My chicky chicks have been enjoying some mild weather lately. They still aren't laying with the exception of one of my Olive Eggers. I get a nice green egg every other day or so. I decided that I'm not going to be one of those people who put artificial light in their coop to make their chickens lay all year around. They need 12-14 hours per day to keep laying every day.
I was out at the coop yesterday and one of my Black Copper Marans was walking around like a penguin and she looked ill. I finished up my chores and went to examine her. She had massive ascites, which is fluid build up in the abdomen. She took horribly uncomfortable. When I saw how bad it was, I knew she needed to go to chicken heaven. Chickens don't get ascites for nothing- it's their bodies reacting to something that is seriously wrong with them. I was very curious as to what made her so sick.
I sent her to chicken heaven and then I put on my gloves, grabbed my knife and went to work. I was not going to pay $80 plus $75 shipping on a necropsy for a $15 bird.
She had A LOT of fluid. I kid you not- at least a quart of fluid came out of her. It would not stop coming out! She was SO skinny too. Poor, poor girl. All that fluid was so painful for her. It breaks my heart.
She had so much fluid build up that her gallbladder was a blown up little round ball. It was the weirdest thing. Upon further inspection, her intestinal walls were thickened....and then I found her reproductive tract. It looked like cauliflower! It was a clump of tumors. Hard little tumors. Some were really, really little and some were a little bigger, like half the size of a marble maybe.
I initially figured Marek's Disease was the cause, but after doing my research, I've read that ovarian cancer is thought to be very common in chickens. It is not a very well researched condition because most hens are butchered prior to two years of age. Most hens seem to get it after the age of two. My hen wasn't even a year old yet, which makes this even more unusual. I suspect this is what killed my Buff Orpington this summer. She developed ascites and died shortly thereafter.
I was sure to give my little Maran lots of kisses and told her I loved her before she died. I was sad that she had to go. She was a calm little bird. It was a shitty morning on Saturday, but a very interesting one at that.
Just a day in the life of a chicken lady.....