Losing a Pullet Each Month


In the Brooder
6 Years
Sep 7, 2013
...we've lost one just about every month for the last 3 months (the fourth is still alive but struggling). I hope someone can help; this is breaking my heart!

I'm going to copy/paste a thread I had posted in another forum, where the folks directed me here for your expert opinions - thank you!

I'm really starting to get a complex. Please let me know if this sounds like anything you're familiar with. Previously I didn't have pics/video of the sick birds - this time, I see the signs in time to get some images out to you experts! I can only describe it as a failure to thrive...

Yet another chicken is fading away on me. Like the others (3 others have had this pattern, about a month apart), her wattle and comb have stayed small and pale while the other girls have developed much more. She's almost 7 months old.

Tractor Supply's layer feed, water from rain barrels, a handful of mixed grains (barley, oats, corn, sunflower seeds) now and then just as a treat.

They all free range on our property and are locked in a secure building at night.

It seems like all of the ones we've lost have simply stopped developing...they stay behind their peers and start going downhill from there. (The two we lost a couple weeks ago were both doing great, and I still think there was some catastrophic event that caused their sudden deaths both in the same night, so I haven't counted them in our mysterious illness deaths).

For a couple weeks, we've been watching this buff orpington. She lays down a lot, whenever she gets the chance. She does go out and about with the others but is less ambitious...she scratches some and will peck around at the bugs, but not enthusiastically like the others.

Not having any specific signs I just figured she's just more laid back than the others. I noticed today, though, she's laying around sometimes, with a wing sort of to the side, like when they're dust-bathing. This was something the others did right before they started fading away.

She's thin and light in weight. She's not doing the "mating squat" yet but I can still walk up to her and pick her up; she doesn't even try to run. I took a picture of her lying on her side on my lap and she just lay there even after I took my hand off of her.

Haven't seen her poop personally but I've seen some runny brown poo puddles. There's some stuck around her tail feathers - but there's some on the others' backsides as well. [Update - checked the poop under where she roosts and it looks normal to me - dark with a white urate ball]

She has stopped going up to the normal roosts at night, now she just hops up ~2 feet onto the roost on the nest boxes to sleep.
When she's laying down, I notice deep breaths - not fast, just heavier than I notice with the others; her body expands and contracts with each breath.

Under her chin, I noticed dirty/wetness a few days ago, and it's there still (or again) today. The others have clean under-beak areas.

She holds her tail down and sort of has a "humped" look to the back of her, while the other hens hold their tails up high.

[update: This morning I felt her crop and it seems to be about the size of a ping-pong ball and fairly firm. The others' crops are just soft "sacks".]

If there were worms or some other problem "running through the flock" wouldn't it affect more than one at a time, I'd think? I've got a packet of the tetracycline powder from when we had gotten day-old chicks a year or two back; if it might be something infection-related and that'd help, I could medicate them all...

I'll isolate her tomorrow with some food and water and hope she recovers...in the meantime if you have seen this before, I'd be grateful for any insight. This is breaking my heart!

Here's a video of her next to some of the others. We got them all from the same place (a local hatchery, and yeah, she's a darker shade of "buff" than the others - I assume there are variations). You can see her heavy breathing here too.

Oh, and the guineas are gone, as of a few weeks ago, so I guess they're no longer a factor. [we had ten guinea fowl that were total jerks to the chickens so I had thought maybe the problem was stress - but we've gotten rid of those].

Thank you for any info you can offer; judging from history, I don't have much time to save this gal. :-(
Last edited:
I don't know what this is, sorry. In my experience it's not too common for chickens to recover once their wattles look like that, but I have only seen a few cases where one of the symptoms was shriveled wattles; but in those cases the wattles were purpled or greyed and the other symptoms were not the same. If she dies, it might answer your questions if you're able to do a necropsy or find someone who can.

Sorry, not much help, I hope someone who has seen this and knows what it is can help you. Best wishes.
I think your sick chicken may have sour crop. It's pretty common, and is thought to be a fungal disease. Actually it isn't a disease, but probably a symptom of other underlying disease such a coccidiosis, Mareks disease, and others. If you can get your vet to prescribe Nystatin drops it would help. Feeding her soft foods for a couple of days like yogurt, applesauce, and soft mushy egg (or raw egg.) If you are no able to get a vet or doctor to prescribe, you can buy Medistatin online which is the same as nystatin in a powder form for pigeons. Some recommend the use of Monistat suppositories cut into thirds and fed to the chickens, but nystatin is the recommended treatment. I would give the chickens a round of Corid liquid 2 tsp per gallon for 5 days just as a treatment for cocci in case that is the problem. Cocci causes diarrhea, sometimes, but not always bloody. Most develop immunity by 10 weeks old, but new strains (there are 9) can always be brought into a farm on shoes and tires.
Thanks folks - some had mentioned possibly worms, and that the parasites were simply being tolerated by the stronger chickens but the weaker girls are suffering...should I worm the flock as a preventive? Or is it unsafe to worm when it might not be necessary...

And my "worry girl"'s crop is smaller and softer now. I was kind of squishing around there earlier...could I have unblocked whatever was blocked or something?

I don't have access to a vet, so I guess the medistatin is what I'd get; I'll stop at tractor supply.

Also...our yogurt is all flavored and sweetened - is that okay, or should I just empty an acidophilus capsule in her water?

Thank you again!
Last edited:
Worm all your birds and inspect them visually for lice/mites, especially around the vent area. Clean feces off their rear ends, use scissors as necessary to trim feathers and fluff back. That will give them a 'clear shot" to the ground, it will also prevent 'fly strike.'
Last edited:
Worms, mites and lice can all be a problem to make her run down. Worming might help, since many people worm their chickens once or twice a year. Safegard liquid goat wormer or Valbazen 1/2 ml of either would be the wormer I would use. The acdolphilus capsule would work, but the yogurt is fine for one time use (Plain is better without the sugar.) As for the Medistatin--it won't be at TSC because it is only available ONLINE. Amazon.com sells it, but it has been out of stock lately.
Ah...okay, thanks! Just visited the Monistat thread and will try that...and the acidophilus...and the soft food...and the acv in her water lol. I really want her to pull through.

Will go to TSC and get the wormer - thanks again!
Check before you go, Your TSC may not carry the Valbezan, they will have the safeguard. Valbezan gets all the worms the safeguard misses some.. You can also use Zimectrin Gold Horse Paste wormer.
safeguard liquid wormer for goats treats all but tapeworm,( tapeworm is very unusual in chickens ) use 3 ml per gallon of water, for two days, retreat in 10 days. if you find mites and or lice, use sevin dust 5%, dust all birds and clean out bedding and deep clean coop. Best of luck and soo sorry for your losses!
I have had a similar issue. I have lost 5 of 9. I sent the fourth for a necropsy. Eggcessive gave me this link:


I was able to ship my (deceased) pullet using a courier service from the health department. $8 shipping + $50 for the necropsy. The results were "probable Mareks". It gave me some peace of mind that I wasn't killing them through Newbie-itis.

My flock was vaccinated for Mareks but I still lost 60%. :(

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom