Couple of problems


7 Years
Oct 24, 2012
Hi all,

Recently bought a couple of pullets for our flat. We haven't had prior experience with chickens, but we are pretty sensible and they have been relatively trouble free until now. Both of the hens have been laying very well for a couple of months. However, today and one day last week one of the hens has become noticeably sick. Symptoms include ignoring food, lethargy, lacking the urge to move when I walk close by, puffiness and droopy tail. I gave her crop a feel, but I don't really know what I should be looking for - It didn't seem noticeably squishy. Both times this has happened she was fine all morning and afternoon, and the sickness seemed to come on early evening. Also, the last time this happened she layed her egg on the lawn in the evening without a completely formed shell. She was beck to her normal self the next morning.

They eat a lot of grass - should we attempt to limit this? They also eat a lot of fruit scraps, could the acidity from these be contributing to potential problems?

Second problem is a funny one. The same hen will start squawking really loudly at about 7 am, while the other one is laying her egg, almost daily. Only other time she makes that noise is if there is a cat around. Would be interested to know any theories as to why on earth she does this.

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Sounds almost like it could be coccidiosis? You might google it to see but do you see any diarrhea? (Every 8th poo is a caecal poo which is liquid and that is normal.) I am referring to real diarrhea which would be all the poo or most of the poo being liquid or watery.

Make sure also they aren't eating old compost or anything that could make them ill (moldy or spoiled).

They sing the egg song for another hen as she lays an egg sometimes. There is a call that alerts the flock that there is a predator, which sounds similar to the egg song (almost identical I think). Bawk bawk bawk bawk BA- GAWK bawk bawk bawk....

They do it when they are upset and also when they lay an egg.

I think fruit is healthy for chickens myself. But I would avoid too much citrus.

Oh I wanted to mention that hens can struggle under coccidiosis if they are now exposed to different soil and thus different cocci than they had built up an immunity to (it is a disease that usually strikes 8 wk olds and under). However, immunocompromised hens can also get cocci. From my experience chickens that have coccidiosis- some are VERY ill and obviously sick and lethargic, with other members of the flock not acting sick but with bloody poo so you know their tummies hurt.

So the range of "acting ill" with it is considerable. You can have a practically silent infection raging. Some vets will do a stool sample for a small fee to test for cocci in the poo. That would be a way to tell.

If it were me I'd give them some amprolium and you should see improvement within 24 hours if it was indeed coccidiosis.

Eating grass is OK and they get vitamins from it.
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Thanks for the reply,

Again she is much more chirpy this morning. I wasnt able to tell whether she had diarrhea or bloody poo or not. I will continue to monitor her health, and if this begins to be a reocurring thing I will look into getting amprolium or seeing a vet. Will also make sure whatever is being fed to them is fresh.

In the list at the bottom of my post, in the signature, you'll find some very useful links that each open in a new window. Solutions Used for Poultry contains excellent information for dealing with parasites, which may be the issue. Some parasites, just like bacteria 'n such, have become resistant to treatment, and many will argue that birds can't have oxcytes in their systems for very long ... some can, and do, throughout their relatively long lives.

Add Apple Cider Vinegar to their water, at a rate of 4 teaspoons per 1 gallon (or, about 4 milliliter per liter, but check my math). This makes the water slightly acid (the target is a pH of 5~6) and, along w/ the tanin, 'ACV' does a bunch of good things, like reducing harmful levels of bacteria, and preventing algae, detoxification in some cases (such as those that are produced by botulism), and stripping the mucus from their systems, which also further improves nutient/vitamin uptake, and boosts their immune system, and best of all? It can't hurt your birds, in any way. Ever.

:: edit :: I forgot to mention that you should NEVER use ACV or anything acidic in galvanized metal containers :: /edit ::
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