On Sunday we put down our hen named Nutmeg.
Chick on her name above to see a photo of her last week.
Nutmeg the hen was in pain, and it was starting to affect her breathing, and no one deserves to suffer. We thought she was egg bound. Her abdomen swelled, she started walking stiff-legged. I started giving her warm 20 minute soaking baths inside the house to help her release any stuck eggs. The baths never helped. I noticed during the baths that the pressure of the bath water made it hard for her to breathe. Whatever was inside her abdomen was pressing on her lungs.
We moved Nutty into the infirmary coop this past week. She still ate fine. She walked around. She had a heat lamp focused on her all the time, which she enjoyed. If the heat lamp was turned off she got upset, and so I left it on all the time, and she stood right under it. She was pooping fine. The issue was in her reproductive tract, not her digestive tract.
I moved other birds into her coop to keep her company. If the visiting hen was below Nutty in the pecking order, Nutty chased them and wouldn't let them eat her food. She was a feisty little bantam hen. I took her outside her coop for walks, she enjoyed her freedom. But after the walk she was exhausted and often had breathing problems and laid down under her heat lamp.
We put her down because we knew there was no hope for her, and she was in pain. Her condition was only going to get worse. However, we really didn't know what was wrong with her. And so, after she passed away, we performed an autopsy to determine what happened, so maybe we could prevent this from happening to other chickens. It was very interesting.
If you do not want to see autopsy photos, stop now and turn away.
First of all, we need to understand a chicken's reproductive tract. The below photos show how an egg is created by the hen and travels through her system.
Here's a photo of Nutmeg's butt. You can't see how swelled she was from this angle. I should have taken the photo from the side view.
During the autopsy, a huge fluid-filled bag was found inside her. It appeared to be her uterus! It was filled with what appeared to be a clear liquid. The below photo only shows half the fluid-filled sac. As we removed it from inside her, it popped.
There was what appeared to be a hard tumor in her vagina, between her uterus and her cloaca, and it was blocking the entire vagina, holding all the liquid in her uterus. I don't know if at one time this tumor was an egg. It certainly didn't appear to be an egg. It was a solid mass - you can see it between Randy's fingers in the below photo.
Further up we found what we believe to be 2 eggs that were in the reproductive process. They appeared to be healthy immature eggs.
And so we determined that Nutmeg's issue was a solid tumor in her vagina, between her vagina and uterus, which caused the uterus to be filled with massive amounts of liquid.
I hope this information and the photos are helpful to small flock chicken owners in the future. If anyone has any information that can help diagnose or explain Nutmeg's issue, it is greatly appreciated.
June 17, 2010 - April 29, 2012