Lavender bantam hen acting strange! Please help!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by AllyC, Oct 7, 2016.

  1. AllyC

    AllyC Just Hatched

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    BACKGROUND INFO

    I have a coop of 10 total chickens to include:

    GROUP 1
    1 lavender bantam hen + 1 bantam cock (dominant male, both approx 3-4 yrs, both hatched with me)
    1 black bantam hen (6 yrs+)
    We have had this original group all their lives, Black hen came as an adult with cock as chick of 1-2 months old.
    Lavender was hatched by black hen a couple of months later.
    These are the oldest and more dominant group.

    GROUP 2
    1 white bantam hen + 1 bantam cock (both approx 4-5 months old)
    Group 2 were introduced slowly

    GROUP 3
    1 x black bantam hen (daughter to black hen and dominant male, incubator hatched by me, 3 months old.)
    2 orpington cross hens (3 months old, bought as 2 day old chicks due to black hen being only one that hatched.)
    Raised together and best buddies.
    Group 2 were bought from same place and on the same day as the 2 orpingtons.

    GROUP 4
    1 black bantam hen and cock (approx 2 month old, in separate hen house, both incubator hatched by me)


    Each of the groups 1-3 have separate roosts at night also and hang out in separate groups in the day.

    Group 4 have not yet been put in with the rest, they have a separate outdoor run and indoor house, as they are still very small.

    THE PROBLEM

    The problem we seem to be having is with the lavender hen, as she has been acting very strange for a good 2 months now.

    She used to be a very spritely, bossy female and ruled the roost.

    She has since become very withdrawn, quiet and subdued. Her feathers are constantly ruffled, going from a slim looking to almost fat looking, particularly around her head. She has not gotten fat, just the look from the ruffled feathers!
    She now mopes around, mostly on her own, and often huddles in a corner or the same spot outside all day. She does still eat particularly in the mornings but she wouldn't run to food anymore.

    She and the older black hen take a little longer to come out in the mornings.

    She looks as though she is very low on energy and seems to find it hard to fly up to her usual top roost in the evenings and also finds it hard to balance up there too.
    It seems like she has become very elderly all of a sudden when she should only really be half way through her life.
    She also hasn't laid any eggs for months now, apart from one around June time which was a membrane only, shell-less egg. Very strange!
    About a month and a half ago she also had poo around her back end which was stuck and dried to her feathers, which I had to cut off her.

    I have checked for mites or anything else that may be obvious but can't seem to find anything prominent.
    She is such a lovely hen and huge character of the group so it is both very sad and strange to see her like this, especially as I can't really do anything to help!

    ________________________________________________________

    Any suggestions or contributions as to what may be wrong with her would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you,


    Alice
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Let It Snow Premium Member

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    Sounds like something is wrong with your hen. She sounds very sick unfortunately. There are so many things that it could be, and her symptoms are very generalized. My guess would be something internal, either organ problems, or infections. If you have access to a vet that would be your best route to try to figure out what is wrong with her.
     
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC...sorry your old girl is not feeling well.

    I'd isolate her in a wire cage within the coop for a day or two....so you can closely monitor her intake of food and water,
    crop function(checking at night and then in morning before providing more feed), and her poops.

    I like to use a fold-able wire dog crate (24"L x 18"W x 21"H) with smaller mesh(1x2) on bottom of crate under tray.
    Then you can put tray underneath crate to better observe droppings without it being stepped in.
    If smaller mesh is carefully installed, tray can still be used inside crate.

    Might want to get a fecal exam done in case she has a heavy worm load.

    Have you checked them over real well for mites and/or lice?
    Best done well after dark with a strong flashlight/headlight, easier to 'catch' bird and also to check for the mites that live in structure and only come out at night to feed off roosting birds.
    Wipe a white paper towel along the underside of roost to look for red smears(smashed well fed mites).
    Part the feathers right down to the skin around vent, head/neck and under wings.
    Google images of lice/mites and their eggs before the inspection so you'll know what you're looking for.
     
  4. AllyC

    AllyC Just Hatched

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    Hi all,

    Took her to the vets today who couldn't pin point it either.
    She had a good look for mites and found nothing also and had a feel of her. She said she was feeling thin and slightly strange around the back end but definitely not egg bound or more common problems. She basically told me that because she is technically a mature hen, it could just be her deteriorating with age, cancer or something along those lines. So still no clear answer at this point!
    I have been given a 3 day course of wormer so we'll see if that helps.

    I initially thought it might have been the stress of the newbies but surely it wouldn't still be going on!

    She has had a good weekend and has been walking around and cropping with hubbie and mum most of the day, which is fab! Also today too even if it did take her and mum longer to come out as usual. They are all very ready to go in by the time the temperature drops again in the afternoon so perhaps they're just feeling the cold a little more than the others.

    I'm wondering if ageing and the weather changing could be playing a part, as her feathers did feel fairly cold this morning when she was still on her roost.
    Could it be something as simple as this?
    Any ideas on how to warm up their house and if this could be affecting the old gals?

    Has anyone else got elderly chickens that have slowed down in general, or perhaps know of other characters of elderly behaviour?

    Thank you!!
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Her feathers might feel cold on the outside, but did you stick your hand underneath her feathers close to her skin?
    Bet it's toasty warm under her 'down coat'.
    As long as the wind is not blowing hard enough to literally ruffle their feathers, they can be fine in temps down to freezing and below.

    How is your 6+ year old black bantam hen doing...is she suffering in her old age with the winters cold?

    Ventilation is much more important than adding heat, with adequate ventilation the coop will not 'hold' any added heat anyway.
    Adding heat can have it's own problems and is generally not good for their environment in the long run.

    What is your climate/location?
    Adding your location to your profile can help folks give better answers/suggestions.

    Time will tell if the wormer is effective.
    Did the vet do a fecal exam?
     
  6. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Let It Snow Premium Member

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    Whenever we have a sudden drop in temperatures like what happens during the fall some of my birds will look cold and will hunch up. It usually takes about a week for them to get used to the new normal. Last week half my turkeys were huddled up.

    Has she,molted, which is another thing that can make them look sick.

    I have an 8 year old hen, she has arthritis in her feet and occasionally will internally lay. She's slower moving and spends more time sunning and resting.

    Your hen is at that age when I lose half of mine, so she's not elderly but she is mature. I would assume something is wrong that you can't do anything for, best just to let her go and see how she does.
     
  7. AllyC

    AllyC Just Hatched

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    Hi everyone, sorry for super late reply!

    I agree with you @oldhenlikesdogs I think she had just got to that point. She passed away about a month ago sadly but really did seem much more elderly, about on par with the 7yr old.
    Im wondering if lavenders are more sensitive, like albino for example are supposed to be 'weaker' or so i have heard.

    The black (now 7 yrs) hen is still pottering around, we have set her up in a separate area as all the others are too boisterous for her and the cock wont leave her alone when she is quite frail. She's enjoying having her own VIP area and loves fresh fruit and veg each day. She has even been wondering in through the back door, so very much making herself at home hahaha
     
  8. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Let It Snow Premium Member

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    Thank you for the update. Sorry you lost her.
     

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