Mature Silkie not acting normal


In the Brooder
8 Years
Mar 13, 2011
I have a grown silkie hen, zsa zsa, who I got from a friend when she was full grown and laying. I have no idea how old she really is. For the last three years she has been active and laying eggs and was on schedule with her broodiness (oh how my silkies love to be broody).

About 3 weeks ago as she was coming out of her most recent broody stage she just hasn't been the same. She comes out of the coop very late compared to the others, stays away from the two other girls who are out and about (there is still one broody) and really just stands there most of the day. I have seen her eat and drink water but after 2 weeks (which is the time it usually takes for them to start laying after being broody) she hasn't laid one egg. She is also usually very vocal and now I hardly ever hear her. Also when I toss the girls treats she doesn't really react. that's how I know something is wrong

I noticed her backside feathers being dirty from runny poop so I gave everyone a cycle of corid. her poop looks better (only a chicken lover admires a good healthy poop) but her energy still seems very low and she is not acting like herself I currently have them all on nurti-drench and have been administering it directly to her via a syringe a few times a day thinking some vitamins will help but I'm not seeing much of a change. I don't have her isolated as she doesn't really seem sick and all the other girls are acting fine.

Does anyone have any advice? Is she at the end of her life span? how long do silkies live? I'm not sure what my next steps should be besides seeking the help of a vet.
Is your flock on a regular deworming program? Have you checked her closely for external parasites? Those are the first two things I'd check for. When you are checking her for lice/mites you can also have a good feel of her body all over, see if she feels swollen in her lower body or if she's normal, see if she's lost weight. Watch to see if she walks spraddle legged at all. Older hens do often develop egg laying/reproductive tract issues as well as cancer and other tumors. So it could be something as simple as parasites or it could be something much more serious, there's a fairly long list of potentials.
I haven't seen any indication of worms so I haven't done that yet. but in further review of discussions I read that you don't always see the worms in their poop. off to the feed store I go in the morning.

I have inspected her pretty closely over the last week, including a warm bath and inspection for possible egg bound (much to her dismay) and I haven't noticed any external parasites or lumps and bumps. If she doesn't perk up after the deworming I will make an appt. with the vet.

thank you for the advice! :)
Help.... the mystery continues. I put my sick girl and all the others on wazine 3 days ago and she hasn't perked up. because I'm not sure how much she actaully drank (besides the few small syringe fulls I was able to get down her beak) could she not have gotten enough? I haven't noticed any worms in any of the girls poop so again...not sure if they got enough medicine to work or if they just don't have worms.

I have her isolated now in a dog crate in the house where its warm. She not eating or drinking and hasn't pooped since putting her there last night. She is walking around and is alert but hasn't said a word. I've given her some scrabled eggs, rice and corn but she hasn't touched it.

I gave her a warm bath and cleaned her vent in hopes that would help this point I don't know what. when I dried her off I noticed that where she was sitting on the towel she left behind a very small amount of white pasty poop.

I have also been sprinking DE on her the last few days in hopes to clear up any possible mites or lice - although I haven't seen an indication of these....yet.

Does anyone have suggestions? Do I put her antibiotics? another round of corid? try more wazine for worms?
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I think I would treat with sulfadimethoxine, it covers a number of things including enteritis, and some infections. 6 day treatment, but if you're not seeing any result at day 3 , that's not it. My other drug of choice is Pen G , .5 cc injected in muscle for 5 days.

Use a tablespoon and dip her beak in it a few times to get her to drink. Syringing into mouth is not safe. Casportpony is one I know of that does tube feed some sick birds.
I thought I would give an update to this mystery. I took her to the vet and put her on 10 day course of antibiotics. they also did a fecal sample analysis and discovered there were some worms present so the whole flock was dewormed with vet supplied fenbendazole. she is back to eating, drinking, and talking and healthy poops but now she is having a hard time walking. I weigh her every couple of days and so far there has been no weight loss since this whole thing started.

In my many online searches and a call to the vet I found out Silkies have a greater chance for vitamin issues. So the vet recommended I give her small small doses of poly-vi-sol vitamins a couple times a day and increase her protein (she recommended poly-vi-sol over nutri drench which I thought interesting) So starting today she is served scrambled eggs (with corn her favorite) and yogurt along with the vitamins. I hope to report a positive change in her condition.

As a first time chicken owner I am at a loss. I don't know how old she is and I don't know if she was vaccinated for meriks so age and disease could be the simple answer.

She is alert, eating a lot, drinking and can move around slowly so I don't think her quality of life has diminshed to a point of putting her down. The rest of the girls still giver her the top of the pecking order respect and she is snuggling up with her broody friends at night so they are not rejecting her and they are keeping her warm.

I guess the next step would be to get her xrayed to see if there are tumors affecting her mobility. if anyone has words of wisdom please share. thanks!
I went for a period of unknown cause causing a chicken to waste and die every few months for 2 years before I discovered it was Marek's. It was heartbreaking, the symptoms they had they could have had for anything. I've had some chickens die for no known reason. It's so heartbreaking when there's nothing you can do, or nothing helps.

Sometimes one of mine has a heavy molt and separates herself from the flock, and is slower and gets real skinny. I don't know if your silkie is molting.

Sometimes it helps to make a list eliminating what it couldn't be, but getting an adult silkie, it's hard to know what she's been exposed to.

So, environment? Did it come on quick or slow? Poison? Exposure to a new chicken added to your flock? Tumors are possible.

Some antibiotics don't cover all illnesses. You may want to try a different one, but have the vet take some blood and see if her WBC's are up, and what her blood count is, or some bacteria. At this point, I would go with the bloodwork and see if there's a specific bacteria that needs another antibiotic, if she's fighting an infection, if her chemistry is off, anemic, etc. Blood test for WBC's, a chem panel, and if bacteria is present can cut down on an awful lot of guessing. More than an xray.

Please update!
I thought I would post an update on the situation. Vitamins didn't make a difference so off to the vet we went for the second time. Of course my mind went to the worst case scenerio and I just assumed I would have to say good bye to my feathered friend.

after an intense exam of poking and prodding and an xray there doesn't seem to be any tumors or fluid filled areas. she did notice that one foot has more of a response to touching that then other (although slight). today's diagnoses is pressure on the sciatic nerve (I guess this runs close to the internal organs so slight pressure from any of them can cause issues) so zsa zsa chicken is now on anti-inflammatory (not steroid based) medicine to see if it helps. The dr is hopeful as she has seen recovery from this before so I have to be hopeful as well. Its starting to chillly at night so she is out with the flock during the day but sleeps in the house at night.

all i can say is that I'm hopeful that there is hope and that chickens are much easier to take to the vet and less expensive to treat at the vet than cats :)
I am glad to hear that she is on the mend. Vets are not cheap no matter what. Mine didn't charge me for the last euthanasia. I hope everything works out.

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