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My chicken has suddenly become lethargic. Is something wrong?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hi all. I am new to the forum and to chicken keeping. I have recently adopted an ex battery hen (approx. 4 weeks ago) and up until today she has been very active.

She is on her own (soon to be rectified) has a coop that measures approx. 2 1/2 feet x 3 feet by 4 feet. Her bedding is dust free wood chipping bought from a pet store. We feed her with layers pellets (in a feeder available all day) with some grit mixed in and a handful of corn at the start/end of each day.

She has been laying every day since we got her, and laid this morning but the egg was quite pale and had a rough shell. She spends most of the day in a  four foot x four foot run, but we let her out for an hour at the end of the day and she has a good run around the garden. She is normally very active and runs around alot, but today she has been very lethargic and doesn't seem to want to come out of her coop. I lifted her out the coop to check her over and she pretty much just stayed where I put her and then wandered back into her coop. She has eaten some corn from my hand and had some water, but isn't showing her normal level of activity.

Her eyes are clear and I cannot see any discharge from her beak. Her poo is a bit runnier than normal as well.

Am I doing the "new parent" thing and panicking over something insignificant or is there something wrong. I have searched on the internet and the symptoms seem to suggest anything between being broody and death being imminent.

Please can someone offer some advice?

Thanks in advance. Chris.

post #2 of 11

Think about coccidiosis.  That's my first treatment of a sick chicken.  Make a wet mash from feed and see if she eats that.  Check for worms and parasiites

post #3 of 11

Given she is into a new environment with new parasites and other micro organisums it is a prime setup for an infection with worms or cocci as mentioned above. Look at her poops, the odd liquid poop is normal but any consistant liquidy or off color poops could be a sign of trouble.

Might be a good time to considder worming and maybe trreating for cocci if that looks to be a possible problem. If you are going to get into recuing chickens then you will want to build a stock of these meds and some knowlege about the common aflictions. It is a nice idea to get rescue birds but it can be a very tough go when you end up with sick ones. Quarantine is more than just a good idea when bring new birds in, the existing bird could infect new birds or the other way around.

I'm only plucking pheasants cuz the pheasant plucker's late.
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I'm only plucking pheasants cuz the pheasant plucker's late.
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post #4 of 11

IF a chicken looks or acts sick, they almost certainly are. Being flock animals they will if anything try to cover-up how sick they are, that said cocci can cause serious problems fast if not treated. And by the time a chicken looks or acts sick from worms or other parasites they are often in bad shape.

I'm only plucking pheasants cuz the pheasant plucker's late.
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I'm only plucking pheasants cuz the pheasant plucker's late.
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post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks for replying so quickly.

Are worming remedies readily available from poultry suppliers? I assume they are? Are any brands regarding as being better than other? I'll be able to pick something up tomorrow - would delaying treatment until evening cause issues or will that be soon enough?

Are there any other symptoms for cocci that I should look out for and what should I do to treat it?

Sorry to bombard you with questions, but I'm struggling to find a good source of info on the net smile


Edited by chris503632 - 10/13/11 at 10:52am
post #6 of 11

does her crop feel full? she may not be used to food other than feed and gorged on the corn,etc.  i would back off on the treats for a couple of days and see if she goes back to normal.

i would think that a battery hen would have been treated for cocci and fed medicated feed - but maybe not.           another think might be that she is molting - is she losing feathers rapidly?


hope she improves.

post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 

She doesn't appear to be losing feathers (there were none in the coop or around the garden/run). We don't give her much corn - only a small handful in the morning and last thing at night and she hasn't had more in the last few days than over the last month - could this still be an issue? She was fine this morning - it was only this afternoon that the symptoms appeared.

Would a chicken ever eat anything that could make it sick or will they avoid plants that are bad for them?


Edited by chris503632 - 10/13/11 at 10:57am
post #8 of 11

True a battery hen may have been treated against cocci as a chick, but with the number of strains it is very possible she encountered something new. Thing with battery hens is they are raised on wire so would have nearly zero exposure to cocci or other earth bound parasites.

The sympoms of cocci can be tough to pick out until you see bloody poops which is a final symptom.

Wazine or Piprazine is common first line wormer for poultry, there are others that are more broad spectrum but use is generally off lable as they are sold for horses, sheep or other livestock. Should be able to find this at and farm/feed store.

Corrid (amprolium) is the general first line treatment for cocci, again farm feed store should have it, but sometimes getting a smal quantity can be difficult esp if you are in an area that is more into beef farming than chickens.

The one thing that can commonly make a chicken sick is moldy feed.


Edited by Clay Valley Farmer - 10/13/11 at 11:25am
I'm only plucking pheasants cuz the pheasant plucker's late.
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I'm only plucking pheasants cuz the pheasant plucker's late.
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post #9 of 11

Clay, there are quite a few different strains of cocci-only one produces bloody stool.  I think your medicine cabinet stock idea for battery hens is a good idea.  Aren't  we all caught at some point without the right meds?

post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 

Well... she is much brighter this morning. She was active when I got up and came straight out of her coop as soon as opened it and went for her food. She had laid an egg - this is unusual for her, she usually wanders round outside for a bit and then goes back in to lay - and the egg has a very soft shell.

There are some poos in the coop with a slight pinkish tinge where they are normally white - so I am guessing she is passing some blood, but she seems much more alert and active than she was yesterday afternoon.

Picking up some meds today, but does this shed any more light on the situation?

Thanks again, Chris.

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