Hen has diarrhea (no blood) and losing feathers on head


In the Brooder
10 Years
Mar 7, 2009
My Ginger Nut Ranger hen, Hazel, is 2 1/2 to 3 years old (we adopted her) and acts ok, pecking, eating, drinking, hunting for bugs, but she looks a bit ragged. Her feathers are coming out around her comb, her feathers look messy and her bottom is dirty from diarrhea. I wouldn't be too concerned except for the diarrhea. She also seems a little hyper or frenetic.

I would like to treat myself if possible. I scrubbed her coop clean yesterday.

One weird thing, that is probably unrelated, is that I came home late last night and hadn't put my girls (Hazel & Myrtle) in their coop before I left around mid-afternoon for a party.

When I came home, both hens (they are inseperable) we sitting on top of my folded up tredmill on the porch. I suppose they were escaping some critter, but then I thought maybe Hazel is sick, and just showing me that something is wrong.

Also, probably unrealted, but odd thing is that they for several days this week they were laying eggs in odd places. As I mentioned, they are inseperable, so where one goes, so does the other, but they crawled into a bag of straw and laid eggs for two days and also laid near a great pile of leaves.

I left a decoy egg in their coop and they seem to have made it back there, but that was weird.

Thanks for your help! I love my hens and want them healthy.

P.S. One more thing I just noticed sitting outside with her, she is scratching frequently. I don't see mites, but I also don't know what to look for really. THe other hen is fine.
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Well first things first. Florence Nightingale didn't believe in bacteria, but they were still there. Just cos you can't see mites, fleas dosen't mean they are not there.

Secondly flea powder them and their clean bedding and nest boxes with a good quality flea powder. It's often easier to sprinkle it on at night then the chooks don't get so upset. Try and rub it into their feathers too, so as it'snot just sitting on the surface.

Thirdly when did you worm last? That should be done every six months with a quality wormer, I prefer flubenvet it's one of the best on the market and now available in smaller quantities for the pet keeper.

Look around their coop for evidence of rodents, etc that might be unsettling them and making them reluctant to stay in their coop.
Do you live in an area with snakes? That could also be one of the problems why the hens are unwilling to lay in their coop, a snake could be visiting and taking eggs.

The diorreha problem may be due to worms, change of diet or cold weather.

Thats given you some food for thought, I hope it helps.

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Hi Dotconnector,
Have you looked very carefully all over their bodies for bugs?

Sit on a chair and lay the hen on her back in your lap and check her vent area for lice. If you see eggs on the feathershafts or little yellowish crawlers they are lice. Mites are small and dark, and they usually crawl onto the chickens at night while they sleep, burrowing into the wood of the roost in the day. You should check the chickens at night for mites.

If you see bugs, Sevin powder will kill them. You can get it at Home Depot.

If you decide to worm, you may want to have a fecal float done by a vet first to make sure the chickens have worms. Wormers are poison. The one I bought (Wazine) says NOT FOR USE IN CHICKENS THAT PRODUCE EGGS FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION right on the label (I didn't read it until I got home). It does not say wait two weeks to eat the eggs, it says not to use it at all on egg producing chickens. I was surprised.
Renee thats a good point but you should routinely worm every six months to prevent a worm burden building up. This applies to most animals cats, dogs and poultry.

Also Flubenvet does not require any egg withdrawal time. You continue to eat the eggs whilst worming over a week. But even if you can't see fleas they are an inevitable aspect of poultry life and again should be routinely treated for as part of an ongoing programme of good animal welfare.
Thanks to you both!

I went and bought some stuff for mites and lice, but the only wormer they had was Wazine and yes, I bought it brought it home, read the bottom and the VERY last line stated not for egg producing hens. I didn't give it to them, but yikes!

I'll check into the fecal float.

I appreciate your help.

FYI-I got home about an hour after dark last night and the hens were on the treadmill again. We got them closed up tight after that. I suspect we have a racoon bugging them. Snakes are unlikely here, other than garter; racoons are absolutely around.

When one of my hens was about 3 years old the feathers on her head fell out. The rest followed during the next few weeks. She was only moulting and the feathers were replaced starting at her head.
I don't know about the poop though. Does she get too many treats?
Well, I dusted for mites, etc and the diarrhea has stopped, but Hazel still looks haggard. I looked under the feathers of her neck and she has new ones coming up, so perhaps this is just moulting. We haven't seen that at all in the past year we've owned them, so maybe that is the issue.

However, my hens have decided that perching on top of my treadmill is normal bedtime behavior and for four nights in a row, have begun nesting and settling down; one on top and one behind (I found one egg back there one of the days mentioned above).

Tonight, I put them in their pen and closed it up before dark and they settled into their coop nicely, but I just think that is weird. I have found no evidence of critters at all, but maybe something scared them one night and they just decided the treadmil was the safest place generally speaking.

Thanks for the guidance. I really appreciate the input!

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