My chickens are listless and not eating

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Kulyks, Aug 26, 2011.

  1. Kulyks

    Kulyks Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 28, 2010
    I'm not sure if this is the correct place to post - its not really about egglaying, but about chicken behaviors, i guess.

    Anyway. Yesterday, I came down after school to feed my chickens, like usual. Usually, they come running and squawking, lining up against the fence in anticipation of the food. Yesterday, they were just all laying down or roosting - they must have seen me coming, but didn't respond. I came in, surprised, and poured them new food - they didn't touch it. Usually they become very excited and immediately eat - they didn't even move. They did the same thing all yesterday, and now today, too. I'm getting desperate. They don't eat, don't move, they're completely energy-less, listless, lethargic -- for example, they used to be scared of my hands if I flapped at them. Now, I can touch them, and they don't even move to run away from me, they don't even squawk when I pick them up. I'm worried, folks.

    I don't even know what caused this. Is it because they're all pullets (I have thirteen girls who were born in April), and are getting ready to lay? Is it because they weather's been cooling and they're used to hot? Is it because a few weeks ago, I culled the roosters, who weren't allowed in my neighborhood? (although I don't think that's the one, as the roos have been gone for several weeks). Is it just because they're plain sick?

    -one very worried mama hen.
     
  2. emys

    emys Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 19, 2008
    Idaho
    This is worrying behavior. Are they drinking? Get some electrolyte/vitamin powder at the feed store to add to their water, and make sure they all drink some and post this in the illness section for further help.
     
  3. Kulyks

    Kulyks Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 28, 2010
    Yes, they are drinking. I thought it might just be that they were adjusting to the cooler air... maybe I should get some of that.

    Does anyone know if this is typical behavior if the chicken has some sort of disease or sickness? Does anyone know what would cause that?
     
  4. nickie

    nickie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 25, 2011
    north central KY
    This needs to be in the illness section. When you take the post over there include the following info:
    1. Age of birds
    2. What are they eating? Better, what kind of food and things do you feed them?
    3. Where are they kept?
    4. Is their poop normal?
    5. Pictures if you have them of how they appear now. Are they ruffled, hunched, dirty looking, discharge from eyes nose vent?

    Also include any other info you think is pertinant.
     
  5. Kulyks

    Kulyks Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 28, 2010
    Thanks for redirecting, I'm still new.

    1) My 13 hens were all born in April, which makes them 4-5 months old, no eggs yet.
    2) I feed them boiled barley and wheat grains. But they get A LOT of kitchen scraps, every day, ex leftover salads, leftover buckwheat (we eat a lot of it), watermelon, etc. We don't really get proffessional feed, from the feed store. Should I? They've always been alright before without it.
    3) They're kept in a 3 1/2 by 7 foot chicken house with two roosts for them, and one basket for egglaying (I plan on getting more soon). We have straw on the floor which I change 1-2 times a week.
    4) Their poop appears normal, although I'm not sure
    5) I don't have any pictures yet (I'm new, they don't let me post pics yet) but they look completely normal, its just their behavior - they're so sluggish and refuse to eat or move!
     
  6. Kulyks

    Kulyks Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 28, 2010
    Another thing I've noticed - all they do is drink and roost, and they drink much greater amounts than usual - which is odd, considering that the weather has cooled down.
    I've felt their crop, and it's very squishy, which would make sense if its full of water.
    I've been thinking that maybe its because they're about to lay eggs - its the right time of year for them. Does anyone else's chickens behave the same way?
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2011
  7. emys

    emys Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 19, 2008
    Idaho
    Sounds like you are feeding mostly grains with some veggies and fruit. Doesn't sound as if you have paid attention to their protein needs. They sound protein deficient. I believe getting them a vitamin supplement power to mix with their water is a good first step. Offer it next to plain water and let them choose how much of which to drink. Then you need to address their overall diet and pay attention to lean protein and vitamins more closely - buy feed or research what they need on here in threads such as these:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=558445

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=492636

    Complicating the above problem there may be parasites such as mites, lice, black flies, mosquitoes or round worm etc. could be draining their energy/blood (especially if they are protein deficient). Examine both the birds and their environment closely to determine if any of these pests could be present. If sparrows get into the run/coop they can bring many of these things with them. If they are so listless/anemic they aren't eating, you will begin losing birds if you do not intervene and figure this out.


    Also if the coop you described includes their run too, you need less birds or more space. You should have about 10 square feet per bird (unless these are bantams). Once you get them healthy again they will likely begin bickering over space.
     
  8. Kulyks

    Kulyks Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 28, 2010
    I forgot to mention that I've been feeding them (maybe like once in three days) scraps of meat. I thought that would be enough protein. And no, the coop does not include the run, which is bigger than my bedroom. Seems to me to be plenty of space.
    More info; Their poop is very runny, basically a purple-ish liquid. I'm not sure if this is normal, but you know that place, where if you run your hand along the ridge below their belly, I found that under their vent, above the ridge, if I squeeze on both sides, its also very squishy. Closer to their tail feathers, it becomes harder - I'm not sure if that's normal or not. Also, I picked one up to feel it, and it puked. It was also very liquid, looked like water mixed with saliva, coming out of the chicken's mouth. The same happened when I picked up another one. Is this diarrhea?
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2011
  9. emys

    emys Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 19, 2008
    Idaho
    Do they always have access to grit?
     
  10. Kulyks

    Kulyks Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 28, 2010
    Well, I let them free-range for about an hour - two hours before closing them in the coop every night, so I thought they'd get their grit from there. Otherwise, no.
     

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