Chicken with Diarrhea - How long until she gets better? at what point to give up?


6 Years
Aug 2, 2013
Utah County, Utah
Have you successfully treated a chicken for mysterious diarrhea then had her go back to being an awesome layer? How long did it take for her to get better?

Background: I've got an almost two-year-old hatchery barred rock. She's been a good layer. In October she started molting and stopped laying. Her feathers finally started growing back in. Last Wednesday, I noticed she had diarrhea and wasn't really eating (she'd eat meal worms, but not scratch or her feed), so I separated her from the flock and put her in a kennel in my garage. She got weaker and weaker.

I took her to the vet on Friday because I was worried she had something contagious that the rest of my flock might have. At the vet, her eyes were closing, I was pretty sure she was going die the next day. The vet said it wasn't cocci and her bacteria count was pretty much normal, He didn't think it was something that the rest of the flock would have. He suggested trying amoxicillin since it was inexpensive and couldn't hurt. She's on day 3 of the antibiotic. She is doing slightly better, more active and eating slightly more. I've been feeding her mashed hard boiled egg and yogurt, which she eats. She has access to her usual food, which she doesn't eat. She still has diarrhea.

My current plan is to finish up the antibiotic, then take her off the yogurt (I've suspected this chicken is lactose intolerant) and see how she is.

Problem is, I'm not sure where the point of diminishing returns is. Before she got sick, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with her next fall. She is a good, curious chicken, but she is almost two and since she molted the entire winter, I've been feeding a rather large chicken for no eggs. She is half way between a pet and livestock, so it makes the call hard. I want to give her a fair chance. How do you make the call about saving vs culling?
With antibiotics, especially amoxicillin, she may need probiotics to get her gut bacteria back to normal. Try some probiotics such as Probios Powder. Chickens really don't have the enzymes to digest dairy that well. It is winter, and mine molted in Sept-Oct, but not all have resumed laying due to the short daylight hours. If she hasn't started back laying in early spring, then you might have to make some decisions.
My chickens are kinda like yours, not pets but not food, I like giving mine a decent life. When a chicken gets sick around here I watch it, isolate if necessary, than wait about a week to see if they can fight it off, most improve and go about their business, some are the same or worse, the same ones get another week, the worse one get culled, and if you haven't improved in two weeks you get culled. It sounds cruel maybe, but I don't treat my birds nor worm them, I want healthy resistant birds, in the past I treated and those birds always were dead within a year from something.

I have trouble sometimes making the call, I will usually base my decision on suffering or chance of disease spread, though once a bird is sick the whole flock has been exposed. You course of action seems sound, take her off the dairy and see, it is a nasty part of chicken keeping we all have to accept at some point, good luck with your hen.
I had to put down my hen today. She had seemed to be doing better then today she was the worst I'd ever seen her.

I think oldhenlikesdogs I'll follow your advice for the future. It seems fair and practical.
Sorry to hear that, around here my poultry is healthy until it's not, and there's always some underlying problem that I can't see but I know it's there. People will say do a autopsy but I figure why, the bird still wouldn't have made it. Give them good lives, they are way better off than production birds in tiny cages or meat birds being butchered at 8 weeks. Though it still bothers me to lose one. Sorry again.

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