Chicken listless with head turning in circles


6 Years
Apr 21, 2013
If anyone has any advice I'd really appreciate it. It's the weekend and my vet doesn't see chickens. I might be able to find someone tomorrow but I'm out of luck today.

I have a 4 year old Black Australorp hen. Yesterday I noticed that she was acting strangely -moving slowly primarily. She also allowed us to catch and handle her which is very unusual for her. I did see her laying on her side at one point - looking like she was sunning herself. When I approached she got up and behaved normally although she was moving slowly.

Yesterday she seemed to be feeding normally and her waste appeared to be normal. She is free range in our yard during the day and otherwise is in a chicken tractor. We offer layer mash which I saw her eating (yesterday). She lives with 3 other hens which are healthy.

Yesterday I believed her to be egg bound so I tried steam at her vent area for a few minutes plus olive oil around the vent area. My husband tried to feel for an egg (with a gloved finger) but said he didn't feel anything. She hides her eggs and is somewhat reclusive so I wasn't sure if she'd been laying.

This a.m. I woke up to find her sitting in the coop with her head turning in circles. I tried the steam for a few minutes. She was quiet and her head still. But after a while she did turn her head and I started to believe something else was wrong. She is now in a basket. When I first placed her there her head turned a few times. Now she is just sitting. I offered her water but she didn't drink any.

She is a family pet and we are very worried.

The other related posts I read suggested vitamin drops - though this doesn't seem likely in this case. She isn't a young bird and has a varied diet. If it's a viral I'm guessing it might be contagious????

Thank you!
You may have seen vitamin drops suggested because they sometimes help in cases of Marek's. I certainly don't know that this is her problem -- but it is the first thing I would research further if I had a hen with these symptoms.

Good luck.

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