1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Hen is lethargic and being picked on

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Artborean, Jun 14, 2017.

  1. Artborean

    Artborean Just Hatched

    8
    0
    10
    Apr 10, 2017
    Hi everyone,

    This is our first time keeping chickens and we could use some help. We have ten birds who we got as 2 week old chicks, they are 14 weeks old now.

    A few days ago I noticed one of the hens was being attacked repeatedly and it sounded vicious. On one occasion I saw two or three of them pulling on her from different directions, it was awful. Yesterday morning she got chased around and managed to escape the electric netting, so I put her back in but started to worry. I have read that chickens will attack and kill a sick or hurt flock member.

    I noticed yesterday that she looks lethargic. She just stands there with her head hunched back into her feathers and doesn't do anything. The others are always busy pecking, chatting, scratching. The most she'll do is a very soft, cute little "tut tut" noise. I can pet her, pick her up, and hold her for a long time and she doesn't care, which isn't normal for our birds since they weren't handled enough as chicks.

    Last night she didn't come back to the coop with everyone else at bedtime, and we hunted around for quite some time before we found her hiding near the stream. We tried putting her in the old brooder box to give her a break and isolate her in case she has something contagious, but she got upset and smacked her head on the wire a few times trying to get out, so we put her back in the coop and hoped for the best.

    Today I saw another hen pull some feathers off of her and she didn't react. She didn't want to go outside with everyone else, just stayed in the coop. I put the rest of the flock out on the grass and blocked them from going back into the coop/run, so she could get a break from harassment and try to recover.

    She will drink water but seems to struggle with eating, so I put some water in a bowl with food pellets and a bit of vegetable oil in case maybe she is blocked up or something, she had a bit of that but definitely prefers just water. When I checked a few hours later she was still standing in the same spot, maybe moved two steps, still hunched. I did see her peck at the food bowl a tiny bit.

    As for physical symptoms, I don't see anything obvious. She has a very small wound on the top of her beak but doesn't look problematic, I can't see any other signs of injury. Her eyes are clear, she doesn't seem pale, she's not wheezing or anything.

    I'm not sure where to go from here. Should we keep her isolated or will that stress her more? Is there something I can do or look at to figure out what's wrong with her?
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2017
  2. yoopergirl1211

    yoopergirl1211 Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

    1,629
    484
    176
    Dec 12, 2016
    Erie PA
    Hi! I'm still kinda new but I had to deal with the same thing when I brought a new EE home 5 months ago. She had her tail feathers ripped out before I got her and then was picked on and became depressed. First do you know who the top dog is in your flock? Or the one that instigates most of the harassment? One of the easiest fixes is to take the bully out and put on time out in a separate cage for 3 days to a week. By then she'll be to busy trying to establish herself to pick on your depressed one too much.
    But if I were you I would worry about getting her out of the sad funk first. We ended up bringing ours inside in a dog crate for a few days. Nutridrench, scrambled eggs, and extra attention seemed to perk her back up as well as made her our new best freind. Make sure you check her over for any wounds and any signs of illness. By the time we added her back to flock her self esteem was so high she Didnt let the others pick on her so I didnt have to do a time out but it was still an option open to us if needed. I'll try to find some before and after pics of her. This worked for us but I'm sure there are other ways as well to help her out.
     
    Wyorp Rock and SeaTexan like this.
  3. Artborean

    Artborean Just Hatched

    8
    0
    10
    Apr 10, 2017
    Update:

    We took her in the house last night and hung out with her for the evening. She seemed to really like the kind companionship as opposed to being beaten up by the other chickens, and eventually fell asleep on my arm. I noticed that she was excreting only the white stuff (which I understand is how bird urine looks) but there was no poopy stuff. We put her in the brooder overnight and in the morning I noticed that she "peed" a lot but still didn't see any poops.

    I watched some videos and learned how to check the crop, and compared with the other chickens since I don't know what's normal. It was definitely full despite being morning and she hadn't had any food since early yesterday. I massaged it a little and noticed her mouth working, so I took her outside and helped her vomit. I was super excited, thinking this would help everything!

    However, she didn't look any better and just a few minutes later I noticed she was already bloated again. I massaged the crop again and this time it sounded like there was air in there. I took her outside again but it seemed like only gas.

    I don't notice any odour from her mouth, but her vomit did have a definite yeasty smell so I guess that means this is sour crop?

    Anyone have advice on what to do next?

    I put some apple cider vinegar in her water because I read that this can help, and we have it on hand so it seemed like it was worth a shot. She is drinking it, so I hope it makes a difference.

    What else can I do? Just keep helping her get the gas out? Will it resolve itself at this point, or is there more I can do to help her?

    I wasn't expecting this gas thing, I kind of thought/hoped that when I got her to vomit she would start to feel better right away, so I feel a bit discouraged now.

    @yoopergirl1211: Thank you for your reply! I hoped our situation was more like yours, but it seems to me more like sour crop now :(
     
  4. Muscoweewee

    Muscoweewee Just Hatched

    32
    1
    19
    Nov 26, 2016
    Is she eating now? If she is still refusing to eat you might have to consider feeding her yourself with a syringe- but that depends on how much time you have. You can try feeding her some parrot hand rearing formula if you have it on hand, but if you don't you can blend up some pellets and mix in some waterto form a paste. You could also get some egg yolk (cooked well) ad mash it up and add some water to form a thick paste then use a bent spoon or a syringe (the types used for medicine, not ones with a needle) and open her mouth slightly to put some into her mouth. You must then make sure that she swallows or she could choke. You can stroke her the back of her head (behind the comb) quite firmly in a downwards motion and she should swallow. If she is eating, then it should go well. I hope that this helps and that she gets better.
    p.s. if you feel her crop and it is soft and squishy it is probably sour crop
     
  5. yoopergirl1211

    yoopergirl1211 Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

    1,629
    484
    176
    Dec 12, 2016
    Erie PA
    I'm so sorry. I haven't had to deal with that yet and I hope it goes well! Good luck! Keep us posted!
     
  6. Artborean

    Artborean Just Hatched

    8
    0
    10
    Apr 10, 2017
    So we did all we could but she just kept getting weaker and weaker, and looked like she had given up so yesterday we made the difficult decision to end her suffering.

    Afterwards we cut open her crop and found a clump of wood shavings and small leaves in there. I made sure to feel the body afterwards when I could see that the crop was definitely empty, so I had a better idea of what an empty crop really feels like when dealing with this in future. There were a few times when I helped her vomit that I was certain the crop was empty, but it obviously wasn't. I had never squeezed a chicken before, and learned that lesson the hard way.

    Is it normal for chickens to eat wood shavings? They have been living with the same bedding all their lives, how have they not figured out that it isn't food yet?

    We learned a lot from this sad experience so hopefully if this happens again (god forbid) we will catch it sooner and maybe be able to save the next one. :(
     
  7. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    8,786
    2,038
    356
    Sep 20, 2015
    Southern N.C. Mountains
    I'm sorry for your loss:hugs

    Yes, they do at times ingest a bit of bedding. Usually this is not a problem as long as they have sufficient grit (crushed granite/small stones, pebbles) to grind that kind of material. It's possible the shavings could get boggy in the crop and cause problems though.
     
  8. yoopergirl1211

    yoopergirl1211 Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

    1,629
    484
    176
    Dec 12, 2016
    Erie PA
    I'm so sorry! :hugs
     
  9. MamaChick74

    MamaChick74 Chillin' With My Peeps

    113
    58
    96
    May 27, 2017
    New Hampshire USA
    So sorry for your loss. So many things can go happen with chickens without us knowing what is wrong. You did the best you could for her.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by