1. Come check out hundreds of awesome coop pages (and a few that need suggestions) in our 2018 Coop Rating Project!

Lethargic hen, dark comb/wattle (for 10 months, on and off), eating and drinking fine.

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by meredithg, Feb 24, 2017.

  1. meredithg

    meredithg Hatching

    Feb 24, 2017
    Hi All,

    I would love some help in figuring out what is wrong with one of our 7 chickens. She's been having issues for about 10 months now, on and off. She seems to recover herself and wants to maintain her pecking order status. Any help anyone can provide is appreciated! I've been hesitant to post here as it's not a HUGE issue so far - she seems to be doing fine, but I'd also like to help her since I can tell she's feeling off. I've posted a picture of her in November 2015 when you can see she's alert, large upright comb and wattle... vs today when she's slower, droopy comb, etc. My other fear is that my father is going to house-sit for us for 3 weeks next month and I'd hate to have him trying to deal with a worsening chicken. Thank you!!

    1) What type of bird, age and weight (does the chicken seem or feel lighter or thinner than the others.)
    Rhode Island Red or New Hampshire Red, almost 3 years old, about 8-10 lbs, absolutely tops (on par with others).

    2) What is the behavior, exactly.
    Over the summer we noticed she had labored breathing. She would choose to sit in the shade for a bit while the others foraged. She's a tad overweight but not too bad. Over the summer, she had regular poopy butt that would drip down her feathers. We gave her several baths a week which helped, also figuring it would cool her down. We live in Maine so the summers are beautiful. Eventually, she came around and seemed to be doing well. Then she molted and her feathers and poopy butt looked great.

    This week I noticed she's back to looking exhausted. If you look at her sister (same breed), her sister has bright plumage. She has darker plumage and a very dark comb and wattle.

    She's eating and drinking well. Not laying (only one in the flock is since we don't use lighting). She explores and wants to go out and experience things. None of them get anything bad - a couple of treats of kale, strawberries, worms, etc. but not much. They're all on laying feed.

    3) How long has the bird been exhibiting symptoms?
    Since about May, on and off. At the beginning of the Fall, she seemed fine for months. It's only recently that she now looks the same as the summer.

    4) Are other birds exhibiting the same symptoms?
    Not at all. They're all healthy and happy.

    5) Is there any bleeding, injury, broken bones or other sign of trauma.
    None - She has always been the strongest of the bunch. We had to separate her for a couple of days because she was picking on others. She managed to escape (an area we'd used for other hens many times).

    6) What happened, if anything that you know of, that may have caused the situation.
    The only thing I can think of is that she ate something bad - a worm, glass, etc. We "free-range" them in 150 square foot area of woods, leaves, natural debris, etc.

    7) What has the bird been eating and drinking, if at all.
    Her entire mature life she's had egg-layer feed from our local store. Occasionally (about once a day), she'll get scraps of treats (kale, strawberries, mealy worms, etc.)

    8) How does the poop look? Normal? Bloody? Runny? etc.
    For as long as I've been tracking/noticing this behavior, it's been poopy and runny (see pic). Almost like she doesn't have enough energy to squat all the way to clear her feathers, so it just drips down. It could be too that it's so watery that even if she were squatting properly, it would still stick to her feathers.

    9) What has been the treatment you have administered so far?
    Over the summer, we got a bit of olive oil in her and that seemed to perk her up a bit. Other than that, we've just ensured she was eating and drinking and had access to oyster shells, etc.

    10 ) What is your intent as far as treatment? For example, do you want to treat completely yourself, or do you need help in stabilizing the bird til you can get to a vet?
    I'd love to do whatever I can for her. I have a local vet who is willing to prescribe treatments, but husband doesn't really want me bringing it in to be seen due to costs.

    11) If you have a picture of the wound or condition, please post it. It may help.
    Attached. Of the two pictured that are the same breed, she's the one with the darker comb/wattle and plumage.

    12) Describe the housing/bedding in use
    Also attached. One 2x4 with rounded edges. Floor is sand on top of a luon type plywood. When they leave the enclosed area coop, they go down to exposed dirt/ground that the coop sits on.






    vs November 2015:


  2. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Free Ranging

    Sep 20, 2015
    Southern N.C. Mountains
    Hi[​IMG] Welcome To BYC

    I'm sorry she is not feeling well.
    Do you notice any swelling, bloat in the abdomen?
    Can you take a fecal sample to your vet for testing of cocci, worms and bacterial infection?

    The purple comb and lack of energy, to me, would be an indication of not enough oxygen or heart/major organ not functioning properly. She may have some type of internal laying/reproductive disorder like Egg Yolk Peritonitis, Ascites, Salpingitis, tumors or cancer. These conditions can also cause difficulty breathing (decreased oxygen intake), lethargy, decrease in appetite, etc.

    Being overweight may contribute to her being unwell, put the consistently poopy butt, the bouts of lethargy and purple comb, lends me to believe there is an underlying condition. The fecal test would at least rule out cocci and worms.

    You can give supportive care by adding some poultry vitamins to her water a couple of times a week - you can give it to all your hens, or if you prefer direct dosage her with something like Poultry Nutri-Drench (dosage is 1cc per 3lbs). Offer some extra protein like egg, tuna, mackerel or meat in addition to her normal feed. I don't see anything wrong with the diet you are giving, but sometimes a boost of protein is welcomed.

    Let us know how she is doing.
    2 people like this.
  3. meredithg

    meredithg Hatching

    Feb 24, 2017
    Thank you so much for the prompt reply! I hadn't thought to ask my vet if they can do a stool sample. I don't notice any swelling or bloating, although as I say she has always been the top of the pecking order because of her size - she's hefty. We'd originally thought a heart issue was at play too and thought that if it were, she would pass quickly. But then she started to perk up in the Fall and seemed better. She doesn't seem in pain but then again, I know chickens are good at hiding that.

    I'll try to collect a stool sample next time I know it's hers. In the meantime, I'll add some poultry vitamins to their water. We do occasionally give them eggs too, so I'll ramp that and tuna fish up and see how she goes. Thank you again for the help! I'll come back here with an update if we determine the cause or if she passes.

    I appreciate your help!

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by