Lethargic, blind chicken. What to do...

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by darkdiamonds, Dec 15, 2010.

  1. darkdiamonds

    darkdiamonds New Egg

    Dec 15, 2010

    My name is Gem, and I live in Australia.

    I am writing in regards to a pet chicken of mine, who has quite a story, and I am seeking secondary opinions as to my best options.

    She is a frizzle bantam, approximately three years old, weighing in at 0.7 kg (1.5lb), which I am told is a good weight for her breed. She lived with my mother, who apparently was oblivious to her problems, and I have since taken her under my care (in a different city) just recently.

    Health and issues

    She is blind in both eyes, due to differing causes. Her left is said to be heriditary, or possibly due to optic nerve damage; there is no pupil dilation in respone to light. Her right eye's cornea may have been injured some time ago, resulting in an infection, which is now scar tissue.

    She is very tired (lethargic), nods her head and tends to sleep a lot. Some days she is more active. When frustrated she walks in circles. She doesn't talk much, which is normal for her as she was never a talker.

    She hasn't layed any eggs since her blindness, however we recently received two eggs last week, which I think is in response to the heightened level of care.

    I am also concerned with a recent habit of hers, which is to snap/grind her beak.

    She has been lethargic since her blindness was instigated during March this year. Her pale appearance also concerns me, although this was only brought to my attention by a natural vet, so I not sure what a 'normal' colour for a chicken is.

    Her poops are also normal in appearance, green/brown with white and are spherical.

    Despite being blind, she must still have sense of light because she recognises when it is time to awake in the morning and goto sleep for the night. She also looks around tentitively, as is she has some sense there is living presence around her.

    Current treatments

    For treatment of tiredness, I have attempted sunning, grass and supervised outdoor times, but she rathers sleeping/resting. Each time I awake her, she pecks around for food briefly and then nods off again. My natural vet gave Ba Zhen Wan balls as an energy supplement, 1 per day, however no improvement is apparent since Monday's initial dose.

    I thought the snapping/grinding of her beak was due to her natural beak growth; since she is indoors as has had no access to stones and dirt in general. Because of this, I have trimmed her beak, to more resemble the right shape it originally displayed, and also filed it gently to shape. At this stage I am uncertain as to whether this has fixed her beak issue, but I have heard less grinding action.

    Today I tried giving her vitamin D3 supplement, in a very small single dose to supplement natural direct sunlight.

    Living and feeding arrangements

    She lives on a vinyl floor, and now has a brick on which she enjoys perching as well as some light hay/straw and other perching objects which she does find via trial and error. She is away from other birds. She has lived inside for the past two weeks as she was not receiving adequate care in ragards to feeding, and was also being picked on by other chickens.

    Her eating habits in general appear normal - when she is awake. Her food employs a free range poultry mix (various grains, grit and fibrous matter), as well as fresh greens (rocket/spinach/alfalfa) which she enjoys. Occasionally she will scratch normally, seeking out worms as any chicken would. I have been emulating worms with the use of bean sprouts, which she loves.

    She is next to the window, with indirect sunlight, and an open window to allow for air and natural noises. At night she returns to her box, with assistance, and perches for the night. She has scattered food below her as a snack, which she does utilise.


    Some vets comment on her abilities to survive up to this point, and have stated that if she receives adequate food and water, she should be fine. Another questions her quality of life, with respect to that of a normal chicken, and recommends that if this does not improve shortly that she be placed to rest.

    As I mentioned, I am seeking other opinions, because on one hand I do not wish for her to suffer, but on the other have some hope that despite being blind, she may be able to live, albeit differently from most normal chickens.

    Thankyou for reading, I hope my post covers the requirements for you all to make an informed judgement.


  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    We have such a wide variety of goals and intentions on here. Different ones of us would handle this differently. I think that what I would do really doesn't matter in the end, that you have to make this choice yourself.

    That said, I would not cull her.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2010
  3. HippieChicken97

    HippieChicken97 New Egg

    Dec 14, 2010
    Hope ur chicken feels better! [​IMG]
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2010
  4. hen-thusiast

    hen-thusiast Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 8, 2009
    I agree with ddawn. It's your call in the end and we all have different views and goals. If it were up to me, I'd give her a bit more time before I made a decision.

    We have two rescued disabled chickens who lost most of their feet to frostbite. While it took them a couple of months to recover, they enjoy life and are happy little chickens. People told me that they would just give up and die. My opinion was that the only reason they were still alive is because they were fighters and wanted to be alive.
  5. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

    May 8, 2007
    How nice of you to take her in and give her a home, with such good supportive care, too.

    It sounds like you have a good set up for her and that her diet is good. It also sounds like she was previously in a stressful situation and was not getting enough to eat. I'm thinking that with less stress and a better diet, she may begin to feel better on her own over time. If she begins to show signs of a particular illness, I would treat it. Until then, good supportive care, a less stressful environment and a little time can often improve many cases.

    Do you talk to her? I would talk nicely to her. That will help her get used to you and tell her that it's you she is sensing moving around. I think that would be reassuring to her. Especially greeting her when you come in or when you are tending to her or her living area.

    When your vet was talking about your chicken being pale, was she noticing that her comb and wattles were pink, instead of red? That could indicate illness, but is also completely normal in a healthy hen that is not laying. Young female chickens start out with pale pink combs, that turn red when they are about to begin to lay eggs. Adult hens that are not laying eggs because they are broody, molting or a shortened day length has effected them can have pink combs. They will turn red again, when they are ready to go back to laying eggs. Or do you mean something else?

    When it comes to quality of life, I think it mainly depends on what you can and want to provide for her. If she was forced to live with other chickens and slowly get starved or pecked to death, then I think the humane thing to do would be to end her life. As long as you are willing and able to give her a safe place to live, where she can just be who she is, I think she will have a good quality of life. She seems to enjoy a great many activities already and she doesn't even have a lot of stamina at the moment. Most people, animals and birds eventually learn to adjust to their limitations and find ways to work around them. Once she is feeling better, feeling more secure and gets used to her environment, I think she may become a little more confident, also.
  6. darkdiamonds

    darkdiamonds New Egg

    Dec 15, 2010
    Thank you all so much for your kind messages.

    In response to WoodlandWoman, it's not necessarily her comb or wattles, they are a bright rosy red. Her face is apparently pale with respect to other chickens in her opinion... which I was unsure of.

    Also, I do talk to her normally as well as chicken speak, as does my boyfriend, who is actually much better at doing it than myself.

    I am going to give her time, and see how she goes.

    Is there anything else I can or should be doing for her, other than what I already am? Even the smallest of things may help her recovery and adjustment to a new and hopefully sustained life.
  7. spish

    spish De Regenboog Kippetjes

    Apr 7, 2010
    could she be depressed? if shes spent her life up until now with other chickens (whether they picked on her or not) and now shes alone..it could be affecting her. could you not get her a pal? a small bantam or something so shes not alone?
  8. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Loving this country life Premium Member

    if another real chicken isn't feesable maybe a stuffed animal she can cuddle with. I have a very small frizzle that was pecked so bad by some RIR before I got her I wasn't sure she'd live, but she is all healed and doing great she isn't isolated from the other chickens in my flock but sometimes you just have to give them time and love, good food and healthy inviroment and they can really amaze ya.[​IMG]
  9. MissJenny

    MissJenny Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 11, 2009
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Is she getting any vitamins? I don't know if you have them available, but here we frequently use infants liquid vitamins, Poly-vi-sol, WITHOUT iron. When I have a hen isolated I use a small watering dish, maybe a cup of water, and add two drops of Polyvisol to the water. Other people drop the vitamin on top of the beak, a method I've never done successfully.

    I would say the fact that she is giving eggs again is a good sign... she may, though, miss your mother, miss her former routine. Do you spend much time with her? Do you hold her, talk to her? I have one in the house right now and she'd rather be with me as to be anywhere. For no reason, when she is out of her cage, she will follow me from room to room. They are social animals -- they like the company.

    Best of luck to you -- it sounds like you are making great strides forward with her.


BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by