms that might help clarify why Lucy is behaving in that manner - a change in her eyes, sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge, increased respiratory rate, regurgitation/vomiting, swollen coelom (abdomen), paresis (weakness) or paralysis, squatting frequently as if to lay, or walking like a penguin?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Hi thank you for your help. I noticed a change yesterday and today that changed was more pronounced. She has been seemingly picked on while in the coop buy another bird her size and had blood on her neck feathers this was not treated with antibiotics or ointment. The drugs I gave her today is a bunch of different vitamins and minerals in molasses sugar it's an over-the-counter poultry drench. She did not walk around at all today only took a few steps and had a few bites of egg yolk that I cooked her I also gave her a bath in wood ash from the fireplace in case it's mites or poultry lice. I'm keeping her inside tonight to keep her warm none of my other birds seem to be affected I have another polish that's the same age who is doing fine. How big is pale and colorless which is not normal although she is a white bird.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
She is less than a year old. And a bantam I believe. Her female flock mates have just started laying eggs in the past month. I think she was hatched in May possibly. They are all free range during the daylight hours.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 9 months ago.

Thank you for the additional information. "How bad is pale and colorless?" It indicates anemia or poor oxygenation of her tissues. It's not a sign pathognomonic (specifically indicative) of any one particular disorder. Yes, bring her inside as shown here: and here's a terrific site concerning ectoparasites. Note the new treatment mentioned: