Hen Necropsy 

The following information was submitted thanks to Arlene having the nerve and curiosity to do this necropsy. Lyn and I both encouraged her to take pictures and document. As of now, she is waiting for  professional opinions from two well known veterinarians in this field.



Description of hen: abdominal area swollen like a water balloon so bad that she couldn't nestle down with her feet/legs under her.  This hen was heavy in weight but breast area emaciated so I couldn't account for the weight except for whatever was in the abdomen.
Fecal material attached to rear feathers, white/green/gray and not well formed.
Treatment before Euthanasia:  I wormed with Fenbendazole (for capillaria); later Sulmet (antibiotic) and then Piperzine (round/cecal worms). Earlier I'd tried a molasses flush.
This was over a period of about two weeks or so. I didn't really have the nerve to put her down and called the vet who would not give me a syringe to do it. He would charge $12 to put her down. Today for the first time she didn't leave the hen house. I knew this had to be done so I did it.
I put engine starter fluid on some paper towels in a five gallon bucket and placed her in it with a lid and heavy brick on top. I did hear some movement after a few minutes--not at first and Chuck said it could be "after death" flopping as they do when you cut the head off. At any rate I did it and left her for about 30 minutes so I didn't have to anguish over how long it took.
I went back with a large exacto blade, surgical gloves, newspaper, plastic and plastic bags, plus my digital camera. Lyn's words were ringing in my ears to get pictures.
As soon as I inserted the exacto blade near the breast bone a flood of yellowish, clear fluid gushed out. That was the weight factor. I cut down to the vent and could tell immediately that she was NOT an internal egg layer but was full of cysts or tumors. The pictures are very graphic.
Necropsy 1 shows the initial picture of the largest cysts (I will refer to them as cysts unless I learn differently) and the entrails on the left. On the far upper right and partly obscured by feathers is something blocking the vent...not sure what that is or if it's supposed to be there or a tumor. Lower right I believe is where the waste is passed out the vent if the passage is unobstructed.

(click on thumbnails to enlarge)

necropsy1.JPG (30100 bytes)


Necropsy 2 is another view showing many more cysts ranging in size from marble to golf ball size.  I don't know if you can see but these cysts are floating around in the fluid that filled her cavity--and this was after I'd drained most of it out

.necropsy2.JPG (17253 bytes)


Large Cysts: I removed the foremost cysts and you can see the size next to my gloved finger. These were about golf ball size.

large cysts.jpg (35203 bytes)


 Cysts 3: In this picture you can see the clusters of many smaller cysts and see the pooling of the fluid.

 cysts3.JPG (21017 bytes)

Vent Tumor: I'm not sure that this picture is correctly labeled but I don't know what other internal organ this would be. We may need to correct this if we get corrected information. There is some type of appenditure attached that seems to be connect up towards the other entrails near the breast bone. It appeared to me that it was blocking the excretion of waste matter, though I'm not certain.

.ventTumor.JPG (22159 bytes)

Conclusions: The only conclusion that I have drawn is that this hen was filled with tumors or cysts and I would like to know the possible causes and prognosis and if it has any treatment. How common is it? Is it more prevalent in certain breeds? Do these symptoms (swelling with fluid) present themselves in any other condition or disease?  So you see, in stead of conclusions I have questions that I hope to find answers to. I also know that putting this hen down was the right thing to do and I should have done it sooner.


Because of the difficulty of viewing photos alone, the person I contacted declined to make a formal diagnosis or state a definitive conclusion.. He was very helpful and I appreciate his time. Based on information that I gathered, the following are my conclusions.
The fluid filled sacs were cysts and NOT tumors, nor were they eggs.
The cause or causes remain undetermined and there probably is no treatment.
The fluid most likely resulted as a physiological response to the many cysts in the abdominal cavity.
I'm sorry that I couldn't find out more but I just couldn't see the expense of sending the hen to a lab. Perhaps if something like this happens in the future I may reconsider.