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Very sick hen

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Hi!  Help me please.  My hen, a mottled houdan hen, is about six months old.  She was laying an egg a day until about a week ago.  I saw a bit of molting so I thought that is why she had stopped.  Today, when I went to pick her up, she was almost limp.  It had been very cold outside and rainy.  I brought the flock into the garage where they sleep at night. 


I went to check on the flock and to say goodnight and she was just laying the middle of the pen.  I called to her but she didn't respond.  She usually screams 'BAWK' when I say her name.  I got her out of the pen and she feels so lifeless.  The area around her eyes are red.  She is lethargic.  Some of the feathers on her back have been pecked off.  I tried to see if she could walk.  I checked her legs.. they seem to be fine but she won't walk.  She just sits still.  I offered her treats and she did eat a few.  I then came in and read that I should isolate her from the flock so I brought her in the house.  The chicken chick suggested that she drink lots of water.. so I"ve given her quite a bit.


Oh ya.. as I brought her inside.. watery discharge (clear) came pouring out of her mouth.   When i talk to her, she just shuts her eyes.  I can force her to drink water by dipping her beak into the water, but she then falls back asleep.  She is so lethargic.  Everything is closed at the moment.  What meds should I give?  Are there over the counter antibiotics I can buy at a big box store??  Could this be an impacted egg??  She doesn't smell.   I was told that she would smell but there is no smell at all.



Please help me.  She is beautiful. 


The only other one that is acting funny is one of my roosters has been sneezing for a couple of days.  He only did it after he crowed and I thought it was the collar I had on him to keep him from crowing so loudly.  He is still very fiesty but i have him isolated too.


Am I about to lose my flock??

post #2 of 14
Thread Starter 

So I looked at her hindside and it looks as if an egg broke back there.  There is remnants stuck on her feathers.  There is a bird doctor down the street I can call but not for 8 hours.  Any suggestions?  I was thinking maybe a warm bath?

post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 

Okay.  Bath over.  I checked inside her vent and it was clear.  I went ahead and put some olive oil around the opening just in case.  It looks like the outer portion is a bit swollen. 


The color around her eyes looked better.  Out of curiousity because I watched a video on impacted crop, I held her halfway upside down and pushed slightly on her chest.  Tons of fluid came running out of her mouth.  It was clear liquid and not too gooey.  Looks like the water that I had been making her drink.  If it comes out like that, is that impacted crop or is that just how you get water out?  After I did that, her eyes looked red again.  I made her drink a bit more water. 


I blow dried her feathers.  She liked that (on warm).  I placed her back in the bathtub with some water. 


Anyone out there that can help at all?? 

post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 

So I laid in the tub with Paris.  She seemed to like the company.  When I went to stand up, she did flap her wings so there is a little fight left in her.  I gave her a bit more water.  I then went to check on the other chickens.  I had 3 hens separated out in a different cage for the past two weeks and they are doing great.  My silkies all seem good. My other mottled houdan has red eyes.. one is swollen half shut.  I separated her from the flock.  The rooster who has been sneezing.. I had taken him out at the same time I took out Paris.  I tried to get him out of the pet carrier but he was being stubborn and fought the whole way so he's still got his strength up.  I heard him wheezing.  I'm wondering if this is a respiratory infection.  I just started putting DE in the shavings about a month ago and it has seemed so dusty in there.  I'm so close to finishing the new coop (Friday is move in day).  DE isn't going in the new coop.  I'm done with that.  It was food grade but too dusty. 


Seven hours until the vet opens their office.  This has to be a cold or something.  Is that possible with chickens?  Can my Paris survive this?  She seems so weak and frail.  It's tough to see since she is always the lively one. 


Seven hours until the vet office opens.  I hope she survives the night.  I'll be up and down all night if anyone has suggestions.  Thanks for anyone reading all of this.  I love my little Paris.  She is a darling little bird. 

post #5 of 14



Sorry to hear that your hen is so ill. It sounds like she may have a blockage somewhere further down in her system since the water you have given her appears to be just sitting in her crop and not working through. Maybe a tumour or an impacted gizzard, Unfortunately I think you have done pretty much everything you can for her, short of taking her to the vet and I would now try to make her as comfortable as possible until the vets are open if that is something you would do. A nice warm box of straw, perhaps with a heating pad or hot water bottle in the bottom as sick chickens  feel the cold.


You mention that you have cockerels..... How many do you have and how many hens? Too many cockerels can cause stress both to the hens and other cockerels and stress can result in illness. Have you seen the cockerels mating the hens....The feathers missing from her may well be as a result of over mating rather than a moult, as she is a bit young yet to be moulting. Young cockerels have raging hormones and can pester the life out of young pullets. If you want to keep more than one cockerel and you just have a small flock I would advise that you make a bachelor pad for them and keep them separate.


Good luck with your little pullet.



post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thanks so much Barbara for your kind words.  I started with 24 baby chicks in the spring and 20 ended up being roosters.  I sold off 16 of the roos.. and have been trying to add in more hens.  I bought 2-6 month old silkies.  Then I bought 6 sex'd hen baby chicks but they are only 8 weeks old now so they aren't with the roosters.  My frizzled cochin bantam was their favorite and they tore all her feathers off.  I've had her separated with two new hens that I bought from california.  They are in a separate pen day and night.. although they do get to mingle with the babies.  No roos allowed.  The roosters.. since they grew up together.. they seemed to only mate with a certain hen.  When I got the two buff silkie hens, I had them in a cage alone with my buff silkie rooster and I haven't see any of the other roos touching any of them.  The blue silkie gets the white silkie.  Although he isn't the top rooster, he will fight any rooster who goes near her.  The top rooster is the one who has been mating with the mottled houdans.  Since my frizzle lost all her feathers so fast, I've been watching daily on the houdans to make sure they weren't doing it to those hens too.  This pecking.. happened today.  I have pictures from yesterday and she had almost all the feathers on her back.  I think because she was so high in the pecking order and was sick.. they just beat her down when I brought them in for the night.  I'm not even sure it was the roosters.  I think the hens were picking her feathers out. 


I have spent two weeks. .everyday.. building an 8x4 coop.. where the boys have only a small portion and the girls get the other side.  There will be hardware cloth in between so that the males cannot touch the girls unless I am breeding them out.  The coop outside has to be redone so that it will have the same partitions.  I like to let them free range, but the boys will have to be in a separate pen from the girls.  We've been looking for a farm we can afford, but prices on housing has just risen too high lately.  I keep telling the girls that they get their own pad this weekend. 


At this point I'm thinking it's an infection.  I don't think it's the coccinccidiosis because their droppings look fine.  No blood.  No diarrhea.  With three birds now sick.. it's starting to look more and more like something is being passed around.  The three sick ones are in their own cage.. except Paris because she's a diva and is in my bathtub.  I went to check on her a bit ago and she had wiggled out of the blanket i had wrapped her in and was standing up.  I petted her and she laid back down.  The other mottled houdan has the same red eyes but she isn't as bad as Paris.  The rooster.. he's just been sneezing so much lately but tonight.. it sounded messed up.. like whatever it is he has.. is progressing. 


I will be taking at least Paris to the vet tomorrow if I can get an appointment.  I"m hoping that she can identify what is going on.  I worry that it's because of the new birds from California but they do not seem to be sick.  The one bird that I put with them has no signs of illness either. 


Now that I think about it, Paris usually jumps the fence to go lay eggs under the deck.  She hasn't done that in about 4 days.  Meredeth hasn't laid an egg in 3 days either.  Hmmm.... 


P.S. Chickens are so absolutely wonderful.  I'm a recent cancer survivor and I battle M.S.  The chickens make me laugh and give so much joy everyday.  I told my mom last week that they give me a reason to get out of med everyday.  I know they don't live long long lives, but I want their short lives to be filled with lots of grass and dirt baths and worm hunting.  Thanks for listening. 

post #7 of 14

Oh boy, it sounds like you have had a run of bad luck. 20 males from 24 chicks is terrible but it pales into insignificance compared to your health problems. You must be due a run of very good luck soon after being dealt such a bad hand!


You clearly love your chickens very much and are doing the best you can to tackle the situation that you find yourself in with them. You really are to be commended for that. The rooster sounds like he has a respiratory infection and if you still have the collar on him, it might be a good idea to remove it until he is well again. I think it is the time of year that respiratory infections take hold and I have seen a few of my chickens with it recently.... sneezing and wheezing and the odd one with swollen bubbly eyes, but my experience has been that it runs it's course and with a bit of tlc they get better.

Paris sounds like there is something else going on. If she has been stressed and her immune system is low as a result, then it could be that coccidiosis has hit her. By that age chickens have usually become able to deal with it, but if they are under the weather it can take them down I think. I really don't have any other suggestions to make but when I saw all your posts and no one had responded, I just wanted to offer a bit of support if nothing else, so that you didn't feel like there was no one listening..


Good luck with them and I will be keeping my fingers crossed for Paris and for you. Hope she is as much of a fighter as you clearly are.


Please update with progress reports.


Very best wishes



post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thank you for hanging in there with me.  I took some meds to fall asleep but rushed into the bathroom a bit ago.  She is still breathing.. but barely.  I got a bit of water in her, but she didn't like it at all.  I crawled into the bathtub again and held her and talked to her for a while.  She is very close to death.  2 more hours until vet's office is open but I've never seen the vet so I'm not sure if she will even take Paris in.  She's lying in a very warm bathroom on a blanket.  She doesn't move far from wherever I set her.  She is struggling to breath.  Her butt tucks in when she breaths in.  Her waddles even cave in a bit.  Since I have another one with similar symptoms, I am guess that this is contagious.  I've heard of people who lose their whole flock.. but again.. I 'never thought it would be me'.  Paris was my first chicken.  She had a puffy head even on day two.  Her neck was long and she had trouble holding her head up.  She slept in the funniest positions. 


I'm going to research some more and then go sit with her until the vet's office is open.  I am so heartbroken.  There is a part of me that knows she is not going to make it until the vet's office opens.  Poor thing.  Wish I could do something. 

post #9 of 14

So very sorry to hear that she has deteriorated. I hope that you will be able to console yourself that you did your best for her if the worst happens. Very few chickens get so much love and care.

My experience with respiratory problems in my chickens is not so bad as you are imagining. Even if Paris didn't last until the vets opened, they may be able to give you something for the rest of the flock and it is worth considering sending her off for a necropsy if she has passed, as hopefully finding out what made her ill could help save the rest of your flock.


Why does it always have to be the "special/favourite" chickens that you lose! 


Thinking of you at this very difficult time.



post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thank you Barbara.  The vet's office couldn't see her until tomorrow so I took her to the E.R.  She died while they were administering fluids.  Autopsy will be performed to see if we can save the other birds. 


I can't believe I feel so much pain and grief over her.  She was my baby.. my first chick.  I miss her so much. 

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