Lethargic Hen Throwing Up (HELP)


In the Brooder
Apr 29, 2018
Oahu, Hawai'i
A few weeks ago, I posted this thread which detailed one of our chickens' conditions:

1) Bird Age and Weight
The lethargic hen is an Ameraucana hen that's 2 years 4 months old (born in January 2018). She's lighter than our other two hens (a Rhode Island Red and a Plymouth Rock), but she's always been that way-- there's been no noticeable weight loss recently.​
2) Behavior / Symptom Timeline
For the past several (5–6) months, the hen has been having problems with laying eggs. In the beginning, it was sporadic; she would lay mostly normal eggs throughout the week, but then have 1 or 2 failed eggs here and there during the span of a week. (A failed egg being just the yolk and egg whites, with either no shell or an incomplete/inner shell.) The frequency of the failed eggs increased and the frequency of successfully formed eggs decreased, and a month or two ago she stopped laying successful eggs, instead laying only failed eggs 2 to 3 times a week. About two weeks ago, however, she stopped all egg production, with no successful OR unsuccessful eggs anywhere. Since then, she's been pretty lethargic (although still eating plenty if the food is brought to her), and spends most of her day sleeping or laying down in a dark, shaded area. She's walking much slower than normal (she normally runs to food but now just waddles slowly), and she walks abnormally. Her tail is also VERY much pointed downward compared to normal, and she sometimes drags her butt on the ground when she eats and walks. She is also going to bed earlier in the evening and doesn't spend more time than necessary grazing beforehand. Additionally, she doesn't make noise or crow like she used to do constantly with the other hens. She used to jump over the fence of her pen multiple times daily (like clockwork), but for about two weeks now she hasn't done it a single time. It's clear that something is wrong with her egg production system and it's affecting her whole body, but we have no clue what it could be and/or how to fix it.​
4) Other Birds
Our other two hens (a Plymouth Rock of the same age and a Rhode Island Red that's a couple of years older) seem to be just fine, very loud and energetic as usual.​
5) Bleeding, Injury, Broken Bones, or Other Trauma
None known.​
6) Causes
7) Eating and Drinking
I've seen her drinking successfully, and there's no regurgitation that's akin to sour crop (we lost a hen a few years ago to sour crop so I recognize that symptom when I see it). When I bring her food she eats just fine (she ate a bunch of corn this morning, and a bit of banana) but I haven't seen her go out to eat grass on her own nearly as much as she used to. I haven't seen her eating from the feeder (with triple-duty layer crumbles in it), but that could just be because I haven't paid much attention.​
8) Poop
Not normal poop-- she hasn't done any solid poops recently that I can recall, and all seem to have traces and/or mixtures of egg in them (white/yellow). They also seem to be very small, liquidy poops that she struggles to excrete. There's also some trace of egg stuck to her butt.​
9) Treatment Administered
None thus far-- we tried adding calcium (oyster shells) to the chickens' food a while back (and also recently) to try and fix the egg issue (since she was obviously having troubles creating shells) but she (and the others) would perfectly avoid the oyster shells and pick out the food from the mix. We have wormer (for gapeworms) and a spray for mites that we administer two to three times a year, and all the hens are up to date on that.​
10) Treatment Plan
If there's some medicine or veterinary treatment she needs, we can go to the farm supply store or the local vet.​
Since posting that thread, the following has occurred:
- She slowly started "recovering," as in she became more energetic, started eating more, and her poops became more normal. This was without any treatment.

However, today, she became very lethargic again (in a "relapse" of sorts) and wouldn't eat or drink much, and suddenly a few minutes ago we noticed she was violently moving her crop side-to-side and in circles in bouts of 4 or 5 times, periodically. Noticing there was some issue with the crop, we started massaging it, and she immediately vomited a large amount of yellowy-white water, gurgling and coughing. Continued massaging has yielded no more water, but we hear gurgling so there must be more. Her crop is quite full (it's 5 pm-- evening time) and it's not hard nor very soft (about normal consistency). She's also rapidly losing feathers whenever she shakes out her feathers or we touch her, and isolating herself. She stands still in dark corners and walks very slowly.

Is there anything we can do immediately (before risking waiting until tomorrow morning to see if her crop is still full)?
Last edited:

Wyorp Rock

🐓 ❤ 🐛
Premium Feather Member
7 Years
Sep 20, 2015
Southern N.C. Mountains
I'm sorry she's not doing well.

In your other thread @RumneyRoost replied to you suggesting that she likely is suffering from a reproductive disorder.

From looking at the photos in your other thread along with your description from today, I would agree.

Often crop issues accompany another condition. You mention she struggles to poop - more than likely this is due to inflammation or limited "space".
Since your hen was laying soft shelled eggs, then stopped all together but then became very ill afterward, I would suspect she laid an egg/eggs internally. Sometimes the body can absorb some of the matter, but if she continues to drop eggs/yolks into the abdomen, then she will become ill again.

Check her crop first thing in the morning to see if it's empty. If not, you can try treating her for crop issues (article below)
Sadly, there is no cure for reproductive issues - sometimes with supportive care they can bounce back for a while. An antibiotic may help with infection and inflammation, but a lot of times this is short term. I'm sorry I can't be more positive - having a hen fail right before your eyes it not any fun and it's frustrating. I do offer mine support, but when it's clear they are in pain, they don't have a good quality of life or they continue to decline despite my giving extra care, I put them out of their misery.

I would not add oyster shell to the feed. Provide it separately (free choice) - the hens will take what they need.


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