Help rescued hens in poor shape!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by BANTAMWYANDOTTE, Sep 16, 2011.

  1. BANTAMWYANDOTTE

    BANTAMWYANDOTTE Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am have raised, hatched, and showed chickens for the last fifteen years. In the last five years, I have went from a reputable breeder of Show Quality American Gamefowl into rescuing abused and neglected chickens. I have twenty birds total and 14 of them are rescues that I have fallen in love with. So much so that I bred them and produced 3 chicks I decided to keep. I now have a very big problem.

    I have a flock of six red-sex link hens that I have had for seven months. When I went to the lady's home, I was so upset by the living conditions that I paid her eight dollars a hen to bring home six. I now have five. The sixth hen was a victim of a neighbors dog. I have no idea of the ages of these hens. Based on my experience they are all at least three and some older than five. They are sweet girls and I love them dearly. This is why I need the BYC's expert help!

    These girls came here missing many feathers around their vents and some on their wings/backs. I tried everything from dusting them to antibiotics and injectable penicillin. They all did very well for awhile but some have still not re-grown their feathers. There are no pimples or open wounds. I know all about over-breeding and the parasitic factors involved here (mites, lice, etc.). My fear is disease. ANY ADVICE WOULD HELP. They show no signs of any type of parasite and my other chickens are doing well.

    I feed them a high protein diet. They are free-ranged during the day. I separate the rooster and allow him to breed only twice a week, in the breeding season. I also spray their coop out with medicated water to kill pests but prevent them from entering it until it dries. I medicate each one with an Aloe Vera spray to reduce any itch so they won't pick as the new feathers grow in (Very FEW). They have very brittle wing feathers so I avoid handling them too much. I even give two of the sicker hens penicillin. What MORE can be done? I even have tried soluble antibiotics.


    I need to know if age could be the biggest problem here or if it is something that I am NOT doing or if their is more I can do. Being from the mountains of Appalachia I am not familiar with chickens that are this old. Most don't more than three years and find their way to a pot. I have to save these hens because I rescued them from a poor life and I want nothing more than to give them a happy, healthy life until they die. Every chicken deserves to be taken care of properly, no matter if they are raised for meat. I will never eat these girls, I will keep them until they die of natural causes. I will raise chicks from them to replace them when they quit laying.

    Please help me if you can. I am trying to do the right thing and I need some help!

    A picture of the worst case: she is worse now....

    [​IMG]


    Thanks for any help you offer!

    Tim in KY
     
  2. artsyrobin

    artsyrobin Artful Wings

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    hey tim, i have sent your info to a friend that does awesome with hen health- as far as diet goes, have you tried offering them organic apple cider vinegar in their water and occasionally organic yogurt? that can help with restoring their immune system- also, here is a boost recipe that will help them also

    To help a bird recover from illness, they need extra protein.. this formula really helps them with thier recovery

    My Treatment is this

    “” This amount feeds one bird””

    Feed the birds three times a day for three days a mixture of

    This mixture is what you will need for the entire three feeds…. It is not 3 egg yolks and 3 teaspoons of honey etc…. divide the contents into three

    ½ to 1 x egg yolk….. give the whites to the other hens mixed into their seed or pellets (depends a lot on the size of the egg yolk)

    1 teaspoon honey…. .given for energy

    2 x tablespoons yoghurt…. Given for calcium and also to make the bowel go back into normal production after this upset
    Only use the plain yoghurt never the one with fruit or extra sugar in it, not good for the bird

    ¼ teaspoon calcium powder (if you can’t get the yoghurt)

    3 to 4 tablespoons rolled oats…. To give substance to the feed, or use chicken crumbles or layer pellets but soften them with some boiling water first

    Sprinkle of multi vitamin powder (only if you are not already giving it to them in their drinking water, don’t overdose) just a few grains will usually be enough for this size mixture

    2 to 4 table spoons of apple sauce or grated apple, it must be grated not chopped up for ease of digestion

    Mix to make a crumble mixture not runny​
     
  3. Lollipop

    Lollipop Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:Tim, two things come to mind here. First, the brittle feathers can be addressed by adding some black oil sunflower seeds to their diet or adding some fish oil or even veggie oil to their diet. I recommend this on the basis of treating white dogs, who always seem to have skin problems, with added oil. The other thing I would give them is Red Cell. It`s a vitamin addative available in the equine section of your feed store. Mix it in their water to look like weak tea. Don`t overdo it. The protein diet should not be more than 20% or so, or it might be more harm than good. It`s a noble cause and I wish you well.......Pop
     
  4. BANTAMWYANDOTTE

    BANTAMWYANDOTTE Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you both for your replies. I have tried red cell but with very little luck. However I suppose that I could give the two quarantined hens a dose each day to ensure that they are getting the medication as they won't have to fight with five other mouths over feed. I am going to try the recipe you gave me as well. I have every thing needed except yougart or calicium but I will use milk added to their water until i get to the grocery store.

    Again Thank YOU both. Also I am going to give them Vt Rx b/c they are sneezing. Now I am REALLY worried!
     
  5. threehorses

    threehorses Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi there, Tim. I just read your post. I am going to make a few suggestions and ask a couple of questions if you don't mind.

    First, on the Penicillin. Stop using it. Penicillin is very difficult on the digestive tract bacteria and should only be used if there is a marked wound or enteritis, neither of which I see here. There is no infective process warranting pen. Second, start using yogurt every other day for 2 weeks and stop using milk. Milk is too high lactose because the lactose hasn't been processed out and it shouldn't be used in the water all day - it'll encourage the wrong bacteria. Third, for calcium, these hens should be getting a laying feed - preferably a higher protein such as 20%. Alternately, you can give a game bird feed (not game cock, but game bird) but honestly a laying feed should be fine. For the additional calcium, always use oyster shells (ground, not pelleted). They are the most bioavailable form of supplemental calcium available commonly to our chickens. Egg shells aren't bioavailable enough. I would also recommend fish oil capsules or wheat germ oil (fortified - see the horse section of feed stores) on the feed daily, or RedCell as suggested above. For a small coffee can of food, use 1 teaspoon and stir well into the food. Alternately you can mix in the water, but personally I feel that it gunks the water up - so I like on the feed. With wheat germ, same dosage, same application. Stir into the food til the food shines a bit. I also like BOSS (Black oil sunflower seeds) for birds who will be bringing in new feathers because it helps keep the skin supple. RedCell or wheat germ will provide good oil vitamins as well as other nutrients in a form that serves oil vitamins best - not in water, but in a liquid or oil form otherwise.

    I would aim for a protein level of 20% for these hens until they have entirely replaced their feathers. I would keep the rooster off of them. I would also provide a good source of fiber for them - such as a couple of hands full of whole oats (race horse oats, not rolled, not crimpled, but whole) in their bedding daily. The hulls of whole oats provide a little feather in case they're over-grooming themselves or one another. Make sure your base feed is all laying pellets, not scratch as I'm sure you're well aware that scratch (and other high-grain diets) will destroy calcium absorbtion and are non-nutritive. They're for "scratching" around to keep the bedding fluffed. Whole oats in hands full will be serving another purpose, but at least are a higher quality grain with a little more protien - but still only as a treat that has a purpose. All treats, purpose or not, should always comprise 10% or LESS of the diet.

    I fully believe that your hens might have started to regenerate feathers, but that the feathers have either been broken off again. Of course, feathers taht are broken won't moult until the hens go through their full moult which doesn't happen often. This is the time for full moult, so I'd bump up nutrition, keep the rooster out, and hope that the light triggers them into it. I have hens with feathers like that too - they will stay like that no matter what I feed them as long as there's a rooster around until they moult.

    I'm making this recommendation based on the photograph you have sent. I would love it if you could get a photograph from above, close, of the saddle and back of the hens, please. Is that possible? I would also love to know exactly what you're feeding so that I can adjust my advice as necessary.

    I have had a hen whose feathers were broken like this. She was removed from roosters and placed on a special diet early in the summer. She has just now moulted and replaced all her feathers. Sometimes it takes patience. If they replaced feathers and their quality was low (early in the process, still catching up on nutrition) and those got broken off, it might be a while; but take heart - it'll happen. We just have to figure out how to trigger it short of light-games.

    At this time I would not give the applesauce - it's a cleanser. Maybe once, but they're not ill - they're behind on feather nourishment.
     
  6. BANTAMWYANDOTTE

    BANTAMWYANDOTTE Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A picture of the hen who is in the worst shape.....Funny thing is ..... She is obviously very old and even with her age and poor health ..... she still lays one big brown egg every two days..... her breed is unknown but I call her Production Red.....


    Her name is Cindy and she weighs ALOT!


    [​IMG]
     
  7. threehorses

    threehorses Chillin' With My Peeps

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    She definitely has breakoffs - her whole back and all the white nubs are what I call break-offs and aren't going to come back until she goes through her full moult. She's apparently replaced some feathers, but not any evidence of what I see as a full moult with only 2 days a week of roosters. Winter light is changing. Many birds are going into moult. If you increase her protein, she should hopefully, too. Is she laying? Because as long as she lays, she won't moult; that might be a good reason to pull the rooster off of her now. As long as her feather condition is at this level, she'll be using nutrients for that anyway and not putting them into the nutrition for the egg for a sufficient health of chick at hatch.
     
  8. BANTAMWYANDOTTE

    BANTAMWYANDOTTE Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for your very informative and well written reply. I will be happy to help you better assess the situation. I am a certified Veternary Technition but as I said where I live and work very few sick chickens make it into the vet's office so I am not familiar with them like I am dogs and cats.

    That hen in particular has been away from the rooster for about seven days now. Yes, she is still laying. I took away the nesting box trying to discourage her but , true to her breed, she keeps producing. Never in my 15 years experience have I question how to cause a hen to stop laying but today she didn't lay so hopefully she is finished. I have here cage set up so that during the chilly days I can remove the tim roofing so that she gets more light, hoping to encourage her molt.

    I am feeding her a mixture of many things. The others in my flock primarily eat a mixture of whole and cracked corn, a bit of layers mash, a few hand fulls of fresh cooked or partially cooked veggies (like potatoes and carrots) a few days weekly and tables scrapes that are suited for them. I feed her this but I am adding egg yolks blended with vegetable oil and some zinc and vitamin c powder to increase the immune system. Also, I gave her a bit of a mixture of Tomatoes for beta-catratine and vitamin c, white potatoes with skin boiled for b vitamins and pinto beans for keratin protein. This was suggested by my boss a vet of seven years.

    However, I only gave her the penicillin when the rooster cut her and the cut got inflamed. IT still has not healed completely but I switched to Terramycin a soulable powder containing oxytetracycline HCI


    Other than that she gets grass from moving her cage but she is confined, 100% of the time.

    Here are alot of pictures just to share the amazing chickens I have rescued:


    The hen we're discussing:

    [​IMG]

    The best looking hen:

    [​IMG]

    Her sister who looks really bad:

    [​IMG]

    My American Gamefowl Rooster (Red-Quill) who is in molt:

    [​IMG]



    All my other chickens look great:


    The Rooster I love the most (Big Ben):

    [​IMG]

    My Easter Eggers (The red Sex-link's hens offspring from this year bred to my EE Rooster)

    [​IMG]

    The hen that died and my EE rooster:

    [​IMG]

    My Silver Phoneix chicks:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And JUST CAUSE I LOVE THEM: My White Chinese Goose "Goosie" and My breed unknown Duck "Oliver"

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Pele

    Pele Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Boise
    [​IMG] Bless you for taking in those poor hens.

    I think you are getting really good advice from the other posters. Hens show poor nutrition and treatment through their feathers, and most likely you are seeing the end results of that. If the previous owner didn't feed them well, their bodies will take the good food you are giving them to repair internally first, then they'll start repairing feathers last.

    You may not see any external improvement until they go through their next molt, which likely will be a big one. I'm glad to see you are seperating the worst one so she won't get picked at. I would also suggest that you watch them closely, because chances are that the previous owner kept them enclosed in a small space together. If that is the case, then they may have learned to pass the time by picking at each other, and you just havn't seen it since they have more room now.

    Something else to keep in mind, SLs are pretty docile, and almost always are at the bottom of the pecking order. It might even be your other birds picking at them. If you do notice that they are picking each other, pinless peepers are the way to go. If you're lucky, only one girl is the ring-leader and you can fix the problem by giving her a dose of chicken-jail.

    Good luck with your new girls, I'll cross my fingers for them [​IMG]
     
  10. carolinasculpture

    carolinasculpture Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am glad you are giving them a safe home! I have a hen who is the bottom of the ladder and the others pecked her shoulders. They have been in a much greater space since June and she is only now showing any real spurt of new feathers. I am so excited that they are finally growing back. Give her some time, the great food I am sure will help, too.
     

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