Lethargic hen. Please help!


In the Brooder
May 9, 2015
Hi everyone,
I have read a lot on the forum regarding sick chickens. The more I read the more you find caracteristics that match different diseases/sickness.
So to start I have 4 hens in an outdoor coop. 2 of them have started laying last month which are my BCM and my GLW. The two others are not laying yet but should be next month.
About a week ago, my GLW hen stopped laying. At first I thought that the winter up here(Canada) had an incidence but then I told myself that it wasn't cold enough yet (-5 celcius) and it was a cold hardy breed. Plus my coop is wind tight, well aerated and has a heat lamp. Two days ago when I let them out of the coop, I noticed that my GLW was trailing behind, was very slow motion. She walked slow, pecked slow and was sitting down every few steps. I took the decision to isolate her to assess her situation as I knew she wasn't feeling well. I tried to catch her but she had enough energy to flee. I let her roam the whole day as I had to go to work and told myself I would catch her at night when she would be sleeping.
So came nightime, caught her and put her in a cage inside my heated garage for extra confort. Put some fresh pine shaving, water and food and a heat lamp.
She was looking very lethargic, closing her eyes even standing, tail completly droopy with a curved back. She wasn't eating nor drinking. I let her rest for the night.
Next day went to check her and she was still lethargic. So I decided to look for signs that would tell me what was happening. Vent was clean, no redness so I figured I would check for an eggbound. I put her in a hot water tub for 30 minutes and rubbed her belly trying to feel if there was an egg. Nothing. So I proceeded to manually check inside her vent and found nothing.
So I let her rest another 2-3 hours and repeated the process. Nothing. She would push as if but only watery white poop came out. It had small green "pellets" throughout.
I checked her torso and she was all bones probably from not feeding for about a week now.
I checked her crop which felt soft and normal but empty. No smell coming out of mouth, no mucus coming out of nostrils, clear throat.
I checked all around her body and found no parasites.
I checked her belly and it seemed semi-ferm nice size without an abnormal bloating or water retention.
Face color is good and comb and wattle nicely red.
She is always laying down beack open, tail wobbling.
To get her to start drinking and feeding I put a dish of chick/adult feed mix and water so it would be mushy. She seems to drink a lot as if she is dehydrated but water is always clean in the coop(water nipples) and the other girls are doing perfectly fine.
There is no visible worms in her poops, no smell but completly watery clear/white with green pebbles.

She is not improving and I am very worried that she won't make it. I don't know if I missed something. Any help is dearly wanted as I don't want her to suffer.

She is 8 months old
Started laying one month prior but stopped last week
No egg in vent
No impacted nor sour crop
Super skinny, barely eating mushy chick feed.
Drinking a lot.
Mouth open breathing heavy, tail down.
Eyes closing often.

Any input is greatly apreciated to save this beautiful lady.



Free Spirit

The Chiarian
Oct 21, 2015
What a great detailed description and a well done exam. Good job.

My thoughts are (based on the watery poops with the green "pellets") a bacterial infection internally. Are the "green pellets" slimy? Which could (not positive but it seems likely) be coccidiosis. I would get her started on a treatment of Corid (Amprolium) right away. It probably would be a good idea to worm her too. Some worms cannot be seen. I recommend Safeguard equine with the active ingredient "Fenbendazole" paste or liquid.

Keep her warm (around 85 degrees). Get a weight on her and check it each morning. If she is not eating and losing weight she may need to be tube fed. This is not hard to do. According to @casportpony should be done if the bird has lost 5% or more of weight. Here is a link on how that is done properly https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/805728/go-team-tube-feeding . Videos on page 1 and important pictures on page 2. If you want to learn more get in touch with @casportpony . If you are wanting to do this and cannot find the catheter tubes shown in the thread then blue silicone air line hose for aquariums works well.

Corid dosages can be found on this thread https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/818879/updated-corid-and-amprol-amprolium-dosing and use the 0.024% solution when mixing with water.

Safeguard would be 0.23ml per pound and another reason to get a weight on her.

I'm not say this is what is causing her distress. But it will not hurt to start these treatments just in case.

Please feel free to ask more questions.

-Free Spirit
Last edited:


In the Brooder
May 9, 2015
Hi Free Spirit.
Thank you very much for trying to help my little hen out.
Unfortunately it is with immense sadness that she passed today. I find that this type of illness/lethargy has almost no chance of healing. I wanted to do an autopsy but I just had a little baby and I am afraid of any pathogens that could harm her.
Hence I decided to bury her in my backyard. May she rest in peace! I really liked her...

RIP Lacy...

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom