Lethargic hen, weak, sleepy, cool, hasn't pooped; happened 'overnight'

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by elabell, Aug 21, 2010.

  1. elabell

    elabell Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 14, 2010
    San Diego
    I have a naked neck hen who is very sick. Though she has had health issues in the past, these symptoms have sprung up overnight. She about 16 months old and was purchased as a day-old chick with 4 others (all others are healthy). She has been having egg issues recently, over the past 6 months or so. Pretty much now, if she does lay an egg (which is rare) it is a soft-shell egg. (It is not a calcium deficiency problem.) There have been times in the past where she gets 'mope-y' for a few hours or a day, but then the next day she is fine, back to her plucky self and on top of the pecking order.

    These symptoms are the worst I have seen from her, and they started overnight. She was fine last night: did all her usual routine and went up to roost with the others at night. This morning, however, when I went out to let the chickens out to free range (about 8 am), instead of itching to get out like the other hens, she was on the floor of the coop. She was sort of in a make-shift nest, but it did not appear that she was trying to lay an egg, she just looked tired and weak. I brought her in the house and held her a bit, fed her some warm oatmeal and gave her some water. I did not have to force feed her, but she did not have her usual appetite and only ate a tiny bit. Since she has had egg problems in the past, I thought she might be egg bound so I gave her a warm bath for about an hour. I replaced the water as necessary to keep the temperature up so as not to chill her. She seemed very relaxed in the bath, she even fell asleep.

    I took her out and towel dried her, then finished drying her with a hair dryer. I put her in a nestbox to keep her warm, dark, and quiet. I put in some heatpacks; she feels incredibly cool to the touch. Far to cold. I would say her comb and eyelids appear to be darker, but that could just be a shadow (since she is not outside in the sunshine).

    I don't think she is going to make it, and it breaks my heart. She is so weak and tired. But every so often she gets a burst of energy, like she's thinking "hey! I'm supposed to be outside!" but she is so unstable on her feet and she can barely take a few very wobbly steps before crouching back down again.

    Lastly, I don't know the last time she has pooped. She hasn't since I brought her in the house (going on 4 hours now), and I don't know when she lasted pooped overnight.

    Let me know what other details would be helpful. Does anyone have any suggestions? What could this be? Is it contagious? How can I keep her comfortable. I will be very sad to lose her, and I am praying that she will recover.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2010
  2. jjthink

    jjthink Overrun With Chickens

    Jan 17, 2007
    New Jersey
    So sorry she is ailing [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    It's hard to say what's wrong with her.
    She could have a heart problem [​IMG]
    She could have a problem that needs antibiotics to fix.
    She could have serious reproductive related issues.
    She could have parasites.
    And so on.
    It's possible the only way to get to the bottom of this would be a vet - blood work, x-ray, stool test etc.
    For her overall strength try giving her 3 drops Polyvisol children's liquid vitamins (daily), dribbled gently along her beak line witha dropper so she swallows on her own and doesn't choke. Unfortunately this is not going to fix her but may buy a bit of time while the cause of her ailing can be sorted out.
    Try try try to keep her hydrated (see if she'll take watermelon or cut up berries..)


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