Older hen waddling, standing verticle, not egg-bound


9 Years
Jul 20, 2014
We have a four year old barred rock who laid intermittently over the summer who, about 5 days ago, was standing and walking oddly. It started out on a very cold day, and she had a large amount of green and brown poop stuck to her butt. Due to the cold we waited until yesterday to clean it off when it had warmed up enough to thaw, so we could wet the area without risking it freezing.

Around the time we noticed the 'mess' around her vent we saw she was standing oddly, butt down close to the ground, tail down, almost standing vertical. She was hunched over slightly, feathers bushed up. She waddles when she walks and has a hard time climbing the stairs or ramp to her coop, but still manages to get onto the bar to perch at night, although she stands partially sideways on it.

After cleaning the mess yesterday I checked for a bound egg - nothing hard, although her abdomen is hanging low between her legs, and could feel no solid mass when I checked inside (gloved finger). She has a very watery poop, and that's about it.

I am adding some pictures so you can see how she is standing.

I was wondering about ascites, since we had a buff orpington die from it at the end of last winter, although the barred's comb looks fine and healthy unlike the buff's had.

In your opinion is there anything we can do for her? I don't think she's 'sick', because she will eat and drink even though she has trouble leaning forward to do so. No other chickens are showing any sign of waddling and are not dragging their butts. She hasn't yet become 'caked' again with poop.
Is the abdomen full of water? Like a water balloon? (compare her abdomen with your other birds) If so this is no doubt ascites.

Some people have had good luck with draining out the fluid. There really isn't a cure for this or any medications you can give them.

If you think she does have Ascites, stop by this thread that others have left comments and treatments....https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/68731/laying-hens-with-water-belly-or-ascites

I hope you can do something for her!
I finally got to see her again on the perch, as she was hiding under the coop. She was perched awkwardly but I could see a huge round distended section of her belly hanging down from above the bar to below it, and she's obviously perching awkwardly to handle the weight. Her breathing is rather heavy compared to the other hens as well.

After reading that thread I have no doubt she has ascites. I feel the best thing for a hen of her age would be to put her down peacefully rather than try to prolong suffering.

Thank you for your comment and for pointing me to that thread.
I am so sorry about your bird. When they get to the point of not being able to live a quality life, it is best to put them down.

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