Sunday 13 October 2013

ILT in Chickens - Bye Bye Birdie

ILT in Chickens - Farewell Rosa

So since returning from holidays in mid September I have noticed that Rosa has been suffering from a sore throat more than usual - courtesy of the ILT virus.  Initially I took Rosie to the Vet who once again removed a large plaque (tissue growth, common in the mouth of chickens with ILT) from the entrance to her wind pipe.  However this time the growth had advanced like a long, flat worm type shape down her windpipe and was around 6 /7cm (2 - 3 inches) in length.  Previously when the plaque was growing it would bother her and she would cough in a loud, squeaking fashion.  I would then take her to the Vet who would remove it with some mini, round ended type tongs.  Rosie would then advance in leaps and bounds.  It would then be another 2 - 4 months until she needed the procedure redone.  It's been nearly 6 months since she I have heard her coughing and I really thought this indicated she was plaque free.  I was shocked to find that she was harbouring such a large plaque and showing no signs of it bothering her.  It was really odd as she had started to lay again for the start of Spring and this usually indicates excellent health.  However as soon as the large plaque was removed, she immediately stopped laying altogether. 

Since the removal of this large plaque about 3 weeks ago, Rosa has never recovered.  Her throat has been inflamed and painful.  I took her back to the Vet (over and over again) and to start with we could see a little of the plaque remaining in place but she would have had to be sedated to have it removed and the actual problem was the large amount of swelling in her throat in general.  So she went on mild anti inflammatories to start with, no effect.  The Vet then injected her with Cortisone which produced a fantastic effect within hours.  She was eating like a little piggy and so happy.  

Rosie - waiting for the Vet - Saturday 12 October 2013

Soft, Nutritious Food for Hens with Sore Throats

I have to add here that I discovered a fantastic food for hens with sore throats.  I was boiling and mashing eggs for her and noted that she was enjoying and easily able to swallow the soft, mouse like texture of the egg white and avoided the harder, heavier textured yolks.  So I went to the supermarket and bought a milk type carton of pure egg whites.  I cooked a few teaspoons of the whites in the microwave, then cooled and mashed them for Rosa.  She absolutely loved this and ate huge quantities of them. 

Unfortunately 10 days after the first Cortisone injection, I needed to take her back to the Vet as she pretty much back where she started.  So we gave her a second Cortisone injection and started her on very strong antibiotics.  That was 6 days ago.  By day three the antibiotics were playing havoc with the healthy bacteria in her gut, she was obviously feeling ill in her stomach (not eating, hunched over, sore to pick up) and her droppings were all wrong.  So the Vet advised me to end the antibiotics and that in 24 hours she should feel much better.  Although there was definite improvement in her droppings, she was not able to eat her food but clearly desperate to do so.  Her throat was obviously really sore and the Cortisone had, had only a minor effect.  It was so dreadful to see her trying to eat and only getting there 20% of the time.  

Yesterday she stood so still, gulping every now and again and unable to fill her crop with food.  She was crouched under a chair in the pen with her eyes closed.  At this stage it had been nearly four weeks since her first Vet visit for the plaque removal.  She was doing nothing but getting worse and needing more and more medication.  It was clear that Rosie's sore throat was now a chronic, seemingly permanent and worsening condition.  This was exactly what had happened with her sister Amelia, who had a more advanced form of the ILT virus from the day I brought them both home.  I had crop fed Amelia with a tube and syringe to keep her alive and I realised that for her own welfare and happiness, I should have put her to sleep well before I accepted the situation as impassable.  I was really clear that in the event that Rosie's ILT damaged throat became chronic, I would not crop feed her to keep her alive.  So yesterday I kept to my word and had Rosie, my beautiful, sweet, nervous, gorgeous girl, put to sleep.  She fought her way through two large doses of anaesthetic (enough to down a 25 kilo dog the Vet informed us) and finally succumbed to sleep after a 45 minute wait on my lap.  She was such a fighter, she held on and fought so hard to stay awake. 

My baby girl is now resting peacefully and without pain under the white roses in the rear garden.  She was with our family for a little under 2 years and my greatest hope for her is that we gave her the very best life possible, albeit much shorter than she deserved (and possibly with much more cuddling than she may have wanted).  
Rosa - Beautiful to the very end. 

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