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Reasons for evaluation on an emergency basis of and short-term outcomes for chickens from backyard flocks: 78 cases (2014–2017)

Meghan E. Vaught1Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536.

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Jay N. Gladden1Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536.

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Elizabeth A. Rozanski1Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536.

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Jennifer Graham1Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To investigate the reasons for evaluation on an emergency basis of and short-term outcomes for chickens from backyard flocks.

DESIGN

Retrospective case series.

ANIMALS

78 chickens.

PROCEDURES

For chickens evaluated on an emergency basis at a New England veterinary teaching hospital in January 2014 through March 2017, information including age, sex, flock size, primary medical problem, final diagnosis, and immediate outcome was obtained from electronic medical records. Primary medical problems were classified as abnormal droppings, crop or gastrointestinal tract disease, lameness, neurologic disease, nonspecific signs (ie, undefined illness), respiratory tract disease, reproductive tract disease, and trauma.

RESULTS

78 chickens were evaluated on an emergency basis, of which 71 were females from small flocks. The median age of the chickens was 1 year (range, 0.1 to 7 years). The most common problem was trauma (n = 25), followed by nonspecific signs (11) and reproductive tract disease (10); 18 birds had neurologic disease (6), lameness (6), or gastrointestinal tract disease (6). Five birds had respiratory tract disease, and 3 had abnormal droppings. Six birds were brought to the emergency service for euthanasia only. Trauma, reproductive tract disease, and signs of Marek disease were most frequently identified in birds that were fully evaluated. Thirty-five (45%) chickens were discharged from the hospital.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Results indicated that backyard flock chickens were evaluated on an emergency basis most commonly because of trauma and reproductive tract disease. Although approximately half of the evaluated chickens were euthanized, the remainder were discharged from the hospital and required medical management. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2019;254:1196–1203)

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To investigate the reasons for evaluation on an emergency basis of and short-term outcomes for chickens from backyard flocks.

DESIGN

Retrospective case series.

ANIMALS

78 chickens.

PROCEDURES

For chickens evaluated on an emergency basis at a New England veterinary teaching hospital in January 2014 through March 2017, information including age, sex, flock size, primary medical problem, final diagnosis, and immediate outcome was obtained from electronic medical records. Primary medical problems were classified as abnormal droppings, crop or gastrointestinal tract disease, lameness, neurologic disease, nonspecific signs (ie, undefined illness), respiratory tract disease, reproductive tract disease, and trauma.

RESULTS

78 chickens were evaluated on an emergency basis, of which 71 were females from small flocks. The median age of the chickens was 1 year (range, 0.1 to 7 years). The most common problem was trauma (n = 25), followed by nonspecific signs (11) and reproductive tract disease (10); 18 birds had neurologic disease (6), lameness (6), or gastrointestinal tract disease (6). Five birds had respiratory tract disease, and 3 had abnormal droppings. Six birds were brought to the emergency service for euthanasia only. Trauma, reproductive tract disease, and signs of Marek disease were most frequently identified in birds that were fully evaluated. Thirty-five (45%) chickens were discharged from the hospital.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Results indicated that backyard flock chickens were evaluated on an emergency basis most commonly because of trauma and reproductive tract disease. Although approximately half of the evaluated chickens were euthanized, the remainder were discharged from the hospital and required medical management. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2019;254:1196–1203)

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Dr. Gladden (Jay.gladden@tufts.edu).