Hen won't lay down...

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Farmer Brian, Nov 15, 2016.

  1. Farmer Brian

    Farmer Brian Out Of The Brooder

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    Have a buff orp that has been acting strange lately. I noticed a while back she won't lay down. Every time I've closed them up, whether still light or in the dark, she is always standing in the corner. She's never roosted with the others anyway. About 3 yrs old. A couple days ago, I noticed when she walks, her steps are slow and her feet are brought up pretty high, like she has something stuck to foot. She will balance on each foot, so it doesn't seem to be a one leg thing. Her underside is pretty bare of feathers, like she was plucked, and her whole underside is wet, dirty and smelly where there are feathers. She has definately lost weight too. She gave me an egg last week for the first time in a couple weeks (none of my four are laying, just figured the time of year).
    A couple months ago, the others were picking on her, but after putting eye blocks on them, it stopped. They were pecking at top base of tail, which seems to be healed.
    Any ideas?
     
  2. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Can you post some photos?

    Have you taken a look at the bottom of her feet?

    Try to clean her up - place her in a warm tub of soapy water (dish liquid is fine), gently clean the dirty feathers underneath and see if there is any sores/wounds, etc. Since she normally lays down and does not roost she could have some blisters.

    Give her a good once over, check her vent for any sign of discharge, swelling, redness. Feel her abdomen for any bloating, swelling, etc.

    Since she is losing weight, check to make sure her crop is functioning properly. Feel it at night when she goes to bed, then first thing in the morning before eating/drinking. Night=full crop Morning=empty crop.

    You may also want to take a fecal sample to the vet for testing of internal parasites (worms).

    What you are describing could be a number of things, bumblefoot could be causing some foot problems, but some type of internal laying/reproductive disorder like Peritonitis, Ascites, tumor or cancer can be associated with the walking slow/odd gait, wet feathers from discharge etc. Worms and parasites (mites/lice) could also be a factor.

    If you have a vet available, this would always be your best course of action.

    Make sure she is eating/drinking well. Offer some poultry vitamins in her water and some extra protein like egg, tuna, mackerel or meat. Separate her if you can so you can monitor her more closely.

    Let us know how she's doing.
     
  3. Farmer Brian

    Farmer Brian Out Of The Brooder

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    Wyorp Rock, I know it's been a while since my post, but I did take your advice. A few days after your post I finally separated her. The "Mean Girls", in that time, had almost pecked her tail off, leaving only 3 short tail feathers, and she was bloody with a hole dug into her butt above the tail. I gave her a tub bath, which surprisingly she seemed to enjoy.
    I washed her belly and injury real good. New shavings and a heat lamp. Gave proteins. Since Nov, she is still alive. She doesn't seem to be limping any more and lays down every night. She actually looks pretty healthy and put weight back on. The only issue I'm seeing is, when I take the lamp away, after a few days the injury area above the tail will become wet. I'm wondering if that spot hasn't quite healed, it was quite deep.
    A couple weeks ago I tried putting her back with the "Mean Girls" as we call them. Three assorted hens. Immediately they started picking on her again. Wasn't surprised, chickens being chickens. But, they didn't just confirm the pecking order, they were 'mean girls'. Even when I put the three back inside so she could peck around, she was terrified and wouldn't move from under the ramp. So, she stays separated. No eggs since Nov from her either. I still haven't figured out a way to add a run to her side of the coop, since that's where my wood pile is. I'd like her to get outside, but between fox and owls sighted regularly, I hesitate to let her free range. I'd hate to lose her after nursing her back to good health.
    Thanks for your advice.
    Brian
     
  4. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi

    Well done for nursing her back to health.
    Is there room on "her side of the coop" for another hen. If so, you could choose the lowest ranking of the other 3 and put it in with her. If there is only one and they are on her turf so to speak, she may be prepared to fight her own corner and perhaps establish dominance over the other hen. It would help if they cannot see the other two bully hens. Only do this when you are able to be about for the day and supervise. If you can pal her up with one of the other chickens and then after a week or two, swap things around so they have the outdoors run and the other two are indoors, so that the main run then becomes their territory and gradually add the other two (possibly even one at a time). It's called divide and conquer.

    Having said that, bullying is often associated with boredom and lack of space, so if room is tight the above suggestion may not work and your best bet would be to make them more space and break the space up with partial partitions, perches and tunnels where the bullied hen can get out of the line of sight of the bullies. Hanging cabbages to give them something else to peck at and plenty of bedding/ compost, lawn mowings etc to scratch and pick through. Scattering a small amount of pelleted feed on the ground on dry days instead of just the feeder will also help to stimulate them to work for their food.

    I hope you manage to get her palled up with at least one of the others.

    Best wishes

    Barbara
     
  5. Farmer Brian

    Farmer Brian Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks Barbara, I'll try that. I'd love to get them all back together, Chloe is in my chick pen and I have 25 meat birds coming in June. Should I try that at night so they're less apt to fight, and may wake up together? Of course, then I have to cover that pen, the other 3 girls are perchers, Chloe is not. She stays on the floor.
     
  6. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    No, I would be more inclined to do it on a morning when you are there to supervise. I would pick the chosen bird off the roost at night and put her in a cardboard box with ventilation holes overnight, so that she is a bit disorientated when you let her out in a strange place without her pals. You are looking to give Chloe the upper hand as much as possible, so the less comfortable and confident the other bird is when you put her in, the better chance it has of working. I once had a bird in my infirmary that was partially paralysed and was basically nest bound.... I had a second bird that had a bad leg and needed hospitalising too, despite their handicaps, the paralysed one dragged herself out of the nest and fought the other for hospital pecking order .... and won... despite being more severely disabled. It was pretty ugly to watch and I was horrified to see it happen but there were no serious injuries and they became best mates once it was sorted, so do expect there to be a tussle and don't step in unless blood is drawn or one is being totally dominated without any sign of let up.

    Good luck
     

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