Hen Acting "Off"

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by DellaMyDarling, May 26, 2019.

  1. DellaMyDarling

    DellaMyDarling Songster

    Dec 13, 2017
    Mass Hilltowns
    Couldn't decide if this should be here or in emergency...don't feel it is quite an emergency but I'm concerned.

    Been watching a particular hen last few days, as her behavior has changed noticeably.
    I believe her behavior changed after our rogue dog incident, which scattered my hens about and left two of the neighbor's dead. It's quite possible that it began prior, you know how chickens are.

    She's SLOW. She really resembles an old lady, just slowly walks about. The flock will frequently outpace her. Sometimes she'll continue putting about to wherever they went but often she kinda just stops walking and stands there. Even in the middle of a patch of nothing, she'll just stand there and...do nothing!

    I've noticed her standing around with her tail lowered a lot more lately. I say a lot more, as no other hen seems to do this, so I think that's why I noticed at all. Possible she was always a tail dropper? Her tail is missing a number of long feathers making it look scraggly and low thanks to Bully Buffy.

    Her rump has needed my help to be cleaned all week. Runny but sticky poos covering her feathers is my best description. This is a new thing for her and again, seems to be only her.

    All these things together, ya know? Seems odd. Something about the way she slowly walks, or just stands somewhere doing nothing...sticks out like a sore thumb against the other birds.

    I've captured her for a feel and butt swish a few times now. I don't have any gloves on hand to check up the vent for an egg, so don't know if my belly squishing was even helpful to assess if she's bound.
    I have not seen anything odd IN the poo.
    I have not seen any squatting or wide leg stances.
    I suspect she has not been laying for a while now. I have three blue egg layers and never get more than two per day. Don't recall ever seeing her in a nest box.
    She's about 4 to 4.5

    Is my hen just feeling "elderly"?
    penny1960 and ButtonquailGirl14 like this.
  2. azygous

    azygous Crossing the Road

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    You are very observant. Chicken behavior is the first sign we have that a chicken may be sick, and the behavior you describe, slowness, tail held low and flat, and not being interested in chicken activities, all point to a sick hen.

    At her age, yes, she could be suffering from aging, or reproductive issues, or something reasonably simple as a crop disorder. Feel her crop and ascertain if it's very full and squishy, or hard and lumpy, or empty, indicating no appetite. Then check it again tomorrow morning to see if it's emptied overnight as is normal for crops.

    Smell her. If she has "sauerkraut" breath, that would indicate a crop yeast infection, and it can cause a hen to feel sick. She also could have an overload of worms. She could have parasites called coccidia. these are treatable after verifying that the hen has them in her intestines. Take a fresh fecal sample to a vet and ask for a simple fecal float test for coccidia and worms. Then you will know if you need to treat.
    aart, penny1960 and ButtonquailGirl14 like this.
  3. ButtonquailGirl14

    ButtonquailGirl14 Crossing the Road

    Jul 13, 2017
    Northport WA

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