Sick Barred Rock at Vet

The other night I was going out to dinner so I put the girls in their coop/run for protection in case I didn't get back before dark. At that point I noticed one of my barred rocks was walking a little slow and seemed to be waddling. I said a short prayer and hoped nothing was wrong.

Unfortunately when I fully closed the coop that night, I found the barred rock laying on the floor, not perching with the others. This is never a good sign! I also noticed that when I picked her up, her abdomen was hugely swollen.

At first, I thought she was egg-bound, so that night I soaked her belly in a tub of warm water for 20 minutes and she slept in my bathroom where I had run the shower at a high temperature to get the humidity up.

By morning, it was clear none of these methods were working. The strange thing was, and is, that other than her swollen belly, the barred rock was alert, eating and her comb/wattle were perky and a bright healthy red.

So, as a last ditch effort, I took her to the vet. I know it sounds weird, but I had to do something. The vet pronounced that the situation was dire. My "barty" was not egg-bound, her abdomen was filled with fluid. There are many possible causes for this, from a shell-less egg that entered her abdomen to ruptured reproductive organs or liver problems. All these issues are more likely to arise in older chickens, and considering my "barty" is four years old, the vet suggested we put her down.

I just couldn't do this. My barred rock was too alert and happy to be "talking" with everyone. So the vet suggested that maybe antibiotics would help. He admitted he doesn't see many chickens, so why not give it a last ditch effort. He also suggested that we draw some fluid from her abdomen to relieve her discomfort and to see if it would give us a clue about her condition. The tech held her and the vet was able to draw three of the shots, that you see below, full of fluid. The fluid was inconclusive, but it did give the "barty" immediate relief.

So, for now, my barred rock is home and recuperating well. She's got an outdoor run for the days and an indoor run in the garage for the nights. She's eating and drinking. And, if you didn't know better, you'd have no idea anything was wrong.

I'm crossing my fingers and hoping for a recovery, but she is an old girl, so only time will tell.
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