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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My hens (17) will be a year old next month. I have one hen (my favorite) that has begun to act listless, stands off from the rest of the flock, shakes her head back and forth in rapid motions and also keeps it tucked down in. Her feathers appear to be fluffed up constantly. I know this is like performing brain surgery over the phone or something, but would anyone have any idea as to what may be wrong with her? She used to be so active and was one of the first to come to me when I went into their coop. I also do not think she is getting up into the nesting boxes or on a perch, either. Any help would be most appreciated.:confused:
 

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A Round American Woman
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I would check her for mites. They look like tiny moving specks. If she has mites and you handle her they will immediately start crawling onto your hand.
 

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Sounds like mites or lice. I would check her carefully to see if you can see any. If so she'll need to be dusted as well as the coop and the rest of the flock.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
my poor hen

We also noticed that several of our hens have lost large amounts of their feathers. I completely cleaned there coop and dusted the ones that had feather loss. I also sprayed with a solution recommended to me by our farm supply store for mites. I created a portable sand box for them to take their dust baths in and put some diatomaceous in it as well. I will check in the morning for the mites. I hope that is all that it is since she is our favorite hen and the most gentle. thanks for your input.:)
 

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Flocker
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Mites don't live on the hens, they feed on the hens, but live in the nooks and crannys in the coops, like in cracks in wood. You really have to dust well to get rid of them from the coop. You have to make the hens not taste good, and the frontline is the best way. Or Sevin dust.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Frontline? Which Frontline product do I use? I sprayed the coop well with Permethrin, including the ceiling and their nesting boxes. Will a good does of diatomoceous work on this hen, do you think?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I also forgot to ask - if I dust her heavily with the diatomoceous, how long will it take for the mites to die off? Will we see any quick changes in her behavior? Hopefully, I will get this under control soon cause I can see how miserable she is and it is making me feel horrible.
 

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Flocker
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Ok, put a drop or two of the frontline on each of their heads once a month or so, and in a few days, it will have killed the mites off them. The DE might help, and also need to say that IF you use the frontline, you are using it off-label, not as it is recommended for dogs or cats. But, talking to others, the frontline works where the DE doesnt work as well. You can google it and see for yourself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I put the first application of Front Line on the hens and I am hoping this will help. The one hen that I have been posting about is at least drinking water which I put some antibiotics in. The poor thing - after I put the Front Line on her, I set her down in the portable dust bath I made for them and she literally tipped over onto her face when she climbed out of it. I felt so bad for her. She doesn't even make cooing noises when we pick her up.
But, I feel as though I have done everything for her that I could possibly do.
 

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Poor girl! I truely Hope she gets well! Have you noticed any improvement since you put on the bug killer? Is she eating? Is she loosing her Balance? I sure wish I was able to help but I don't know what to do? Sounds like you have done everything already! Keep us posted on how she is doing ok. I pray she gets well really soon!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Well, here is the rest of my sad tale about our hen. Today I took her to the vet. I felt so sorry for her cause she just was not coming around and we had done about everything we could think of. Anyway, I get her to the vet. They take her into a room where I was not allowed to go to. Then they tell me that they had to put her on oxygen because she was barely breathing. Finally the vet is ready to talk to me. She tells me she noticed a large hard mass in her lower area (this tells me she was egg bound), but only an x-ray could determine if she were egg bound or if it were a tumor. I tell the vet I am fairly certain it is egg bound because this came up very suddenly and I really did not think she had a tumor. Vet was going to take two x-rays that would cost about $160 - on top of the $85 "exam". I told the vet no way - I am not paying that much. The vet says that if she had been egg bound as long as I think - about 1 1/2 weeks, that it is possible that the egg has adhered to her now and will not come out. So, I ask how much for the vet to remove the egg. The vet says...wait for it...ready?....$500!!! I almost fell over. Oh, and did I mention that the vet could not even assure me that the hen would live through this...Hmmmm....My friend was with me and she asked what my hen's temperature was when they did the "exam". Vet says, "I did not take her temp cause it could kill her". I say, "well, if you did not even take her temp, just what did this "exam" consist of?" Vet says, well, I checked her eyes, nose and mouth and felt her for lumps. She said she noticed the hen was very dehydrated. Now, just to give you a clue as to how little these people cared - they didn't even try to give her any water with an eye dropper or anything. So now I ask what it would cost to euthanize the hen to put her out of her misery as soon as possible. $65.00!!! for a 3 or 4 lb hen!!!! I look at this vet and say, "how do you look at yourself in the mirror every day?" Then I say, please get my hen, I will deal with her. Gone are the days where vets care about the animals.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks for your concern for my hen. She was our favorite and I was so upset for her cause she was so sick. I felt upset with myself that I did not know what to do for her. After she died, my friend and her dad performed an autopsy on her to see if they could tell what the "large mass" was. She said it appeared as though the hen had a backup of feces. It made me feel worse because I probably could have prevented her death if I had only known what to do, but I am really upset with the vet. I suspect the vet knew this hen would not live through the night because she was too far gone, yet she walked into the room with a list of charges to charge me, if I would give the ok. In the end, I could have been staring at a $700 bill for a hen that was beyond saving. Gone are the days where some vets actually care about something other than the money they get for their services. I would have had more respect for this vet had she told me that she doubted she could save the hen and that it would be very expensive to make the effort. Do I care about my animals - sure I do. But, there is a fine line between someone who cares for their pet or someone who cares for their pet so much that a vet will gouge them for money based on the fact that as humans, most of us will do what we can to save a pet that we love. Just my opinion...:(
 

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Oh I am sooo very very sorry for your loss! I know words can not make it better but I want you to know how truely sorry I am! I'm so angry about the Vet! It's a damn shame the way they are these days!! It's so sad when they only care about the money and not the animal! That Vet should have realized she was plugged up and not egg bound! If the Vet took some time and did a real exam on her maybe she would have realized what the problem was! This makes me so angry! I'd make a complaint against the Vet to the Vet board! Let them know your animal died and she didn't do a decent exam even on her! The Vet board will do something about it! I know if they get enough complaints they can really get into trouble. You should bring this to there attention. Let them know the Vet didn't even take her temp! Again, I'm so sorry this happened to you! What a tragic story!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I told my friend that this vet had no idea of how much restraint it took on my part not to tell her exactly what I thought about her as a vet. I should have known up front that this was a gyp joint when they charged me $10 more than my own physician would have charged for an exam! Yes, they should be reported, but, I am sure they will just come up with a good story that would make me look like I did not know what I was talking about. The worst crime here is that I suspect the vet knew the hen could not be saved, yet was trying to drum up fees in the range of $700 or more. How terrible and how sad. Unfortunately, there was no one else to take her to that knew about chickens. Can you believe that? I must have called six different vets to try and get someone to look at her and all told me that they did not specialize in chickens and some even referred to a chicken as an "exotic pet". We live in a rural area where many people have chickens and I could not help but wonder what they do when their hens get sick. My niece worked in a vet's office in Texas for a few years and I am going to ask her if it would be worth it to turn these people in or if the board would even investigate them.
 

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I am very sorry for your loss--I've had a few like that too, where nothing seemed to help and you feel awful! But...

Before we get a little too hard on the vet, let me give you the flip side of the coin (as a vet tech).

VERY few vets know much about chickens. Or any bird, really, unless they have specialized in exotic species. Yep--if it's not a cat, dog, horse or cow, it's generally considered 'exotic' (trust me--I raise rabbits!). Now...here comes your new client, very worried about their chicken. You do an exam--but because she may be eggbound, you can't take her temperature safely. Trying to get a chicken to keep a thermometer under her tongue just doesn't work very well. The chicken is in very bad shape--the client has been trying various remedies rather than coming to you early on, and there's not much you can do that isn't 'major' when it comes to cost.

It's usually the way with vets, and it's not a bad way, to present the most comprehensive and most likely to help treatment plan first. In our practice, it was called the 'cadillac treatment'--the best of everything, save-at-all-costs (if possible) version. If the owner balked or couldn't afford it, you started dropping things off the estimate...for example, instead of IV fluids, you went with subcutaneous. Or orally administered electrolytes. Not as effective as IV, but more affordable and still a help to the animal...you hope!

Bear in mind that to the vet, this is something that was obviously a health issue to start with, and you spent precious time messing around with internet advice that (to the vet) was obviously not going to help. Had you come in sooner, it may have made a significant difference in the outcome--the vet isn't a miracle worker, and no, vet care isn't cheap. They too have bills to pay.

So here we are. An unsatisfied client, a deceased animal, but what has been learned?

The client (you) needs to know a bit more about chicken health care--the vets are more expensive than you're willing to put into any single chicken, so you'd best learn as much as you can so that when you really DO need a vet's help, you know it as soon as possible, which makes for the best use of your available funds.

The vet learned that not all owners of 'exotic' pets can/will afford the best treatments or even reasonable diagnostics (the xray). Encouraging the client to learn the signs/symptoms of major problems would help prevent both of you from wasting time.

What I tell rabbit people is this:
Learn how to give an effective exam to your animals, and do so regularly.
Spend the time to observe your critters often, and be very aware of slight changes which may indicate a potential problem.
It's better to act quickly than to wait, so if you don't know what the problem is *for sure*, get that vet advice so you know what you have sooner rather than later--and you'll know for next time, too.

Know what 'normal' is. Ask your local ag extension office for references to poultry people and/or your state veterinary office. Given the push to educate poultry owners on flock health, SOMEONE will be available to you with a reasonable amount of effort.

In chickens, which I'm a relative novice at, here's what *I* do when a bird looks 'off' to me:
First, spend a little time watching them. What exactly are they doing that is catching my eye? What's normal for my flock?
Catch the bird and do a full check-over. Watch the poop--if s/he poops while I'm right there, I collect it for a possible fecal exam for parasites. Check eyes, nose, beak, ears, feel the crop, feel the breathing and listen to breath sounds and heart (yep, stethoscopes are cheap--use one!). Check the vent, under the wings, and around the tail for mites, injuries, caked poop, etc.
Check hydration by skin turgor--pinch up the skin and see if it 'snaps' back easily and quickly. If not, your chicken is probably somewhat dehydrated. The longer it takes for that skin to return to normal, the more dehydrated the bird. (Another place where knowing what normal is, is important!)

Know what the chicken is and isn't doing. Eating, drinking, pooping, behaving, laying. Write it down as you note it. A flock journal can teach you a lot.

Sorry this got so long....
 
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