I've run out of ideas...what could be wrong?


9 Years
Aug 30, 2010
Western Mass
1) What type of bird , age and weight Barred Rock hen 15 months skinny
2) What is the behavior, exactly. lethargic, sits fluffed up, comb pale and wattles almost white
3) How long has the bird been exhibiting symptoms? 3 weeks now
4) Are other birds exhibiting the same symptoms? no
5) Is there any bleeding, injury, broken bones or other sign of trauma no
6) What happened, if anything that you know of, that may have caused the situation. had a swollen foot and also is molting
7) What has the bird been eating and drinking, if at all. not eating or drinking much. will peck at the feed and a little bit of scratch
8) How does the poop look? Normal? Bloody? Runny? etc. runny, sometimes greenish, mostly clear
9) What has been the treatment you have administered so far? attempted bumblefoot surgery, but all tissue in the pad looked healthy. she has a hard spot between her toes....i was trying to give her time to feel better before opening up again. penicillin for 5 days, no improvement. gave her a dose of valbazen yesterday 2 pm. she pooped only once today and it was clear of any worms. I switched to pellets from crumbles shortly before she became ill.....maybe she isn't eating the pellets. I gave her chick starter crumbles in her quarantine coop for the higher protein. her poop was somewhat normal today, 1st in a few weeks. should i have seen worms today if there were any in there? she also had a case of lice, which i got rid of with the poultry dust.
10 ) What is your intent as far as treatment? trying to do what i can on my own
11) If you have a picture of the wound or condition, please post it. It may help. no pics
12) Describe the housing/bedding in use sand

Of 29 chickens, she is the only one ill. Like stated above, she is molting pretty heavily this year (her 1st time) and had a pretty severe case of lice. it's been so warm and damp here in massachusetts
tried bumblefoot surgery but didn't find anything in the pad, may have to go through the top as the only hard spot i can detect it between the toes. 5 days of penicillin, wihtout change. ordered valbazen from jeffers and administered it yesterday. haven't seen any worms at all in her poop. so, i am at wits end trying to figure out what is wrong with her. this is one of my first hens and i want to do what i can to make her better.

any ideas? thanks!


8 Years
Nov 28, 2011
NE Alabama
The antibiotics will sometimes depress the appetite and changing to pellets might be part of the problem. I would keep her on the crumbles and add some yogurt (probiotic) to help build her system back up.


Heavenly Grains for Hens
9 Years
Jun 8, 2010
Pacific NW- where the Douglas Firs grow
No you wouldn't necessarily have seen worms in the poo if they were there. Don't forget the follow-up treatments for lice and worms if you didn't know already. They usually perk up by the second day or so after worming from my experience and look less depressed.

If you need help with follow-up treatments and the timing we can find you links.


8 Years
Mar 8, 2011
Southern California
I will make a few comments.. not that everyone will agree or that I know much... but, here are a few ideas:

Here are some sites for "normal poop", etc... I have checked out and like the last, the UK site...

http://dlhunicorn.conforums.com/index.c … amp;start=

http://happyhenhouse.proboards.com/inde … hread=7588


I have never had to do Bumblefoot surgery... When you say "feed" do you mean "laying feed"? Lice or mites are blood suckers and can make a chicken sick and weak.. the problem is, if one has them, probably they all do and the coop, roosts, and laying boxes (nests) as well... All need to be cleaned and dusted -- including dusting each/all chickens and also repeat in 10 days... lice or mite eggs will hatch.

You gave her 1/2 cc/ml of Valbazen, orally, not in her water, but into her mouth, yesterday...? -- I can say that I never saw any worms in my chicken's poop when they did have worms.. and I never saw any worms in their poop after giving them Valbazen.. but, mine free range, and I could have missed a poop... Another time I saw tapeworm segments before I wormed, and until I had wormed four times... but, never saw the whole tapeworms come out in the poop either. So, IMO, we don't always see the worms. And, Valbazen works slowly over about four days, I believe, this is what makes it a safe first wormer... it doesn't overload the system. Also, needs to be repeated in ten days and I personally believe that if one has worms, they all have worms, unless it is tapeworms... --- RE: the other varieties (several) of worms that chickens get... probably they all have them. If you have a regular worming regiment for the flock, say twice a year.... that's good. If you have not wormed any of the flock, you might consider worming all of them, EACH OF THEM, individually, orally with the Valbazen... repeating in ten days. Withholding eggs from first dose to fifteenth day after second dose... to 25th day. (1/2 cc / ml per standard chicken, 1/4 cc / ml per bantam or small chicken).

If she is eating and drinking on her own.. she will / should eat the pellets just like any other food. Scratch is like "Froot Loops".. the kids love it... but, it is not the "Beef Stew with Vegetables" that they need... if you get my drift. Scratch is basic, no vitamins... Laying pellets or laying feed of any kind (or chick starter) has vitamins, minerals and calcium in it... (and, you can wet it with a little water and yogurt to make it into a wet mash... temporarily).

Sand on the ground, in the run... what is in the laying nests, laying boxes? That question is asked to make sure you are not using cedar or something else harmful.

Keeping her isolated... giving her some TLC.. making sure she is eating and drinking on her own... maybe fix her some scrambled eggs (not eggs from her or any that have been wormed... eggs have to be thrown away while worming and for a time after).... Maybe add some Pedialyte to her water... wait three more days and then give her some yogurt mixed with her scrambled eggs.... do keep an eye on her poop... but, do not be concerned that you are not seeing worms.
You can also drip the Pedialyte water from the tip of your finger.... or a dropper -- to the side of her beak and she should take it from the tip of your finger or the tip of the (child's medicine) dropper.
Is her foot wrapped with Neosporin on it? Have you soaked her foot in Epsom Salts warm water? Cleaned it with a Betadine type disinfectant, anti-bacterial? Then, Neosproin and vet wrap. Have some Blu Kote Spray on hand?

Search here... "giving oral medications"... so that you know how to safely give water and meds orally... Get dropper or syringe for administering the Valbazen and for giving her Pedialyte water in case she is not now, or stops drinking water.

Penicillin? How are you giving Penicillin? Orally? Injection? How about getting some Duramycin 10 (Tetracycline) from the feed store.. and, after three days off Penicillin.. add the Duramycin (Tetracycline) to the water for her..... 1 to 1 1/2 tsp per gallon of water to be drank in 24 hours.... meaning if the flock consumes two gallons of water in 24 hours, you fill two - one gallon water containers.

Check the whole flock for mites and/or lice.. also spend some time walking around with them and check everyone's poop.. take a little stick with you and 'break it apart, smear it... spread it...' to get a better look... (for any worms).... you may or may not see any.

Keep her isolated, separated from the flock for now.. a flock can and will attack a weak member.... I have had one attacked and one killed by the flock when they were recovering but still weak. Broke my heart.

Are any of your hens laying? Do you keep a light on in the coop to extend daylight hours for them? When did they stop laying? Have you checked her for Eggbound? How about her crop? How does her crop seem? Her "breath"?

Best of luck....
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12 Years
Aug 21, 2009
Belding Michigan
you might want to gather a little poo from different hens and get a fecal test done so you know what you are dealing with. coccia will make the poo very watery and the hens get very thin... I had a problem with cocci and stongyles,(type of blood sucking hook worm) vet said to use fenbendazole for the worms and Sulfadimethoxine for the cocci. the fenbn is in Safeguard for goats, I lost 5 birds in all this fall trying to treat. the majority of my flock had been vac. but some had not. the ones that did not make it were dreadfully thin so do try to find out what you are dealig with from a vet. you can usually find how to treat here. As most vets are not used to treating chickens, and are unsure about treatment.


9 Years
Aug 30, 2010
Western Mass
thanks. there is an avian vet nearby, just not sure if she treats chickens. i will give a call on tuesday to find out. if not, our regular vet would probably do the fecals


Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Feb 5, 2009
South Georgia
You know she is molting and she had lice or mites. The two together are enough to make a chicken feel pretty bad, and would almost certainly stop her from laying. They don't often lay during a molt, as you said, even without any other problems. Add an infected foot, and.... A hard molt coupled with any other health problem can be a serious matter for a chicken, although I think this is worse when they are a few years old.

Is the foot getting worse, or does it look like it's slowly improving?

I would try to up her nutrition as much as I could. Probiotics (yogurt is fine if live culture) because she had an antibiotic, like a tsp. every day for several days. Add even more protein if you can. Meat scraps are good, of course scrambled eggs. I sometimes buy a can of canned mackerel (near the tune) and give it over a few days. A bite from your supper is convenient, too. You might change the scratch to BOSS for a while, thus giving a bit more protein instead of less. (It is a widely propagated myth that corn warms them, any more than any other food does.) I would probably add a few drops of oil to the protein snack, too, unless it is an oily snack like mackerel. Another thought is a bit of aspirin -- from a sticky here: Aspirin - for pain relief. Dosage is approximately 25 mg per pound of chicken's body weight each day – (A standard baby Aspirin is 80 mg, and a standard adult Aspirin pill is 325 mg).

Again, this is just me, I wouldn't completely separate her from the flock, just because they seem happier with their gang. I would probably let her choose heat lamp or roost at night for a night or two. Or, pen her just at night and for nutritional boosts, but put a companion with her.

After the second treatment for lice / mites, even though you were pretty thorough, do check again in a week or two. Sometimes they are stubborn.


Flock Mistress
10 Years
Apr 15, 2009
If you have already started worming the birds then a fecal wouldn't show much. I wouldn't bother with it at this point. I would instead presume that the problems you are seeing are related to worms and continue the course of treatment. We have had an incredibly wet last couple months and it has been unseasonably warm (not that I'm complaining). There have been several folks from this area complaining of a spike in their cases of worms and cocci. I'm guessing that your birds probably have a high worm load since you haven't wormed them before, and the only reason the one bird is ill is because she is going through a heavy molt on top of it. Molts are hard on birds period, but when they molt this late in the year when it's been pretty cold at times, it is even harder.

The foot thing is curious. Since the penicillin had no effect even with an extended dosing I am guessing you are not dealing with an infection. She likely has an injury that will heal on its own once she is back in the pink. Her immune system is probably so taxed right now that it can't deal with this, too.

The infestation of external parasites probably took a big toll on this poor girl. With all that she has going on that was the last thing her body needed. She is going to be some time recovering from the effects of the bugs and worms, plus she's molting, plus she has a foot that is paining her, plus she just had a round of antibiotics so her GI system is probably out of whack, plus the weather has been not-chicken-friendly- that's a formidable list of problems.

I think I would keep her inside where it is warm and dry for a while to let her recover. I'd continue worming her (and the flock), and then once the course is done I'd take a fecal sample in to see if everything is gone. I'd put her on a daily regimen of probiotics for at least 2 weeks to straighten out her GI system. Antibiotics are hard on a bird's system. I'd monitor her intake to find out for certain if and what she is eating. I'd watch the foot, but stop all treatment to ascertain what is exactly going on with it. Some PoultryDrench could be helpful for everyone, but especially her. It's cheap and can be picked up at Agway. Then, I'd wait and see what shakes out.

Poor girl. I have a BR that is in the middle of her first hard molt. She is also suffering. It's a bad time of year to have bald chickens running around. I've been watching mine closely because I am worried she will get sick since she is in such poor body condition. So far so good, though.

I hope this helps. Good luck.

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