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    • CommentAuthorjane rowlinson
    • CommentTimeMay 27th, 2014 7:51am (May 27th 2014) edited
    After a long break when we have been blessed with a healthy little flock we have a crisis. Two weeks ago we noticed that Flora our large black Cochin had started to limp. I took her to the vet who examined her and could not find a problem with her leg or foot and so put her on a course of Baytril which has had no discernable effect at all.
    She can stand on both feet, her foot will grip my finger but when I carry her onto the grass to follow the other girls she limps over to a sunny spot and sits down. It is a strange gait almost like a goose step - she extends the bad leg straight out in front of her then gingerly places it down and sinks a little. She is eating and drinking well when I give her food and water, but not laying. Whilst I am happy to wait on her every need as long as she looks well I have to go away periodically and am less confident that my animal aunt will take the same care so need to get her sorted out. I would so appreciate any suggestions.:face-sad:
      CommentAuthorchief chicken
    • CommentTimeMay 27th, 2014 3:59pm (May 27th 2014)
    Red might be able to help, Jane. Have you noticed any change in the look of the foot? There is something called Bumblefoot (honest!) but I don't know anything else. You can put 'bumblefoot' in the search box at the top of the page. But it's probably something quite minor. Have you a specialist/farm vet near you?
    • CommentTimeMay 27th, 2014 9:07pm (May 27th 2014) edited

    Keeper of the hens

    I'm so sorry to hear that one of your girls is limping!

    That's great that you have already taken her to a vet, although I'm sorry they were unable to help...

    If there are no visible signs of injury (as CC mentioned, have a quick check for bumblefoot!) I'd keep as close an eye on her as you're able to, and see if it sorts itself out. I have heard that when hens are laying their bones change and become less dense, so it can be easier for them to knock / sprain something. Was she laying before the limping began? You could also try increasing the amount of calcium your girls are getting; you can start adding some to their feed if you don't already.

    However if your vet has ruled out any broken bones and there are no visible injuries, I'd be keeping an eye on her in the upcoming week or two, and taking her back to the vet / a new vet if it hasn't cleared up.

    Here's a thread NN started about bumblefoot, might be worth reading:

    CC had a great idea though that, if you are still worried, you could phone around your local vets / farm vets, and ask for one that is more experienced with chickens.
    Good luck, and I hope your girl improves soon :)
    • CommentAuthorjane rowlinson
    • CommentTimeMay 28th, 2014 7:34am (May 28th 2014)
    Thank you both. Her feet are in good order - I check them every day hoping to find a thorn or something which will explain her condition.
    I find where I live that the vets seem to smile at me indulgently as the batty woman with her hen on the fortunately very infrequent occasions I need to take one of the girls in. Seems most people don't. Unfortunately on a small island there are a limited number of vets.
      CommentAuthorchief chicken
    • CommentTimeMay 28th, 2014 4:44pm (May 28th 2014)
    I know, the attitude is as though you've brought a garden snail in with a crumpled horn, isn't it? But my attitude is, it's an animal, you're a vet and my money is as good as anyone else's! Comparing a hen to a horse, they get a far better return on their money...:face-smile:
    • CommentTimeMay 29th, 2014 12:30pm (May 29th 2014) edited

    Keeper of the hens

    Argh, what a nightmare! I HATE when vets don't take you seriously because of the animal you have brought in - as CC said, a chicken is an animal and a much loved pet, take it seriously vets!!!

    I really hope your Flora recovers soon, sending lots of positive thoughts your way! :heart:
    • CommentAuthorjane rowlinson
    • CommentTimeJun 4th, 2014 6:22am (Jun 4th 2014)
    Just a quick update after a reluctant weekend away.
    Although I knew my friend would try and follow my instructions to make sure Flore ate and drank sufficiently I still worried and was glad to get home and find everything fine.
    Yesterday I left the gate to their area open and was pleased to find Flora had moved quite a distance and was installed in a flower bed with one of her friends. At dusk she had hopped back and was in her nesting box.
    Before I risk an indulgent smile from the person in a white coat,
    does anyone know if it is possible/feasible to x ray a hen? Although she was more like her old self yesterday, she is still limping and when sitting lists slightly to the side when sitting. I would hate to think she is as a prey animal silently in pain with something wrong inside.
      CommentAuthorchief chicken
    • CommentTimeJun 4th, 2014 5:27pm (Jun 4th 2014)
    Don't know how you'd stop her moving enough to x-ray it. Glad she's healthy though. Is she grooming herself? I think if they stop grooming it's a sign of discomfort.
    • CommentAuthorjane rowlinson
    • CommentTimeJun 5th, 2014 7:41am (Jun 5th 2014)
    That is what I thought but would rather have you confirm than increase my reputation as a batty hen lady at the vets :face-smile: She is still grooming and has a nice bright comb and eyes. Yesterday she took herself out of the inner pen and spent the day in a dust bath and took herself in to bed again. I'll see how it goes.
    • CommentTimeJun 5th, 2014 9:56pm (Jun 5th 2014)
    Don't all birds have hollow bones? I'm thinking that maybe there wouldn't be enough contrast to show a fracture? If it was broken it'd likely be at an odd angle by now. More likely to be a strain/sprain type injury maybe?

    She's getting herself around, isn't being picked on by the others, eating, drinking, appears healthy (apart from the limp), keeping herself groomed so it all sounds very positive. I think if she was in pain or suffering she'd be showing signs of that by now. Has she still got the odd gait or is it a simpler limp now?

    By the way, I've never owned a hen, I'm just going on logic and comparison to cats! If you feel an x-ray would reassure you give the vet a call and ask if it's possible. So he might think you're crazy - who cares! Aren't we all a little bit mad anyway?!

    I hope she begins to heal soon.
      CommentAuthorchief chicken
    • CommentTimeJun 6th, 2014 5:36pm (Jun 6th 2014)
    Or ask the question but give the name of someone you don't like...:)
    • CommentTimeJun 11th, 2014 4:45pm (Jun 11th 2014)

    Keeper of the hens

    It's surely a great sign that she seems otherwise healthy, is still eating and drinking, looks well etc.

    I *think* you can X-ray hens. If I remember correctly I think they use an X-ray when trying to find out if a hen is eggbound...I could be completely wrong though!!

    Hmm, I can't find anything useful about x-raying a chicken on google...
    • CommentAuthorjane rowlinson
    • CommentTimeJun 25th, 2014 2:50pm (Jun 25th 2014)
    Hello again, I wonder if I could run an update on Flora? She is still with us, eating, dust bathing, glossy and alert but reluctant to walk far. The others are fine with her. I have noticed over the last few days that her crop is very full and heavy - feels like it is full of wallpaper paste not grain/pellets to see her through the night. It is the same size in the morning as when she goes to roost. I have searched on line and the description for sour crop is absolutely spot on. There is all sorts of advice on how to make you hen be sick but also lots of warnings. Have any of you ever had to deal with this? Would an enlarged crop cause a funny gait? She seems no better or worse than she was a month ago :face-plain:
    • CommentTimeJun 25th, 2014 11:02pm (Jun 25th 2014)
    Thanks for the update - we always like to know how things are going! I know nothing of sour crop etc but am sure Red will have some advice. Glad she's still doing OK.
    • CommentTimeJun 26th, 2014 1:50pm (Jun 26th 2014) edited

    Keeper of the hens

    I'm glad Flora hasn't gotten any worse and she still appears healthy, other than the limping.

    We've had to deal with sour crop before, here's what we have done:

    Crop Impaction

    As it sounds, an impacted crop is one that is blocked and therefore the chicken is unable to empty or digest the food in the crop. Much more common in free-range chickens that have access to long tough grass, which becomes knotted in the crop.


    A hard, squishy or ‘doughy’ crop first thing in the morning (a healthy chicken’s crop should always be empty as they haven’t eaten all night)
    Odd smelling breath, usually sour
    Depressed behaviour, not eating, drinking or moving much

    Things to try

    One of the most helpful things you can do in this situation is massage the crop as often as possible; a minimum of twice a day (once in the morning and once at night) is a good starter. Chickens usually find this a pleasant experience, and it can help to unknot or budge whatever is stuck in there.

    Add Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) to their water – one tablespoon per gallon, about. Not only is this great for chickens in general, but it can also help dissolve any blockages in the crop.

    Also withhold all treats given, and add water and vegetable oil to the Layers Pellets to turn them into mash. In severe cases it may be worth restricting food for 24 hours and just offering plain yoghurt and water.

    If there’s no improvement within a day or so, or if the chicken stops eating or drinking, a trip to the vets is in order. In extreme cases surgery can be performed that will rid the chicken of its impacted crop, although this should be a last resort.

    Sour Crop

    Coincides with the above condition, food in the crop begins to rot and turn sour. Symptoms and treatments are as above, but your vet may also flush your bird (using water and turning it upside down) and may be able to show you how to do it too. Only do it yourself after a vet has shown you, as it’s easy to accidentally flood the bird’s lungs which can result in death.

    I know you don't have the most helpful vets where you live so hopefully you will be able to treat it on your own and not need to take her to the vets again...

    Hopefully someone else will have some more ideas too! :smile:
    • CommentAuthorjane rowlinson
    • CommentTimeJun 26th, 2014 9:54pm (Jun 26th 2014)
    Your description of a compacted crop is spot on. Her breath though is sweet.

    Because there are no foxes here the girls have the free run of my garden most of the time which includes access to some long grass in the wild edges kept for butterflies and bees - and I am ashamed to admit they also have hay for their nests which I have just learned is another no no as they may ingest this and compaction can result :face-crying:

    I have massaged her twice since receiving your very helpful response Red, and tomorrow will start the pellets and oil too.

    Thank you all for your ongoing help and interest.
    • CommentTimeJun 27th, 2014 2:39pm (Jun 27th 2014)

    Keeper of the hens

    No problem, I really hope your girl is feeling better soon and her crop returns to normal :)
      CommentAuthorchief chicken
    • CommentTimeJun 27th, 2014 7:41pm (Jun 27th 2014)
    Mine have hay too; changed to straw once and they refused to go in to bed!
    • CommentAuthorjane rowlinson
    • CommentTimeJun 27th, 2014 11:49pm (Jun 27th 2014)
    Very sad little flock this evening. Decided to take Flora back to the vet and was told she had an intestinal blockage and the kindest thing was to let her go

    She had a lovely last day spent in two flower bed dust baths sunning herself. I have been called away from home again as of tomorrow and really wanted peace of mind before I went and left her to the amiable but not experienced care of a friend - hence appointment with vet.

    I had done a routine clean of the henhouse this morning and once I was home and she was buried next to her sister I made up the nesting box with straw. An hour later I find the remaining 3 Cochins aka "the ghosties" due to their luminous white feathers, all crammed together in this box. Normally they sleep on the other side of the house whilst Fanny and Flora had the box. She was a lovely natured girl and we will miss her. :face-crying:
    • CommentAuthorLynnW
    • CommentTimeJun 28th, 2014 3:46pm (Jun 28th 2014)
    I'm so sorry to hear this sad news of Flora's passing, Jane. :face-crying: Some times no matter how hard we try, they just don't get better. I think you did the right thing for her.
    • CommentTimeJun 28th, 2014 8:49pm (Jun 28th 2014)

    Keeper of the hens

    Oh I'm really sorry to hear that :( She had such a lovely life though and was so, SO lucky to have such a wonderfully caring owner :bighug:
      CommentAuthorchief chicken
    • CommentTimeJun 29th, 2014 4:00pm (Jun 29th 2014)
    So sorry, Jane; but at least she didn't suffer. :heart:
    • CommentTimeJul 5th, 2014 9:43pm (Jul 5th 2014)
    I echo everyone else's sentiment - it's so sad to hear you had to let her go but you did your best and gave her a great life. Sleep soundly Flora. :heart: