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4 year old watery diarrhoea & pecking thin air HAPPY UPDATE

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We have a 4-year-old ex-batt who has been pecking thin air and had nasty watery diarrhoea since Saturday. She is drinking well and trying to eat but misses the food as she is not pecking accurately. She is quite lethargic in between bursts of energy. She was fit and well until the weekend.


I took her to the non-specialist emergency vet yesterday who said there was a lump in her abdomen, possibly an impacted gizzard (probably not an egg as wrong shape), and prescribed 4 drops paraffin oil and 0.8ml baytril twice daily. She thought that the inaccurate pecking might just be due to weakness, although I am not so sure. Her main current concern (and mine too), is that the chicken could become severely malnourished and dehydrated due to the severe watery diarrhoea.


I have sent off a poo sample to Retfords and am feeding her Critical Care formula, egg and water with avipro or avian electrolytes. She is eating yoghurt, grapes and a little chicken food herself and drinking a lot. She seems to be perkier on the Baytril and is walking around and vocalising in between collapsing with tiredness/weakness. We have her indoors.


She's still pecking the air though - might be neurological/ vision-related?


Has anyone come across this before? Any ideas what's wrong or what we can do?


Any help much appreciated.

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If she had an impacted gizzard she would have a full crop Egghead68. Antibiotics are completely ineffective if Avipro probiotics are given at the same time, so you need to stop giving that.


When was she last wormed with Flubenvet? Eyesight loss in one eye can be due to dehydration, as we have experienced that with a cockerel who pecked at food and missed it.


It may be peritonitis with the 'lump' being an accumulation of yolks, rather than whole eggs? You may be best taking her to a chicken specialist. I think BHWT have a list?

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Dear Beantree,


Thank you very much for your post. It is very helpful to know that air-pecking can be caused by blindness in one eye secondary to dehydration. I have read that vitamin A deficiency can also cause this. Can I ask whether it was reversible in your cockerel?


We considered peritonitis and a mass of egg bits. I agree it is possible/probable. Her abdomen is not swollen, though.


Her crop was indeed bloated and not emptying. The good news is that it is emptying normally now and she is much perkier (back to attacking the rabbit - her favourite pastime!)


Would that she could see a specialist chicken vet. She had an excellent one - Steve Smith at Wendover Heights - but he left a few months ago. I am trying to get her an appointment with one of his proteges but it is not the same.


My understanding is that antibiotics may stop the prebiotics in the Avipro from working, not vice versa. At the moment I am giving Avipro for the electrolytes and vitamin A, not the prebiotics, so I am not too worried about that. (I will give her some prebiotics once she is through with the antibiotics).


She was wormed with flubenvet 4-6 months ago so is overdue another worming, once she gets better.


So it seems that the problem is either gizzard impaction or (more likely) peritonitis, which has caused diarrhoea which has caused dehydration and poss vitamin deficiencies which has caused partial blindness which has caused air pecking. Treatment - rehydration and vitamins, baytril and loxicom, and paraffin oil (cautious amount) and/or suprelorin implant. Also worming when better.


Many thanks again - much appreciated.


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Once we realised he was dehydrated we administered additional water by syringe and he improved almost immediately. His eyesight is fine now for an old boy. Seems once he had become dehydrated he was too disorientated to drink on his own.


We discovered the probiotic problem last year. Stopped administering and repeated the antibiotics with complete success. We also took her off layers pellets because the additional Calcium also inhibits the antibiotic take-up.

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Just a quick update that the Retfords sample came back last week with camphylobacter and candida. I stopped the baytril yesterday and switched her to denegard. I was already treating her for candida. After rallying a lot last week and eating well, she seemed to lose her appetite a bit after 5 days on the baytril and has now gone into a stress moult. She is pecking around but too weak to fly up to her coop table or climb the garden steps. Fingers crossed she picks up again on the denegard.

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I wanted to update to say she got better! It was a long haul and she needed Tylan, Baytril, several more vets visits (couldn't find a chicken vet so took her to a bird of prey vet!) and a lot of tlc but she has been back to her normal self (with some slight visual problems) for 2-3 weeks now. I think it was mycoplasma, which can apparently affect vision.


She is at this moment tweeting loudly outside the door for grapes!

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