Case Study Emergencies/Illness Health Issues Necropsy

Case Study: Salpingitis & Fatty Liver Disease


Some of you may have heard the term ‘lash egg’, which is a bit of a misnomer because technically it’s not an egg. The correct name is salpingitis, an inflammation of the oviduct caused by an infection, which occurs in various species, including both chickens and people.

It’s a common condition in poultry, especially among factory-farmed birds, who lay large numbers of eggs. High-producing hens tend to have more relaxed egg laying muscles, which may allow fecal bacteria to migrate up the oviduct. Or sometimes it’s a result of respiratory infections that move down into the oviduct. Salpingitis is often associated with mycoplasma and bacteria like E.coli and Salmonella.

Fatty Liver Syndrome is a metabolic disorder resulting in the sudden death of birds fed high-energy diets with limited exercise. Mammals synthesize fatty acids in tissue, while in chickens, 90% occurs in the liver. A necropsy would reveal an enlarged liver with varying degrees of hemorrhage. The abdominal cavity often contains large amounts of oily, unsaturated fat. Metabolic and physical stress associated with egg-laying are believed to be factors that induce the final, fatal hemorrhage.

It’s common in both commercial farms with production layers and backyard chickens alike. It’s no surprise in a world of overweight people eating unbalanced diets we also have overweight chickens eating things not on the traditional list of recommended foods.

McHungry, 3 year-old Barnyard Mix Hen

Kendel, didn’t notice any signs of illness prior to her hen’s death. She was free-ranging with the flock without issue. On the day McHungry died Kendel noticed her on the roost bar and when she came back three hours later her hen was dead on the coop floor.

Kendel performed a rudimentary necropsy and took photos hoping for an answer.

The ‘lash egg’ is a product of Salpingitis (oviduct infection).

There’s a lot of fat in this bird and the liver is extremely pale with a blood clot inside. That may indicate Fatty Liver Disease, but it may also just be post-mortem liver drainage.

The large yellow blob by the breastbone is an egg yolk still in its ovary follicle. It has an odd colour and may be infected. A normal one should appear round and pert.

This bird had Salpingitis with possible Fatty Liver Disease. Unfortunately there is no treatment.

What I do recommend for the health of your remaining flock is to reduce treats and corn levels in their diet, just in case this is a result of Fatty Liver Disease.

Thanks to Kendel Alstad for her photos, used with permission, and to Debra Watt, Veterinary Technician for reviewing the photos and diagnosis.

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