Hen developed "maroon" comb...later died-Whaz up?

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I have 2 year old Gold Laced Wyandottes, they are fair layers...on Monday morning I found a hen standing in the coop looking pretty lethargic. Her comb seemed a bit dark to me. I caught her and tried to research things in books as well as the net. I put her in isolation and gave her oxytetracycline as I kinda figured it was septicemia. They haven't got any worm load; I checked. It has been awfully wet here and they have been rooting around in the compost and the goat area, so I thought perhaps she got too much dung with her pecking around there. She malingered and then died on Thursday in the wee hours. Her comb was very pale in death, but prior to it seemed to turn virtually maroon. I cannot figure out what this was that killed her. She had no prolapse, her stool wasn't abnormal, her eyes weren't runny nothing. Just the comb, and then seeming tired, not eating and then dying. Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks for your help.

-- Doreen (animalwaitress@excite.com), March 02, 2001


Was it icey by any chance? We have a rooster we are always having to "rescue" from the ice because he won't go under cover when it is bad weather. He has had hypothermia a few times, but is amazingly still alive. I am sad for you and your loss.

-- Cindy in Ok (cynthiacluck@yahoo.com), March 02, 2001.

Hi Doreen. We have Muscovy ducks with all that red flesh on their heads. This very thing happened to one of our drakes last fall. He just sat in the same place most of the day and got more and more purple. And he died that night. The vet told us it was a heart attack. She said he turned purple because his heart could not oxygenate his blood - it is the oxygen that makes blood bright red. I'm sorry about your hen; if it was a heart attack, there is nothing you could have done.

-- Sandy in MN (jpevans_56353@yahoo.com), March 02, 2001.


-- ~Rogo (rogo2020@yahoo.com), March 02, 2001.

Thanks everyone. Maybe it was a heartattack or heart failure. I'm in Central Texas, so it wasn't frostbite. It's been cool but not below freezing. I just hope it isn't some kind of bacterial thing. I wasn't planning on getting more chickens this year. I just can't stand not knowing "why" something died, so I can try to prevent it from happening to others.

-- Doreen (animalwaitress@excite.com), March 03, 2001.

I lost three chickens this way only about two months ago. I am in Central Florida, and we had some cold weather, but not cold enough to give them frostbite. I bought some poultry vitamin liquid, like Red Cell, and drizzled it on their feed, and that ended it. Maybe they just get stressed out sometimes for some reason.

-- Lela R. Picking (stllwtrs55@aol.com), March 04, 2001.

We've lost a few chickens over the years with symptoms similar to yours. Preceding the extreme comb color change, the bird would periodically twist its head, seeming to sway its head to and fro, and later seemed to gasp for air. We did some research and found it may have been gapeworm - a parasite which attacks the bronchi, trachea and lungs. One of the books I have suggests using thiabendazole or tetramisole; however, one or both of these medications had warnings that the eggs laid by the medicated birds should not be consumed. Seem to remember reading somewhere that this parasite might be carried by earthworms - don't quote me on that, tho. We ended up doing nothing - it seemed to affect only one bird every couple years, so, with a small flock such as we have, that ain't a bad mortality rate. Keep an eye on your flock. Good luck!

-- Judi (ddecaro@snet.net), March 06, 2001.

I think it is gapeworms. I have another hen acting the same way. It has been extremely wet and disgusting here, and I am afraid that is what it is. I am going to try the antithelminics, thiabenzadazole or whatever..I have plenty of eggs right now. Thanks for all of your help, everyone!

-- Doreen (animalwaitress@excite.com), March 07, 2001.

Doreen - Do you have wild turkeys that roam on or near your property? I've heard that gapeworm can be transmitted from the wild turkey population. The worms lodge in the throat and will eventually suffocate the poor bird. A friend of mine had gapeworm in her flock and now worms them regularly.

-- Barb (rosemontfarm1@aol.com), March 09, 2001.

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