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Sick Black Rock hen

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I am desperate for ideas, can anyone help? I have a flock of two, a black rock hen aged about a year and a half, and a light sussex aged about 6 months (who came to us back in the summer when we lost our previous one to a fox).


The Black Rock, Beyonce, has been poorly for a little while - today is the tenth day. She has always been in rude health, she lays fabulous eggs daily (up until 11 days ago), she's bossy and noisy and eats for England. Normal food is layers pellets; they generally stay in a generously sized run on soil, and get treats of mealworms, grain, scraps like tomatoes, cucumber, greens, hand pulled grass, blueberries, grapes etc. Occasionally we give the some free range time in the garden where they feast on grass and have a good scratch about. Oddly, though, Bee has always been on the thin side and has very little "meat" over her keel - she's very reedy. She went off her food 10 days ago - not a lot, just much less enthusiastic than usual. She is exhibiting the following;


Mooching rather slowly around the run and having a little scratch around, but generally off food, even mealworms

Not laying

Comb slightly darkened

Raised feathers on the back of her neck (don't know the proper word for that sorry), giving her that strange flattened head appearance - then started to take on the hunched position with lowered tail and unkempt feathers in about the last 4-5 days

Watery droppings - sometimes white sometimes just a muddy colour, once frothy yellow - but no blood, and the feathers around her vent are marked with white crystals/powdery residue.


8 days ago I gave her electrolytes and took her to an expert poultry keeper in the area, who gave her a dose of liquid Vermex (persuaded her to take a few morsels of bread soaked in Vermex and natural yoghurt) and gave her a 4 day acting antibiotic injection. She commented that she was unusually thin for a bird top of the pecking order and usually greedy as a pig, so she wondered about coccidiosis. We agreed that if Bee didn't turn a corner, we would treat for that.


She didn't improve during last week, so I medicated the drinker (for both girls) with Coxaid, a treatment for coccidiosis, from yesterday lunchtime. She didn't seem to be drinking yesterday, so I wrapped her in a towel and syringed drops of medicated water over her beak for her to swallow yesterday afternoon (I wouldn't dare try and syringe it straight down in case of aspiration) - I got about 5 beakfuls down her, when she suddenly just regurgitated the whole lot over me.


Today she is staying in one spot, not eating or drinking at all, and has started head shaking. She is clean as a whistle, no mites on her, and her lungs are clear. Crop is empty save a bit of grit, no trapped egg. Babs, Bee's coop-mate, is fit and well, eating and laying and exhibiting no symptoms, although she did have a respiratory infection when we first got her which she fully recovered from.


I don't want to lose her but she seems to be deteriorating fast. Any thoughts?


Thank you all

post #2 of 7

Gosh that sounds like a tough one. Sorry that i do not have the requisite experience to help you but i hope that by later this evening or tomorrow someone with the necessary expertise may be able to assist.



Nairobi, Kenya
Nairobi, Kenya
post #3 of 7

The ruffled neck feathers is supposedly a sign of fever, and with her not eating, being puffed up, I also would treat for coccidosis. Could you try giving her a couple of drops of the undiluted coxoid twice a day? Tube feeding may be done just to keep her well hydrated and get the medicine in her. Can you get any tube feeding equipment or make some yourself? Bee could have some underlying issue that has caused her to be so thin, but the tube feeding might help save her. Aquarium air line tubing can be fashioned into a feeding tube by melting one end to soften sharp edges, and connecting it to a syringe. Here is a good link about it:

post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thank you! Funnily enough she has done quite well at drinking the medication today, and whilst she still looks unwell, she was brighter when I got home than I expected. I suppose its only been a bit more than 24 hrs since putting the meds down, ought to give it a chance.

Babs was tucked up in the coop ready for bed, and although Bee was in there with her she wasn't roosting and seemed fairly perky, peering round at me - neck feathers looked better too.

She's not out of the woods but I am hopeful now, especially now the coccidiosis suggestion has been endorsed!

I'll see how she goes and keep you posted. I'd be nervous about tube feeding owing to inexperience, but would certainly intervene if i absolutely had to. I expect it's quite stressful for them? One thing I dont understand - I saw something which said that the coccidiosis life cycle was 6 days, and that birds either die on the 5th/6th day or start recovering. If that was true, why would the disease cause her to be underweight over a long period (which was what the expert said had happened to one of her flocks), and why would she still be unwell after 10 days if shes still alive?

Hmm, who knows. Fingers crossed she starts recovering...
post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

By way of updating this thread, sadly Beyoncé didn't survive - she continued to deteriorate and on the 14th day was hunched up at the drinker, looking dreadful and just continually taking water on board. As she wouldn't even leave the drinker to go to the coop and sleep, I decided enough was enough.


She was terribly thin with no muscle mass at all, the vet thought it may have been a systemic issue which had been going on for some time. She was helped on her way on Friday night.


RIP Yonce.

post #6 of 7

Sorry for your loss. I'm glad that she isn't suffering. Excessive thirst can be a sign of aspergillosis, a disease that comes from mold fungus in the environment. Of course without a vet performing a necropsy, that would only be a guess. Mareks and some other diseases can cause wasting.

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks - yes, I did some research and aspergillosis and mareks both came up for excessive thirst and wasting...I decided against a necropsy anyway, so who knows what really ailed her. sad.png

We have a replacement companion for the lonely remaining chicken, althoigh it was a disastrous introduction (thread in management called "rookie error with new addition") - luckily all is well though.

Thanks for your insight on the late great Yonce. She will be missed.
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