Trouble in (Chicken) Paradise

Once the sun finally came out yesterday (typical SoCal summer – bone-chilling cold until around 4 pm) , it was an almost idyllic day in the Chicken Kingdom.

Just who is guarding whom here?

The little ones, like every other animal that resides here, have honed a remarkable sense of entitlement for being just two months old. Like everyone else, they want their time in the sun.

Tulip, looking ever more like a crow...

Coco, working on her tan

So what (other than this sodden, soggy weather) could be wrong with our picture?

Autumn declined to come out of the coop Wednesday morning, which might be perfectly understandable given the drizzle and fog – if she weren’t a chicken. Autumn loves her morning walkabouts, so when she sat quietly on her roost with her eyes closed, I knew something was wrong. Again.

Back to the vet. Same old same old. Internal laying/egg yolk peritonitis. They drained the fluid from her abdomen and removed an internally -laid egg, gave her another shot of Lupron – I think this is fourth – and sent her home with antibiotics.

Dear, sweet Autumn

The sobering reality is that Autumn may be on borrowed time. If we weren’t throwing fiscal caution to the wind and watching her “like a hawk”, (that phrase has significantly more meaning now that the neighborhood hawk has his eye on the girls) sweet Autumn would no longer be with us.

Autumn and the CE enjoying a rare moment of sunshine

Reproductive system of a hen (image from poultrykeeper.com)

A helpful web site, http://littlehenrescue.co.uk/after.aspx, explains that, as shown in the diagram above,  the oviduct is not actually attached to a hen’s ovary. This can lead to problems. The oviduct can malfunction, or the eggs can be improperly formed and then travel back into the oviduct where they can break . The latter is probably what happened to Autumn when she began laying very strangely-formed eggs back in May:

This bizarre-shaped "egg" may have been the first sign something was wrong.

The symptoms, as concisely listed on the littlehenrescue site, are as follows:

Dirty around vent

Swollen under vent and/or between legs

Sometimes redness on swollen areas

Odd stance (penguin look)

Sometimes waddling or wobbly

Apologies to all you non-chicken-keepers for the turgid and gory details, but since there is not an overabundance of helpful information about the subject available to backyard flock owners, I’m hoping the details might help someone else .

Why, oh why, must chickens be so fragile?

At least Luna looks healthy!

Pippa out and about

Chick confab: on a mission to eat every fuchsia blossom!

Mommy Dearest: Hope now competes with the young'uns for treats

"I say ditch the chickens and get a flock of Cotons"

“Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains
unawakened.” – Anatole France

About polloplayer

Empty nester searching for meaning of life through the occasional chicken epiphany.
This entry was posted in All Things Poultry, Chicken Facts, Spoiled Pets and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Trouble in (Chicken) Paradise

  1. Katherine says:

    At least you led with a picture of the always beautiful Chloe. I worry about Autumn and it’s like walking on egg-shells asking for an update. You are lovely to take such good care of her.

    In weather news… last year Dan elaborated on “June gloom” and started also using the phrase “I wanna die July” so today he’s mulling over “Nonplussed August” or “August disgust.”

  2. Emily says:

    Hi there – just found your site when I did a search for Lupron in chickens. I have a girl – Casino – just found out she is probably internally laying/has egg peritonitis. Took her to the vet yesterday and he gave her Lupron and Baytril. She’s a wild bird – lives at the plant nursery I work for – but I brought her home yesterday to give her the medications. Not sure what to do with her over the weekend cause I hate to keep her cooped up but don’t want to risk her running off and not be able to give her the medications.

    I hope your Autumn rebounds and stays well for a long time. This is my first experience with anything – Casino is my first and only chicken.

    • polloplayer says:

      Hi Emily,
      Autumn did very well on her first round of antibiotics (also Baytril) and the Lupron and I agree it’s important for your chicken to finish her course of Baytril or the infection could kill her. Peritonitis can apparently be swift and deadly. I hope Casino recovers – she’s so lucky to have you looking out for her!

  3. Katherine says:

    Well, I just read an article that suggested that Pippa padded her bottom at the royal wedding. I checked this blog entry and I have to say that Pippa’s hind feathers are looking rather fluffy. Shall I alert the media that it’s just the way she’s built?

  4. Emily says:

    Hi all – thanks for your concern about Casino. I just took her back to her home this afternoon after keeping her at my place over the weekend. She was quite happy to get back outside and immediately got to scratching around, took an emergency dust bath, and I helped her hunt for some geckos. Her boyfriend was happy to see her. I think he was worried about her. He did that sidestepping thing a few times to her. Not sure what that means but it’s like he was showing her his manliness and telling her not to disappear like that again.

    It’s hard to give meds. I worry about getting it down her airway and it always seems like she spits alot of it out. He gave her dewormer also and the white chalky stuff got all over her beak.

    I hated leaving her but I also know she is much happier out there in her element than cooped up in my tiny cottage. My cat is happy she’s gone anyways. 🙂

    Hope Autumn continues to do well. Will be happy to see Casino again tomorrow morning. Just hope I can catch her twice a day to give her that medication.

    • polloplayer says:

      Keep us posted on Casino – would love to have a photo of her to post here since she’s now part of the Polloplayer “flock” 🙂

      • Katherine says:

        my sentiments eggs-actly: pictures and updates would be wonderful.

      • Emily says:

        Hi – Your concern about Casino is so nice. I’m still very worried about her. What are the signs the Lupron is working? The doc told me she should start acting more like herself – but to be honest, she acts almost completely normal already. I only knew something was wrong because she was pretending to lay eggs (no eggs)and I thought her butt looked a little poofy. Today when I gave her the Baytril I tried to feel her little butt and it still seems poofy to me. I’m just extra worried cause I’m going on a trip this saturday for over a week.

        I’m not sure how to share pics but I have tons on my facebook. I put the link in the website part down here.

      • polloplayer says:

        Casino is on the blog! I think the only signs of Lupron working are that the chicken seems healthy and isn’t trying to lay. Is Casino by any chance one of those post-Hurricane-Iniki birds that roam Kauai?

      • Emily says:

        Thanks. We’re on Oahu actually. I don’t know where she came from. She just showed up one day a little over two years ago. She was a young one then.

        Another wild hen – Big Momma – who is sort of part of Casino’s flock – laid some eggs in Casino’s box. Casino tried to sit on them too. But I know they are Big Momma’s eggs. I took them. But then this morning I went up there and Big Momma was in there and Casino was sitting on top of Big Momma! I’ve seen people put pics of that up on the BYC forum but never seen it before. Poor Casino. She wants to nest. But she came out after awhile and Big Momma stayed in there.

        So since she’s acting pretty normal I wonder how I’m gonna know if she’s better?

  5. Ang says:

    it’s pouring rain here!!!! wahhhhhhhhhhhh

  6. christina says:

    thank you for posting this info on lupron. I too have a girl with internal laying problems. When I asked my vet if there was an injection to stop her laying he said no! She got over it herself first time but now I know I can help her so I’m off to find a more chicken savvy vet.

    • polloplayer says:

      I hope you are able to find someone. The vet should also make sure to drain any fluid in your bird’s abdomen and administer antibiotics if there is an infection. Good luck!

  7. Emily says:

    I hope you find someone too! Lupron is expensive, but if you are able and willing I think it’s worth it.

    I have never had Casino’s abdomen drained though. My vet seems to do it only if her breathing is compromised, and that would mean she was pretty far gone (at least to me).

    I wonder if I should go ahead and get her drained? It’s much less expensive than Lupron (he said about 75 dollars) and might make her feel better.

    He said there is some danger of infection though. Did you get Autumn drained everytime you took her in?

  8. polloplayer says:

    Hi Emily – I got to where I could predict Autumn’s need for the Lupron shots before she was filled with fluid. Basically, I would take her in as soon as I saw her trying to sit on the nest, which indicated that the Lupron was wearing off and she was trying to lay again. The vet said it was actually easier on her body to give her the shots BEFORE the fluid built up.

    However, Autumn is no longer with us, so I don’t know if it was a good thing or a bad thing. I believe that the fluid is indicative of abdominal infection, so if Casino does have a lot of fluid, it would be good to have it drained. I have seen photos on the Internet of people doing the draining themselves – I would never try it, but if you’re brave and have a syringe, you could maybe save the $75.

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