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  •  » Dealing with impaction- please add your experience

#1 2010-02-18 19:06:36

LynneP
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From: Nova Scotia
Registered: 2009-08-08
Posts: 3135
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Dealing with impaction- please add your experience

I've had 2 impactions in hens, both my fault for introducing a new material to the flock.  There's always *one* who will stuff herself, why is that?

Grit impaction

When the hens were ten months of age, when I had run out of starter grit, I replaced it with hen grit.  This turned out to be a huge mistake.  The bag I received had some stone-sized bits in it, and sometime during the first day Maggie must have consumed a considerable amount.  She was standing alone at suppertime, waiting for me 'to fix her'.  When I palpated the crop it seemed to be loaded at the base, and I was able to lift bits with my fingers, like manipulating a bad of sand.    I used olive oil to lube the mass and got it going within minutes.  By the next morning she was much better and I massaged every few hours during the day.  I found that by using a lifting motion, little bits worked their way down and the olive oil provided calories as she coped.  Otherwise she had no interest in food.  She's fine, possibly because she was caught early. I didn't even have to force her mouth open, though I could have by pressing gently sideways against the jaw hinge with thumb and forefinger.  No she let me drip the olive oil by dropper on the front of her beak and dank 5 mL at a time, gratefully.  Hubby punctured the base of a coffee can for me to strain the rest of the grit and I discarded the big bits. Why is there always one in the flock who experiments?  I also gave the entire flock water with apple cider vinegar, which is something I now do every day.

Fibre Impaction (timothy alfalfa)

Zipfi is a young hen hatched May 15, 2008.  Because I used alfalfa hay in the nests and because Zipfi decided to go broody and eat it, I ended up with a severely impacted hen.  Now, I no longer use hay for nesting, I use shavings, and I'm surprisingly pleased at how much cleaner the nests are. 



When Zipfi first presented with this problem she looked like she was pigeon-breasted and pigeon-toed.  She even had a tendril of alphalfa hanging from her mouth, and she was standing alone, slightly fluffed, wings and tail down and looking quite miserable.  I did not know at the time if she had been eating or drinking, but her weight felt all right, even though she had been broody for the previous few weeks.  If she had done this a few times a day I think I would have overlooked it, but when she remained uncomfortable for several hours and upon examining her I felt the crunch of alfalfa and the tips of her comb were blue and her feet were cold, I knew she had a problem.



I placed her in a dog crate in the coop for a few hours so I could observe her.  If I had thought Zipfi had anything contagious, though, I would have moved her to the feed room, which is my 'hospital coop' because it is draft-free, has electricity and water, and is inaccessible to the barn cats.



I made the assumption she was slightly dehydrated by the state of her comb and because the lass felt crunchy and because one wattle when pinched retained the shape of my finger and thumb.  I gave her electrolytes in water by dropper and she cooperated without my having to force her beak.  In fact once she realized how much better her crop felt, she took what I wanted and began to drink from the plastic waterer in the cage.



She fussed about being away from the others though, she is a very social creature.  I travelled back and forth to the barn every hour or so that day and then began to offer olive oil by dropper. She ilked that too, and let me drip it down her beak and would sip as it reached her mouth.  She would not however, take the tiny bits of bread I offered soaked in olive oil, but I was getting some calories in her and the other hens took ithe bread gladly.



By evening I felt ready to give her crop a massage- it was slung on her left and looked like she had swallowed a sock.  At the base of the mass the fibres were wound in a ball shape and these appeared to be keeping her from emptying her crop.  Though reluctant at first, Zipfi allowed me to stand her on a platform and massage.  She seemed to know this permitted the oil to get down into the mass, and perhaps into her digestive system.  I'd like to add here that if she had swallowed anything that could cut her insides, i would never attempt this on my own.  I was confident she had eaten a mass of alfalfa.

I also knew enough to add apple cider vinegar to her water and to make her pellets into a slurry with water and unsweetened applesauce.  The general principle is that alfalfa, like most plant matter, digest in an acid environment and that the acidic additions might break down the material more swiftly and prevent the mass from fermenting (turning sour).  She smelled sweet but I was aware that could change fast.  No droppings at this point.

By the next morning I had consulted some online poultry friends and one suggested I had not been pressing firmly enough on her crop- that it is possible, once the mass has softened, to use a finger/thumb to break the mass into one-inch pieces she should be able to pass down. I confess to being queasy about this, but since I had gotten Zipfi to a better state, I felt I should try.  Whew.  I wasn't sure if I might harm her, but she made it clear that I was doing something right- less bobbing.weaving, and a genuine kind of straining in which I could feel that I was unwinding the ball in her crop and breaking it down.  By that afternoon I had reduced the mass by 4/5 ths and Zipfi was returned to the flock.  I worked on her twice that evening and was gratified to see some 'haystack' droppings, tiny and molasses-like.  But no bad smell at her mouth, so I had prevented sour crop.  By the next morning she was bobbing and weaving only occasionally and I was reasonably sure she was doing some of it when she spotted me, because when I peeked at the flock from a hidden spot she hardly ever did it.  She had gone a bit light, I think that she lost body mass that had been replaced by the mass in her crop.  She began eating with the flock cautiously, selecting tiny bits of the smallest seeds and I continued for three days to offer olive oil by dropper and to gently massage her.  I would say that despite the swift progress it was ten days before she completly normal and during that time I offered the entire flock acidic foods like diced tomato and fresh grated apple.  I had learned not to use yogurt yet, because even though the sugar is fermented it can trigger fermentation in the natural sugars in the alfalfa itself or in any treats offered.


I'd like to add your thoughts on impaction because this seems to be one of the common problems, especially with younger hens. 
I don't have experience with sour crop...would love to hear your success stories.


Regard it as just as desirable to build a chicken house as to build a cathedral. ~Frank Lloyd Wright

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#2 2010-02-18 21:34:10

uno
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From: Enderby, BC
Registered: 2009-02-22
Posts: 5493
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Re: Dealing with impaction- please add your experience

I've only had one case of impacted crop and by the time we noticed it, it was almost too late for the hen, who was staggering around from weakness and starvation.

We decided to do surgery. Read up on it and proceeded. Dr. Husband fainted and nurse Uno had to carry on, no thanks to him! Chicken, surprisingly, lived but developed massive infection at surgical site. After a second intervention to clear out the stinking, rotting flesh and goop, I slathered the site with honey. Honey is now my number one go to remedy to prevent infection.

I pulled out a wad of balled up long, dry grass and masses of fir needles. That grass would never have broken up, it was late season grass, tough as nails. Yes, there is one bonehead in every crowd that will eat what she shouldn't be eating (visions of me with a box of Turtles flashes through my mind). That is the one and only case of impacted crop, it was a successful surgery, but I don't know if I would ever do it again. If I ever notice an impactred hen in advanced stages of starvation, I might just cull her.

You sure handled your situation with a thoughtful and prepared approach. Lucky hens and good for you!

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#3 2010-02-19 04:05:53

ChickieBooBoo
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From: Winnipeg MB
Registered: 2009-12-25
Posts: 7952

Re: Dealing with impaction- please add your experience

wow, I dont know if i would know to do all that! You guys are pretty smart with this kinda stuff!


You haven't seen a tree until you've seen it's shadow from the sky. --Amelia Earhart

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#4 2010-02-19 12:30:44

LynneP
I Love A.C.E.
From: Nova Scotia
Registered: 2009-08-08
Posts: 3135
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Re: Dealing with impaction- please add your experience

Not at all- this is my first flock.  I received excellent help on-line!

I'd like to expand this thread so folks can recognize the signs fast and get the bird help...


Regard it as just as desirable to build a chicken house as to build a cathedral. ~Frank Lloyd Wright

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#5 2010-02-19 14:35:48

Hillsvale
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From: Hillsvale, Nova Scotia
Registered: 2010-01-05
Posts: 477
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Re: Dealing with impaction- please add your experience

ya, I'll just call you over Linda... at least for the surgery part ... like Uno my Simon would be out on the florr! :oops:


http://hillcroftheritagefarm.webs.com/
Small time farmers of tamworth pigs, highland cattle, katahdin sheep, mixed breed sheep, boer goats, african grey geese, muscovy ducks, heritage layers, breeding turkeys - bourbon red, royal palm, eastern wild, slates, beltsville white.

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#6 2010-02-19 15:20:22

LynneP
I Love A.C.E.
From: Nova Scotia
Registered: 2009-08-08
Posts: 3135
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Re: Dealing with impaction- please add your experience

You'll have to fly uno in, or see Dr. Bishop in Kentville, Shelley- I don't have surgical skills.  But I do have box of latex gloves and a tube of prep H if one of your hennies ever has a protrusion...


Regard it as just as desirable to build a chicken house as to build a cathedral. ~Frank Lloyd Wright

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#7 2010-02-19 17:41:03

Hillsvale
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From: Hillsvale, Nova Scotia
Registered: 2010-01-05
Posts: 477
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Re: Dealing with impaction- please add your experience

ewww... lol

BTW my "baby" is indeed a baby... it must have been a day old White Rock not a Columbian.. he's belly looked great yesterday...


http://hillcroftheritagefarm.webs.com/
Small time farmers of tamworth pigs, highland cattle, katahdin sheep, mixed breed sheep, boer goats, african grey geese, muscovy ducks, heritage layers, breeding turkeys - bourbon red, royal palm, eastern wild, slates, beltsville white.

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#8 2010-02-19 18:09:41

Skeffling Lavender Farm
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From: Wiarton ON - Bruce Peninsula
Registered: 2009-04-12
Posts: 6568
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Re: Dealing with impaction- please add your experience

I'll post this here though it was not an impaction as such.  I have a flighty black penny roo a few weeks back making the most awful wail when he breathed both in and out.  He was obviously in distress as he let me catch him :confused: I didn't know whether it was the extreme cold that day  around -20, if it was some kind of asthma or more likely he had been greedy and got something caught in his throat.  I felt his crop, just soft and mushy.  I felt all over his throat and neck all the way down (nothing big or sharp felt) and got him to cough a few times, but no change in his breathing and nothing came out.

I decided to take a look and he sat there and let me pull his bottom beak down (a sure sign he was not himself) and he opened up.  I had a flashlight (held in my mouth) and was able to take a professional look in and see if there was anything visibly caught.  I wasn't expecting to see anything as I thought it would have been lower down by the noise he was making.  I tell you I could see everything, throat, top off the trachea to the front and the catch all esophagus at the back,all pink and clean.  So I put olive oil on my finger and gently poked all around in there, there was a surprising amount of room.  He coughed some more and I dropped a few more drops of olive oil in there.  His breathing sounded slightly better after a minute or too but still sounded terrible, more reedy like someone blowing across a blade of grass rather than congested.  I'd done all this in the 5 degree broody room and had to leave him in there as we had company for a couple of hours.  When I got back he was fine, so that night I out him back.  We figured if it came back and was asthma or something we'd cull.  I thought if it was because of the cold he would wheeze next day but not a peep since.  So I guess the oil must have worked!


www.skefflinglavenderfarm.weebly.com  2012 Breeding quite friendly Lavender & Wheaten Ameraucanas, Lavender Orpingtons, Euskal Oiloas (Basque hens), Partridge Chanteclers, Black Pendesencas & Sumatras

Easy Chickenry and Homesteading articles

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#9 2010-02-21 07:51:15

Loki
Growing Member
From: Ardrossan, Alberta
Registered: 2009-06-06
Posts: 73

Re: Dealing with impaction- please add your experience

I had a hen who sounded funny when she breathed (like wheezing) it was really cold out. She also kept her mouth open. I felt her throat but felt nothing then I noticed some bubbles coming out of her mouth. I held her upside down and massaged her throat. I then pulled out about a two inch mass of thick flem. After I did that she was fine. Do you think she had a cold? I have never seen that before. :confused:

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#10 2010-02-21 14:22:22

LynneP
I Love A.C.E.
From: Nova Scotia
Registered: 2009-08-08
Posts: 3135
Website

Re: Dealing with impaction- please add your experience

Well phlegm could also be caused by an irritation, Loki, sounds like you got it.  Olive oil is such good therapy for throat problems and is benign even if you find something else. Tomatoes are also theraputic for chickens especially if the problem involves grass or other fibre, because it acidifies the strands, then the oil can get the material down.

Funny that both of you should mention those in-between situations, had one myself two evenings ago.  Put the last pumpkin from harvest 2009 in the run with some slits in it.  One of the hens, not one who had ever gorged, stuffed herself and was so loaded she could not hop into the coop with the others.  I lifted her in, massaged  the crop and got a loud *uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrp*.  I've never heard a chicken burp before.  The crop was huge but she was fine in the morning.  I think a lot of things happen when birds get into goodies or sharp blades of grass, and sometimes we see it, but often, not.


Regard it as just as desirable to build a chicken house as to build a cathedral. ~Frank Lloyd Wright

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#11 2010-04-01 18:04:49

LynneP
I Love A.C.E.
From: Nova Scotia
Registered: 2009-08-08
Posts: 3135
Website

Re: Dealing with impaction- please add your experience

And sometimes they scare the heck out of you, but they're fine.  This girl came in last night *stuffed* but is fine today-

http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b132/LynneP/Flock/BigGirl.jpg


Regard it as just as desirable to build a chicken house as to build a cathedral. ~Frank Lloyd Wright

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