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Dr. Bob
Dr. Bob, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 7940
Experience:  35 years in practice
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My 2.5 year old Sussex Star hybrid hen has just recently begun

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My 2.5 year old Sussex Star hybrid hen has just recently begun to show signs of being ill. Her tail is quite low and the underfeathers are dragging along the ground. She is still eating and moving around, but a fair amount of the day is spent sitting down and "panting". She seems quite weak. Her comb a few days ago was a little dark, (but not blue or purple); it is now a little floppy but is a little lighter in colour. She hasn't laid at all recently, her last egg being a few weeks ago.

We have given her a little bio yogurt, a vitamin tonic in the water and they have been wormed recently. We are now giving her erythromycin.

A few days ago, one of the others was ill, with diarrhoea and we think was egg bound. This hen is now better.

Their regular diet is layers pellets and light treats in the afternoon such as corn or green vegetables. They are free to roam in a large area where the grass is regularly cut.

Are you able to advise? If it helps we have pictures of her before and after! Thanks for reading!

Emily (14)
Hello, I'm Dr. Bob. I apologize for the length of time this reply has taken to get back to you. There aren't many poultry knowledgeable veterinarians online, and I was off yesterday. When Jemima stands, is her posture more upright and penguin-like than usual?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

no problem with the delay, and yes that does describe her posture. she is waddling slowly.

Okay, than k you. The symptoms she's showing are compatible with a condition known as salpingitis. The bird becomes infected with a viral respiratory disease, most commonly infectious bronchitis which may, or may not show respiratory symptoms, as the virus may attack the reproductive tract directly. When this happens, the funnel-shaped opening of the reproductive tract that should "catch" the newly released egg from the ovary, can be damaged, and fail to catch the egg, allowing it to drop into the abdominal cavity. Or a secondary bacterial infection can cause damage to the reproductive tract, preventing the passage of eggs with the same result. As time goes by, the retained egg yolks build up and eventually bacteria invade this rich food deposit causing a condition called "yolk peritonitis". This condition results in the upright "penguin-like" posture and fever. This condition can take up to six months to kill the bird, leaving them in this pitiable state the whole time. Sadly, this condition is invariably fatal unless surgery is performed to remove the damaged reproductive tract and retained yolk and infectious materials. This is only practical for rare birds or valuable zoo specimens as it is time consuming and risky. Nothing else causes the symptoms you've done quite a good job of explaining, and I wish I had a happier answer for you, but if you should have more questions, I'll be happy to answer them for you.
Kind regards, *****
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks for that information. I'm not surprised that it's something more serious. We'll get the bird sorted so that it does not suffer unnecessarily, although my daughter Emily won't be too happy! But at least now she will know that we've done everything we can for it.

Have a good day,

Ruth Riley

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

any risk of the viral respiratory infection to human health?


presumably there's a possibility that the other 3 may get the infection?

Hello again, Ruth. There is no human health concern as a different virus causes bronchitis in humans.
If I can be of any further assistance to you, or if you should have more questions, now or in the future, please let me know.
Warm regards, Dr. Bob