Old age, heat, chicken menopause?? Help!!


14 Years
Jun 18, 2009
I have just one chicken, my sweet Barred Rock, Speckles. She turned 5 years old in March. After winter moult she perked right up this spring--begin laying her every other day egg, eating everything, just her usual self. Then the Texas heat hit a couple of weeks ago. First she stopped laying, which is not unusual for her during the really hot time. BUT, she also started acting "whacky", standing and staring at the ground, not coming out of her pen the second we open the gate, acting like she didn't see worms or bugs we pointed out to her, going back into her pen at night and getting up on her roost without prompting even before it is dark. Monday morning I thought she must be OK because she ate about 150 June Bugs I had caught for her the night before. Then the next morning she ate just a few. Today all she has eaten is two beetles I caught for her, some cucumber seed mush, part of a strawberry and a bite or two of her scratch mix. I have been bringing her inside during the worst of the heat in the afternoon and I make a moist place in the shade of her pen when she is outside. She just sits on it and hardly moves all day. I have some vitamin drops for my cockatiel and I put some of them in her water, but I doubt she is getting much of it. She really doesn't just act "sick", but whacky--staring, pecking at nothing, but basically just sitting.
She is losing more weight every day. ANY ideas, suggestions or advice would be most welcome. I am absolutely crazy about this chicken; she is the best pet I've ever had and so sweet. If there is anything I can do I would love to know what it is. I would take her to a vet, but I don't think she is actually sick and I doubt that vets have experience with chicken care. Help, help, help!!

Can your vet do a fecal float? Just call and ask if you can bring in a fresh sample for them to test. Any vet that sees birds should be able to do this. It could be worms, cocci... any number of things. Have you checked her body for lice and mites?
See if she will eat some scrambled egg. They usually really like it enough to eat it even when sick and it should give her some energy.
When you call the vet about the float, do all you can to keep from having to bring her into the vet's office. It is very stressful and much more expensive.
Good luck.
Thanks Carrie! Yes, I've tried feeding her both scrambled eggs and hard boiled. I've gotten her to eat a tiny bite yesterday. Today nothing. I don't believe she could have mites or lice or anything like that. She spends time in my lap every day and I think I would have noticed but I'm going to check her closely right now!

I have the name of a "bird vet" somewhere that I was given in case my cockatiel had problems, so I'm going to see if I can find that and I'll call about the fecal check.

Thank you so much for the ideas. I really appreciate the help!

Well, I found a vet who treats "pet chickens", not just poultry or canaries. The first appointment was not until next Monday and the only alternative was to take her in and leave her there overnight. I'm starting to think there might be some problem with her crop--it felt enlarged considering how little she has been eating. We'll see. I hated to leave her there, but I didn't want to wait until Monday and it just seemed like she was worse and I HAD to do something. A friend of mine has used this vet for chickens, ducks and her goose, so that is somewhat comforting.

Do you worm her? If she just ate alot of June bugs, she should could have a parasite. If her crop is enlarged and she hasn't been eating, it's more likely she has an impaction. Good luck with her. Lynn
Can you call the vet back and ask if they can do a float without seeing her? Or maybe you can take a sample in today or tomorrow and still take her in Monday?
OK, as far as the crop.... Make sure she gets plenty to eat (or try to get her to eat anyway) and then take food away from her at night. Make sure she can not get to anything. Leave water for her to drink. The next morning, check her crop. If her crop is down, then you know it's not impacted crop. If the crop is still full, you've got a direction to go in.
Well, the vet called while I was outside, so I just got a message on the answering machine. She said that Speckles has blood in fluid from her abdomen which could mean egg yolk peritonitis. She said this is common in older hens. Speckles also seems to have an impaction in her crop and the vet is going to keep her overnight and monitor her droppings. She hopes Speckles will be able to get rid of the impaction without having to have her crop flushed. I don't remember if that is how she described it, but she said Speckles has lost a lot of weight and it would be better if she could pass the food on her own. The vet said they started her on antibiotics. I just read about egg yolk peritonitis and it sounds terrible. We remember finding bits of broken egg shell when she stopped laying and thought maybe a rat snake had gotten an egg. That was more than 3 weeks ago. It seems like she would have appeared to be ill shortly after that happened. It is just in the last few days that she has not been wanting to eat, but even today she got down just a little bit of food. I am just crying and so upset over this. The vet said we can talk tomorrow and decide what to do. I read about someone who had a chicken that got a hysterectomy and recovered from egg yolk peritonitis...I just don't want to lose Speckles. But I don't want her to hurt either. She is so sweet and good natured.
she pulls through for you, let us know how she does.

Thank you Annek. I'm just waiting until 7:00 when the vet will open. My husband and I both cried last night, just thinking about poor Speckles and how much fun we have had with her. She would run across the yard after him any time she saw him because he would walk around with her and pick up rocks so she could find bugs and he would dig through the compost with her as she looked for goodies. We loved to watch her clomp, clomp side to side run. I feel guilty that we didn't monitor her diet better. I never thought that we might be causing her harm by not denying her other food so she would eat the layer pellets and scratch grain. We just thought it was good for her to eat bugs and things and get to roam around having fun. I just hope the vet feels like there is something she can do, even if it is surgery or something. We just want her to recover and be her happy, sweet, funny self again.
If Speckles can be strengthemed via antibiotic and possibly antiinflammatory and lots of great nutrition she may then get strong enough for the surgery.

Unfortunately I have experience with this gained by knowing sweet Betty who ultimately had the surgery but too late - she was too compromised. For some time, antibiotic and antiinflammatory helped her greatly and I had hoped that would be all she needed. That would have been the time for the surgery, as opppsed to when those meds stopped working and she got weak.

That is the short version (mostly because I have to get to work!) of a long sad story. I hope yours has a much better ending


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