Molting or ill?


8 Years
May 19, 2011
I have an easter egger going through her first adult molt and I've noticed that she's been off by herself a lot. In the corner or the yard or in the coop, just sitting or standing. I've seen her drinking and pooping. I threw out some boss earlier and she came out slowly and pecked at it a little. Just now, I threw some scratch and she ran (slowly) to peck up some. She's not her perky self and stands with her feathers ruffled and her tail in a neutral position. Not hanging down, at least. I've checked her over and haven't seen any signs of mites on wings or legs, her eyes are bright, no discharge from her nostrils. Her abdomen feels normal, not hard; I've never had an egg-bound hen though, so not sure what it would feel like anyway. Her vent is moist and appears normal.

I've noticed some blood in some very small poops (I'm not positive they are hers but I don't think she's eating much, so they probably are) but it looks like normal intestinal shedding. She hasn't given me an egg today or yesterday, but she's been slowing down anyway this time of the year. She doesn't peck around normally (except for the scratch) with the other chickens. I'm worried that she's sick and hoping that it's just the molt hitting her hard. When I checked her I noticed some pin feathers coming in under her wings and she's getting some new ones around her neck. I'd love your interpretation and if you think she's sick, a suggestion of where to start with her. Should I isolate her? She's still roosting normally. Water is clean, feeder is full and coop is clean but needs the annual clean-out. Thanks, everyone! Sarita
Thanks, I'll give that a try. Just went out to look at her again and she walked very slowly to a sunny corner near where the other chickens were dust-bathing and laid down half on her side. I might try exploring her vent to see if she's egg bound.
So, I gave her a warm bath for about 10 minutes, wrapped her in a towel to warm/dry her up, then waited to see if she'd pass anything. I decided to explore a little. Got my pinky finger in up to the 2nd knuckle and didn't feel anything, broken or intact. She did pass a little clearish fluid right before I got my finger in there. Not sure if that was egg white or just some runny stool. I went ahead and put her back out with the rest of the girls for now. She's back in her corner. :(
Hmm...well you might consider worms. It is always good to at least consider worms if a chicken is ill, just to think about the possibility.

Worms and mites/lice can kill chickens, and can seemingly hit just one chicken hard, so you think there is no widespread problem.

Some vets will do a fecal float test for worms for a small fee. Worming medications are hard on chickens and can kill weak chickens. OF CONCERN fact sheet.pdf
here's a nice chart that may or may not be of assistance to you
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I have a RR about a year and a half old going through her first molt. She was so pretty, can not believe how bad she looks now.
She has been eating and laid the other day. She does crouch down and seems to lose her balance, does not fall just staggers off to one side.
I was also wondering if this is normal. We feed the girls yogurt mixed with feed fines and dog food almost every day along with their pellets.
Some of the other girls are molting but not as severe as Big Red.
I sure wouldn't worm her during a molt. Everything you're saying just sounds like molting behavior to me. They act like I feel with a flu type illness--just kinda achy and listless. I'd say just keep her protein up and keep an eye on her. She shouldn't be laying at this time anyway--she needs all that energy for keeping warm and growing new feathers, not making eggs.
Thanks everyone,

I stomped around the yard looking for obvious signs of worms but didn't see anything. I might give that fecal test a try if she hasn't perked up by tomorrow. Actually, this evening I saw her walking around a little bit with the others and pecking tentatively a bit. I'll probably bring her in for the night just because I'm not sure if she's completely dried out from her bath. I'll keep an eye out for other obvious signs and feel her crop tomorrow morning to rule out any issues there.


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