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My chicken is lethargic and bloated

sharic24 Junior Member
edited August 2009 in Poultry Health and Welfare
I hope someone can help us and my poorly chicken.

She has been very letharigc the past 3weeks or so as well as "lazy" compared to the other 3 chickens. She eats and drinks but nothing like the others and like she used to. We haven't changed her diet either - layers mash and whatever veggies are going.
She had poo stuck to the feathers on her rear which i cleaned off last night which is new as we've never seen this before. She is very wobbly on her legs and doesn't fly out the coop in the morning as before :(
I felt around her under belly and near the vent for egg but couldn't feel anything. However I did notice she is extremely bloated in the vent and region under her and around the legs. Almost as though she is retaining water?
I thought eggbound but she does come out the coup and doesn't seem stressed - just lethargic. She is slow moving and "puffy". Her crown is very grey as well.
I've read up about various ailments and I seem to be leaning on the peronitis diagnosis but I am unsure as we've only had our chooks for 1.5 years without any major issue such as this.
Recently had redmite infestation however I've cleared most of them after numerous attempts. We have always treated the birds with vermacectin for deworming and mite reasons since we got them. I;ve checked her for eggs on base of feathers but she seems clear.

I would appreciate if anyone could offer any help in how to treat or diagnose. If pics would help I'd be glad to send.



  • sammi Senior Member
    edited August 2009
    has she been wormed?
    if so when? and what and was used?

    please describe the droppings in detail..color and consistency.
    does she seem hunched? head pulled in?
    is she drinking water? more or less then usual?
    when she eats is she really eating or just pecking?

    have you checked the crop?
    at roost time, the crop should feel full after they've eaten all day..and by the morning before they eat, it should feel empty or flat.
    if she's not eating, it shouldn't feel full.
    feel for any lump, doughy mass, or grainy feeling..or anything odd..
    check for sour odor.
    using a small flashlight, check the mouth and throat for any whitish or yellowish sores or plaque...or anything red in the throat.

    she might have an impacted crop..this is very serious and an emergency.
    do you have any poultry or pigeon vitamins? or you can use liquid baby vitamins with no iron...give 3 drops on beak once a day for 4 days, then taper off.
    here is a technique that might help..if not she will have to have surgery to remove the mass from the crop..otherwise, she will starve to death.

    here is info about crop problems:
  • crazychick Senior Member
    edited August 2009
    I strongly suspect that your hen has either egg yolk peritonitis (EYP) which is either sterile or septic OR she has cancer. Fluid filled abdomens are a result of inflammation or infection in the abdomen. The inflammation can be caused by something called salpingitis (inflammation and/or infection of the oviduct and reproductive system), tumors (anywhere in abdomen), inflammation of visceral organs (the liver often enlarges as a result of lymphoid leukosis) or foreign bodies like egg yolks falling into the abdomen. With egg yolk peritonitis, the ovary will ovulate a yolk that either misses the infundibulum (funnel that catches the yolk and moves it into the oviduct) OR the oviduct has reverse peristalsis and moves the yolk backwards and dumps the yolk out into the abdomen, rather than moving it along and forming a normal egg.

    Symptoms for any and all of the above problems are pretty similar. The abdomen fills with fluid and the hen feels like her belly is a water balloon. She usually becomes lethargic and loses some of her appetite (or becomes completely anorectic - not eating at all). She may have some difficulty breathing,as the excess fluid puts pressure on her airsacs and lungs. Her comb may or may not shrivel (depending on whether she was laying and it came on suddenly or if it was a slow process). If it is cancer that is causing it, you may or may not be able to feel an enlarged liver or tumors in the abdomen (an experienced vet may be able to feel things that you cannot). If it is egg yolk peritonitis and it's sterile, which it usually is, then the hen may survive for several years. If the fluid is due to inflammation or infection, then treating with antibiotics (ASAP) may save the hen before the infection becomes system-wide.

    If you (your vet) chooses to drain some fluid, I would suggest not draining all the fluid in one go as it tends to throw the hen into shock. However, if it is EYP, there won't be much fluid to take off anyway. In the case of infection/inflammation, the fluid may be clear or slightly cloudy and may have a slight odour. In the case of cancer, the fluid will be clear and slightly yellowish, with no odor (and copious amounts - up to 500 ml). In the case of EYP, the fluid will be cloudy, possibly with pieces of yolk in it. You likely won't get more than 60 ml.

    I've lost many hens to cancer (many of which had fluid filled abdomens) which is why I default to this disease when the symptoms match. However, I always suggest having a vet look at your bird to see if they can figure out what's going on with them...

  • sharic24 Junior Member
    edited August 2009
    Sammi and crazychick

    Thanks both for the replies :)

    We use vermacectin to deworm on a regular basis - between every 3 - 6 months. Checked the crop and she doesn't seem to be eating much at all however no other signs as you described - all looks normal to me. She is hunched and feathers are "puffed" out around her.

    I checked her again tonight and on her underside - next to her left leg their is a lump. Its strange though as it seems to move! If I keep my fingers on it for long enough it moves along an inch long line and then back again. Not sure what this could mean. Any ideas?

  • sammi Senior Member
    edited August 2009
    ok...I wasn't sure what you meant about "puffy", just in case I gave info for impacted crop which makes the breast look puffy..

    since you have felt a strange lump..I'd defer to Laura..
    the conditions she suggested do cause fluid build up and puffiness..
    she may see your new post, and be able to help you further..
    however.. if possible..take her to a vet.

    fingers crossed for your hen.

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