Help, please! Sick, older hen. Droopy tail, floppy comb


8 Years
Sep 2, 2011

I have a 3 year old Rhode Island Red hen who has been looking more and more ill for the last week. At first I thought she was going into a molt, but now I'm starting to worry. She is very near and dear to me---from my first group of hens given to me by my late grandmother, and the only one to survive a fox attack that wiped out our whole flock.

But anyway, her comb is very floppy and her tail is always down and droopy. Today, when I was watching her get out of the coop she seemed kind of weak and off-balance as she hopped down the coop steps. She is eating, but staying kind of aloof from the group. (though I suspect a new rooster who is too aggressive, so she stays away.) Is there anything I can do. Something I should be giving her? I'm not sure about her poop because I don't really see her in an isolated manner where I can tell whose is whose.

But I'd appreciate any thoughts or ideas. She's a special girl!

Thank you, friends!!


11 Years
Nov 1, 2010
You could start with some basic care. When was the last time she was wormed? Check her entire body/legs including inside her ears for lice/mites. If she is starting to molt give her some cat food. When was the last time she laid a egg? I hope this helps!


9 Years
Jun 27, 2010
Check her vent and thoroughly examine her. Is her abdomen enlarged (because I am assuming she is eggbound). Like the last poster, worming (1/2 ml Valbazen for average sized bird) and delousing (recommend sevin dust and Ivermectin pour on (7-10 days after the Valbazen for the pour on)). Probably the most immediate is to evaluate for egg binding which means a warm bath and lubrication. There are lots of good threads here about that. In the meantime, you'll need to try and increase her weight with cat food and scrambled eggs or anything else tasty she can't resist. Also, feel the crop because if it's sour, the extra food won't do any good. If that's the case then you want to go with liquids. In the meantime, dropper the top of her beak with water mixed with a splash of gatorade.
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13 Years
Sep 18, 2007
Pell City, Alabama
Is there anywhere you could bring her up to separate her from the rest and keep her for awhile?
Make sure to go over her thoroughly and check for outer parasites like mites also. Wouldn't hurt to dust her with either Sevin Dust or DE or spray with Poultry Protector.
I'd also give her some food with higher protein for awhile, scrambled eggs are great, even liver would be good..cooked and crumbled into the egg, and probiotics to build her back up. I personally love the Poultry Nutri Drench product and I feed it by the dropper full on bread and it's really given some of my older girls a boost this summer with all the heat they've suffered with.
Also feel her and make sure she's not egg bound.

It'd help to put what you feed also, she may need something different if she's stressed/ill.
Is she getting oyster shell free choice?

Will be hoping this will help some!


8 Years
Sep 2, 2011
Hi Everyone,

THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! I'm going to check her tonight before I put her in and see if I can keep her from the rest of the flock for a few days for extra care. I'll go to the store tomorrow to get the suggested wormer and de-licing, and give her some extra proteins. I'll keep you updated. Going to read more about checking to see if she is egg-bound, or has sour crop.

I'll keep you updated! Thank you!!!!


8 Years
Sep 2, 2011

Tonight, I separated her from the other hens and gave her some cat food. I felt her crop and abdomen and if anything, I think she feels very skinny. Nothing feels swollen or enlarged. Unless you all have any other direction, I think tomorrow I'll work on getting her wormed. Oh, and I didn't see any lice or mites--but should I do this, too, as a precaution? Should I just keep her contained and try to fatten her up for a few days??

Any other suggestions welcome!



Premium Feather Member
14 Years
Nov 27, 2008
Glen St Mary, Florida
Sounds like worms to me. You should worm all your chickens. Valbazen...1/2cc for standards, 1/4cc for smaller chickens, administer orally. Redose again 10 days later, same dosage. There's a 24 day withdrawal from start to finish.

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