Lethargic 31wk ameraucana. But eating well?


In the Brooder
May 11, 2018

We have 5 hens. All of them are living happily and they all started laying at the same time. Except one. She's not going well and she never laid a single egg. They are all 31 weeks old Ameraucanas.

The problematic hen started ripping off her feathers at the base of her tail about one month ago. They grew back and she plucked them out again. She then started isolating herself, staying in the corner, not moving much all day long. We took her inside to check her out. No visible parasites on the outside and no worms in her stools. But things are getting worse. She eats and drink well, she makes normal stools but she barely moves and she tips over easily. She cannot walk well and she doesn't fly. She looks and act lethargic but she eats and drink normally. No breathing issues or anything.

Any ideas? We're keeping her in a small room in the basement until we find out what's going on with the poor thing.


Wyorp Rock

🐓 ❤ 🐛
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Sep 20, 2015
Southern N.C. Mountains
Can you take her to a vet?

Photos of your pullet and her poop?
If you have a video of her actions that would be good - upload to youtube, then provide us a link.

What type of food/treats do you feed?

Feel her abdomen for any bloat/swelling or fluid, check her crop to make sure it's emptying overnight.

Imbalance, no being able to walk well, lethargy but eating/drinking normally, I would suspect Marek's. It would be hard to know. Seeking vet care to rule out worm (the majority of the times you will never see worms in the stool), coccidiosis and parasites.
You are actually seeing her rip out her own feathers correct? The ripping out the feathers, does she eat them too or just rips them out? A vet can look at the feather shaft under the microscope to see if there are depluming mites that are causing problems - these cannot be seen by the naked eye and would require a systemic treatment like Ivermectin.

I would start her on some vitamins that contain E and B1.

Keep us posted.

Hen Pen Jem

Sep 19, 2017
Southern California
Greetings unepoulebrune,

Your pullet may have several things going on. First, let me take note that the pullet is eating and drinking well - this is good.

Ameruacanas are beautiful birds. I like to keep one or two in my flock. However, they have very strong personalities. Here are my notes on your pullets symptoms.
  • The loss of tail feathers is usually an indication of feather pecking by other chickens in the flock.
  • When the tail feathers were replaced, this required more protein from the pullet's body.
  • If your pullet was being bullied, this would account for her isolating herself. This is a common reaction to bullying.
  • When a chicken is under extensive and constant stress, from harsh weather, illness, and/or bullying, the stress can cause a depletion of vitamins in the body, particularly B vitamins. B vitamins are essential for movement and coordination.
  • A lack of B12 can manifest in the loss of balance and trouble walking, fatigue, and weakness.
  • Stress will also delay egg laying, especially as the days are shorter, now.
  • A fecal float test will rule out the presence of internal parasites. Internal parasites could further compromise her health. You won't normally see live worms in the feces. The worm eggs can only be seen with a microscope. A fecal float test can be done by any vet, you just take in a poop sample. The cost is nominal, $10 - $20.
  • If you are concerned about egg binding, but, are not comfortable with checking the pullet yourself, the vet can perform an x-ray to see if there is an egg in the oviduct.

It's good that you separated the pullet. Now, you can observe her and treat her.

What to do: Here are my suggestions.
  1. Reduce stress by playing soft music while she is in confinement, away from the flock.
  2. Give her supervised time to forage, dust bathe and just enjoy the sunshine.
  3. Along with her daily feed, increase protein in her diet by adding - cooked ground or minced meat, scrambled egg, fish like salmon, tofu etc. I like to add fresh greens and fruit which are packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber for digestion.
  4. Administer a vitamin supplement with B vitamins, ASAP. I like to use Liquid Hepato for Pets, by RxVitamins, .3 mL, twice daily, for a few weeks. This product also has Milk Thistle, which will support liver and kidney health, and boost the immune system. In her current condition, she is susceptible to infection, so, a boost to the immune system is needed.
The best thing to do for the hen, is to take her to see a vet, but, that's not always an option. So, I am willing to offer my opinion.

Other members may have advice that is different, please consider these too.

These are my thoughts on your pullets health issue. I hope I have been helpful.

God Bless :)

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom