Chicken drooping wings, foamy diarrhea, lethargic… rooster showing similar symptoms.

Sunshine Chick

Songster
9 Years
Jul 17, 2014
101
101
181
Hillsboro Ohio
Okay, so first, the basics: I feed them layer pellets, grit, and eggshell, free choice. 2 or 3 times weekly I’ll add a generous amount of yogurt on top. They currently live in a greenhouse with a tarp over part of it for shade. They have access to an outdoor run with mulch.

A couple of recent changes:
1. Their bedding is way overdue… there’s a lot of bare ground, and they need more mulch. 😕 It’s been raining a lot, so they’ve probably been stuck inside more than usual (not by force, but because they don’t like going out in the rain).
2. Yesterday I gave them fermented feed as a treat… they were so eager to gobble it up they scattered their feed everywhere.

I’m wondering what this illness may be? The hen is overall very lethargic and drooping her wings. Seems off balance when on the perch, though I’m not sure if she’s off balance or just exhausted. I found her huddled in the nesting box. Come to think of it, one hen was hanging out in there last week, but I didn’t think much of it because she was walking around later. She just seemed tired. I should have checked her more thoroughly then…
Multiple hens have diarrhea, and have had diarrhea on and off for over a month, at least. I contribute it to stress and dirty bedding. I recently had to remove a couple of roosters, and they all seemed much better after that, but still the mild diarrhea will come and go.

In another pen, completely closed off to the others, is a group of or 6 hens and a rooster. Used to be two, but I removed the other rooster yesterday. Their situation is less ideal. There isn’t as much ventilation, and although it’s much drier in there, they’re under more stress due to the heat. They do have shade. But the heat and lack of bedding is stressful for them. The rooster that’s left in that flock is drooping his wings, and walking funny… not stumbling, but definitely off balance. He can’t stay on the perch. He seems slower than normal, but I wouldn’t call him lethargic at all. He still eats enthusiastically. They also got fermented feed yesterday for the first time, but he was showing signs of illness for a couple of weeks before this. I just didn’t realize it… I thought it was strange that he preferred the crate in the corner over the perch, but I didn’t realize that was because he couldn’t balance well on the perch… used to, I’d just place him back on the perch and he seemed to do okay. He currently does not have any diarrhea at all.

The hen is a Plymouth Rock, and the rooster is a black mystic onyx.

I’m not sure what these illnesses are, and if it’s my fault for poor care, I need to know for sure what needs to change. Obviously more bedding is needed. But other than that… are these illnesses treatable, or should I show mercy in culling now?
Any input is appreciated. Thank you for taking the time to read!
 

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Can you give them more ventilation?
Heat stress can kill birds, if there's no way to provide them more shade then provide them with cool water several times a day.

Look them over for lice/mites. I'd consider deworming them and treating for Coccidiosis as well.

You can get Safeguard liquid goat dewormer at TSC. Dose is 0.23ml per pound of weight given orally once a day for 5 days in a row.
Corid liquid dose is 2tsp or Corid powder dose is 1 1/2 tsp per gallon of water given for 5-7 days.

I'd give them plain fresh feed, make sure it's not moldy.
 
Can you give them more ventilation?
Heat stress can kill birds, if there's no way to provide them more shade then provide them with cool water several times a day.

Look them over for lice/mites. I'd consider deworming them and treating for Coccidiosis as well.

You can get Safeguard liquid goat dewormer at TSC. Dose is 0.23ml per pound of weight given orally once a day for 5 days in a row.
Corid liquid dose is 2tsp or Corid powder dose is 1 1/2 tsp per gallon of water given for 5-7 days.

I'd give them plain fresh feed, make sure it's not moldy.
Thank you for your input. They do not have lice/mites, I checked. They’ve recently been treated for those. They’ve been wormed, and they’ve been treated with Corid within the past few months. Do you think there’s anything else this could be besides coccidiosis or worms? Do you think moldy feed would cause this? Heat exhaustion is unlikely as a cause since the hen in the well-ventilated hoop house is the one who is most sickly. I am treating the rooster and hen with the corid liquid, to see if it helps them.
 
I think there is always a risk of mold when using fermented feed. I tried it for 8 months one years, and it was a mess when they would spread it everywhere. It worked great as a weed killer though. In summer, it is hard to prevent spoilage. So I would stop the fermented feed for now. Provide more ventilation. Are you letting them free range some? They look like they are overmounted by the roosters, and have a lot of feather loss from pecking and overcrowding. Molting may be occurring soon as well. Years ago, I stopped hatching my own eggs due to not being able to rehome so many cockerels. I gave them away for butchering or need for a rooster. There can be a lot of stress in the hens from cockerels, heat, and overcrowding. You can pen up roosters to give the hens a break. A larger single coop with only one rooster might be a good option. Treat for possible worms and coccidiosis as Wyorp Rock suggested. Clean and change waterers every day, and get rid of any mold or old feed spillage.
 
I think there is always a risk of mold when using fermented feed. I tried it for 8 months one years, and it was a mess when they would spread it everywhere. It worked great as a weed killer though. In summer, it is hard to prevent spoilage. So I would stop the fermented feed for now. Provide more ventilation. Are you letting them free range some? They look like they are overmounted by the roosters, and have a lot of feather loss from pecking and overcrowding. Molting may be occurring soon as well. Years ago, I stopped hatching my own eggs due to not being able to rehome so many cockerels. I gave them away for butchering or need for a rooster. There can be a lot of stress in the hens from cockerels, heat, and overcrowding. You can pen up roosters to give the hens a break. A larger single coop with only one rooster might be a good option. Treat for possible worms and coccidiosis as Wyorp Rock suggested. Clean and change waterers every day, and get rid of any mold or old feed spillage.
There were 2 roosters in the house with less ventilation, and 6 hens. As of 3 or 4 days ago, there is now one rooster and 6 hens. The sickly one is with the hens. I plan to cull the other one in a week, so he’s been separated. It is roughly 10’ by 10’, giving each bird 14 sq ft. They do not have access to an outdoor run, because I was trying to keep them separate from the birds I wanted to breed. At this point, I’m probably going to let them re-incorporate into the flock, and forgo breeding this year. I think you’re right, one big coop and one rooster would be best.

The other house is mostly open on both ends, and gets plenty of ventilation. It is 9.5’ by 10’. There were 24 hens and one rooster. That gives everyone 3.8 sq ft per bird. After I removed the sick hen, now everyone has just shy of 4 sq ft per bird. This hasn’t been a problem up until heavy rains made them want to stay cooped up indoors for multiple days in a row… but it has become a problem recently.

They had a bad molt last fall, and most of them never seemed to recover… I have noticed they’ve lost more feathers recently. A bit of feather picking is evident, for sure. The fermented feed was not moldy at all.

Thank you for your input. 🙂 I’m actually thinking it’s time to cull a lot of the flock… I’m not able to give so many birds the care that they need, and it’s cruel to keep so many just because I like them… when they keep getting sick like this.
 
Both birds have improved, and the hen has made a complete recovery. 😊 Still going to cull until I’m down to around 12-14 birds. Still going to put in fresh bedding today. But at least everyone else is well. It must have been coccidiosis, is all I can figure.
 
I'm glad to hear they are improving!

Warm wet weather can sometime cause an overload, so it's good that you treated them for Coccidiosis.

There's nothing wrong with culling the numbers down to where you can manage them better. We all have to re-evaluate our set ups, birds, finances, etc. now and again. I have some culling I need to do myself!
 
I used to have way too many chickens years ago, and I didn’t want to butcher any. One friend did take extra cockerels to butcher. I found a couple of people who wanted to start flocks, so I offered each one 4-6 pullets or hens and a cockerel for each one. No charge, and it helped me out a lot.
 

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