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Hen going blind

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by arrowti, Jan 26, 2016.

  1. arrowti

    arrowti Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 20, 2014
    We've recently been noticing our 3 and a half year old Buff orpington, Fluffy, displaying strange behaviour. She will stand out, alone, in the far corner of the pasture as the sun goes down, just standing there as though she's confused and doesn't know where the coop is, while the rest of the chickens go inside. When approached, she shows no sign of noticing us until we make a noise, such as stepping on crunching snow, and then she starts to panic until we talk to her and she calms down. She doesn't mind us picking her up as long as we talk to her first, as if she's not sure what is approaching her and is afraid it's a predator. I watched her trying to eat and she pecked the wall several times before finally finding the food, as if she couldn't see exactly where it was even though she knew the general location. She is still able to perch and when she does walk she's very slow and cautious. None of the other chickens hang around her any more.

    Her eyes look clear but hardly react to any movement, although she is able to notice large shapes or at the very least recognize the location of food and water if it's close to her.

    What can we do for her, if anything, to help her? She's the favourite of my younger sister who dotes on her (which is why she has a name since most of the others don't), and we would only cull her if she is suffering or cannot enjoy life. Which does raise the question of whether or not a blind/mostly blind chicken 'can' enjoy or at least have a quality life. And lastly, what special precautions should we take to make sure she's safe? The other chickens and roosters don't pick on her or mate with her any more, so she has a relatively peaceful time on the farm. Naturally since she can't see predators it would be best to keep her inside a 'run', but we aren't set up for an outdoor enclosure with a roof to keep her safe from the predators, and we don't close the coop doors in winter because there are too many hens to be cooped up all day and they'll attack each other.

    Any tips? If anyone has had any blind hens, how did you help them and how long did they live?
  2. goofychickens

    goofychickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Tell Fluffy I said hi! OK well first advice: Do you see something white inside the eye (at the bottom of the eye toward the beak) that looks like a little stringy thing all folded up (ruling out eyeworm)?

    Eyeworm can cause a white cataract looking appearance.
    Also, my Silver Laced Wyandotte pullet, ZeBee, is blind in her left eye. She has not laid eggs yet, but she is fine judging feather condition, and she is very healthy. I read in Backyard Poultry about a woman with 4 blind chickens. She said they got along fine but need wide feeders. She also said they do better if you keep everything in its regular place. Please do make her her own run because she might be an easy target.

    Also look up mareks eye.

    other possible problems.
    (Credit to ChickensAreSweet for eyeworm info and links.)

    Hope she feels better!
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2016
  3. goofychickens

    goofychickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Here is Zeebee .
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2016
  4. goofychickens

    goofychickens Chillin' With My Peeps


    Last edited: Jan 26, 2016
  5. Violetsfeathers

    Violetsfeathers Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 22, 2015
    I had a hen whose eye turned blue an swelled up, we thought she got it poked out some how. She couldn't see out of that eye and often wandered away from the flock. One day she disappeared, I think she wandered off into the woods and couldn't find her way back and then a predator got her.

    You should definitely build her her own pen, if you make her a new coop make sure she knows where her food and water is.
  6. arrowti

    arrowti Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 20, 2014
    Her eyes are definitely clear of any whiteness or unhealthy discharge, and there is no discolouration or cartaracts or even film. They look like their normal orange selves, like our other buff, with the only problem being she can't see. I checked around her face for any signs of swelling as mentioned in some of the bacterial and viral diseases, but her face is also looking normal and there seems to be no sign of any trauma or injury to the eyes that I can see.

    We will try and get her a separate enclosure just for her and maybe a few others for company, as she wanders away from the flock quite often, and then gets herself 'lost', maybe 15 feet from the coops, and doesn't even seem aware that the sun is going down as she will stand there and wait without moving.
  7. azygous

    azygous Overrun With Chickens

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    I have a half blind hen who's going on eight years old. Lady Di is a Light Brahma and she developed a tumor over one eye starting around three years ago, and it's still growing. It puts pressure on the eye and it waters a lot sometimes, but there doesn't appear to be any pain. She's very prone to sinus infections, though, where one eye or the other swells up closed and she then is virtually blind until the antibiotic and steroid eye drops do their jobs and the infection clears up.

    Meanwhile, I need to make sure her food is always in the exact same place all the time, and I feed her treats separately since she can't compete for them.

    Blind chickens adapt and lead mostly normal lives just like blind people. You need to take into consideration her limitations so she can be safe and find her food and water okay. Also, make sure she has a low perch she can get onto without having to go through trial and error and possibly injuring herself.
  8. goofychickens

    goofychickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    ok good if she has any other symtoms contact me. sorry about spelling Im typing with one hand cuz I am putting pressure on my chickens bleeding toe. -Goofy

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