Odd behavior, suspect illness (UPDATE on post #9)

journey11

Songster
12 Years
Feb 14, 2009
679
10
226
WV
I have one hen that is acting odd, but I've looked her over good and really can't see anything obviously wrong with her. She's always been a bit weird anyway (she'll be a year old next month).

She sits around alot, with her tail stuck up stiffly in the air. If I toss them scratch, she sits down and pecks at it. I find her sitting around like this alot, while all the others are off doing chicken things. She doesn't venture far from the coop.

The others have taken to pulling a lot of her feathers out. She's bald on her neck and back. This has been going on since the past two months of snowy weather has kept them in. They've not drawn blood, just pulled feathers.

Her eyes look slightly puffy to me, compared to the others.

She's not emaciated or even very thin, but she doesn't make a lot of effort to eat either. I checked her a little while ago after they had all been out running in the yard for a couple hours and her crop is empty. She's just sitting around funny like I described.

She seemed to me that she is holding her neck tightly curled in too.

When she's on the roost at night, she puffs up all her feathers. With her bald neck she looks like a vulture! The coop is reasonably warm, not drafty and I have a red heat lamp on (on a timer) which they sit under.

The others are all acting fine. She is not making any coughing, wheezing or sneezing noises. No runny or watery eyes or nose. No limping or problems walking. I have not seen her poo yet, but have not observed any unusual stools in the coop anyway.

I've had them all vaccinated for Merck's.

Does any of this sound like some kind of lurking chicken disease to you? Other than the feather pulling, I would say it's been going on for about a week, the odd behavior. She's just not acting like a chicken, doing chicken things.

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Cluckin'Along

Songster
10 Years
Mar 12, 2009
284
0
160
Exeter, RI
I'm going to be following this one too, since I have an approximately 3 month old roo showing almost the same symptoms. I wish I could be of more help!
 

Blue_Myst

Songster
10 Years
Feb 5, 2009
3,808
10
201
Do you worm your chickens? Often being tired and off color like you describe could be due to worms.

It could also be that she is just feeling "off" and needs a little pick me up. Do you feed your hens yogurt? That may help sort her problem if it is digestive.

If her eyes are puffy, it could be coryza, but I would think that she would show more symptoms by now.

Good luck with her!
 

chookchick

Songster
11 Years
Aug 18, 2008
1,921
77
216
Olympia WA
Sounds almost like molting behavior--are you sure the others are pulling feathers out, or are they just missing? Anyway, it wouldn't hurt to give her a protein boost with treats--scrambled egg, washed cottage cheese, low-salt fish, small amounts cat food, etc...and see if you can get her to eat more with a little special attention. I would give her a really good once over also--check very carefully around the vent, under the wings, etc..for lice or mites, and see if she has any unusual swellings or injuries. You could also see if there are any new feathers coming in (porcupine quills).
 
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journey11

Songster
12 Years
Feb 14, 2009
679
10
226
WV
Thanks for all the advice everyone. I'm also wondering if maybe it is parasites. She is not any worse today, just seems down and out, but not on her deathbed.
 

Blue_Myst

Songster
10 Years
Feb 5, 2009
3,808
10
201
It's good to hear she isn't any worse, but be careful that she isn't wasting away over time.

If you're still not sure what's wrong with her, it wouldn't hurt to put some Apple Cider Vinegar in their water (a tablespoon or two to a gallon of water). When my hens are down but not terribly sick, they usually perk up with some of the ACV.
 

Kittymomma

Songster
10 Years
Sep 9, 2009
3,873
31
204
Olympia, WA
Quote:
Agreed. If you can I'd also put her in a dog crate (or whatever) and bring her in for observation. She won't have to use what energy she has to stay warm, the others won't be able to pick on her, and you'll be able to tell what she's eating/drinking, how her poos look, and whether or not she's laying any eggs.
 

journey11

Songster
12 Years
Feb 14, 2009
679
10
226
WV
I'm sure it's not molting. She'll be a year old April first. She has no feathers at all up and down her back and none on her neck. She's not the only one that's been picked on, just getting it the worst. They keep pulling my EE's beards out too. They were cooped up for nearly 2 whole months with all the snow we've had and they pick on each other when they can't get outside.

She's definitely warmer now inside. Hard to keep warm when you're half naked!
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journey11

Songster
12 Years
Feb 14, 2009
679
10
226
WV
I've had her in the crate for a couple of days, putting the heat lamp on her at night since she's so bare. She's not laid an egg in 4 days. Her stools look very healthy and normal, she's eating great and her weight is good. I haven't given her any meds yet, as I've spent these days observing her more closely.

I went ahead and let her out to range with the others today. She ran for the scratch and sunflower seeds like the rest of them, but sat down again and did her eating. I watched her for quite awhile afterward and what I am noticing now is that she moves her legs stiffly and holds her back kinda hunched up like she's sore.

What I am kicking myself for now is this: I had a BA pullet attacked by the neighbor's dog last Thanksgiving and it might be her. What I wish I would have done is put a band on her leg.
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I can't tell if this is the same hen or not, and if I could it would explain a lot. I had one BA that sat around alot before and it might be the same one (which would have made her easy target for the dog). She holds her hocks inward, knock-kneed a bit now. I don't know if this was from dog injuries or maybe a birth defect. I can't see any scars on her bare back. Does anybody know if chickens scar like other animals?

She seems to have decent quality of life right now. I'm going to keep her separate at night for awhile so the others don't pick on her anymore, but let her out with them during the day. I'm going to go ahead and worm the whole flock since I probably should anyway and that will rule out that at least. Just keep watching her, I guess. As long as she's eating and getting around I think I will let her be.
 

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