Listless Older Chicken won't Roost or Lay looks Healthy


In the Brooder
7 Years
May 30, 2012
I have a 3-4 year old Comet layer (see photo taken today) that is normally the queen of the flock of 6. I've had the flock for 1 year. I noticed a difference in behavior yesterday. Since it got in the 90's over the last 3 days she has been staying under the shaded coop (more so than the others). This am I picked her up and he struggled to get down and went back under the coop. She always has a large crop - I only got a second of a feel and it was large but hard for me to tell if squishy or hard. I don't see anything abnormal in the rear area - nothing irritated or sticking out.

Last night she refused to walk the plank to the upper level coop to roost at night or lay - which she always does. I put in a small pan of cool water and the drank w/no problem. She was in the yard this am but he is not seriously pecking he is nibbling the tops of grass and kinda slowly messing around. They stay in the same fenced area.

She did preen for about a minute today. She was under another shaded area that I pulled back and when she stood up a little egg squirt came out. She did poo just a little earlier - white w/may be a little green - not a lot.

She normally lays huge eggs each day or every other (from what I've read due to age - they have gotten bigger and bigger) and my gut feeling is that she is internally laying (which I know little about) or an egg is stuck. I'm not sure which way to address this. I have never done chicken ER!

One other thing I did - which I'm reading was wrong - was I crushed (I did not grind to a powder) their egg shells because their egg shells were feeling thin -- I also have been doing this for the last 3 days. Maybe 2-3 eggs crushed to as small as I could crush w/a spoon and mixed w/some flax seed and peaches (without skins or pits). I did not sterilize the eggs due to ignorance - I'm freaking out that either the bits are lodged or I poisoned my chicken. Everyone else seems great - one chicken is starting to molt - others act perfecly fine.

The upper back back part looks larger than the other chickens - but she has always been a very fluffy chicken.

I'm reading various treatments for this or that ---- molassas in water -------- or olive oil - but be careful to get over the hole in back of tongue ---------- or if egg clogged then handle carefully or an impacted egg might crack... I'm fearful of doing too much or giving too much.

I was going to cook 1 cup of dry instant oatmeal and lure her out but am wondering if u can add olive oil to oatmeal and feed to all chickens w/out harming them and how much to add - it would be safer than a novice sticking down throat! But will the oatmeal clog up more ?
Which end I should start with? Thank u.

In my experience, the Golden Comets, like other hybrids, begin to have serious health issues by the end of their second laying year. They simply give out after producing so much. If she isn't diseased, and is simply depleted, I've found epsom salts to be of great help. Read this blogpost about my ailing Golden Comet. BTW, she's still around and I think that she laid an egg yesterday!
Thanks Terry - it's going to be fun trying to bath my Comet but I think that is the best course given your info on your website. I'm thinking some olive oil on bread might be the thing to do as well.

What a great site u have - thanks again. I'll keep u posted... RE
I gave a epsom salt bath yesterday and it was FUN. She was no problem - how cool. She roosted last night but today she is back acting the same - listless. She's not worse - I can only feel a ball of something way down toward her feet underneath - feels more like a bone than an egg. She has a big crop and is not eating tons and it was a lot bigger than the other chickens crop. She was tossing her head every 5 seconds when sitting - not much when walking. She snapped up a bug or 2. Today I'll give electrolites, another bath, and some diluted molassas and olive bread crumbs.

Anyone have any ideas as to what is going on? I'm still wondering if she pooped yellow yolk because she is trying to go and this is all that is coming out of her system?
Chickens get many issues that you simply cannot diagnose. I've done autopsies on my own birds, and even after over 16 years of keeping chickens, I've been surprised at the real cause of death. Squishy abdomens, not able to eat, weakness, can be signs of cancer or internal laying or ascites... the list goes on. But, what you do when you have a sick chicken is what you are doing now. If she can be cured by TLC and remedies available, like the epsom salt, then she''ll recover. If not, you've done what you can.
I am happy to report that today my girl was back to her old self ! She even pooped twice that I caught - normal poops! Her crop was really huge yesterday and she really did not eat that much - my gut feeling is that she had a clogged crop. It is much smaller today. Her crop was so much larger than everyone else. She typically does have a larger crop I've noticed but it was over the top.

I can't thank you enough Terry - I can only assume that it was the baths, or possibly just massaging her crop or the olive oil w/bread crumbs (just a teeny amount) that lubed things ---- I also gave her 2 servings - small - of molasses w/water ---- I massaged her crop 4 times both days and will continue to do so when I go out because I still think it probably is not all cleared.

I am just glad that at least things are better for now --- fingers crossed the problem has been discovered.

I have learned a lot in the process. I'm glad there are things that can be done to try and make them recover because apparently there is no traveling vet service like in the old days and the local vets are not that knowledgeable.
Great news! Glad that I could help.
As far as vets - even avian vets aren't trained to care for chickens, let alone old, backyard hens. There's no research on older chickens, and people never used to keep chickens past the age of two, so there's not much even in the vintage poultry care books. So, it's a lot of observing, making sense of the research that's out there and applying it to small flock care, and commonsense.

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