Help for a Hen off her food

moraylass

Chirping
Feb 10, 2018
32
10
64
Northeast Scotland, UK
We have a 3.5 year old Columbine who had not laid since the middle of the summer, and is now being rather lethargic (she is the top of the pecking order, but isn't making much effort (not that anyone is challenging her)).

For the last week she has not been joining the others in scrabbling for the daily corn - and can't be bothered to eat from my hand. She will take a bit of chick crumb, but rather apathetically.

Are there any good food ideas that will maybe keep her going into the winter?

Thanks!
 

EggSighted4Life

Crossing the Road
5 Years
Apr 9, 2016
14,342
20,000
832
California's Redwood Coast
Hi, welcome to BYC! :frow

Sorry your hen isn't feeling well. Her age and how long since she laid indicate she may be suffering from internal laying, egg yolk peritonitis, or ascites (water belly) ... prognosis is not usually good. Most recent behavior may be from molt coming on though. I would also check crop at night and in the morning before any feed or water are offered to monitor function and if it is emptying over night or not.

Where are you located? Adding that in your profile can help others make better suggestions at a glance.

The chick crumble or a flock raiser would be my choice of feed for her.

:fl
 

moraylass

Chirping
Feb 10, 2018
32
10
64
Northeast Scotland, UK
Hi, welcome to BYC! :frow

Sorry your hen isn't feeling well. Her age and how long since she laid indicate she may be suffering from internal laying, egg yolk peritonitis, or ascites (water belly) ... prognosis is not usually good. Most recent behavior may be from molt coming on though. I would also check crop at night and in the morning before any feed or water are offered to monitor function and if it is emptying over night or not.

Where are you located? Adding that in your profile can help others make better suggestions at a glance.

The chick crumble or a flock raiser would be my choice of feed for her.

:fl
Thank you. I will check her tomorrow morning, though I'm not really sure what I'm looking for! Are there any treatments for these (google doesn't seem much help so far)?

(I've added Northeast Scotland, Uk to my profile)
 

EggSighted4Life

Crossing the Road
5 Years
Apr 9, 2016
14,342
20,000
832
California's Redwood Coast
She may also be going into molt which can be a very difficult time for them. They are very uncomfortable and a often a tad withdrawn for a period of time. Are you able to post pics? Is she drinking?

It's hard to know what you are looking for, but feeling at night and in the morning should be different and get you familiar. You can also compare to other birds crops.

This article might help describe how to check the crop...
https://www.backyardchickens.com/ar...w-to-know-which-one-youre-dealing-with.73607/
 

moraylass

Chirping
Feb 10, 2018
32
10
64
Northeast Scotland, UK
Crop feels empty this morning. Abdomen soft. I left her on her own so see how much she ate and drank, and she was drinking when I left, and had eaten some chick crumb later (when this picture was taken).
110_0264b.jpg

PS. The very last egg she laid 2 months ago was an empty shell 2cm across. May be interesting, though this lethargy has only been a week.
 

EggSighted4Life

Crossing the Road
5 Years
Apr 9, 2016
14,342
20,000
832
California's Redwood Coast
Wow, she is pretty. :love

Good news that she is eating and drinking.

Did she have any recent feather loss and re growth, in other words did she just molt? Her feathers look pretty good.

At her age... I would suspect laying issues might be popping up OR she COULD be just slowing down in general. But just slowing down wouldn't explain lethargy... molting could effect energy level.. possible kidney or liver issues starting... what I mean to say is that aging is hard. While 3.5 isn't old for some for others it WILL be.

Have you inspected her droppings yet? A fecal float at the vet is ALWAYS a good idea... if you've never wormed and have that as an option.

I wish I could say there is nothing wrong with her... but generally if you notice something a miss... you are correct. :hmm

Hopefully she was just having an off day. :fl

Couple peeps who might have other ideas... @rebrascora @Wyorp Rock @Eggcessive @KikisGirls... thanks for any insight you might have! :highfive:
 

Wyorp Rock

🐓 ❤ 🐛
Premium Feather Member
6 Years
Sep 20, 2015
41,634
60,911
1,412
Southern N.C. Mountains
3.5 year old Columbine who had not laid since the middle of the summer, and is now being rather lethargic
last week she has not been joining the others in scrabbling for the daily corn - and can't be bothered to eat from my hand. She will take a bit of chick crumb, but rather apathetically.
Crop feels empty this morning. Abdomen soft. I left her on her own so see how much she ate and drank, and she was drinking when I left, and had eaten some chick crumb later
very last egg she laid 2 months ago was an empty shell 2cm across. May be interesting, though this lethargy has only been a week.
I would have to agree that it sounds like she may have a reproductive problem if she is not molting.
Do you have photos of her poop?
Getting a fecal float to rule out worms is always a good idea. If you vet can't do a fecal, then you can try mail order. I believe that @rebrascora mentioned Westgate Labs for that.

Try a few different things to see if you can entice her eat - offer wet feed or some chopped egg. A few fresh greens may be of interest. You may want to give her some poultry vitamins for a couple of days too if you have them.
 

Eggcessive

Addict
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Apr 3, 2011
63,104
56,539
1,322
southern Ohio
Flubenvet is good for worming for those in the UK, and is used in the feed for around 6 days, I believe. Some of my hens around this age have developed problems, although this time of year, molting is common, and it brings about a lot of stress. The last egg sounds odd, but hopefully not a sign of a reproductive disorder.
 

rebrascora

Free Ranging
5 Years
Feb 14, 2014
7,127
8,772
556
Consett Co.Durham. UK
Hi
How is she doing now?
Some birds will go off their food for a few days and sulk a bit during moult, but she doesn't look like she is in full moult yet. Can you give her access to a bunch of spinach or kale and see if she is interested in that. Hanging a bunch of whole leaves by their stalks is preferable to chopped, bagged supermarket stuff. I can see that she has access to some lovely grass. Have you noticed her eating that?

Can you describe the empty egg shell she laid? Was it a fully formed hard shell with nothing inside or a soft membrane? If the latter, was it white/blue or a manky pinkish brown flesh colour.... I'm assuming she lays blue or green eggs ordinarily.
Can you check her abdomen for any unusual swelling. This is best done by cupping your hand between her legs and feeling for any fullness. Doing this at night whilst they are roosting is easiest and comparing to adjacent hens to get an idea of what is normal, makes it easier to assess. Checking crop function at the same time is a good idea ie. feeling the crop at night and making a mental note of how full and how soft or hard, then removing access to food and checking again in the morning when it should be empty.

The problem with using Flubenvet is that the birds have to be actively eating in order to ingest enough of the medication to be effective. If this hen is off her food she won't eat enough. I would certainly consider having a faecal float (referred to as a worm egg count here in the UK) done to see if worms or coccidia are the issue, before worming. It is only about £10 via Westgate Labs. You can buy the sampling kits from them online and send them back in a prepaid envelope and sometimes even get next day results. It really is an excellent service. I've been using them for over 10 years and when there have been problems (usually due to postal issues) they have been extremely good at rectifying the matter by sending me replacement kits free of charge. They are also very knowledgeable about internal parasites and happy to give friendly, helpful advice about what level of worm eggs in faeces warrants treatment.

Hopefully she is just going into a moult and is feeling under the weather due to that. Some of my girls take it much harder than others.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom