Lethargic RIR Hen

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by NM Renee, Sep 19, 2011.

  1. NM Renee

    NM Renee Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 22, 2009
    Placitas, NM
    We have five hens - one light Brahma and two RIRs, all of which are about 2.5 years old, plus two Buff Orpingtons which are about 1.5 years old. They live in an enclosed coop/run of about 4x8' x 6' high with a raised roosting box area. We use the compost litter method on the floor of the coop, adding new straw and letting them turn it over. It has been the rainy season here the past two months.

    This morning I discovered one of the RIRs was missing and I finally found her wedged between the wall of the roost box and a nest box, about a 4 inch space, with her head shoved in the dark corner. At first I thought she was getting broody (we have a BO that is continually broody), but when I pulled her out I realized something wasn't right. I checked her for obvious signs of illness, injuries, eggs stuck, etc but could see nothing. She "appears" healthy, although she is molting a bit right now, but her behavior is not right. I couldn't find anything physcially but wanted to see her walk around, so I sat her on the floor of the run and watched for a minute. My big bossy, Brahma came over and started pecking hard at her so I picked her back up and put her back in the roost box. (She looked like she could walk okay.) Last week I observed the Brahma standing on the back of one of the RIRs, pecking hard at her, that was why I thought at first that she was injured. We weren't sure what to do and were running late for work so I left her in there. When we put her back in the box she acted 'sleepy' - trying to close her eyes and lethargic.

    My husband stopped by the house at lunch and he said she is still acting the same. So he pulled her to our temporary pen to observe her. We aren't sure yet what her stool looks like....

    Any ideas as to what could be wrong?
    Thanks
    Renee
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Do you worm your birds? Check for lice/mites? There are so many things that could be wrong, but these two at least are quite treatable.
     
  3. NM Renee

    NM Renee Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 22, 2009
    Placitas, NM
    Thanks for your reply. I wish I had more info to give.

    We don't worm our birds. The only medications they might get are what is in their pellets and honestly I have no idea if there are any meds in their food right now. Bad mama.

    As to lice/mites...I looked her over pretty good, looking for bugs and such, but nothing jumped out at me. But we've not experienced any chicken health issues so I am not sure what I am looking for really. Is there a good website that shows these types of things?
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2011
  4. NM Renee

    NM Renee Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 22, 2009
    Placitas, NM
    Oh yes, my husband said that she did sound a bit raspy when he moved her to the temporary coop at lunchtime. I did not notice any raspiness this morning when examining her.

    I will post an update when I get home this evening. We are thinking about cleaning out the big coop/run completely this evening to get rid of any damp or potentially problematic bedding...I assume that it can't hurt.
     
  5. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    What you said makes me wonder about ventilation. They excrete a lot of ammonia, and even if it is at levels you can't smell, it is rough on their (and your) respiratory system. Many people have coops that could use more ventilation, having built them without realizing this. I'll give you an excellent ventilation link as well as a good source on lice/mites.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-VENTILATION

    http://ucanr.org/freepubs/docs/8162.pdf

    And if you decide to worm them, just in case:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?pid=5770173#p5770173
     
  6. chkn

    chkn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 27, 2010
    Get the pecking stopped. Feed them all some crunched up hard boiled eggs with shells. Do it for 2-3 days, then every other day and so forth. The protein makes it so they don't crave 'each other'. She may need to be separated for awhile. They can kind of just give up you know. Does she have a nervous cluck different from everyone else? Yah, she's the low bird in the pecking order. Actually, if there's one bully, maybe you should separate out the bully for awhile. Worm, yes, Valbazen (1/2 cc or 1/2 ml for an average size bird). Stress seems to be the thing that kicks this behavior off (stress, overcrowding....). Get them one of those flock blocks (you know, the big seed blocks at the farm supply) so they have something to pick on besides each other. Pull the weak one aside every day for awhile and feed her extra treats to build strength. A little cat food, maybe mix in some egg yoke, bits of grapes, tomato, whatever she likes. Let them free range if it's safe to do so. I'd take her on a bug hunt myself. I just did that today with my 'Streety' who had peritonitis awhile back.
     
  7. chkn

    chkn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 27, 2010
    Also, get a dropper and some water with a splash of gatorade in it and drip it slowly on top of her beak, wait for her to swallow, then keep going. She's probably dehydrated. The bullies will make it so she can't get to food and water and they eventually weaken them enough to die. I like to keep food and water in two separate locations so the weak ones will have a better chance of getting some. Get her hydrated though now with the dropper.
     
  8. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Feb 5, 2009
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    Ah, good ideas, I didn't think about bullying preventing eating and drinking but it is a very legitimate point.
     
  9. NM Renee

    NM Renee Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 22, 2009
    Placitas, NM
    Update: She's been in the separate pen by herself now for 6+ hours. Still acting lethargic, basically just sitting and sleeping, with a little raspiness on each exhale. She was sitting right by the bowl of food and water but was not taking any until I came out with a cherry tomato. She took that without hesitation and then drank water on her own. She then pecked around at the pellets in the bowl and may have eaten a couple but didn't stand up at all and then tried to go back to sleep. A few minutes later she flapped around a little bit and moved over about a foot and made one poo. The poo looked pretty normal with no worms or blood visible. But this is the only poo in the time she has been in this pen.

    Re: ventilation. Our chicken run is 4x8', with all four walls made of hardware cloth and a plastic roof. The only semi-enclosed area is the roosting 'box' which is about 18"x4' long x 3' high. It has a big door that only get closed in sub-zero temps and holes in the ceiling. It is possible that it may need additional ventilation but the girls don't hang up there much except at night. We do have one additional flap that could be opened more to ensure better ventilation...

    My husband cleaned out all the old composted floor in the big coop/run and the aspen shavings out of the roost box tonight and laid fresh bedding everywhere. The other four girls appear to be fine right now. Knock on wood.

    I will check out the mite/lice pics and take a good look at her in the morning. I will also mix up some of her favorite foods and get some protein in her in the morning.

    Thanks for all the input so far. We'll see what happens tomorrow. I will make a run back to the feed store tomorrow for some dewormer and a pecking block. I will keep you posted.
     

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