One hen now just sits in a corner of the coop!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Tim01742, Jun 28, 2010.

  1. Tim01742

    Tim01742 New Egg

    Jun 28, 2010
    Hi all,

    One of my hens - Hawkeye (Ameraucana) - has begun spending her days lying in a corner of the coop and quietly clucking. She barely eats and appears to be losing weight. She stopped laying eggs weeks ago. She rarely poops and when she does it's dark and sort of gooie but she doesn't poop inside the coop. I sometimes bring her outside and there, she scratches her face and neck and rubs her beak on the ground. She scratches the earth a little, eats a few seeds, and within a few minutes she runs back inside to her corner of the coop. I haven't noticed her scratching herself when she's inside the coop. When I reach inside the coop to pet her, she clucks some, and raises her back end and puffs up her feathers but otherwise accepts my gentle strokes.

    A couple of weeks ago, one of Hawkeye's eyes was infected and she held it closed for a couple days. I treated her with terramycin ointment and her eyes appear OK now. I checked her for being eggbound which does not seem to be the case. I looked at her face for any sign of mites and didn't find any, but that's as far as I've gone looking. The other hens are fine.

    Weather-wise, we're outside Boston.

    Hawkeye is about one year old - she was part of our first three hens which we bought in Oct, 2009. She had always been very lively, entertaining and interactive and loved to perch on a human lap.

    We had three hens but lost one to a hawk attack this spring. Hawkeye was attacked about a week later but she escaped. For several days after the attack, she appeared completely normal. Because of the hawks, the hens no longer free range, but they pasture on green grass inside a large fence surrounding their run. So far so good.

    Our coop is cleaned weekly and always filled with fresh wood shavings for bedding. The run always has clean hay put down. The food and water are checked daily. We do not use any medications on a regular basis.

    We've recently introduced four new hens, which are all 10 weeks old. The presence of the new hens has had no effect on Hawkeye, good or bad.

    I would really love to help Hawkeye. She clearly feels crummy. I look forward to everyone's advice.

    Many thanks!
    - Tim
  2. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    Hi Tim-

    Couple of things come to mind.....has she lost weight? This is called "going light", and is caused by worms. Since the poo is not normal, I would buy a liquid wormer and put that into her drinking water. Also, if you have a place that's a bit cooler and you could isolate her in a crate or cage with some food and water, that might make her more comfortable because if the other chickens see that she is weakened, they may pick on her--that's just natural for chickens. I would put vitamins and electrolites in her drinking water as well. You might want to consider worming the whole flock. You won't be able to eat the eggs for a few weeks, but you could boil them, chop them up and feed them back to your hens for a special treat.

    Also, looking at her head may not show you any lice or really need to check underneath the wings and near the vent area. I doubt she has parasites, from the description of your coop and chicken run, but you never can come from wild birds.

    These are the most basic things to try first, so I hope it helps!

  3. HorseFeatherz NV

    HorseFeatherz NV Eggink Chickens


    Sounds to me like your girl is broody. Her body has told her to hatch chicks. Generally this takes 21 days after she starts sitting, but if this is her first time and she has no eggs - she has no trigger to tell her to stop brooding.

    A hen will go broody even without a rooster - not sure if you have one or not. Do you want chicks? If so, you can try and find some day olds and slip them under her at night.

    For my broodies, to help them keep condition and weight, I keep water and food within reach of the nest.
  4. Matt A NC

    Matt A NC Overrun With Chickens

    Feb 22, 2007
    Morganton, NC
    Sounds like she has gone broody. If she puffs up and clucks at you or other birds, that is a pretty good sign of broodiness.

    I have to shut mine out of the coops to get them to break. If they can get to a place they like to set then I can never get them to break.

  5. Tim01742

    Tim01742 New Egg

    Jun 28, 2010
    Wow, thank you all for the rapid responses!

    The consensus is that Hawkeye is brooding and after further research, including some YouTube videos, I'm inclined to agree.

    I gave Hawkeye a cool water bath and I've locked her out of the coop for the daylight hours (with food and water at hand). She seems to be normalizing already but is still a little frantic to get into the coop. I hope she'll get over it soon. Maybe another cool water bath tomorrow...

    Thank you to each one of you for sharing your experience and knowledge.


BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by