I am worried my Silkie hen may have a disease..


6 Years
Sep 22, 2015
Hi all,

My silkie hen looks sick and I am worried she may have a bad disease as she has not looked right for quite some time.
All my hens have started to lay eggs within the last few months and two have even gone broody,except this one. She should definitely be laying by now but she just isn't.

I have noticed she stumbles around a lot, she seems disorientated and unbalanced and she runs into things. She sneezes and makes weak rasping noises and she has yellow discharge coming from her nostrils (thats the part that really concerns me) and she just seems to be getting slightly worse. She also won't sleep on her perch anymore, she just sleeps on the bottom of the nesting area unless I lift her up there myself, i have noticed.

I have wanted to take her to a vet but I am unfortunately not in charge of the aspect of the health/care of the chickens (though I do most to all the looking after them. But I did not buy them and I do not pay for their feed) and the only responses I have got back to this suggestion is; Vets are expensive, she'll be fine, We don't have any fowl vets around here, (or the occasional and irritating;) Its just a chicken...

So I am unsure what to do.

Do these symptoms seem really bad to anyone. I am afraid she may not live and again, these hens are my pets...

One more thing, is the "broody buster" the only way to stop a broody chicken from being broody? (Broody buster; as in keep hen in a wire cage alone and up high on sawhorses or on concrete with no bedding, to keep their body temp down until they snap out of broodiness.)

Thanks to anyone who can offer any help.

I hate having to ask these questions as i do not want to seem like I am a bad chicken owner, as I am not. The thing is, i didnt know bantams especially were prone to so many diseases when i first got my hens and now I just come straight to the forums when I have the slightest problem (as you are all very knowledgeable, helpful and reassuring.) So all my posts are mainly questions about problems with my hens as I worry a lot and don't use the byc forums for much else but questions... I hope I don't seem like a hassle to anyone either...
Anyway thanks all.

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For the Love of Duck
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Nov 30, 2014
Middle Tennessee
Does the discharge have a smell? I can't remember which one but sounds like Coryza, MG or IB... try putting those one at a time in the search bar and you'll find some thread links that might help you... I'm sorry I can't remember for sure, but that should help, or maybe some else (on a computer) might be able to tell you more or post links...

And just an fyi, chickens as a whole are very susceptible to respiratory and sinus infections/diseases... they are easily spread and transmitted...

You're a good chicken caregiver... you are doing what you can within your means and please do not let anyone make you feel different... :hugs


7 Years
Dec 10, 2012
If you can, I would separate her in a dog crate. That way you can monitor if she is eating/drinking and help prevent the spread if this is a cold/virus. You can give her some apple cider vinegar in her water to help boost her immune system may help some in place of antibiotics. My vet will give me antibiotics over the phone and the charge is 8-10 dollars. I put the tablets in a corn kernel and they eat it right up. Good luck. I have taken exceptional care of my hens and some have still gotten sick and died....so..do the best you can but realize it may happen anyway.


Flock Mistress
10 Years
Apr 15, 2009
Any hen that has discharge coming from the face is sick. Since she has been with all the birds up to this point, I see no benefit in separating her (unless she is being beaten on by her mates) because they have all been exposed to whatever she has. Do you have access to antibiotics?

Broody busters are moderately effective for a time. The only way to truly stop a broody hen is to let her hatch out some babies. She will snap out of it long enough to raise up those babies, but frequently revert back to her broody ways once the babies are grown up if it is still hatching season. Broodies are a mixed blessing. They are great if you want more babes and have a roo. They are a waste of resources if you don't.

You are not a bad chicken owner. You are inexperienced. The only way to gain experience is by asking questions. That's a much better alternative than having to work out problems by yourself and flying by the seat of your pants. Never be afraid to ask if you don't know something. There are plenty of people here who LOVE to answer chicken questions because our family and friends are all sick of us talking about chickens all the time.


6 Years
Sep 22, 2015
Thank you all, you are all very kind and helpful. I will look up some more info and I could see if she has a smell. I believe one of my hens has MG but I dont recall reading about any discharge so i am unsure if this is what is affecting this hen but i will do some more research.
I also noticed though, that she sometimes tends to sit alone if the other hens go off and she wont sleep on her perch and if i put her on her perch she jumps back down onto the floor of the nesting area and recently she has been twisting her head around on an awkward angle. it looks quite strange, I dont know what thats all about? Is that a symptom of anything? And also it does look like she has trouble breathing as she gapes every time she takes a breath and it makes a almost gurgling sort of noise but not quite. Though I dont believe its gapeworm as I checked for that as well as sourcrop at first sign of symptoms and nothing came of either.

I find it strange that none of the other hens have any of these symptoms, I just hope they do not start to display any signs but I think and hope they are all fine.

I will try and get some antibiotics and will put the apple cider vinegar in her water and keep an eye on her.

Also as for the broody hen question, I dont have a roo so I would like to snap my Cochin out of this phase.

Thanks heaps. x
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6 Years
Sep 22, 2015
I've been doing research and the are SO many diseases chickens can get and a lot of the symptoms are roughly the same.....

I am quite stressed now as any disease that relates to her symptoms can be deadly and shes only getting worse

I am worried it could be Newcastle disease or Laryngotracheitis but there are so many different things it could be...

To some up all her symptoms that I've noticed:

-Breathing with mouth open
-Rattling, rasping, gurgling noises
-Yellowish, crusty (discharge?) from nose
-Twisting neck
-Tilting head forward (e.g. if i put my hand in front of her she will slowly lower her head onto my hand but she is doing this often not just when i place my hand in front of her)
-Not sleeping on perch
-Hasn't started to lay even though shes well due to
-Seams quite weak
-Doesn't interact a great deal, she tries but often i will see her sitting alone

She is showing more unhealthy signs but I cannot think of anymore at this time but they will be listed in my above posts

Thanks again for the help and for the help anyone else can provide me


Free Ranging
5 Years
Feb 14, 2014
Consett Co.Durham. UK

Some of those symptoms (head drooping, not roosting, disorientated and unbalanced and even the wry neck) could all be down to lack of nourishment. You need to make sure she is eating well in order to keep her strength up and help her immune system to fight whatever ailment she has. It's really important to get food into her or she will die. Encourage her to eat whatever she will, but things like scrambled eggs and meal worms and natural yoghurt and some fish would be good.... whatever you can tempt her with. It is probably better giving her warm wet food rather than dry food, so that you don't have to worry so much about getting fluids into her although obviously that is important, but if she is eating dry food she will need that much more and sometimes they just can't be bothered. Keeping her warm will also help her, so bring her indoors if you can.
If she won't eat, then you need to decide if you are going to tube feed her. There are instructions on the forum for that if you do a search, but you will need to plan ahead for it as you will need to buy tubing etc.

I had a silkie that's eyes kept getting glued shut. At first it was just one eye and I didn't notice because of her pompom feathers. I thought she was eating but when you watched closely she was pecking and missing. Chickens are good at pretending they are OK until they are to weak and unwell to pretend and by then you are fighting the weakness as well as the ailment.

I'm afraid I can't advise on medication but I wish you luck in treating her and hopefully nursing her back to health.

Best wishes



BYC Staff
Project Manager
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Jun 24, 2012
The Golden State
If she's not drinking and eating she needs to be tube fed, which is something that anyone can do. Let me know if you want to learn. What antibiotics can you get?



6 Years
Sep 22, 2015
Thanks guys,

I'm am thinking it may be Newcastle disease as I keep the chickens well nourished and the other 3 seem fine, but I will tube feed anyway, and she looked at lot worse today. It has been hot lately (especially today) and I found her today when I got home and she was lying down and not moving and gasping. At first I thought it was heatstroke so I gave her a bath but it seemed like she couldn't move her leg and she kept drooping and lying down. So i thought her leg maybe paralyzed as she couldn't sit up properly. Though now she seems much better. I am keeping her separated in another small pen and she seems more perky so i think the bath did her good. Though I still fear she may not make it which is extremely upsetting. I will do the best I can for her and I will tube feed her all the foods suggested (I have hand reared birds and animals and birds so I know how to tube feed thanks but I'll ask or go to the forums if i need any help) and giver her apple cider vinegar in her water but I haven't been able to get any antibiotics as yet.

I'll keep you updated and hopefully she pulls through though x

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