I have two hens, a barred rock "Agatha" and a rhode island red, "Ethel". The barred rock, Agatha, showed symptoms first. 1-2 weeks later, Ethel, the red, started showing symptoms beginning with dilated pupils, floppy comb, and sleepiness. No other hens have shown any signs of this illness. I appologize if this post is a mess... but I want to give all information that I have.
I noticed lice crawling on their vents in December, dusted them, and have not seen any poultry lice since. Both chickens have been slowly but surely getting sicker, and have been sick since late January. They both visited the vet in February, Agatha was diagnosed with sour crop, which I treated with apple cider vinegar and she no longer has that foul smell in her breath. Vet recommended antibiotics so, they were treated with a very broad spectrum antibiotic called "trimethsulfa" for 10 days, it did not change their condition at all.
I once saw that Agatha pooped out a roundworm about an inch long. I have dewormed them with Safe-guard for 4 days, 2 times per day. No worms seen since. They get rooster booster "vitamins and electrolyes with lacto bacillus" in their water. They eat very small amounts, but Ethel is more active and eats more. I will tube feed Agatha, but her crop is very slow to empty. All Agatha will eat are meal worms... refuses eggs. I've dusted their coop with the red/clay colored foodgrade diatomaceous earth, even added it to their food for a week. I isolated them, for about week, no improvement. Returned them to the coop, no improvement. Agatha is no longer perching at night, sleeping in nest box or outside, I assume it's due to her balance being so off. Her back feathers are being pecked at from her sister, Agnes... who is now listed in the re-homing section due to her constant mean girl syndrome. As she walks, it looks as if she is on a balance beam, she moves very slowly and wobbly. Ethel is not yet to that point, but I know that is what will come next if this isn't figured out. Neither of them are egg-bound. Again, NO other hen shows any signs of illness. But, I swear, these two have the SAME thing, they are just in different stages of it.
Possibly related?? I have another hen (a black australorp, Ursula) who is nearly completely bald from being pecked at and eating her own feathers. Vet diagnosed her with self-mutilation after a trip to the vet for a staff infection. She's healed from that, but now her eggs have gone from light brown to almost white, and she still is picking at herself. Covering her with a black cohesive bandage was all that I could do to protect her from herself, but it was causing her feathers to come in ingrown, so I stopped using them. I now coat her in pinetar, which helps keep her from picking at her skin, but she still picks at other areas like her legs and my bully hen will pick at her neck.
Simple lay out of symptoms of Ethel and Agatha:
Behavior, over sleepy, depressed and lethargic (will fall asleep when standing, then startle awake and lay down)
Change in voice, vocal strength is weaker
Droppings, green (sometimes bright green) and watery
Eggs, reduced production
Eyes, change in pupil size (enlarged)
Eyes, closed or partially closed
Head tucked into neck or drooping
Incoordination, stumbling, falling
Pale comb / with drooping
Comb has black spots, but it has not been cold enough for frost bite
Reduced feed consumption
Weakness, almost always laying down
Weight loss (Agatha is frighteningly thin, when tube feeding her, her crop is very slow to empty)
Scales on legs are darkening/blackening
Walking appears to be painful (NO bumble foot)
Agatha has a cracked beak
Cold to the touch
Agatha has an awkward gait, sometimes will stand up like a penguin using her tailbone to support her rather than her legs.
Both of their legs are darkening, even black on some parts
Agatha no longer lifts her tail more than parallel to the ground. It is almost always down.
Any wisdom out there?! I'm up in the middle of the night searching and searching for answers. The only thing I've found that closely gives me an answer is redmites, but I have never seen one on the coop, or on them. My vet has basically said it likely is just a virus, and even suggested that I have them put Agatha down in order to do a necropsy to possibly know what is wrong with Ethel to maybe possibly be able to treat her. I don't want to kill one of my girls. They are my friends, not my food.