Hen not eating/drinking and unable to stand or walk well


Jan 13, 2016
We have a hen, approximately 2 years old or so, who started not feeling well about 2 weeks ago. That morning, I found her in the coop, just lying down on the ground, which was very unusual. She seems very "stiff" almost and unable to move very well, kind of wobbly, and her eyes were almost closed. We have had chickens for about 5 years now and usually when one starts to act like this, we expect the worst - they usually only live for a day or two before passing away. I , of course, was expecting the same thing to happen to this lady. I was heartbroken, since she is the friendliest one we have and my favorite.
I separated her later that day from the rest of the group - we have 6 other hens and one rooster - gave her food and water and expected the worst.
She is still hanging on 2 weeks later! I don't believe she has eaten anything in this time. I have given her fresh water each day, even though it doesn't appear that she has been drinking any of it. For the first couple days, her breathing seemed a little labored, but that has improved and seems normal now. She still doesn't move around much, though, either. Her legs seem to "buckle" under her. She CAN move, but she can't seem to straighten out her legs and actually STAND. She kinda scoots along the floor. Her movement is very minimal to say the least.
Today, when I checked on her, her eyes seemed more alert and she actually drank a bit of the water I gave her, but she wouldn't eat any food. Most of the time, she lies with her head in the corner of the coop, I had to put her right up next to the water in order for her to drink.
Any suggestions for making her stronger would be greatly appreciated!! Thank you.


Premium Feather Member
11 Years
Apr 3, 2011
southern Ohio
Welcome to BYC. Were your chickens vaccinated for Mareks disease? Did you ever get a necropsy done on any of the chickens that died, to look for a cause? Has your sick hen been laying eggs recently? Can you feel of her breastbone for any weight loss, and look at her lower belly for any bloating or swelling? Feel her crop to see if it is empty or full. Sometimes we can't figure out what exactly is wrong, so it is good to rule out as many problems as possible. Internal laying and egg peritonitis can cause weakness, lethargy, not wanting to walk, runny droppings, and a poor appetite.
I would put some electrolytes and probiotics in her water, and offer some chopped egg, tuna, or ground meat to tempt her to eat. Get her warm inside the house in a crate or bathtub. Check her skin all over and around the vent for any tiny bugs that could be lice or mites.Have you wormed her recently?

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