discolored comb/wattle/face, lethargic, no feathers on belly


In the Brooder
10 Years
Nov 5, 2009
1) What type of bird , age and weight (does the chicken seem or feel lighter or thinner than the others.)
Australorp, about 14 months, is losing weight bc she sits in the coop all day. When I do push her out she goes straight to the water. I've not seen her eat feed in over a week, but she is foraging.

2) What is the behavior, exactly.
Sits in the favored nesting box all day and night. She keeps her head low and her tail feathers raised. When we push her out of the coop she drinks and moves about naturally. The other birds are (I think?!) annoyed that she sits in the nesting box they all prefer and are slightly aggressive toward her.

3) How long has the bird been exhibiting symptoms?
6 days

4) Are other birds exhibiting the same symptoms?
One is starting to spend time in the coop with her, which makes me suspicious.

5) Is there any bleeding, injury, broken bones or other sign of trauma.
Her belly has no feathers at all and her comb/wattle and face are discolored- greyish. No swelling that I can tell of. I don't believe Avian Influenza is in my area.

6) What happened, if anything that you know of, that may have caused the situation.

7) What has the bird been eating and drinking, if at all.
drinking less, not eating feed and only foraging which she can't find enough to sustain her.

8) How does the poop look? Normal? Bloody? Runny? etc.
I've not seen her poop in a long time (not eating) and her vent looks dry.

9) What has been the treatment you have administered so far?
I bathed her 5 days ago as way to look for any bugs or rash. Her belly is slightly red.

10 ) What is your intent as far as treatment? For example, do you want to treat completely yourself, or do you need help in stabilizing the bird til you can get to a vet? She isn't a pet. I would probably just kill her if I couldn't help her recover. I don't want the rest of the flock infected and don't have a way to quarantine.

11) If you have a picture of the wound or condition, please post it. It may help. I took photos. Working on how to post!

12) Describe the housing/bedding in use
Wooden coop with roosting bars and nesting boxes. Pine shavings. Penned in area is large and shaded with sunny sports throughout the day. 4ish hours of free roaming in the yard/neighborhood with access to plenty of grass, greens, etc. But she isn't leaving the coop unless forced. I put her out of the penned in area first thing yesterday morning, thinking she would just dust bathe all day away from the other birds, but she frantically walked outside the fence all day. She puffs her feathers up all big in a way I've never seen a chicken do.

Thanks for any help you can give.

This photo shows how she is fluffing up her feathers.

This photo shows how pale her face is. Her comb and wattle are usually much more red.

Her face, which looks "off".

This is how she keeps her tail feather- up like a turkey or peacock.
There is nothing wrong with her she is just broody :lol: When hens are broody their combs become pale because they aren't laying, they lose their belly feathers so that they can better incubate the eggs, my hens will often spread their tail feathers out because they want to look frightening so predetors won't want her or her babies, and they eat and drink A LOT less then they normally would. Oh and they sit in the nesting boxes almost all day.
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Is it contagious?? lol I know it isn't really, but right now I've got a couple other birds hanging out in the coop when they should be out with the others enjoying their freedom from the pen. Gah... I feel so silly! I've been so worried about illness, the rest getting infected, are my children's allergies really something we caught from her. Sigh.....

Is there a way to break it or do I just wait it out? I've had chickens for about 7 years now and never had this happen.

Thanks so much!
Trust me Quigley it is contagious!

In my little bantam flock “oooh, she is broody, that sounds like a good idea” .. one in, all in!

There are lots of threads in BYC regarding breaking a broody .. the most popular method is a couple of days in a wire crate with good air flow to cool them down, no nest in sight and nowhere comfortable to snuggle down and do the broody thing; another method (which I do not like) is frequent baths in cold water, again to cool them down or, you could do what I do (because I am a sucker for a broody) and give her some fertile eggs and hatch some bubs

I do not break my broodies per say. It is suggested that it is not a good idea to wait it out because she will sit on the nest for weeks on end, not eating and drinking much and could lose condition and the longer she is broody the harder it is to break her. Some people also break a broody because they want her to go back to laying as soon as possible.

I leave my gals with the flock (do not put her in broody jail) but ensure that she is blocked off from the nest as much as possible. In the evening, I block off the nest box so that she has no choice but to roost. I have had one determined gal who would brood on the coop floor, but I picked her up of an evening and popped her on the roost. Depending on how determined she is, this method takes a lot longer but having broken a broody in a crate, two weeks later she was broody again. In my experience broodies that I have broken gradually do not return to broodiness quite so soon.
It is definitely more work than just putting them in crate; continually blocking off nest boxes, watching her every move and having to put up with her trying to break into the nest box, nipping at toes, chasing people across the garden etc; biting you when you remove her from the nest once again, but we get there eventually.
(Again, lots of people may not agree with my method and I respect that)

Just wanted to share a picture .. beware of broody; she bites! She also does a good puffer-fish impersonation!

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Is there a way to break it or do I just wait it out? I've had chickens for about 7 years now and never had this happen.

Thanks so much!
Your best bet is a wire bottom cage, slightly elevated. The main idea is to get air flow under her. The rise in body temp is what causes a hen to go broody, the plucking of the feathers is to get her heat closer to the eggs.
Another option is to give her some fertile eggs and wait 3 weeks!
If you do not break her or give her babies she will likely sit until she does (some hens will give up but others will sit until they are malnutrisioned). Good luck.
I don't seperate my broodys. They do a good job of keeping the others away and once she has babies she will keep everything at bay. Eventually (after a few days of curiosity) the rest of the flock will accept the babies and mostly ignore them.

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