Lethargic for a week, and then death.


8 Years
May 14, 2011
Smoky Mountains
A few days ago I lost a nearly year old laying hen. For the last week, she was super lethargic, don't think I saw her eat or drink, and eventually, found her one morning dead. I now have another, in a different coop, doing the same thing. Also almost a year old, and had been laying up to a week ago. Absolutely zero outward signs of illness, like eye or sinus issues. Just one day fine, next lethargic, a week later dead. Any ideas?
Had a hen like that only I was able to eat her before she died. I found several small eggs inside of her but egg binding was not the problem. When I cut open the crop it stank to high heavens and she had eaten debris. So in my case I think it got sick from eating something bad. That could be your problem as well.
This is a copy and paste from another post of mine, maybe it will help you.
When mine get sick, this is what I do:

  • *Thorough* physical exam which includes inserting a gloved, lubed finger into the cloaca to check for an egg, check for cuts, bruising lumps, smells, etc.
  • Dust for mites/lice with poultry dust even if I cannot see any. DE does not work.
  • Weigh on digital kitchen scale (see avatar), record weight and weigh daily. any weight loss is bad.
  • Place bird in a warm, quiet place on towel with food and water that it can't drown in.
  • De-worm with Safeguard or Panacur, liquid or paste (fenbendazole 10%) 50mg/kg by mouth and repeat in 10 days. Warning - Safeguard/Panacur should not be used during a molt.
  • Once warm, if not drinking and crop is empty, hydrate with warmed Pedialyte or lactated ringers with a feeding tube - 30ml/kg every 6-8 hours.
  • If not eating after 24 hours and crop is empty, tube feed baby bird food mixed with Pedialyte
  • Inspect poop.
  • If I suspect a stuck egg, treat for egg binding.
  • If I suspect a bacterial infection, treat with antibiotics.
  • If I suspect a fungal infection, treat with Nystatin.
  • If I suspect coccidiosis, treat with Corid (amprolium).
  • If I suspect canker or histomoniaisis (blackhead), treat with Metronidazole.

From: http://www.harrisonsbirdfoods.com/avmed/cam/07_emergency_and_critical_care.pdf
Supportive Care
Sick birds are often hypothermic and should be placed
in heated (brooder-type) enclosures

b (Fig 7.7) in a quiet
environment (see Chapter 1, Clinical Practice). A temperature
of 85° F (29° C) with 70% humidity is desirable
for most sick birds. If brooders are not equipped with a
humidity source, placing a small dish of water in the
enclosure will often supply adequate humidity. A moist
towel that is heated and placed on the bottom of a cage
or incubator rapidly humidifies the environment, as indicated
by the fogging of the acrylic cage front.

Oral Administration
Oral administration is the ideal method of giving fluids.
This method is more commonly used in mildly dehydrated
birds or in conjunction with subcutaneous (SC)
or intravenous (IV) therapy. Oral rehydration (30 ml/kg
PO q 6-8 h) also may be used in larger birds (eg, waterfowl)
that are difficult to restrain for parenteral fluid

Below are listed some of the oral nutritional supplements

that can be gavage-fed to debilitated birds. Various
hand-feeding formulas are on the market and, as a
whole, are far superior to the homemade formulas used
decades ago that contained monkey biscuits, peanut butter
and ground seeds. Commercially available hand-feeding
formulas for baby birds are often utilized in the treatment
of sick and debilitated adult birds. The quantity
that can be fed at one time to a sick bird is greatly
reduced from that of baby birds. On the average, a baby
parrot can accommodate 10% of its body weight per
feeding due to the elasticity of the crop and its rapid
emptying. Adult birds have a greatly decreased crop
capacity, averaging 3% of their body weight. Additionally,
sick birds are less tolerant of food in the crop and care
must be taken to avoid regurgitation and/or aspiration.
A sick or debilitated bird should always have its
hydration corrected prior to attempting to initiate
oral gavage-feeding.

Here is a list that I'm working on. Let me know what else I should have!

Medications - With the exception of Clavamox, all can be purchased without a prescription for tropical fish or pigeons. If you need help finding any of them, let me know.
  • Metronidazole 250mg, 100mg and 50mg/ml liquid (banned for use in food animals)
  • Nystatin (antifungal)
  • Amoxicillin 250mg
  • Cephalexin 250mg
  • Tylan (tylosin)
  • Clavamox 250 mg
  • Baytril 10% (banned for use in food animals)
  • Corid (amprolium - coccistat)
  • Sulmet
  • Terramycin Antibiotic Ophthalmic Ointment
  • Neosporin
  • Safeguard wormer (fenbendazole 10%)
  • Praziquantel
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D

  • Pedialyte for tubing
  • Catheter for tube feeding
  • Baby bird food for tubing
  • Catheter tip syringe for tube feeding
  • Lactated ringers for tubing or SC fluids
  • Heat lamps
  • Heating Pad
  • Boxes and crates
  • Poultry dust
  • Digital kitchen scale
  • Gram scale
  • Needles and syringes of many sizes
  • Mineral Oil
  • Petroleum Jelly
  • Vet Wrap
  • Gauze Roll
  • Gauze Pads
  • Telfa Pads
  • Raw, Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Latex Gloves
  • Betadine
  • Epsom Salts

  • Plumb's Veterinary Drug Handbook
  • AAAP Avian Disease Manual
  • Diseases of Poultry
  • Clinical Avian Medicine
  • Penn State Poultry Health Handbook

Online poultry books:

Download the entire book (two volumes): Clinical Avian Medicine
(Large file - please allow several moments to download)

Another two book set:

Penn State Poultry Health Handbook
Last edited:
Both of these were home hatched. However...our first chickens, one of which is still around, came from an auction....I'm guessing she's a carrier. At this point though, we either deal with it, or cull 60+ chickens and start over. That's not likely to happen.

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