My favourite hen is fading away☹

JacquiK56

Chirping
Dec 3, 2016
11
14
57
Hope someone can help. I have a black orpington..about 3 plus years old. Since her last chick rearing 7 months ago she stopped perching, preferring to sleep on the ground. She mounted, started laying again but refusing to perch. About 6 weeks ago she went broody again so I got her day olds as I didn't want her losing too much condition. She co rears the chicks but seems weaker. Staggers a lot and wants to lie down. She is alert eating but not as much as I think she should, preening and dust bathing. I have checked her for lice, bumble foot and I don't think she has scale but piks attached just in case. Any suggestions more than welcome. She is getting weaker but loves her chicks and I worry she will die.My other 5 hens and the chicks are fine.
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BigBlueHen53

Fragile, Beautiful, Strong
Premium member
Mar 5, 2019
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Good morning. Sorry to hear about your hen. Can you post pics of the whole bird, front and side, and include pics of her comb and face? How does her comb look, is it pale, droopy, shrunken? How is she standing, tail up or down? Is she huddled, scrunched, upright? Can you feel her crop first thing in the morning before she eats or drinks? Is is flat and empty, squishy, spongy, hard, full?

All this info will help the experts help you.

@Wyorp Rock
@azygous
@Eggcessive
@aart @casportpony

Someone should be along shortly to help, good luck!
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium member
Nov 27, 2012
71,133
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Leg scales do look raised, so scaly leg mites may be there, but that is not going to cause such lethargy.

When I have a bird that is acting 'off' I isolate bird in a wire cage within the coop for a day or two....so I can closely monitor their intake of food and water, crop function(checking at night and in morning before providing more feed), and their poops. Feel their abdomen, from below vent to between legs, for squishy or hard swelling. Check for external parasites or any other abnormalities.

Best to put crate right in coop or run so bird is still 'with' the flock.
I like to use a fold-able wire dog crate (24"L x 18"W x 21"H) with smaller mesh(1x2) on bottom of crate under tray.
Then you can put tray underneath crate to better observe droppings without it being stepped in. If smaller mesh is carefully installed, tray can still be used inside crate.


Have you checked them over really well for mites and/or lice?
Google images of lice/mites and their eggs before the inspection so you'll know what you're looking for.

Part the feathers right down to the skin around vent, head/neck and under wings.

Best done well after dark with a strong flashlight/headlight, easier to 'catch' bird and also to check for the mites that live in structure and only come out at night to feed off roosting birds.

Wipe a white paper towel along the underside of roost to look for red smears(smashed well fed mites).
 

azygous

Crossing the Road
Dec 11, 2009
17,818
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Brooding really takes a toll on a hen. Yours has had barely a break from this arduous task, and I wonder if she hadn't fully recovered her health and vigor from the last time before she went broody again.

Part of being broody is loss of appetite, so she may be just worn down and needs building back up nutritionally. You have a decision to make. Do you wish for her to finish rearing these chicks or do you want her to focus on getting strong again?

Since she isn't going to want to eat as she should to regain strength as long as she has this job to do, you may want to take the chicks away and let the other hen take over or just brood them yourself.

Then she needs to have her hormones broken by a stint in a broody cage where you can begin feeding her special high protein food and Poultry Nutri-drench to build her up. She needs to be separated visually and audibly from the chicks or it can keep the hormones going having the chicks around during this breaking process. (a few days.)

It could be something much more serious such as a reproductive issue, but I'm going for the most likely cause given her history of being a serial broody.
 

cmom

Hilltop Farm
Nov 18, 2007
21,658
11,464
641
Florida
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@azygous has given you good advice. That is exactly what I would do. I have some 3 year old birds and older. I have one bird she is several years old and does have issues but she still gets up on the roosts at night. I haven't gotten any eggs from her in a long time but she has certainly done her job. I leave her with her flock. When I did try to move her she wasn't too happy so I left her where she is happy. She eats and drinks well. Good luck...
 

Wyorp Rock

Enabler
Sep 20, 2015
26,511
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Southern N.C. Mountains
Brooding really takes a toll on a hen. Yours has had barely a break from this arduous task, and I wonder if she hadn't fully recovered her health and vigor from the last time before she went broody again.

Part of being broody is loss of appetite, so she may be just worn down and needs building back up nutritionally. You have a decision to make. Do you wish for her to finish rearing these chicks or do you want her to focus on getting strong again?

Since she isn't going to want to eat as she should to regain strength as long as she has this job to do, you may want to take the chicks away and let the other hen take over or just brood them yourself.

Then she needs to have her hormones broken by a stint in a broody cage where you can begin feeding her special high protein food and Poultry Nutri-drench to build her up. She needs to be separated visually and audibly from the chicks or it can keep the hormones going having the chicks around during this breaking process. (a few days.)

It could be something much more serious such as a reproductive issue, but I'm going for the most likely cause given her history of being a serial broody.
:goodpost:
 

Shadrach

Roosterist
Jul 31, 2018
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I would go for rather more drastic intervention. The advice above is good, but if she's got chicks I think you will find it very difficult to get her to eat enough to help her gain strength and put on weight, if that is what the problem is. She will try to feed the chicks anything you give her and if you manage to seperate her from her chicks she will get stressed and still not eat.
I would tube feed her.
Here's a good clear article on how to go about tube feeding.
https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/safely-administering-oral-medications-to-all-poultry-and-waterfowl.73335/
 
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