In cases of diarrhoea, the voidings are frequent, and either dark and watery or yellowish or greenish in colour, according to the predisposing cause of the ailment. Where the voidings are simply dark and watery, the ailment may be traced to the consumption of sour foods or stagnant water, but when the droppings are of a yellowish or greenish colour, then some affection of the liver and other digestive organs may be at the root of the mischief. In any case, there is an irritation of the intestines, and this should be allayed by giving the patient a dose of warmed castor oil, followed by daily doses of sweet oil. In addition to this treatment, the bird should be doctored for liver troubles, if such are the cause of the diarrhoea. During treatment, cool, soft, and nourishing foods, prepared with milk, should be given.
The subjects of cholera or septic fever usually show symptoms of the ailment by moping in certain places for hours together, and then paying visits to the drinking vessels, where much water is consumed in an endeavour to quench their feverish thirst. Diarrhoea is in most cases set up, and the voidings are at first dark in colour and frothy, and these, later on, turn to voidings of a greenish hue. The disease is an epidemic one, and is due to foul, stagnant water, of which the birds have drunk. In advanced cases the lining membrane of the intestines becomes perforated, and blood is discharged with the droppings. The disease spreads rapidly, and as there is no permanent cure for it the best thing to do with affected birds is to kill and cremate them, whilst those which have run with them, but which appear well, should be isolated in fresh quarters. Those vacated should be disinfected, the structures being fumigated and limewashed, and the runs heavily dressed with quicklime.
When scurfy and whitish patches appear on the comb, face, or wattles of a fowl, one may conclude that the bird is suffering from a parasitic disease of those members. The disease originates in dirty, damp, and ill-smelling places. In cases of this kind, the affected parts should be saturated with turpentine, and this should be followed by a dressing of carbolic ointment As this ailment has a debilitating affect upon fowls, the birds under treatment should be given nourishing foods and a few doses of cod-liver oil, or, better still, some cod-liver oil and quinine capsules. Epsom salts should also be added to the drinking water to cool the system of the birds and purify their blood.
Apoplexy or paralysis of the brain is brought about by a fatty degeneration of the internal organs. The vessels near the brain become ruptured, and there is an exudence of blood which paralyses the nerves. If the affected bird does not die suddenly from syncope, it may linger in its misery for days and even weeks. Beyond keeping the patient perfectly quiet, nothing can be done, and as very few birds recover from an attack it is more humane to kill, rather than attempt to cure them. Fortunately, cases of apoplexy are not very prevalent among poultry; still, the poultry keeper should avoid such foods as are likely to over-stimulate them during periods of hot weather.
When a fowl is anaemic, there is a paleness and flabbiness of comb, and the plumage beomes ruffled and loses its gloss. The ailment is traceable to poorness of blood, brought about by lack of fresh air in the sleeping quarters, feeding on starchy foods, such as potatoes, rice, or maize, and the shortage of vegetable foods. The conditions and feeding of the birds should be altered, and they should be given a tonic, such as iron chemical food in their water, or cod-liver oil and quinine capsules should be administered, and a little sulphate of iron added to the drinking water.
There are several forms of cramp, such as contraction of the muscles, sore hocks, and leg weakness. Contraction of the muscles may be caused through exposure to damp; sore hocks are caused by allowing young fowls to sleep on hard floors; leg weakness or paralysis is caused through feeding too freely on foods which develop flesh in advance of bone. If it is known that the ailing birds have been sleeping on damp floors or running daily on wet soil, their legs should be held in hot water, as hot as the hand can comfortably bear; after which they should be dried and have a brisk rubbing with embrocation. The birds should be kept in well-littered pens whilst under treatment. In cases where the hocks of the birds have been rendered sore through sleeping on hard floors, the conditions should be altered, either perches or litter being provided for the patients. In cases of leg weakness or rickets, bone-forming foods should be used, and iron chemical food may be administered in the drinking water with advantage.
When hens become egg-bound, they pay frequent visits to the nest, and their tails become depressed. To give relief, the inner walls of the vent should be well saturated with sweet oil, after which that part of the posterior should be held over a jug of steaming water, when, as likely as not, the egg will be delivered. Should, however, the bird fail to deposit the egg whilst going through the steaming process, the vent should again be oiled, and the patient placed on straw in a quiet place till the following day, during which time, probably, the egg will be delivered.
Fowls suffering from scaly legs walk more or less lame, according to the extent of the ailment, which is brought about by allowing the birds to roost on perches coated with excreta, or to run on soil reeking with filth. The legs become coated with a chalk-like substance, the deposit of insects that burrow under the scales covering the shanks and feet. The legs should be held up to the hocks in paraffin for several minutes each day for a week, after which they should be soaked in hot soapy water and the encrustations removed. If the latter do not leave the shanks without causing blood to flow, the paraffin treatment should again be resorted to. When clear of foreign matter, the legs and feet should be dressed with vaseline.
Such are the common ailments to which fowls are subject, either through accident or mismanagement. The remedies prescribed are simple and easy of application, but, in addition to these, isolation and good nursing are necessary to effect a cure. The reader is therefore referred to my previous article dealing with the care of sick fowls (page 2530.)