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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 30288
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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We had 5 laying hens a mixture of varieties which had been

Customer Question

We had 5 laying hens a mixture of varieties which had been laying very well. A few weeks ago we bought from the local market 2 bantams and one more light sussex hen.They seem to have intigrated pretty well but laying pretty much ceased when the 3 new birds were introduced and one of the original hens does not look well, she has lost a lot of feathers her comb looks a bluey colour and generally looks sick. She does follow the others and seems to eat but poorly. We are beginning to have one or two eggs again and apart from one other hen who is molting the rest look pretty good. I should add that about the same time as all this happened we had a rat or rats working under the chicken house. Any ideas would be gratefully recieved.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
Aloha! You're speaking with Dr. Michael Salkin
I'm sorry for the delay in responding to you. Unfortunately, the symptoms you've mentioned can indicate any number of illnesses or health issues. A bluish comb indicates cyanosis - poor oxygenation of her tissues usually due to cardiopulmonary compromise. In veterinary medicine, there's rarely one cause of a condition, so we usually begin with a list of differential diagnoses and use lab tests and physical exams to differentiate. With this in mind, your best course of action is to reach out to your county-extension poultry personnel or veterinarian for help in differentiating the various causes of what you're seeing. Veterinarians can perform a physical exam and run diagnostic tests, including X-rays, to distinguish between the various etiologies. Please see here: http://www.bvpa.org.uk/

It's best to approach the diagnostic process with a clear sense of the bird's financial value to your operation. Although some services might be available free of charge through a county agency or land-grant extension office, the expense of some diagnostic tests and treatments can add up quickly. While it’s always worth your time and money to identify a bacterial or viral infection that could potentially impact more than one member of the flock, this might not be the case with a condition that only affects one hen.

I regret that I can't be more specific for you from here. Such is the state of affairs in avian medicine. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.