Lethargic hen, not drinking/eating/laying

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by finneymiller, Feb 16, 2009.

  1. finneymiller

    finneymiller New Egg

    Feb 16, 2009
    Greenfield, MA
    Hi all,

    I am new to this site, and looking for help diagnosing a sick hen. She is 7.5 months old, a Black Star, been very healthy until three days ago. She has grown progressively more motionless -- walked and ran some on Saturday, but spent lots of time just sitting in one place in the run or the yard. Last night, she seemed to spend the night in the nesting box, rather than on the roost. We sequestered her this morning from the rest of the flock (we have four others).

    She has grown less interested in food. Hasn't eaten today that I've seen, and hasn't drunk water. No egg today, and not sure about yesterday. Her appearance is good -- comb, plumage, eyes, feet, vent. I think her crop feels fine, but I am not sure -- and not sure what a crop problem would mean? I saw her produce some watery diarrhea with green solids the other day, and have sent a couple of samples to the vet.

    We've never dewormed our girls -- could that be the problem? I am not sure what else to look for. She's not really talking much either.

    We have a flock of five birds with a well-ventilated henhouse and enclosed run. They get organic layer pellets, free-choice oyster shell and water, and scraps (greens, fruit, breads). They also have the run of our backyard on these nicer days. We lost another bird in December -- she had similar symptoms, but also had labored breathing and curled-toe paralysis. We took her to the vet because we thought it was Marek's, and we were worried the whole flock was infected. His autopsy ruled out Marek's.

    I was thinking coccidiosis? Could she be egg bound? Other theories? What else should I look for?


    Laura Miller
  2. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hi Laura,

    I'm glad you've separated her. Is there any blood in droppings? She seems old for coccidiosis troubles but this is womthing that is easier to ascertain, even with plain eyesight or a magnifying glass.

    I'm wondering about her crop since you are doubtful. Did the crop empty overnight? If it's still full you problem is likely there, since she is not eating.

    One thing you can do safely whether it is crop or not is to offer her some olive oil. Now, she may take it willingly or not, and if you can get her to swallow a few ml by gently massaging her crop in the direction of her feathers while holding her on your lap (is she gentle enough for this?) you may be able to lubricate anything that is caught there. Has she , to your knowledge, eaten anything stringy (hay?) or bulky (bread?) before the trouble started? If there is material in her crop and this works, her crop will go down over a few hours and she will begin to eat. She may need some gentle food like yogurt after this.

    If not the crop and she is breathing normally, you may need to check her vent more carefully. Has the vet called back with an opinion on the droppings?
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2009
  3. finneymiller

    finneymiller New Egg

    Feb 16, 2009
    Greenfield, MA

    There has not been any blood in her stool, and her droppings were negative for coccidiosis. I plan to do a more thorough examination of her crop and vent after I post this, and I might try to olive oil. Since we have brought her inside, she has not sat down -- she remains standing in the box. She ate a little bread that I offered her, but when I put it down in her food bowl she did not continue eating. Same with water -- when I lifted the waterer to her height, she drank, but did not continue drinking when I put it down again. Is it possible that she can't bend her body??

    The vet sent home some cocid, which he said to use for the whole flock. What is this? Is it OK to eat the eggs while the flock is being treated? The vet assistant said this is also good for deworming. Thoughts?
  4. sammi

    sammi Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 21, 2007
    Southeast USA
    are you sure it is "Cocid"?
    anyway..sounds like a treatment for cocci..?

    is the green color fluorescent?
    could indicate moldy feed..
    just green can also be from undiluted bile from not eating enough.

    to check the crop..in the morning before she eats..it should be empty or flat..feel for any lump or grainy feeling..or any sour odor.

    possible she could be eggbound..

    I think if I were you, I'd change the feed..you might have got a bad mix..
    it happens sometimes.
    curled toes usually indicates a nutrition problem, either from diet, or something depleting the system..
    are they getting good sunlight?
    I'd also cut back on the treats...especially the bread.

    try and get some poultry vitamins..if you can't find them quickly..get some Poly-vi-sol liquid baby baby vitamins, Enfamil brand if possible, no iron..give 3 drops on beak once a day for a week, then taper off for another week..

    make up a little water cooked oatmeal, cooked egg yolk, plain yogurt, with layer feed..make puffy, not soupy..

    try and remove her from the nest and away from it to eat and drink..see how she acts..
  5. finneymiller

    finneymiller New Egg

    Feb 16, 2009
    Greenfield, MA
    Hi all,

    Thanks for the replies. You are right, Sammi, the medicine isn't "cocid," it's "corid" -- amprolium. The vet recommended treater her anyway, and the rest of the flock as well, so we are. It means not eating the eggs for ~two weeks! [​IMG] But if she gets better, it will be worth it.

    She did seem more energetic this morning, and was eating and drinking. I gave her plain yogurt, which she really took to. She also ate some of her feed, and drank water. Her poops are also looking more normal. She didn't lay an egg yesterday, and hadn't by the time I left this morning. She is inside, away from the others, and fortunately they all seem healthy.

    I cannot feel or see anything that would indicate a stuck egg, and her crop felt soft and mushy yesterday when I checked. I did not check this morning, but she was eating anyhow by the time I came down.

    I guess we're just watching and waiting. Chickens sure are mysterious! [​IMG]


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