9 month old runt hen with increasingly lame legs, very sick, PLEASE help


6 Years
Feb 4, 2013
Hello Chicken Sleuths,

Can you please help me figure out if I can save my little runty Rhode Island Red hen? She is 9 months old and has been laying for 3 months. Compared to her 5 companions, she is quite little and lays very thin shelled, small eggs, that are often crushed in the nest before I can collect them. I always give her extra oyster shells on top of their layer feed. She's always been very spunky otherwise.

Other information: She free ranges with the other girls for about 4 hours every day. The farm I got her from never vaccinated her (nor 4 other hens the same age as her).

7 days ago I came out to bring the chickens back into the coop when I noticed her limping with an exaggerated limp. She was walking on the knee, instead of her foot. She still scrambled around fine and stuck with the others, laying, etc.. After three days, however, she began to limp on the other leg as well, but still made it into the coop at night and out in the morning. On day five she started looking really wobbly and I made her stay in the run area while the other hens free ranged. Both feet look limp to the point I think she might be gradually becoming paralyzed. Her eyes are still brown with normal pupil dilation. She has not laid an egg in 4 days and I had to remove her from the coop and quarantine her in a dog crate (within the chicken run) because all the chickens began pecking her. She eats a little feed, grass, and watermelon when I put it right next to her, but I cannot witness or induce her to drink. Her droppings are fairly normal colored with no apparent worms. When I checked out her feathers I saw no mites, but I saw lots of huge scaps around her neck and top of wing. Could I have missed a hawk attack? Or is that what a chicken who gets pecked looks like? She is looking worse by the day and it does not seem like she has Marek's, but I am such a novice and an urban chicken owner nowhere near a good avian vet.

Finally, as much as I am attached to this chicken, I have small children and am worried about bird to human transmission of disease.

Please help!

Thanks so so much.
I should add that she has no wheezing and that her comb and wattles are still bright red. Her vision is hard to attest to. She seems to see me and food and goes for the greens and the watermelon pretty immediately, but won't peck at layer crumbles unless I put them right under her beak.
I'm wondering if I posted to a forum that does not get much activity. I would love some help. My hen is getting sicker. She won't really eat except watermelon. Won't drink. Uses her wings to balance herself and shuffle across the floor. And now I have deduced that the scabs on the top of her breast were probably self-induced. She has been pecking at it and bleeding. She still keeps her head up and her eyes seem very normal. Finally, she has not laid an egg since Sunday. As I mentioned above, I wonder if she is just a more sickly chicken with a poor reproductive system. I found her egg broken in the next at least 5 times and when her eggs did make it in the house they were so thin-shelled that they would break with the slightest pressure.

When and how does one decide that it's time to call it for a chicken? Poor girl! Any advice is really appreciated.
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so I am not sure about the limp but when it comes to soft shelled eggs calcium supplement in water works wonders. not all chickens like eating oyster shells so water supplement is a food way to insure they are getting enough. I just had same problem and was fine this suggestion. the shells corrected themselves within a week of starting the supplement

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