Thank you all for your input. I realized it was peritonitis when I couldn't feel an egg. I took her to the vet and they did a radiograph and saw her belly was full of yolk like material and she was not egg bound.
She is a silkie and evidently is trying to keep up with the bigger girls laying wise and isn't equiped to do so.
They drained the fluid and she was a bit septic and calcium deficient so they have her on antibiotics and gave her a calcium shot and a calcium supplement and gave her oxytocin to have her expel the remaining material. She is inside resting and weak but eating her yogurt and dried food and drinking. I had to give her a bath last night which was pretty funny - she loved the blow dryer afterwards!
I'm glad I went to the vet - even if this disease eventually kills her, which seems likely, I feel like I did right by my little Snowball:). I definitely have a limit financially on what I can spend and I didn't have anything above and beyond done, as I know, from having a cat, that vets can often try to upsell everything! I do think I have a responsibility to try and treat her to the best of my ability as she is a pet and I believe in doing what one can within the bounds of relieveing pain and making the animal comfortable. In the long run, money can be replaced but I'd feel horrible if I didn't do my best. That's just me:)
I saw the birth control thing too - seems like it runs about $125 around here. Not sure how I feel about that either - will make that call if we need to but probably will have her put down if it means she has to suffer all the time. I hate thinking she "is just a chicken" but I wouldn't want to put her through crazy procedures either - she is small and probably wouldn't handle it anyway.
For everyone out there in Brooklyn - Hope Veterinary Clinic @ 390 Atlantic Ave has an avian vet who treats chickens:)
Thank you all and Happy New Year!
There are other references that you can use as well, and I always go to google first.. Backyard chickens dot com has some good discussion boards, but you have to take advice there with a grain of salt sometimes. I do alot of research and I collect avian vet books and chicken care books, plus I have much hands on experience. I also interact with my meetup's mailing list often, as you're doing here.
The important thing is to know when to just make them comfy and not overtreat. About this one problem, it builds up and spreads over the organs; surgery is very difficult and would cost a lot. The discomfort and loss of normal life to the hen alone, would make it not worth it to me , but also the likelihood that it could be successful would be really small.
Personally I wouldn't think of putting a hormonal implant into a hen (as mentioned on that link in the comments section.) Part of what they do as chickens is lay eggs, and it seems crazy to go so far over the top as to mess with their hormones and stop them from living a normal hen life. Maybe that's an emerging area of avian medicine, but Ive never heard of it used on poultry as opposed to a $2000 parrot that is acting aggressive. I wonder if it really can extend life, and if its worth it. I have many old hens who are in retirement here, and if anyone wants a non-laying pet hen, I can fix you up!
Anyway, this is a very normal part of hen keeping and of the few things that often go wrong, this comes up again and again. I just don't want a vet to take advantage of how people feel about any particular hen; they sometimes just don't live all that long and there isnt much to do. I have had avian vets rip me off in a million ways but ultimately, the same set of things go wrong and they use the same medicines that are available to us via many different outlets.
Good luck with your girl...keep her quiet , warm, and give her some nice oatmeal and yogurt; see if she will eat and maybe pass some stuff.
On Sat, Dec 29, 2012 at 7:27 PM, sage devine <[address removed]>
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