Limping and now still. Not eating or drinking. Stays right where I put her...


6 Years
Apr 18, 2013
My Coop
My Coop

Hello! I am new to this site and glad to be here. I originally posted in the introduce myself forum and it was suggested I post it here to see if anyone can help our Chickie. I didn't post my whole post but only the part about Chickie. I would be glad for anyone's suggestions or for someone to tell us directly what exactly to do! Like I said in my other post, I know that my chickens are white and some are red and that, right now anyways, is the extent of my chicken knowledge. I hope to learn a lot more.

Anyways, I'm glad to be here but I do have an immediate problem: Yesterday, I noticed one of the hens limping. I've looked all over your site and find it could be several things - how do i find out for sure? Her legs don't seem broken nor her toes and today she won't even hop or limp. She stays in one spot. Won't eat or drink and just plops down on her tummy and stays there. I don't know what to do.

Would appreciate any help and suggestions. I've put her in a pet cage with some straw away from the other chickens until I know what's wrong with her. She barely peeps when i touch her and doesn't try to get away even. I do hope she'll be OK and I've named her Chickie. (Original, eh?)

Thanks to anyone and all!
Thank you for guiding me to this. I will answer all the questions that I can, some i don't know, though.

Give us the following information. The more you tell us, the better we will be able to help you.

1) What type of bird , age and weight (does the chicken seem or feel lighter or thinner than the others.) Chickie seems about the same weight as the others. I don't know what type of chicken she is.
2) What is the behavior, exactly. Doesn't talk, eat, or drink on her own. I just tried to force some water down with a small syringe and she did swallow it, though wasn't too eager. She doesn't even hop or limp today. Yesterday, she limped around, but didn't go up the ramp to the coop. When I went to shut the door, she was in a corner of the yard, next to the coop; i assume she couldn't get up the ramp. Today, she doesn't even move. She stays exactly where I place her. Her feet hang when I left her up and although yesterday when i touched them, she squirmed, today she does not respond when I touch her feet. She lays on her belly when I put her down.
3) How long has the bird been exhibiting symptoms? I noticed her limping yesterday.
4) Are other birds exhibiting the same symptoms? No. Not yet anyways.
5) Is there any bleeding, injury, broken bones or other sign of trauma. None that my inexperienced eye can see or feel.
6) What happened, if anything that you know of, that may have caused the situation.If it is an injury, she may have landed wrong off the roost but we've had the chickens for 2 weeks now.
7) What has the bird been eating and drinking, if at all. They all drink water, and a mixture of crumbles, pellets, and cracked corn. Past 2d, I don't think she's eaten or drank anything as she can't get around.
8) How does the poop look? Normal? Bloody? Runny? etc. I cannot distinguish her poop from the other chickens and doesn't seem to have gone any today because she was in the same place this afternoon (when we got home) as she was this morning when we left and there wasn't any poop there.
9) What has been the treatment you have administered so far?I gave her some water via a small syringe just 10 min ago. That's all.
10 ) What is your intent as far as treatment? For example, do you want to treat completely yourself, or do you need help in stabilizing the bird til you can get to a vet? I would like to treat her myself, if possible.
11) If you have a picture of the wound or condition, please post it. It may help.Nothing is visible except that she's just lying there.
12) Describe the housing/bedding in use We have straw in the coop which is made of treated lumber. Pen is dirt/grass/straw within fence.
I wish I could tell you to do X Y Z and she will be fine. Unfortunately it's not nearly that simple.

Sometimes they can injure themselves jumping off a roost if it is high, if they are a heavier breed, and/or if there isn't room to "fly" down. I don't really know what your situation is, so I'll tell you about mine. I have what are called large fowl, meaning not bantams, probably around 4 or 5 lbs, maybe heavier. Their roost is 30' above the floor. There is about 6' to 8' between the roost and the wall, so that they can flap several times on their way down, sort of flying half sideways. 30" might be too high if they had to jump straight down without being able to cushion the landing by flapping their wings. I would put a ramp there if there weren't enough room, but sometimes chickens will jump down when they really shouldn't.

The cracked corn isn't as nutritious as the crumbles or pellets. They do love it, though. Sometimes if you mix them all together, they will eat the corn and leave the rest, which means they aren't getting all the nourishment they need. Best to give the corn as a treat by hand and separately, and not more than 10% or so of their food, especially if they don't have forage available. Where I live, some people still call cracked corn "chicken feed" and don't buy pellets or crumbles. Years ago, before all this was researched as it has been now, chickens would just be given corn and table scraps, plus they were free to forage for whatever bugs and plants they wanted to eat.

None of which really answers your question, because I'm sorry to say, I don't know. If she has injured a leg or foot, she might start eating and drinking on her own in a day or two. If you have a place you can separate her and let her rest, and it is a sprain or the like, it will give her a chance to rest the injury, if there is one. It's best to encourage fluids bu dripping them along the side fo their beak and letting them pull the drop into their mouth. This avoids squirting the water into their lungs. But in the end, she will need to eat on her own to survive. You can try offering a small amount of crumble or pellet mixed with a bit of water, as they usually like this better, til she starts eating on her own.

She could have any of several other problems, though. She could have a tumor or be an internal layer. She could have eaten something that has made her ill, especially if they have access to something like your compost pile. Things can happen in a protected run, too, of course. A neighbor could have put out warfarin type rat poison, and a poisoned mouse could have gotten into your run and she ate it, for example. She could have heart or liver disease, or some other serious condition.

If the others show any sign of not feeling well, of course, that changes things. If you bought them as adults, perhaps you could find out whether they have ever been wormed. Also, if you haven't already, you need to check them closely for lice and mites. If they are hard to catch, do this at night, as they are much more docile when you pick them up off the roost. You'll need a helper with a good light, of course. A really heavy load of either worms or lice/mites can actually kill them.

Also, be sure to check the bottom of her feet for bumblefoot. This happens when a staph infection develops in a foot, often the soft center pad, after a puncture wound. I've never dealt with it, but you can do a search here and find lots of threads about it.

Chickens are very good at hiding that they are sick. When they reach the point that they don't want to eat or drink, things are usually very serious. It may be that you won't be able to help this girl, and won't know why not. So, onle last thing. If you are in the US, you might check with your state vet office to see about having a necropsy done. If you happen to be in California, this is free. Usually it is not expensive.

I'll give you some links for more information about some of these things. I hope this turns out well for you and your hen.
Wow! Thank you so much. I will digest all this information and check on things closer tomorrow in daylight. She is in a separate pet carrier, but not moving. Her right leg lays out from underneath her and I can't see her left leg, so I guess it's underneath. The roost is only about 4 feet off the ground in a 6'x6' coop. Last 2 nights of course, she didn't go up there, she laid on the floor on the straw, beneath the nesting boxes. I observed the flock earlier and nobody else is limping or acting strange at this time. Will check again tomorrow. I hope it's not contagious. Again, thank you so much for all the information. I really appreciate your help in this.
Just wanted you to know Chickie died last night. I talked with our Extension Agent and he said if it was just an injury, the lack of water probably did her in. Thanks for your help and I'll be watching the rest of them. I've so much to learn...

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