Blood in the Coop

There was a scary sight in the big barn this weekend – blood on the wall and a messy bloody dropping under the roost. Obviously, someone had expelled something.  I looked closer at the poo. It was wet, red and large. It was obviously blood and not stained from berries, or something else foraged. 

 At the first sign of illness, the sick hen should be isolated. Immediately. I looked at the hens to determine which one needed my help. All six were standing at my feet, waiting for treats. Everyone was bright-eyed and hungry.

I grabbed some cracked corn and squatted down to observe my birds as they ate from my hands.  There were no signs of illness. No raspy breath, lowered heads, or sluggish movement. 

I picked up each hen, turned them over and examined the vent areas. No signs of blood or injury. 

What to do? I checked in with knowledgeable chicken friends who were as puzzled as I was. Blood in the stool often indicates coccidiosis. But, the girls showed none of the other signs of that problem. Worms? No other signs.

My best guess is that someone had an egg break inside of her, and as she pushed it out, she damaged some of the oviduct, and so expelled a bloody mass. This is a guess. There was no shell or anything resembling an egg in the manure, other than that it was bigger and wetter. 

I could have put all of the hens on a course of antibiotics, but I decided to wait.

Four days later and everyone is still fine. Yet another mystery of chicken keeping. At least this one has a happy ending.

PS – After I cleaned up the mess, I thought that you all would have liked to see the evidence. I was so involved in caring for the girls that I didn’t think about it until it was too late. Next time, I’ll remember my camera! Meanwhile, this poultry forum in England has a new, terrific area just for photos of poo. It’s quite useful, as manure is one of the first clues when figuring out health issues in your flock.

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