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Strange Medical Problem - not egg bound?

 
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Hi,

Perhaps y'all can help diagnose the problem. I have a hen who has lost all her feathers near her vent and has very red skin in that spot. This has gone on for four or five months now. We originally thought it might be a rough rooster problem, though none of our other hens had bare butts, just bare backs. Rooster is stew now, we gave it a month or so the see if feather growth would happen, but nope. She's got pasty butt like a tiny chick, she's skinny as a pole, but she's not being particularly bullied, she's still pooping and laying normally, and she's alert and spry. Her red butt makes me want to cry, though. I recently gave her an Epsom salt bath and a few days inside with extra food, Apple cider vinegar, and warmth to see if we could improve anything,  but it doesn't seem to have done much but make her antsy. None of the other chickens have the same problem, so it's not contagious,  or it's a very slow burn if it is.

For context, we live in a northern climate that was unseasonably warm until two weeks ago. The problem started over the summer, and we only just started getting below-freezing temps. Traditional coop with large run for twelve birds due to dumb city rules. Store bought feed supplemented with table scraps, garden clippings, and the occasional rogue free range day.

Thank you!
 
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Just a wild guess.. but maybe mites? Not sure why it would be just one bird, though. Try dusting her with diatomaceous earth.
 
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Location: A NorCal clay & rock valley
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Could you post a picture?
 
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The description points to some version of 'vent gleet'. But 'vent gleet' is just a symptom, so we need to determine the actual cause in order to be able to treat her. So- is the cause a fungal (yeast) infection or is it a bacterial infection? An yeast infection can be dispatched easily. If it's bacterial... we can still help her.

A beloved hen of mine went through a yeast infection a few years ago, it is easy to diagnose by smell. I had read about that smell before experiencing it first hand, people were always using unusually strong words to describe it. What can I tell you? The odor is unpleasant and strong, much worse than regular chicken poop. The solution is a trip to Walmart/etc to buy the house brand of miconazole, which is the standard treatment for women's yeast infections. There will be a moderate dose of embarrassment, lol, but the hen'll get out of trouble. No need to spring for the brand name (Monistat). Then just a local bath with warm water and a good application of the miconazole cream in the affected area plus a little inside the vent. After I did this for my hen, a white foam started to come out of her vent, I guess the miconazole started killing the yeast, which was making a fuss before dying. I kept gently wiping her off, then rebathing her after a few hours, and reapplying the cream. Of course all of this was happening in February, in New England. Your girl too will need to be inside for her treatment.
 
I generally don't use pharmaceuticals but miconazole is good to have on hand in case you have to deal with sour crop too, which is an yeast infection, or yeast overproliferation it could be called, this time in the crop.

So... Is there a strong(ish) odor around your hen?
 
Ann Zotter
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I'm laughing so hard... only on Permies do you get asked for gross chicken butt pics along with vivid descriptions of chicken butt smell.
Dealing with a minor house emergency,  but I appreciate the input so far and will return soon with gory details.
 
Ann Zotter
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Here's the requested picture. Between the wiggly hen and the aggressively protective rooster, I couldn't get a great shot.
'
I strongly suspect it isn't mites due to the lack of infection in the other birds over such a long time. Smell was hard to ascertain because I made the mistake of using lavender Epsom salts for her bath. She smells very pretty. Behind the lavender was a vague stinky dough smell, so I'm going to start with yeast infection treatment and see where it goes.

If yeast isn't the right guess, I assume I can use antibiotic ointment for bacterial infection, or topical Ivermectin for mites? I also have diatomaceous earth, so I can try that first...
IMG_20221122_160449625.jpg
Top of vent is red, below the red spot is vent and pasted together feathers.
Top of vent is red, below the red spot is vent and pasted together feathers.
 
Lillian McCall
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Well, since there are no detailed fecal lab tests available, sniffing HAD to become a major diagnostic tool... And a clear picture showing what's going on under the vent would've been interesting. There's like a chronic discharge, right?

Yeast infection clues:  
1. "stinky dough smell"  
2. still laying, quite a feat in itself for a sick bird
3. still laying, meaning still eating reasonably well (a bacterial infection wipes off their appetite)
4. still with us after a few months (an internal bacterial infection is a very nasty thing that makes them pass away unfortunately, more often than not)

My suggestions: Give her a good local soak/bath with warm (but not too warm) water, gently dry her and apply the miconazole cream making sure that it goes inside the vent too. Please reread how I treated my hen.

Then, we'll have to look closely at the diet to make sure the problem won't return.

To clarify something that you mentioned about antibiotic ointment in case of, God forbid, bacterial infection- that wouldn't really work, because the infection would be internal, and the antibiotic ointment is for topical use.

Please don't neglect to update.

 
Ann Zotter
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Great! I'll run and get the cream tonight. Prioritizing sick children over the sick chicken at the moment,  but I hope to start treatment Saturday or Sunday, and will update next week!

Regarding diet - we are currently using standard organic store feed, with kitchen scraps as an extra. We live in an area that does not allow free ranging, and our garden has not been productive enough to sustain our flock due to soil quality. We're slowly trying to transition to a more healthy and sustainable feeding plan for the hens, but it will most likely take a few years, especially since we're under snow here from October to April/May. My current plan to make immediate changes is a much more regular use of Apple cider vinegar in the water.
 
S Ydok
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Location: A NorCal clay & rock valley
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Ann Zotter wrote:I'm laughing so hard... only on Permies do you get asked for gross chicken butt pics along with vivid descriptions of chicken butt smell.
Dealing with a minor house emergency,  but I appreciate the input so far and will return soon with gory details.



Thanks for posting the picture! it's definitely not gross. Honestly that looks pretty normal to me for an older hen. They lose feathers and for whatever reason those commercial browns. Other than the pastybutt, which I can't see, but as the others have suggested a bath will take care of that.

I'm also going to throw out (I probably missed it), but a wet hen will need to hang out in house unless you want to try a hairdryer on her. A wet chicken is a dead chicken in the cold.

If you're lighting the hens too and not letting a seasonal molt happen, those butts will continue to be red. As long as the skin isn't cracked (or mites, but they like feather shafts). It's fine, looks terrible though.
 
Ann Zotter
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Yup, we've got a large rabbit cage in our basement that we use as our animal hospital... nice and cozy, it's near our wood stove!

We don't light our hens. Last year the molt happened closer to February or March. It really doesn't seem to be a molt given how long it's been going on.
 
Lillian McCall
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Something's bothering me... She's conditioned to winter temperatures, she stays inside for 2 or 3 days, loses her winter conditioning, goes back outside, catches cold = BIG TROUBLE. My hen did have her illness in Febr, but she was at the time a house pet more or less.

Ugh, these chickens... never a dull moment, isn't it? Winter time treatment has to be carefully negotiated. Maybe a change of plans is in order, when you just wipe her off with a moistened paper towel. Don't worry about the dirty feathers, just make sure lots of miconazole cream goes inside the vent. Probably 2 applications in 24 hrs would be enough, or not more than 3. And let her stay outside?


 
Ann Zotter
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I did think of that... it has been unseasonably warm here, but I did skip the bath tonight. I'm keeping her inside for the evening, do some cleanup and another application tomorrow,  and see where we're at, both weather-wise and health-wise. I suspect we'll just opt to pop her in and out over the next few days.

She did start foaming at the vent, so I think yeast is definitely the issue. Here's hoping! The nice thing about the women's product is the applicators: works perfect for a vent!
 
Ann Zotter
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One more pic, just in case someone else ends up having the same problems we are and needs more of a reference.
Most of the gunk below the vent is feces - we hadn't wiped her down before the picture.  
IMG_20221127_161105746.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20221127_161105746.jpg]
 
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