Help with diagnosing a sick hen...

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Jashdon, Feb 21, 2009.

  1. Jashdon

    Jashdon Songster

    Mar 29, 2008
    Snohomish, WA
    Hi all,

    We've had this white leghorn hen for about a year. We bought her from a guy who turned out to be somewhat dishonest so we have idea how old she is. Anyway, when we first brought her home she was very perky and skitish, wouldn't let us get anywhere near her. Early on she was a very consistant layer too, a huge white egg every day.

    About 6 months ago she stopped laying. At first that was the only change in her behavior. But in the last few months we've noticed that she has been getting more and more docile and weak to the point where now she just sits there and doesn't really move much. We can pretty much just walk right up and pick her up without any fuss. She also doesn't hold her head up at all. The other symptoms we've noticed are that her comb lays flat instead of perked up like it used to and her skin is dry and flakey.

    I picked her up and felt around to see if she is egg bound but I didn't find any indication of that. Her eyes and nose aren't wet and she doesn't seem to have any respritory issues. Is it possible that the guy just sold us an old chicken? I wouldn't think that she would all of a sudden just be old in a matter of months.

    Any suggestions or advice would be appreciated. Thank you...
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2009

  2. mountaintopchicken

    mountaintopchicken Songster

    May 23, 2007
    Have you checked her for mites? A severe infestation could make her weak.

    Worms are another possibility. You could have a fecal done at the vets to check for those...

    Are you sure she is eating? Reasons she may not be eating as much as she needs include bullying by other hens so she can't get to the food... or crop stasis. That would mean her crop isn't emptying as it should. To check for this see if her crop is full at night as she goes to roost, then check it again early in the morning to see if it is empty.

    These are just ideas... it could be so many things... if you want to keep her from going much further down hill you could bring her inside where it's warm and quiet, and keep her eating by mixing her mash with yogurt. Might give you more time to try to get to the bottom of this. If she's not holding her head up it sounds like she needs some extra nursing if she's going to survive.
  3. sammi

    sammi Songster

    Dec 21, 2007
    Southeast USA
    agree with mountaintopchicken..

    also..describe the droppings..color and consistency..

    do you have other chickens?

    what all do you feed?

    what bedding do you use?
    does she have good warm shelter?

    has she been wormed?
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2009
  4. Jashdon

    Jashdon Songster

    Mar 29, 2008
    Snohomish, WA
    Thanks for the ideas. I will try bringing her in for a few days to isolate and monitor her to check her droppings. I think taking a stool sample to a vet is a good idea too

    We have looked at her and inspected her closely and have not noticed any mites. We do have other chickens, about thirty. They have a large coop that stays dry and warm. We live in the pacific northwest and it doesn't get very cold here. They free range at least 4 hours per day and there is usually ample access to the food while the other chickens are out roaming. We feed them an organic layer crumble/pellets and they have access to fresh veggie scraps in the compost pile. We use hay for bedding in the coop and cedar shavings in the nesting boxes.

    Well thanks again for weighing in on our situation.

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