Is my hen ill or cold?


9 Years
Jul 1, 2010
I am very worried about one of my warren hens. She is an ex battery bird and we have had her for about 2 years. It has been very cold and frosty the last 3 days, and the hen seems unwell. She stands with feathers puffed up and seems very miserable.

I have examined her and can find nothing to account for this. her eyes are clear and bright and everything seems normal. She is a reasonable weight. Her comb, however is a little pale. Although she stands hunched up, when I go outside, with feed, she runs straight up and eats her share! I have been boosting her calorie intake and serving warm food in the mornings and before they go to roost. This seems to perk her up for a while.

I have examined the hen house for red spider mite, and looked over them for lice. No sign of either. I have lost two other hens, both ex battery, in the last few months, and hen people round here have told me that ex battery hens are pretty much spent because of their lifestyle, and are not bred to be long lived. However, that said, I want to do my best for her. I already give a tonic, and, in the bitterest of weather, a small tot of navy rum. Don't know if it keeps te cold out but they seem to like it. If anyone can suggest what the trouble might be, or anything to help, I would be most grateful.
My first guess is that she's cold. I assume she's a leghorn or some similar breed; they aren't built for cold (big comb, thinner body build). The best way to find out whether or not the weather is the problem is to take her inside where it's warm and see how she acts.
Corn is good to feed during winter because it produces heat as they digest it. Warm, wet food (like cooked oatmeal) can cool on their face and make them cold. Cooked eggs are always good. Other than that, a lot of hay is good for them to nestle into.
I've used chicken saddles for our older hens in the winter; they can help the chicken retain more body heat.
Hope your hen is ok!
Thank you for your reply. Happily my hen does seem a little better. It is a bit milder at the moment, no night frosts for a day or two. I have taken the precaution of worming her and treating for mite and lice anyway. She is pecking around outside at the moment and although still fluffed up, seems lively enough. Hopefully she was only feeling the cold!

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