I have a sick hen. I thought she was egg bound, and brought her in yesterday, soaked her for half an hour in a sink full of soapy water to get the goop and poop off the belly she had been dragging. There is no egg in there. Her bell is soft and distended like a water balloon. I googled around on various chicken boards and apparently it’s a form of peritonitis that can happen to good layers — caused when a yolk takes a wrong turn in the laying process.
This bird is elderly, but she’s eating and drinking and has produced at least one poop. According to Dr. Google, it is possible to use a hollow hypodermic needle to drain the fluid from her abdomen. (The guy who does this shared a photo of a quart jar of evil greenish yellow clear fluid from his hen, which — along with the smell of wet feathers in my kitchen — didn’t enhance the enjoyment of my coffee.)
Apparently she will be instantly happier and more comfortable, and wander off to enjoy her day. But it will refill, and refill, and eventually kill her. She will never lay again and will never get well.
So. I have the needle and the nerve… but don’t know if this is a good idea. I could miss the right spot and poke an internal organ or intestine… I have no idea how long this will relieve her discomfort.. and I suspect a quick and painless death would be the kinder choice.