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swelling and discoloration on 3 week old chick's head

 
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This baby salmon faverolle seems to have some swelling on the top of her head, which at first we thought was only a difference in feather pattern. I was calling her "the one with the hairdo" but upon closer inspection noticed some swelling and what looks to be a bruised color. She isn't showing any signs of lethargy, loss of appetite, or anything of the sort, so I wonder what's going on. All the chicks are very active, always running, jumping and eating everything in sight. I read that there is a condition called blackhead which is pretty serious, but that most cases don't even show this symptom. A few of the others also have some of this color around the eyes, but with no swelling and not in as serious of way. We are also noticing what seems to be a bit more liquid than normal in some of the droppings.

We have been letting them go on field trips very early in their life, as it seemed wrong to deny them this experience that they would have with a real mother hen, but now wonder if we made a mistake. Still I would think any serious disease they contracted would cause a change in energy levels, of which we see none. The one in question is actually the biggest, most energetic and has the most developed feathers.

Does anybody have any idea what might be going on? How worried should I be and what, if anything should I be doing?
 
Dietrick Klooster
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Here are some photos.
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image.jpg
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Location: South-southeast Texas, technically the "Golden Crescent", zone 9a
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Howdy!
I dug out all my "Chicken Health" and "Odd Chicken Stuff" books and reference.
I couldn't find anything that would match either your described symptoms or the pictures.
You are right in that Blackhead *could* be a diagnosis, but there's a lot more to the illness and, unless there's been a huge change in the activity level and appearance of the chick, it's not Blackhead.
https://www.mypetchicken.com/backyard-chickens/chicken-help/All-about-Blackhead-disease-H379.aspx

The pictures, other than the discoloration, show a healthy chick, as far as I can see.
Considering how chicks tend to get themselves into all kinds of trouble, I would guess that it might have gotten pecked by a nest mate, somehow gave itself a bruise, or is an interesting genetic sport that will give you a truly cool looking Salmon Faverolle.

Congratulations? It's, as far as I can tell, a healthy, if somewhat concerning, chick.
 
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Hi Kristine! I'm the chick's mama. Thanks for the response and affirming our thought that she doesn't really show any signs of illness other than the head weirdness. If it is a bruise, it still seems a bit concerning as it would have to be a pretty bad one. It's basically the entire top of her head and it is quite black and visibly raised. Pictures don't really show it well. Obviously, we'll keep a close eye on her.
If I had a bruise of that magnitude, I would be putting some herbal salves and/or magnesium on it to bring down the swelling and help it heal. But that doesn't seem workable for a chick necessarily. I imagine getting oil and wax in the feathers is no good. Plus the others would probably try to eat it or pick at it. I'd try crushing up a comfrey leaf and putting it on there as a poultice, but I'm pretty sure she'd devour it instead. We did let them eat some of it yesterday.
 
Dietrick Klooster
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Thank you for your response Kristine. It does seem like whatever is going on is probably not a systemic illness, but still, I wonder what is going on. We checked again today and noticed the skin in that spot has a more scaly texture than the rest of her skin. It is almost like  a plateau, where it suddenly transitions between raised and unraised. The black color is really dark too, hard to capture in a picture. Furthermore, the little feathers seem to be falling out from that spot, yet she doesn't act like it hurts when we touch the area. I am massively confused. Has anyone out there seen anything like this before?
 
Kristine Keeney
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Howdy!
I wish I could be more help.

Usually, I'd advise that you separate out the sick bird, and just keep an eye on it. Unfortunately, that might stunt it's "social development", so not the best idea.

I'm guessing this is a mail order or otherwise Not Hatched There chick?
I wonder if this was something that either of the parents had an issue with, or if it doesn't have a genetic component somewhere.
Young chicks do tend to die from the stupidest  â€‹things. Or they have an issue there was no way to prepare for, so you have to start scrambling around to see what can be done.

Just found this site, which includes a list of symptoms that can help to identify what's wrong. http://www.poultrydvm.com/views/symptoms.php

I hope it helps and that you can your chick "fixed".
Best thoughts!
 
Heather Sharpe
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Kristine Keeney wrote:Howdy!
I wish I could be more help.

Usually, I'd advise that you separate out the sick bird, and just keep an eye on it. Unfortunately, that might stunt it's "social development", so not the best idea.

I'm guessing this is a mail order or otherwise Not Hatched There chick?
I wonder if this was something that either of the parents had an issue with, or if it doesn't have a genetic component somewhere.  


Howdy Kristine and thank you! I think you did help, even if we didn't immediately solve the mystery.

We felt like separating her would be bad for that reason too, especially not knowing if she was even sick. Which it seems now like probably she wasn't. Yesterday, the black crust fell off her head. It revealed a mostly healed wound. So I guess it was just a really big scab? I'm still rather confused and surprised how we didn't see the wound, it's about a quarter of an inch. The scab was huge in comparison, nearly an inch. Not sure if she was pecked or bonked her head on something. But thankfully seems to be recovering smoothly and acting normal now.

You are correct, we got them from a hatchery.  

That site seems quite useful, thank you for sharing! There was a moment that I was worried it was fowl pox, but it was on a feathered part of her head, so probably not since it sounds like that shows up on combs, wattles and other unfeathered areas.

This chicken keeping adventure is certainly teaching me a lot about learning to trust my instincts about what is going on and whether something really is wrong or not!
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Kristine Keeney
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Howdy!
My word, that's a huge hole for a small bird!
I guess you've discovered another Big Secret in chicken handling: In addition to occasionally dying from Sudden Attacks of Nothing, chicks will sometimes develop bizarre wounds.

Chickens are amazing in their ability to tolerate, and sometimes cause, strange happenings in your yard. My best advice? Just go with it and thank whatever Powers That Be you follow.
The chickens will find a way. (Much like dinosaurs in certain over-written stories; Life in general; and The Army Corps of Engineers, SeaBees, and whatever other military equivalent, chickens *will* find a way. Over, under, around, or through.)

When you think about how small she was when she got the ouchie, and that she has grown so very much since then, the ouchie has, kind of, grown along with her. The percentage of undamaged chick to damaged chick has probably remained fairly even.  That is amazing.  Such a  HUGE scab for such a little thing. She's already proving her health, if not her questionable ability to dodge.

Yeah, the assorted chicken reference groups on the internet, not to mention my steadily growing personal library, all seem to hit the "BIG SCARY" part of chicken health, and the parts where a bird walks into a heat lamp, or eats something that maybe it shouldn't get short sections without any fancy headings.
Chickens are remarkably tough.

This chicken keeping adventure is certainly teaching me a lot about learning to trust my instincts about what is going on and whether something really is wrong or not!


Welcome to the ever changing world of Chickening.
Nobody really knows what's going on, but we all try really, really hard to learn whatever lesson is put before us each day.
I hope you enjoy the educational experience. May your treat pockets always be full!
 
Kristine Keeney
Posts: 132
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Just look at her! The big floofybutt. Such a sweetie!
And that wound on her head will leave a permanent scar. You'll always know that she is/was the first walking wounded chick on your journey.

She's just a ball of fluff and temper, isn't she?
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