Vent gleet vs just mucky feathers, and dying birds

Common poultry diseases and conditions, advice on what they are and how to treat them.
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Vent gleet vs just mucky feathers, and dying birds

Postby eae » Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:57 pm

How to tell the difference?

This past winter I had about 6 birds with chronically mucky bum feathers, I put it down to the enormous amount of rain we were having, and because they spent so much time wet, their feathers weren't parting properly when they pooped, and the problem spiralled from there. I've had birds in the past that seemed to just be partial to mucky bums and didn't seem to suffer any ill effects.

I trimmed the feathers and cleaned off the dried poop. There wasn't any blood and the vents didn't look unusually red or irritated, there was no yellow or green discharge. When reading about vent gleet I see references to awful smell - well, that's quite hard to tell isn't it, because any caked poop is going to smell pretty bad. About 3 birds still have residual dirty feathers.

I ask about this now because I've just had my third bird in 5 weeks die. First one was a 18 month old white orpington, no sign of anything wrong, found her dead under a bush. Second was a nearly 4yo GLW, who looked unwell in the days before her death, had a hard abdomen and yellow discharge from her vent, I suspected egg peritonitis or something similar. Today I found a 13mo faverolles also dead under a tree. She was charging around stealing food off others only 2 days ago. On looking at her just now she had quite a lot of yellow around her vent too.

Laying during spring was full on, with 14 or so eggs per day from 19 hens, with usually 1 broody at any time. I dismissed any thought of unwellness because everyone was laying so well that I figured they must be in fine health. In the last 2 weeks it has dropped back to 7-9 per day, but I've had rotating broody birds, one sitting on eggs and 2 die.

I'm wondering if this is all connected, with a bacterial or fungal infection causing scarring, leading to egg laying problems? Or am I completely off track here. If I'm not off track, how on earth do I treat this? They have free access to peck n lay pellets, free range all day with lots of places to dust bathe, and have several water sources. The house was completely cleaned with fresh litter about 3 months ago and I did a preventative dusting with DE and Pestene about a month ago.

Any ideas or am I just having a run of bad luck?
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Re: Vent gleet vs just mucky feathers, and dying birds

Postby Marina » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:04 pm

That sounds like an awful string of bad luck. Not good.

If you have vent gleet you know it. The smell is putrid and very different from normal chook poop smell. Like rotting meat I've been told. I've never smelled it myself and I'm not keen on ever making the experience.

As to yellow around vent: was the skin yellow? Or was there yellow residual poop?

Yellow instead of white with chook poo could indicate liver problems - or it may be normal. If your Faverolles was fine 2 days before she died there was something happening. Poisoning or spider bite springs to mind. I've had a number of deaths from hens who went into the nesting box to lay in there and who just died. All of them had their head and neck curled up which I found unusual. I think it was a white tailed spider as I saw a big one in the coop. Both hubby and our daughter have been bitten by white tailed spiders and in both of them it got infected and they ended up with huge swellings and having to take a course of antibiotics.

If it is indeed poisoning, kowhai seeds spring to mind. I've lost a hen to eating green potatoes (she pecked at those potatoes that were getting light) and she was yellow everywhere - her face was yellow instead of red and her poos were very yellow where they should have been white. But it took weeks for her to die.

I hope the string of bad luck for your chooks has come to an end. If not it might be a good idea to check under your house (if you have one with a wooden floor). White tailed spiders love it in that space and a good dose of spray should deal to the problem.
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Re: Vent gleet vs just mucky feathers, and dying birds

Postby eae » Fri Dec 08, 2017 4:17 pm

Hi Marina,

When I mentioned yellow I meant yellowy discharge from the vent, not yellow skin. We do have kowhai trees on our property around where the chickens hang out. I'll go out and see if any are dropping seeds. My husband was going to spider spray our house and outbuildings this weekend, so I'll get him to do the chicken house as well.

I'm glad to hear it is unlikely to be vent gleet, it sounded like a revolting thing, and a pain in the neck to try an treat, especially multiple birds. I too hope this is the end of it, that Faverolles was only one of two I ended up with out of a dozen eggs last year, and she was one of my favourites, thankfully not the one with the muffs and beards, but still, she was a beautiful bird with a great personality.

Thanks for your thoughts.
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Re: Vent gleet vs just mucky feathers, and dying birds

Postby Marina » Fri Dec 08, 2017 8:44 pm

You won't find seeds in chook poo- it gets all ground up in their gizzards. It's not generally palatable but some individuals may like to eat them. We have kowhai here, too, without problems, but the odd chook may take a liking to the seeds. We currently have a lamb who eats the old shrivelled up brown leaves from our pear tree while leaving the fat clover (where the old leaves are hidden between) alone. Go figure.
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