Poppy – the drama continues

November 10, 2009 § Leave a comment

Poppy 270609Poor Poppy. She’s doomed to be the centre of drama.

After about a month on various antibiotics, and with the trauma of having her wound tweezered at least once a day, we finally got to the point where she was able to come off the drugs and be left to finish healing on her own. On Thursday morning she went in for Veronika to put her under anesthetic and do a final debriding of the wound. As it happened, Veronika and Pauline both decided that the wound was nice and healthy, and that no further intervention should be needed – Poppy could come off her antibiotics, and no more wrestling every evening to clean out the wound!

A day or so before that, we’d noticed her making these strange, sideways movements with her head and neck. A bit like retching, but circular and sideways. She was bright and happy in every other way, so we just assumed it was the result of the ever more frenzied struggling during her daily mouth-cleaning. (She is one powerful girl, and on more than one occasion we were seriously worried that she was going to injure herself.) She’d been getting quite hard to get medication into – adept at leaving only those portions of food with meds in. Getting quite fussy too. So we were relieved when she came back into lay (first egg back Saturday), with the attendant vast increase in appetite (a non-laying hen needs around 30 g feed per day; a laying hen needs around 130 g per day).

chook anatomyWe’d withheld food from her on Thursday morning in preparation for possible surgery. So she had a whole morning with an empty crop. Except … it wasn’t empty. There was a small but definite wad of food in there. (In theory, the crop should empty completely overnight.) As she’d not had to be anesthetised, we’d thought nothing of it – Poppy spends quite a lot of time eating over the course of the day, so that seemed within normal limits.

Come Sunday evening, her crop was huge. She was eating like a laying hen, and walking around with a lump the size of a tennis ball under her neck. It was fairly firm, and she was making her odd movements fairly frequently, but she was still eating with a great deal of gusto.

Yesterday morning came, and Poppy’s crop was still huge, and it was obvious that something was wrong. We had a go at (gently) trying to massage it, to help food pass, but it was only causing her discomfort. So we whisked her back in to the vets’ to see Pauline.

The technical name is Crop Impaction, or crop binding. There are lots of different causes – eating long grass (which ‘binds’ in the crop and can’t pass down) is a classic one. In Poppy’s case, it’s most likely a fungal problem resulting from her being on antibiotics for so long.

miss-poppy-156So yesterday Pauline repeatedly tried to flush Poppy’s crop with liquid, to help everything move through. As of an hour ago, they still hadn’t been able to get the mass to break up. She’s on anti-fungal agents as well as another antibiotic, and will be staying there for a second night. They’re going to try using apple puree – the fibre to help ‘flush’, plus the acidity of the apple to counteract any fungal canker.

The final resort is to operate – open her crop up and manually remove the contents. Which will leave her with a huge wound, and the need for more antibiotics …

Poor Poppy. All we can do is cross our fingers.

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