This procedure should only be attempted if you are absolutely confident about your hen's condition and anatomy. If in any doubt then get a bird vet to show you first. Obviously everything needs to be sterile; otherwise you will be doing more harm than good.
Here are some basic guidelines to help you diagnose if there is fluid build up. Remember this is based on my
experience of keeping hybrid hens with fluid build-up and/or EYP over the years, and then doing their autopsies.
Usually, hens with a "penguin" stance (see next pic.) have an egg mass and no, or hardly any fluid. They will still have a good appetite and will be carrying on as normally as possible. It is best to leave them to it.
Sometimes a hen can have a massive egg mass in her oviduct - this will not always hang down and give her a "penguin" stance, in fact, sometimes it will be hardly noticeable from the outside.
Hens with a wide-legged stance (see next pic.) have usually got a build up of fluid. Their appetite will gradually decrease as the stance gets wider - this is a good indication that fluid is building up - the hen feels really bloated and this stops her eating. She will look interested in food but when she tries to bend forward to eat she changes her mind. These hens will probably benefit from draining.
If she is eating and coping then best leave her as she is.
Another good indication is the comb; red is normal, purple coloured means her system is under strain.
Strangely enough, fluid feels more solid, like a drum, whereas egg matter feels looser/wobblier. https://picasaweb.google.com/114501061619967420546/WideStance?authkey=Gv1sRgCJ6Utbqgtq6iTQ&feat=email#
You will need:
Sterile needles (at least 23 gauge or larger) OR use a catheter (such as Jelco 14g x 2.25"sng)
A good sized sterile syringe - minimum 35ml
Sterile swabs or cotton wool & surgical spirit for cleaning the hen's skin before & after.
Sterile disposable gloves
A tub for emptying the full syringes/draining the catheter into..
A willing helper - DO NOT try it on your own.
1. Ensure the hen is held firmly by your helper, and make sure you have everything to hand and your gloves on. Cleanliness is crucial!
2. Now clean the hens skin with the sterile swab see pic for approximately where, but it will depend upon where you can feel the pockets of fluid.https://picasaweb.google.com/114501061619967420546/DrainingPoint?authkey=Gv1sRgCNyZ4OzGy_yriAE&feat=email#
3. Insert the needle and gently try to draw off fluid. If you are in the right place fluid will come through fairly easily, otherwise you will get suction and you will need to try again with a fresh needle in a slightly different spot. If you can't get fluid out after two or three tries then you should not continue, since this usually means that she has just solid matter inside.
4. Gently draw off fluid. When the syringe is full you'll need to remove it and empty it, leaving the needle in the hen, then re-insert the syringe gently into the needle sleeve and repeat the process.
5. Do not be tempted to draw off every last drop of fluid - this could be too much of a shock to the system. Stop at around 200ml if it's the first time you've tried it.
6. Swab the hen's skin as you remove the needle.If you can get catheters then I recommend 14g.
Your vet may be able to supply these. The advantage with these is that you are removing the risk of the needle piercing anything inside if the hen moves suddenly, also you can move the tip around to find the best fluid pocket.
Here is 'Coco' being drained using a catheter:https://plus.google.com/photos/111820530542545951116/albums/6061968593048806225?authkey=CI-U35zr1dCkaw&banner=pwa&gpsrc=pwrd1#photos/111820530542545951116/albums/6061968593048806225?authkey=CI-U35zr1dCkaw
Don't worry if your hen continues to leak fluid - just keep monitoring her and keep her in a quiet place for a while, and pat her dry with clean paper towels.
She will probably want to eat straight away so let her have some nourishing food such as scrambled egg.
A NOTE ABOUT THE FLUID:
If the fluid is almost clear and yellow (pic 1. - a bit like human urine) then it is unlikely to be infected, but it is likely that your hen will have inflammation caused by cancer or organ failure, so you may only be buying her a little time. You may hear the term 'ascites' used. This is usually a build up of fluid caused by organ failure, typically liver.
Occasionally clear fluid can be as a result of an infection of (for example) the oviduct, or some trauma to the abdomen.
In any case - sadly clear fluid is not usually good news.
If the fluid is cloudy/yolky (pic. 2) then this is usually an indication of egg yolks in the abdomen, or EYP (egg yolk peritonitis).
If this fluid is tinged with black (and probably smelly), then it means there is infection present, and antibiotics could help her (vet visit required for these).https://picasaweb.google.com/114501061619967420546/Fluid02?authkey=Gv1sRgCM_oq-_Y5sfSKg&feat=email#
Either way if she responds really well then it is worth doing, even if you need to repeat the draining every few days. If she is still miserable and not eating, or refilling almost immediately, then you have done all you can and should have her put to sleep. Hens with a lot of fluid in the system can suffer quite a nasty death as they almost literally choke on their own fluid.
Remember this is NOT a miracle cure, but it may buy your hen some time. There is no point cheating death if the quality of life is absent.
Here is a short clip of the hen from the above "wide stance" pic, taken a few days after draining - note how close her legs are, and she is back to her old self for now at least.https://picasaweb.google.com/114501061619967420546/AfterDraining?authkey=Gv1sRgCM_d0bLA_cnoeQ&feat=email#
For more info see the following threads:http://www.thepoultrysite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=4340&highlight=swollen+chickenhttp://www.thepoultrysite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=12896http://www.thepoultrysite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=13021&highlight=abdominal+trauma
And a good read if you have rescue hens:http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00IGVVZH2?*Version*=1&*entries*=0