My hen's illness has me stumped. Looking for some advice.


13 Years
Nov 14, 2008
Lynn Haven, FL
My six year old barred rock hen has become lethargic over the past two weeks. Her poop is runny and yellowish and eats and drinks very little.
I took her to the vet who x-rayed her and probed her for internal laying. He did not find any trace of an egg but her lungs were not clear, i.e. they showed a reduced volume of air. She had labored breathing but was not panting and no mucus was evident. Her temperature was normal (103.5).
He prescribed an anti-biotic. After a week, there was not noticible improvement so we switched anti-biotics with no improvement still. I received advice that she might have parasites (lung worms) so I treated her with Ivomectin. She seemed to intially improve but now she is back to being lethargic, not eating, drinking very and her poo is still yellow with increasing amount of white in it. She now has brown liquid coming our of her beak when I open it and her nostrils are moist, but not runny. I am using a product called "Vet Rx" from the feed store that is an old remedy with camphor in it to specifically treat poultry with colds. I am stumped as to what else to do. I'm thinking she has a cold but perhaps she has parasites that died in her respiratory system that are giving her problems. Does anyone have a guess or suggestion as to what I could do?

1) What type of bird , age and weight. [barred rock, 6yrs old, 4.5lbs
2) What is the behavior, exactly.[lethargic, occasionally drools dark brown liquid, yellow/white droppings, no appetite)
3) How long has the bird been exhibiting symptoms? two weeks
4) Are other birds exhibiting the same symptoms? No
5) Is there any bleeding, injury, broken bones or other sign of trauma. No
6) What happened, if anything that you know of, that may have caused the situation. None that I'm aware of
7) What has the bird been eating and drinking, if at all. Very little water, almost no food.
8) How does the poop look? Normal? Bloody? Runny? etc. Runny, yellow/white but low in volume
9) What has been the treatment you have administered so far? See above
10 ) What is your intent as far as treatment? For example, do you want to treat completely yourself, or do you need help in stabilizing the bird til you can get to a vet? I would like for her to recover, my vet is out of ideas
11) If you have a picture of the wound or condition, please post it. It may help.
12) Describe the housing/bedding in use. She is in a 30x30ft fenced dirt floor chicken yard in the day and roosts by herself in a nesting box in the coop shared with 8 other hens at night.


10 Years
May 25, 2009
I don't know much about respritory illness in chickens - but I do know they don't get "colds" like we do. If someone says they have a cold - it's a respritory disease of some sort - most of which are pretty contagious to other chickens.

Perhaps the brownish liquid is from a sour crop? But that wouldn't explain her earlier sympoms.

The yellowish poop is not a good sign - thats generally a sign of an illness. If it was greenish - that would be more to not eating.

hopefully someone will have an answer for you. There are some very knowledgable people on here in regard to respiratory problems.

Miss Lydia

~Gift of God ~ Eternal Life ~John 3:16-17
Premium Feather Member
13 Years
Oct 3, 2009
Mountains of Western N.C.
I searched for lung worms in chickens but only came up with gape worms but they could be closely related..heres what I found and hope you can figure out what going on with your girl....

In an average chicken flock with floor operation, good management practices and periodical piperazine or other worm treatment when roundworms or hairworms are present will keep the flock healthy. If severe worm problems exist, a good worming program should be instituted, for which advice can be obtained from the Extension Service. Wire floors eliminate the worm cycle and keep chickens free of intestinal worms.

Birds with gapeworm infestation show signs of respiratory distress due to both the damage to the lungs and to the trachea that is caused by the worms. Young birds and bantams are especially vulnerable due to their relatively small trachea. Symptoms include depression, gasping for breath, and head shaking in an attempt to remove the worms from the trachea. Tracheal rales (a gurgling sound made during breathing that accompanies tracheal irritation) can be heard in many cases, and can sometimes be mistaken for an upper respiratory infection of some other cause.

The most commonly known worm ‘hosts’ (carriers) are the earthworm, cockroach, beetle, sowbug, grasshopper, and earwig. The earthworm is known specifically to carry the gapeworm.

In the case of the gapeworm, once a susceptible bird ingests an infested earthworm, the larvae penetrate the wall of the intestine and eventually end up in the lungs. Once in the lung, the larvae migrate into the bronchi. A molt of the larvae takes place resulting in the adult gapeworm, and the adult worms migrate up the respiratory tree to the trachea where the male and female worms intertwine and attach themselves to each other permanently. The entire process from the time the bird ingests the earthworm to the time adult gapeworms can be found in the trachea is approximately 7 days.

Gapeworm egg production begins about 14 days after infestation of the larvae. The eggs are then coughed up into the mouth of the bird and passed out into the faeces. In the droppings, the eggs incubate for 8 to 14 days under optimum conditions of temperature and moisture to become infective larvae, thus completing the life cycle.

Under necropsy, the adult gapeworms appear as long, red strands attached to the tracheal wall, almost like thin strands of blood. In chronic infestations, nodules of inflammatory tissue appear in the tracheal wall at the site of worm attachment. You can imagine how difficult it would be to breathe normally under these conditions.

According to ancient wisdom the best time to treat worms is when they are most active – when the moon is waxing full
by K. J. Theodore"

theres more if you want toread it here:

then theres this article which is interesting also:

it mentions quote:"...Earthworms and also snails, slugs, ants, flies and beetles are often the intermediate hosts for various internal parasites of birds; so winter is a good time to use medication..."
and also "Worms in poultry - Parasitic worms are, of course, much more common in free-range poultry than in cage systems where, in theory, the birds should be parasite-free. For example, a Danish study showed that Ascaridia galli were found in 64% of free range birds, 42% of deep-littered birds and in only 5% of battery hens."
so if you free range like i do, its best to treat to PREVENT, rather than treating when your trying to get rid...
Last edited by thedoors5to1 (01/10/2010 2:54 pm)
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#4 01/10/2010 2:37 pm
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Re: Teach me the basics of worms...
I am going to copy a copy of a post written by Threehorses. She has a lot of very helpful information.

There are a lot of them aren't there?


BeakHouse's Mad Chicken Scientist
14 Years
Aug 17, 2008
Larry, KS
My Coop
My Coop
Get her on some form of probiotics immediately to reinvigorate the beneficial bacteria in her gut after those two rounds of antibiotics. Chickens can be over-run by the naturally present e coli bacteria when the other bacteria are knocked down. You can give her Activia, or some other yogurt with active cultures. You can give her as much as she'll eat, and mix it with dry oatmeal and chopped cranberries. You can also mix her feed 50% with baby parrot formula powder, which has probiotics as well as lots of electrolytes and nutrients to help keep her strong.

Was one of the antibiotics Baytril? If not, you might give that a whirl. Also, Metronidazole. Discuss these with your vet. There are fungal problems poultry can get, as well as amoebic parasites.
Last edited:


Intentional Solitude
Premium Feather Member
16 Years
Feb 3, 2007
Blue Ridge Mtns. of North Georgia
She could still be laying internally, even if he couldn't feel a mass in the actual oviduct. Those masses can also be in the abdomen.

One thing I want to mention is that she is considered elderly at six years old. Her systems may just be shutting down, especially if her liver isn't functioning properly or she has a mass in the abdomen. I hope she perks up for you. I have a 5 yr old BR hen who has arthritis in her feet and she has not laid an egg in a year. I know egg yolks could be dropping into the abdomen or filling the oviduct with cheesy gunk, but there is really nothing I can do for her except make sure she's comfortable as possible.


13 Years
Nov 14, 2008
Lynn Haven, FL
Thanks for the advice everyone. She is still hanging in there. She drinks well but shuns her food, the mucus coming out of her mouth seems to be decreasing in volume. She's isolated from the flock and we're continuing to treat her with vitamins, food, and "Vet Rx" from the feed store. Hoping for the best!

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