Not eating, extremely skinny, but has energy

Sweetles

In the Brooder
Apr 22, 2019
9
4
24
I have two chickens (Plymouth Rock and Polish Crested). A few weeks ago the PR became egg bound (we believe). She showed all symptoms. But after checking her out, and feeling what we figured was the egg (just a hand on the outside, didn't go "in"), she started oozing (for lack of a better word) egg product (yolk, white, broken shell). I placed her in a warm bath for about 40 minutes and some more yolk came out. So off to the vet she went. $400 later the vet said there was no stuck egg, that she must have gotten it out. But, that the broken egg could have cut her up inside OR she has a tumor. The vet gave me an anti-biotic liquid and a pain killer liquid. She said that if she didn't improve in a week, that it was a tumor and it's a fact of life for a chicken and she will pass away as there's nothing they can do. Yeah, I don't like this vet but it's the only one around that sees chickens.

Well, after a few days of treatment, Trixie felt better but ended up absolutely hating me!!! Catching her twice a day and squirting nasty liquid down her throat for a week did not endear her to me!! (Me to her? Not sure which way that's supposed to go). What was once a friendly, almost dog-like chicken now runs from me! I don't blame her but it still hurts mommy's feelings. I have always been able to feel her breast bone sticking out more than what I figured I should be. But she always acted just fine. And she's always been a bit of a pig too. Well, once all of this started, her keel bone has gotten much more pronounced. Even the vet said something about it but it's even worse now two weeks after seeing the vet. To top it off, now she's molting like crazy! She's almost bare naked!!

The girls free range in our large backyard. They eat bugs etc all day long, I have three kinds of high quality (read: expensive) organic layer feeds, and fresh water out for them at all times. At night before bed they get raw organic sunflower seeds, raw organic oats, some mealworms, and lately in order to try and put weight on Trixie, some cooked organic oatmeal with brown sugar butter and half & half. During the day they might get various treats here and there like papaya, cantaloupe, yogurt, etc. They absolutely love string cheese too and Trixie will even jump up into the air to take it out of my fingers (doesn't sound too sick, does she?). Yes, they are extremely spoiled. So that is why I have absolutely no idea why Trixie is getting so skinny. Oh, and there is also organic scratch being tossed around as well. So it doesn't seem to me like the food is the reason for losing weight. If anything, she should be the size of a Thanksgiving turkey! Yes, I know I shouldn't be feeding her brown sugar, but I'm trying to put some weight on her.

I'm getting very concerned but I refuse to go pay the vet another $400 just to tell me "oh well, it's a chicken and chickens die". I don't believe she has worms (as found in other posts) because she was just at the vet and they had a poop sample. She obliged by pooping right there on the exam table. Speaking of poop, she used to drop fairly large ones. Now they are more frequent little tiny marble-sized pips. But otherwise normal looking. I figured it's because she isn't eating much. Although, whenever I look out the window or go outside, she's digging around and pecking at stuff. But, that said, I don't feel like her crop is as full at night as it used to be.

Oh, and she hasn't laid a single egg since all of this started 3 1/2 weeks ago.

I have checked her for mites/lice and she has none.

I read on the blogs where some people cook up some scrambled egg and milk to give them. I could easily do that. I've just always shied away from giving them eggs as I didn't want to start a precedence.

Tonight I caught her (not easy to do these days) in order to check her keel bone and she just screamed and screamed like I was killing her. I even hugged her up to my chest like I used to. Finally, for fear that I maybe actually hurting her, I set her back down and she took off. My husband said that I probably wasn't hurting her she was just screaming to be let down. But it really shook me up. He also pointed out that she has enough energy to run away from me and to roam about the yard all day.

This is not my first go-around with chickens. I've had them for years. But each time something happens to one of them, it seems to be a new something that I haven't experienced before. I'm so worried about her and just don't know what to do, outside of taking her back to the vet for intravenous fluids/drugs like they wanted to do previously and spend hundreds more. Any ideas from all of you very knowledgeable chicken moms and dads would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!!
 
Last edited:

Gallinarium

Crowing
Apr 15, 2020
901
2,454
256
America
I'm so sorry no one has responded yet. I'm not a chicken expert, but I'll try to help.
It seems almost definite that she had an egg that cracked inside her. The egg shells can cut her up inside, but they should all pass through. The egg contents often cause an infection, especially after the egg shells. There's an antibiotic you can use, I forget the name for now, but I'll look. The weight loss could be from the infection, or she could have a separate disease. Check her for any other symptoms. I'd put electrolytes in her water, as those always only help. It at least won't make it worse. The energy is a good sign, it's usually when they turn lethargic that you need to say your goodbyes. Just remember that hens often don't survive this, though it sounds like your chickie is trying hard. All you can do is try. I'll find the antibiotic soon, but for now, best of luck.
 

Sweetles

In the Brooder
Apr 22, 2019
9
4
24
Thank you for taking the time, Gallinarium, to answer!
The vet had her on an antibiotic (pink liquid) for a week. It was extremely traumatic for Trixie (me catching her, holding her down, squirting nasty tasting liquid down her throat twice a day). So I think the infection has been taken care of. Perhaps this is all just the after affects? Having antibiotics in system, the pain and stress of it all happening, getting traumatized by mom, etc. This morning we had a hawk flying over and I ran outside (luckily I looked out the window of my office right when it was circling and ignoring the four plastic owls). The girls were both inside the coop looking anxious. But when they saw me, they both came running across the yard to me. I think that is another good sign. Well, not the hawk but the running and the coming to mom for protection. So I'm still feeding all of her loved treats, which she is pecking at just not with her usual gusto, and watching her. Any other suggestions, I would much appreciate. Thank you!
 

Gallinarium

Crowing
Apr 15, 2020
901
2,454
256
America
Thank you for taking the time, Gallinarium, to answer!
The vet had her on an antibiotic (pink liquid) for a week. It was extremely traumatic for Trixie (me catching her, holding her down, squirting nasty tasting liquid down her throat twice a day). So I think the infection has been taken care of. Perhaps this is all just the after affects? Having antibiotics in system, the pain and stress of it all happening, getting traumatized by mom, etc. This morning we had a hawk flying over and I ran outside (luckily I looked out the window of my office right when it was circling and ignoring the four plastic owls). The girls were both inside the coop looking anxious. But when they saw me, they both came running across the yard to me. I think that is another good sign. Well, not the hawk but the running and the coming to mom for protection. So I'm still feeding all of her loved treats, which she is pecking at just not with her usual gusto, and watching her. Any other suggestions, I would much appreciate. Thank you!
Do you know the name of the antibiotic and/or its purpose?
Regardless of the fact that you have been tormenting your chicken for a week, I'll take a guess that you've been friendly for much longer. She'll forgive you.
 

Sweetles

In the Brooder
Apr 22, 2019
9
4
24
The pain medication was Meloxicam .5ml dose 1x/day. The antibiotic was TMS 1.7ml dose 2x/day.

Trixie was feeling much better yesterday. She is pecking at a cob of corn (although usually it's all gone by the time she's finished, this time there was a lot left). She's running (yes, running) after my husband who is carrying the bag of mealworms. Her eyes are bright and she's roaming around pecking and scratching. So I think we're good now. She's still not eating as heartily as she used to and she is still producing tiny poops. But she's acting so much better. However, a majority of her feathers have fallen out this week due to molting. So she doesn't "look" better! But I am encouraged by her bright eyes and her willingness to take treats now. She still won't let us touch her. But that will come in time. Thank you for your lovely words!
 

humblehillsfarm

Crazy chicken lady
Mar 27, 2020
3,664
7,205
461
Southwestern Pennsylvania
My Coop
My Coop
I can offer some advice on meds: wrap the bird in a large bath towel to firmly hold down the wings. I may not be an expert on meds, but after two years of on and off issues and meds in my own flock, I've gotten pretty good at giving them! Also, if you can wait until they are on the roost to catch them and give them their meds, they tend to be calmer.
 

coach723

Free Ranging
6 Years
Feb 12, 2015
6,799
11,393
611
North Florida
The antibiotic should have dealt with any infection from the broken egg. If she's molting that will stop her laying until it's complete, and since she had a laying issue, that is all to the good for now, it will let her system rest. I would try to tempt her with higher protein treats, scrambled eggs are good, some canned tuna, see if she will eat that. That will help with growing new feathers and maybe weight gain. Some birds in molt don't eat well since they don't feel terrific, so that may be contributing. Try mixing her regular feed pellets or crumbles with water to make a mash, many birds like it that way and then it will be a healthy treat. I really would stop with the sugary stuff and the scratch. You don't want to add fat, you want to add muscle. Fat birds will be much more prone to health issues. I would start weighing her regularly, to get and monitor her actual weight. It can be hard to tell by feel alone, though that is a good quick check of body condition. Then you will know if she's losing, maintaining, or gaining weight. An inexpensive digital kitchen scale works well.
Do you still feel a mass in her abdomen, or is that gone since she expelled the broken egg?
Reproductive problems are not uncommon, especially in hens over the age of two. But it also could have been a glitch, which can happen sometimes going into or coming out of molt. She may not lay again until the days start to get longer again in the spring (assuming you are in the northern hemisphere?). How old is she?
 

Gallinarium

Crowing
Apr 15, 2020
901
2,454
256
America
The pain medication was Meloxicam .5ml dose 1x/day. The antibiotic was TMS 1.7ml dose 2x/day.

Trixie was feeling much better yesterday. She is pecking at a cob of corn (although usually it's all gone by the time she's finished, this time there was a lot left). She's running (yes, running) after my husband who is carrying the bag of mealworms. Her eyes are bright and she's roaming around pecking and scratching. So I think we're good now. She's still not eating as heartily as she used to and she is still producing tiny poops. But she's acting so much better. However, a majority of her feathers have fallen out this week due to molting. So she doesn't "look" better! But I am encouraged by her bright eyes and her willingness to take treats now. She still won't let us touch her. But that will come in time. Thank you for your lovely words!
I'm very glad to hear she's doing better! :celebrate
 

Sweetles

In the Brooder
Apr 22, 2019
9
4
24
Thank you for the ideas humblehillsfarm! I was resorting to grabbing her in the morning off of the perch before letting them out. But that was a nightmare as well. The hardest one, though, was catching her prior to going to bed. Hopefully I won't ever have to do this again (in my own little dream world). I really like the idea of the towel because it might make her feel safer.
 

Sweetles

In the Brooder
Apr 22, 2019
9
4
24
Thank you, coach723, for the information!

Trixie was born in late February or early March 2019. I got her at about 4 weeks old I believe and that was March 30th. So 1 3/4 years.

She's always laid absolutely ginormous eggs and I was reading how too much protein can cause that. So we had been trying to cut down on the mealworms. But then I just recently read that the extra protein helps with the growing back of feathers. So, since she hasn't laid for 3 or 4 weeks, I figured it is probably okay to give her the extra protein now.

For the same reason, we have never given her (them) tuna because we didn't want the eggs to taste like fish. But again, no eggs so it's probably a good idea and I will try that. The Polish Crested is a about a year or so older and when she does occasionally lay, she hides them in the yard someplace. Takes us forever to find them, so we don't usually get to eat hers anyway. But they are cute little tiny white ones compared to Trixie's. Neither one of us eats their eggs anyway (vegan). They usually go to neighbors. I've just never wanted the neighbors to take a bite and think "ewww, what is that taste!" LOL!

The vet checked her manually and supposedly with an x-ray as well (I never saw it, only paid for it) and said that there is no longer an egg in there. I haven't felt one either. So I think everything is out.

I don't normally feed them sweets. I just thought I'd try the left over oatmeal (with brown sugar in it) to see if she'd eat it and she gorged on it. I figured that was good since she refused to eat anything else at that point, so I tried it two more times. She's getting bored with it now. The scratch is also occasional. Perhaps once every 1-2 weeks. I like your idea about turning her feed into mash. I will try that today, see if she'll fall for (I mean eat) it.

My husband had strongly suggested that we weigh her daily to see how she is doing with gaining/losing weight. Unfortunately that would mean catching her on a daily basis and that seems traumatizing to her at this point. So I'm not sure if I should do that. She used to let me hold her and carry her around. But now she won't let me get near her. But perhaps soon we can do that.

Thank you for everything!!!!
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom