Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Egg Peritonitis - a trip to the vets


No matter how hard we try to take care of our birds there are times when they require more than we can do for them and a trip to the Vets is called for.
I know that many of you are not fortunate to have a specialist poultry vet in your area and may have found a trip to your vets to be a disappointing and expensive experience. I am lucky in that my practice employs a specialist poultry vet who is brilliant.
Despite the fact that I consider myself to be an experienced and knowledgeable keeper who keeps a supply of lotions, potions and medications on hand to treat my birds. I occasionally need the support of my vet.
Eggs with thin, papery or leathery shells can
sometimes be one of the early symptoms
of egg peritonitis.
This week was one of those occasions when one of my newly acquired large Croads displayed the tell tale signs of a sick bird. Chickens are very effective at hiding the symptoms of ill health which means that in order to catch a deteriorating condition early enough you need to take time to observe your flock on a daily basis.
The first signs that my hen displayed were standing in the coop with closed eyes. So I brought her inside and gave her a dose of antibiotic. The antibiotic that I keep is a powerful one and if she was suffering from a bacterial infection I would have expected to see an improvement within around 4 hours. Her condition only worsened overnight so after a call to the emergency poultry vet to see if there was any more that I could do for her, I took her to the surgery first thing the next day.
I left her with the vet for treatment and observation but despite the best efforts of Sara, the specialist poultry vet, she passed away. The post mortem revealed that she had suffered from Peritonitis as a result of an egg which had passed into her abdomen instead of her womb. This condition would have begun a few weeks earlier so there was nothing that we could have done to save her at this late stage due to the amount of damage that the infection had done to her intestines.
Losing a hen is always sad, but understanding why it happened, if it could be prevented, or how to care for the rest of your flock, makes it easier to bare. For this reason, having an interested, informed and experienced vet who can offer practical and affordable solutions to help you ensure your birds’ health and welfare is essential to both hobby keepers and commercial farmers alike.
A list of poultry vets in the UK can be found below and also on my links page. Many will give free advice and guidance over the telephone. So if you’re in doubt, phone up and find out!
Wishing you all happy and healthy hens! 

4 comments:

  1. I'm really sorry to read about your hen Sue. I have kept chickens for many years and have found that losing one never gets any easier. I always comfort myself that I have given them the best life they could have but often, even that is scant consolation.

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  2. It's a dreadful, painful thing for a hen, is egg peritonitis, and letting your girl go to sleep was certainly a huge act of kindness. I sympathise.

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  3. That's an extremely useful list - thanks.

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  4. Hi Alison, Gordon and Charlie. Thanks for comments. I know that my vet and I did the best that we could for her and feel relieved that her ill health was not the result of anything that would harm the rest of the flock. The aim of my blog is to encourage,inform, amuse and inspire so I hope that others found my post informative and that it encouraged them to contact their vet if their birds are ill. As a result of chatting with my vet I have decided to do a regular feature on health issues and available medication with her help. I do hope that you all find it useful.

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