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PostPosted: Sun May 28, 2017 5:36 pm 

Joined: Sun May 28, 2017 5:10 pm
Posts: 3
Would so appreciate any help -
I have a very sick Isa Brown cross who, in the last 24 hours, has started this strange 'chattering' call while bobbing her tail and stretching out her neck.
She is about 19 months old and has been sick on and off for 9 months and has not laid in that nine months either. Over the last two weeks she was looking and behaving at her healthiest within that 9 months, until 3 days ago when she's taken a sharp turn for the worse, and now this new symptom has appeared that I can't find any information on, but she certainly looks very unwell.
Has anyone encountered this before / what is this a symptom of?


Age: 19 months
Breed: Isa Brown cross
Sex: F

Your Location- country, state (different areas/climates have different problems)
ANSWER: Melb, Australia

What is wrong? What symptoms have you noted? - As much detail as possible please.
ANSWER: She is clearly sick: Lethargic, puffed up, comb has been floppy for past few weeks but she's also been going through her first moult, comb and wattles pale but not purple at this stage. She will eat oatmeal/mash and is pecking at grass, but lethargic. She has not laid in 9 months and has had various periods of illness throughout, however this new 'chattering' and tail-bobbing is a new symptom and she is looking at her most unwell to date. I have also found a lash egg in the laying boxes a few months ago but can't be sure which of my four girls produced that.

What are you feeding? - Please list everything you're feeding to your birds, including type of basic feed, free ranging, scraps, extras, etc. If possible give approximate percentages.
ANSWER:They have a grain and pellet mix daily, an oatmeal mash with spices (fenugreek, mustard, aniseed, ginger) every few days, organis spinach or salad mix most days, free range in the garden, occasionally organic natural yoghurt and mealworms.

Full droppings description.- colour, consistency, frequency, offensive smell.
ANSWER: She currently has very runny droppings, but not green.

Respiratory Changes?- eg. breathing sounds, discharge, laboured breathing, facial swelling
ANSWER: Yesterday, with this 'chattering' and tail bobbing symptom she seemed to be losing her voice somewhat, however today she is more vocal but the symptom continues.

Digestive Changes?- eg. eating, drinking, crop filling & emptying
ANSWER: She would barely eat when the symptoms presented 3 days ago however had a good amount of mash made with liquid antibiotic this morning, and has been pecking lethargically at grass today while freeranging.

Condition Changes?- eg. Weight, comb/wattle colour, skin, feathering
ANSWER:Her comb is floppy and has been for around 8 weeks, however she is also going through her first moult. Comb and wattles pale. Not purple at this stage (have seen her comb go slightly purple when she was last sick however not purple this time).

Behavioural Changes?- inc. socialising, laying, crowing, broodiness
ANSWER:Lethargic, puffed up, barely keeping up with the flock (three others), sleepy.

Agility Changes? - eg. any lameness, favouring, energy levels
ANSWER: As above

Describe your usual worming routine and products. [If none, say so and skip the next 3 worming questions.] Do you have a cycle that you use eg. every 3 months, or every six months?
ANSWER:They were wormed several times over the summer - she did have worms at one stage but does not at the moment, confident she does not have worms.

1. When was the bird last wormed??- approximate date.
ANSWER: March 2017.

2. What product was used to worm the bird, and how was it given? ? eg. in the drinking water, on the skin, by injection?
ANSWER:Aristopet, in water.

3. Was a follow up dose given? (eg. 10-14 days later)
ANSWER: Yes, several times between Jan- March 2017.

Any other recent medications?- antibiotics, coccidiosis meds, herbal remedies, etc
ANSWER:Made her mash this morning with Aristopet oral antibiotic for ornamental birds. She ate a good amount.

Other changes? – additions to the flock, diet, housing, extreme weather

Photos? – any relevant photos are very helpful
INSERT HERE: Videos above


Appreciate any help you can give!

PostPosted: Sun May 28, 2017 8:45 pm 
Old Mother Goose
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Joined: Thu Apr 23, 2009 11:15 pm
Posts: 6759
Location: ACT area
Hi Hens_in_ Melb and welcome to BYP. Sorry it is not under better circumstances.
Thanks for filling in the checklist.
From the videos she appears to be having some difficulty getting her breath. Does she have any sounds of congestion? Any discharge from eyes or nose?
Have a sniff - does her breath smell yeasty or 'bad'?
Is her crop filling and emptying?
Feel her keel (breast bone) Is it well fleshed or sharp and poorly covered?
Check the other end - does everything look normal - the vent should be clean and gently pulsating.

The fact that she has not laid for so long indicates some sort of a problem - either reproductive or a general failure to thrive .
The worming product that you have been using does not cover tapeworm - a poo pic would be useful. I would treat all your flock with Wormout tablets, Avitrol Plus or Moxidectin Plus next time. The added Praziquantil is what is needed for tape.
I think that the best course would be a vet visit, however if that is not an option then continue with TLC. Isolate her, keep her warm and stress free and encourage her to eat and drink. The layer mix is the best option as it is properly balanced to provide all the nutrients in an ideal ratio - but in a grain/pellet mix ONLY if she eats some of everything. You may find that she will eat it as a wet mash. You could also offer a small amount of good quality tinned cat (not dog) food or a little raw mince/meal worms. I would avoid veges while she has runny poo but you can supplement with avian vitamins.
I would not use any otc antibiotics. The reason that they are readily available is that they are no longer much use medicinally as most bacteria is resistant. The most that they are likely to do is destroy healthy gut flora. The correct antibiotics need to be vet prescribed and are only useful if there is an infection.
It is possible that she is having a particularly hard time with a moult and hopefully will improve as she refeathers although her history indicates that something is not right.
Have you checked her for external parasites - a run down hen is an easy target.

PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2017 10:24 am 

Joined: Sun May 28, 2017 5:10 pm
Posts: 3
Hi Sue55 - and thank you so much!

To answer your Q's-
- No, she has no discharge from nose or eyes, and hasn't had any at any stage through her life. No sounds of congestion either. I had thought the same - in the first video she sounded as though she was losing her voice somewhat, however yesterday (second video) she was making the same strange behaviour but her voice was much stronger. She only does this strange 'chatter/tail bob' in the late afternoons it seems

- She smelt fine this morning, no breath odour at all, although the back of her beak, where it is attached to the head / becomes feathers, is grey/blackish and I can't recall if it's always been so or if that is a new development.

- Crop feels and appears as normal, though perhaps thinner which would correlate with her reduced appetite. I couldn't get a strong feel for her breatsbone as she had had enough of being handled by then and didn't want to further distress her with another catch.

- Vent feathers; there is a line from her vent down through the feathers from dried runny poo, white.

- Parasites; none visible.

- Strangely this morning I could not see any of her droppings in the coup at all, nothing in her usual spot. So could not take a photo. All other droppings were normal.

That's really useful info on the worming and the general antibiotics, thank you very much for the information.
I made a wash oatmeal/millet mash this morning and she did eat some of that though loses interest as soon as the flaxseeds have all been eaten. She has no interest in the layer mix at all currently. I will try some mealworms today also - I've never seen her so no to those!

In firm agreement that there is a long-term condition; after months of reading it seems there's a definite reproductive failure and/or infection, and perhaps a chronic fungal/respiratory issue although too hard to pin down.

I'll keep on with the monitoring. Still very curious about this 'chattering' behaviour and what it's indicative of.

PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2017 11:22 pm 

Joined: Sun May 28, 2017 5:10 pm
Posts: 3
Just closing this one out for anyone who reads in future:
- The 'chattering' behaviour stopped one day after this post.
- The hen seemed to mildy pick up for a couple of days, continued to eat some spiced mash and definitely enjoyed any treats (brown rice, brown rice with a small amount of tuna, probiotic natural yoghurt etc.), was drinking plenty, however was still puffing up feathers and lethargic.
- On the fourth day she would not take food in the morning and after bringing out some mash, took just a small amount. She was sleepier and didn't keep up with the flock well when free ranging, rather would stop and sleep, however always standing. In the afternoon I gave her a warm bath and blow dry, both of which she seemed to enjoy and relax into very much.
- On the fifth day, she was still in the coop when I came out for the morning feed. She stumbled out of the coop after hearing me but just stood in the bottom of the coop. I approached her and after trying to offer her food unsuccessfully, I just sat and talked to her. After a few minutes she sat down and went to sleep within a couple of minutes. She stayed there the whole day sleeping, did not eat or drink. When the sun set and the cold set in I brought her inside for warmth (still sleeping/sleepy), wrapped in the towel I had placed over her outside for warmth. About an hour later from the next room I heard a strong flapping noise for a few seconds, came into the room and she had passed away - I assume the flapping was a heart attack or seizure at the moment of death.

Both while bathing her and before burying her I checked her over as thoroughly as able -- there was no swelling in the abdomen at either point, no swelling near or around the vent, no bound egg to be felt, and no issue with the crop. However, when she had died I did notice her breastbone was quite prominent. She was still regrowing some feathers from her moult. Cause of death still remains a mystery, at this point I'm thinking perhaps tumours or something long-term internal with less visible outer symptoms.

Thanks again for your help.

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