Immuno-Suppressed Hen

It sounds like you have an immuno-suppressed individual, and chances are your veterinarian has recognized and treated in this direction.

By Sam Vaughn, DVM, Dip, ABVP ?Avian Practice

I have a small hobby aviary with six pair of breeders. One pair of hyacinths and the rest cockatoos. One pair of my Moluccans has a problem. The female of the pair keeps having large fecal matter, and she keeps growing E. coli and several other potentially harmful bacteria. Her babies are often weak and have bacterial infections. This occurs whether parent-fed or not, and our other hatchlings are always healthy on their checkups by the vet. We have run every test our vet knows of and tried every treatment, conventional and holistic. However, we cannot get this problem to clear up. We love this bird dearly and want to keep her in the pair, but we have made a commitment to keep only healthy and producing pairs so that our hobby keeps a positive cash flow. What should we do?

This certainly sounds like a quandary! I have two questions:
1) Are your pairs all on a good pelleted ration? I always harp on this, which you know if you have read many of my writings. Nothing substitutes for a good-quality pelleted ration.
2) If you feed fruits and vegetables are they removed from the food bowls after an hour or so? Fruits and vegetables left in a food bowl for several hours grow voluminous amounts of bacteria and Candida.

It sounds like you have an immuno-suppressed individual, and chances are your veterinarian has recognized and treated in this direction, I assume this from your mention of attempted holistic therapies. I know that I often will use holistic therapies in combination with conventional medicine in an effort to involve the total animal in the process of recovery from disease. Echinaces and Goldenseal are my favorites in immuno-suppressed birds and can often make a difference.

Immuno-suppressed individuals simply do not have the immune system necessary to mount an effective immune response around everyday pathogens. Thus, things like E. coli, Enterobacter, Klebsiella, and Pseudomonas,sp., which could be overcome by a healthy individual, tend to set up shop and stay on and off seemingly forever in immuno-suppressed individuals.

You seem to be a wise breeder and have set yourself some wise goals. You are also a wise person financially because you have set boundaries to prevent your hobby from eroding your net worth. Bravo!

Unfortunately, it sounds like this hen needs to be culled from the aviary. She might possibly make someone a decent pet. Maintain your integrity and good name by telling potential buyers the truth about the bird’s problems. You may not get much for her because of her condition, but your will rid the aviary of a negative cash flow situation ?and living up to the standards you have set for yourself and your aviary. You can feel good about the fact that you gave this hen every chance you could to be a productive breeder in a good situation.

Best of Luck and good luck with your new hen. Thanks for an excellent question with a different sort of spin for this arena.

Sam Vaughn, DVM, Dip., ABVP ?Avian Practice is an avian specialist based in Louisville, Kentucky. Certified in Avian Practice by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, Dr. Vaughn owns Avian Medical Services Inc. (an avicultural service and consultation practice) and is a partner in Veterinary Associates Stonefield, a full-service avian/exotic and small animal practice. Dr. Vaughn holds degrees in biology, chemistry and a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Auburn University. Feel free to visit his web site at Telephone consultations by appointment are available by calling (502) 245-7863.

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Birds · Lifestyle

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