Need Help Diagnosing Sick Hen - Symptoms Listed

Advertisement Purina Flock Layer


10 Years
Aug 13, 2009
Midcoast Maine
One of my RIR Hens will be 3 this spring and has suddenly come down with an illness. I went to go close everyone in and water/feed for the evening & this one hen stood in one spot, kind of wobbling, while everyone else ran around from the water dish, to the food dish, to the treat dish. She had no interest in any of it. I thought maybe she just got TOO cold.
DH set up the sick cage in the house, and I brought her inside that night to warm up. She was in the house for a week, seemed a bit more active - but had no appetite for food or treats - and I put her back in the coop. The rooster welcomed her back and none of the other girls seemed to bother her so I thought she'd be good. I brought a good bowl of treats out and while everyone else went crazy, she just stood lathargic her head almost fell in the food dish. I put her in one of the nesting boxes and that is where she stayed for the next 3 days. As far as I can tell - she never moved, ate or drank.

Tonight I brought her back in the house and started researching what could be wrong with her and need some help.

- Her red comb has a bluish tint.
- She is EXTREMELY lathargic. She has NEVER let me get anywhere near her, let alone touch her, so to be able to pick her up without her even flinching is very odd.
- She is molting...or at least, losing A LOT of feathers.
- She is not eating, or drinking that I can tell.
- Hubby noticed that after a week in the sick cage in the house - there is practically NO POOP. (Which makes sense since she's not eating).
- She can't seem to stand up straight to walk, even a few steps, and spreads her wings a bit to steady/stabalize herself.
- She won't move - unless I make her - and always has "sleepy eyes".
- No other chickens are exhibiting ANY of these symptoms.
- All chickens are free range, however, since it's winter in Maine - they have been restricted to either their coop or coop & run, depending on the weather. (Sick hen is inside tonight since temps are supposed to drop below zero).

Looking for some insight as to what might cause ALL of these symptoms. She's been sick for about two weeks - no improvement, no noticeable decline.

My biggest concern is her not drinking, and not pooping. What's happening to her, and should I be concerned about any of the other girls?
Have you checked her for mites? The feather loss this time of year is unusual because most of them molt by December. A strong infestation could certainly cause these symptoms. Perhaps she was a bit weak and they bothered her the most.

You might try mixing the yolk of a hard boiled egg with some apple juice or sugar water and seeing if she'll take it. Perhaps she needs a bit of a boost of blood sugar.


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