Originally Posted by 21hens-incharge
I am needing a little advice from anyone that keeps the hens even after they are done laying.
My old hen (leghorn age 5+) had been dropping weight. I thought from the molting. This afternoon I gave them some tomatoes as a treat. It is now clear she is having trouble seeing. She got one good bite in then could not find the mater again. She kept pecking just beyond the mater. She gave up and went inside to let the other hens have the treat. I took her one just for her. I wanted to test her eyesight. I held the mater and she came over to get a bite. She could not hit the target well enough to break the skin of the tomato. I broke it open and put it in front of her. She could get a couple bites but once it was just under here beak seemed to lose it and pecked as if it were 3 or 4 inches farther out.
The tomato was about 3 inches in diameter. I repeated with a 5 inch tomato. Same result, so I think her vision is failing.
I do not want her to die of starvation.
I have a game plan.... sort of....
I plan to give her some scrambled egg mixed with layer feed in the morning before I go to work. I will feed her alone so she has no competition. In the afternoon I plan to give her some more egg along with mackerel and layer feed. I think if I put it in a shallow wide food dish she may be able to eat some of it.
Will eating two times a day be enough or should I repeat again before they roost?
Anyone else ever see this kind of vision loss?
Right now she is the only one in the hen house. I closed the others out so she could have the tomato and I could judge how much she ate.
I do know it is a long shot and if it fails I will have to do what is humane.
21, I haven't any experience with aging birds losing their eyesight, but my box turtles have shown those sorts of symptoms when they were malnourished/vitamin A deficient. My aged Bearded Dragon, as well. With reptiles, eye - and vision - problems are one of the first signs of ill health, and I have been successful in restoring them to good health with vitamin A supplementation (beta carotene) and foods high in vitamin A. I realize chickens aren't very closely related to reptiles, but the necessity of Vit A compounds to eye health is close to universal.
I like the idea of scrambled egg supplements, and I add them almost every day to my flock's feed. They love them, and the yolks are high in A. I nursed an injured Austrolorp back to health one time (her crop had somehow got caught and torn on one of my canine's canines), and I supplemented her diet with vitamins high in antioxidants, first in her water, later in her food when she could eat. The goal was to promote tissue growth and boost immunity. When she could eat, I gave her animal foods, both live and dead; these included liver, worms and eggs - with their shells ad lib. And of course her pellet feed. IMO, raw liver is one of the best foods you can give your aging hen. Whole live foods are best if she will eat them. Keep her hydrated! Add electrolytes to her water, maybe, maybe ACV and molasses. You don't have to overdo, just use common sense. Less is usually better than More. Chickens have an amazing capacity to recover and survive. Five is not that old, I have one RIR that old, not laying much, but still OK.
I am so happy to learn of someone else who cares about their non-laying older hens. They do need special care, there have been articles written about taking care of them, I have read them. My friends tell me I am crazy to not get rid of any of my hens when they get to be older than two. I agree, I am crazy. Good luck with your not-that-old hen. And Blessings.