Sick Brown Shaver

Common poultry diseases and conditions, advice on what they are and how to treat them.
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Sick Brown Shaver

Postby jabirusk » Sun May 29, 2016 9:05 pm

I have 5 brown shavers of around 2 years old semi-free range and they were all bought from the same supplier at the same time. They have all been laying and feeding well, except of course during moult. Over the past 10 days, one has been looking a bit slow and not socialising with the others since they usually all wander around together. I noticed her comb looking a distingtively dull pink as opposed to the others of bright red and also seemed to shrink in size a bit. When I picked her up a few days ago her lower rear end seemed quite distended and swollen as opposed to all of the others. Her crop did not feel full but had some contents inside so was still feeding and drinking a bit. This morning I found her dead lying outside while the others were quite their active usual self. Curiuos, I decided to try and see what the trouble was and upon examining her inner body cavity, I found a few quite large almost black tumours, full of a brown sludgy substance. I identified all the other organs and they appeared normal. Having gutted a few table chickens in my life this one has me puzzled with the discovery of unidentifiable masses in between the internal organs.
Any advice or info will be most helpful.
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Re: Sick Brown Shaver

Postby Marina » Sun May 29, 2016 9:59 pm

Good on you for opening her up and having a look. Most people would have buried her.

I've never seen almost black tumors. Were they attached to any of the other tissue or an organ? Or were they just floating around?

One idea - some hens start to lay internally - not whole eggs, just the yolk and a bit of egg white around it, maybe held together by a membrane. The resulting condition is called egg peritonitis.

If your hen was doing this it is possible that the yolks got infected and turned black. The brown sludgy substance inside the tumors could have been old yolk. Blood turns black when old so maybe there were traces of blood around that egg mass when they remained in the body instead of going out the vent as an egg.

You also mention your hen's abdomen was distended - that's a common symptom of egg peritonitis as the egg masses increase the volume of the hen's abdomen.

If this was the reason for her death the good news is that it is not contagious. It is fairly common in older commercial hybrids.
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Re: Sick Brown Shaver

Postby jabirusk » Mon May 30, 2016 9:56 am

Thanks for your reply.
The masses were pretty much free floating so your explanation sounds the most probable. The one mass had clear jelly-like fluid and that was probably the most recent yolk. I guess there is no treatment if this is suspected with any of the others? As I mentioned, the other 4 look 100% and as sprightly as the day we got them over 2 years ago. I guess this is just the luck of the draw and nothing can be done to prevent this happening?
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Re: Sick Brown Shaver

Postby Marina » Mon May 30, 2016 5:24 pm

Unfortunately there is nothing you can do to prevent this. It's just one of the many ways chooks (and commercial hybrids in particular) go over the rainbow bridge.

Your others may live for another 10 years - nobody knows. If it happened to humans they'd probably surgically remove the ovaries and pick out all the material that is floating around, followed by an intensive course of antibiotics. In chooks, if the single ovary (they only have one) is removed, they'll never lay again and this kind-of defies the purpose :?
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Re: Sick Brown Shaver

Postby Foehn » Wed Jun 01, 2016 12:41 am

Another thing that is quite common in hens are tumours call Lymphoid Leukosis. I had a lovely SLW hen a few years ago that took on the typical stance (Penguin) of a bird that was egg bound, but the vet who examined her tested her for lymphoid leukosis and she had a large tumour in her abdomen. He gave her a shot of a bovine hormone, and that shrunk the tumour and she lived another 2 years. It is a virus that triggers it. Sad to finally lose her as she was a top layer, putting out just over 700 eggs in 3 years of laying.
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