Our 9 month old brown leghorn is weak and not eating

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Mrs Hughes, Dec 19, 2012.

  1. Mrs Hughes

    Mrs Hughes New Egg

    May 20, 2012
    I am new to keeping chickens and have learned a great deal in reading on BYC. We have our first illness in the flock. We have 6 hens and one rooster. Our 9 month old brown leghorn was missing 3 days ago when the girls were out to free range. We found her under a bush and not moving. She let us pick her up (not typical) and has remained lethargic. She mostly stands or lays but can walk if we try to get her to. She has not been eating and rarely drinks. We did quarantine her right away and the other girls seem fine. Her droppings are very watery and slimy. They are a mixture of black and white, I do not see any blood. Her eyes look good and clear, her vent is clear, we do not see any signs of injury on her body. She has not laid an egg for at least 3 days but I do not feel any lumps and she does not seem to be in pain. We did some reading on BYC and have given her some Corid just this evening via a dropper. We are trying to feed her peanut butter but she is just not interested in eating. We would appreciate any advice that you have! Her name is Kernel.
  2. farm-gal91

    farm-gal91 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 28, 2012
    It's sounds like kernel is one sick chick! Do you have a vet you can contact? Even if the vet is small animal, most vets can help you over the phone in diagnosing and treating your chicken. For now, the best thing to do is pump kernel full of vitamins and electrolytes. Since you just gave the corid it will take some time for it to kick in so then, we can know what we are trying to treat, or at least narrow it down. In this case there are numerous things like intestinal parasites, CRD, or stress. In your case, since the chickens are free range, it may be worms or something totally different. Intestinal parasites can do a number on any animal, and the truth is, they are easy to prevent and if not far along in damage, easy to treat. If you have a local co-op, tractor supply, or any other store that sells chicken supplies, they most likely will have your wormer.
    So my questions are- are you able to contact a vet?
    Have you de-wormed your chickens in the last few months?
  3. farm-gal91

    farm-gal91 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 28, 2012
    Here is a small reputable excerpt source that you can read about worms, you can see if your kernel answers some of these questions. Hope this helps, and I hope your little kernel starts feeling better!

    Worms in Poultry - Recognising and Treating Worms
    Learning about the life cycle of worms may not seem pleasant but it is one of the most common problems/ailments for poultry and it is really important that you know what to look for and how to treat the birds, as well as learn what preventative measures you can take.

    I am not going to blind you with latin names, there are plenty of books and web pages to do that, but I will try and explain simply what they are, how to recognise the symptoms, how to deal with them and how to prevent them ...

    Worm infestations should be treated as 'one of those things' that chickens get, for the sake of the bird they should be dealt with, even if thought to be not life threatening. Any kind of poultry worms will impair the health of the bird to some degree, as it would in humans, because the worms are taking the nutrients out of the food of their hosts and you will see weight loss in your birds, or they may not be growing at the rate they should be. Worms can damage the digestive tract of the birds which can lead to other infections. There will be a drop in egg production and the birds may seem 'unwell' and listless.

    There are three main internal parasitic worms that affect poultry:


    Roundworms are the most common; they look like spaghetti and live in the intestine of the bird. They can affect chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese. There are several types of roundworm e.g. hairworms, threadworms, but the most common is the Large Roundworm. Most birds can live with some infestation but it can result in drop in egg production and weight loss.
    Roundworms normally follow a direct life cycle i.e an infected birds releases worm eggs in its dropping where another bird can pick up the eggs; or, they can be picked up by a carrier like an earthworm. They have a 28 day life cycle and can be found not only in the intestine but also in the crop, gizzard or oesophagus. They can even infect the oviduct and be passed out inside the eggs. At maturity they are 3 inches long and can be seen in the dropping if expelled by the bird.


    Gapeworms are a type of roundworm; they attach themselves to the trachea (throat) of chickens where they impair breathing resulting in the birds gasping (gaping). Young birds are particularly susceptible and can become infected by sharing space with wild birds such as pheasants. Fatal if not treated.
    Gapeworm is often brought about through an intermediate host i.e. earthworms, snails, slugs can all be carriers of larvae and once ingested by the bird have a life cycle of 14 days. It can also be picked up directly from another bird coughing up the worms on to the ground and then your birds picking it up when scratching the ground.


    Tapeworms are less common and are segmented, ribbon-like, worms. They attach themselves to the wall of the intestine by burying their heads in the lining of the intestine. Their eggs are carried by slugs and snails so free-ranging birds are more susceptible than indoor birds. Heavy infestation can reduce the bird's ability to fight other infections.
    Reproduction is from segments of the worm that break off and are passed through the chicken in its droppings where it contaminates the ground for other birds to pick up. Tapeworm larvae can be carried by intermediate hosts, most particularly slugs and snails. They are very hard to see with the naked eye and have a life cycle of 6 weeks.

    Worm Hunt

    Check the droppings ... ... It really is worth a regular (even if it seems unpleasant) hard look at your chickens droppings. Always think of the adage 'You are what you eat'! On the right, is an image of what healthy dropping should look like so you can make a comparison. Healthy chicken droppings should be fairly firm and rounded with two distinct sections. The largest darker portion should be black, brown and/or grey in colour and the smaller portion should be white (this is the urine) and it will form a cap at one end. As with all advice we give, it is not a precise diagnosis so if you are at all concerned, you should consult a vet who can arrange a worm count of the droppings.

    If the droppings are: Green coloured - this could be a dietary imbalance caused by too much green matter or too much protein, or can also be indicative of a more serious internal infection. Veterinary diagnosis is recommended if you reduce the green in their diet but it makes no difference.
    Yellow coloured - loose yellow droppings which will normally stick to the feathers of the birds bottom are most often a sign of internal worms. It can also be that the birds have a diet rich in corn or maize but in our experience it is usually worms. It could also point to a respiratory infection but there would be other signs with this kind of problem.
    This is not to be confused with Caecal droppings which are brown and foamy and expelled roughly every 7-10 droppings - perfectly normal.
    Black, runny and sticky - Can point to nutritional deficiency. Revisit their diet and feed only layers pellets ad lib with treats of corn twice a day for two weeks to see if this improves their droppings. Stop all other treats for this period.

    Other signs are:- worms visible in the droppings; mucky bottoms; dishevelled, depressed appearance; weight loss; drop in egg production; pale comb.

    Treatment of worms
    If you suspect worms then the chemical answer is to use a recognised, licensed, anthalmintic (wormer) like Flubenvet or Solubenol. These are the only wormers licensed for poultry through the Animal Veterinary Medicines Authority and you will need a prescription from a vet, or to 'sign' a POM-VPS declaration form on a website. Please be careful when buying online that the company you buy from actually have an SQP (Suitably Qualified Person) to dispense Flubenvet. Beware of any online company that does not ask you to complete a form or give the SQP information before purchase, as always, there are some unscrupulous companies out there and you may not get the genuine thing. FSF do not have an SQP so cannot sell Flubenvet.

    Flubenvet should be used twice a year, spring and autumn, to rid your birds of worms or more often if advised by your vet. It is the only wormer that will kill Gapeworm and if this is suspected, give Flubenvet immediately. Follow any instructions for meat withdrawal, although the Flubenvet 1% does not now need an egg withdrawal period.

    Other products are available e.g. Ivermectin drops and Piperazine. These are not licensed for poultry at this time, but are widely used by vets for poultry (and do not need to be dispensed by an SQP). Ivermectin is applied with drops to the skin and works against internal and external parasites whilst Piperazine will kill roundworm.

    The natural answer, which many people prefer, is regular use of an herbal product. These will not kill Gapeworm but can help prevent other worms. There just a couple worth mentioning. Neither is 'licensed' to say it is a poultry 'wormer' so cannot label the product as such. Verm-X Pellets for Poultry is the most widely used, especially in organic systems, and comes in liquid or pellet form. It is administered for 3 days out of every month throughout the year. Opinion is divided as to its effectiveness with the Janssen Company (makers of Flubenvet) saying it does not kill worms, and Paddocks Farm
    (makers of Verm-X Pellets for Poultry) producing lots of evidence that it does.
    Verm-X Pellets for Poultry does have some well-known poultry experts supporting it.

    New to the market this year from Net-Tex is their Herbal Gut Conditioner which again, is not licensed as a poultry 'wormer', but is marketed as a wormer for poultry. We think the best approach is to use one of the herbal products on a regular basis as per instructions and then, if worms are still suspected, especially Gapeworm, use the chemical answer of Flubenvet. Herbal products will not kill Gapeworm.

    Also new this year from Net-Tex is what we think is a great solution to the problem of contaminated ground. Leaving your birds on the same small area of ground for prolonged periods is the primary cause of worms. Net-Tex Ground Sanitising Powder can be sprinkled on the ground most frequently used by the birds, and will kill the worms from larvae stage to full grown. Brilliant product!

    Prevention is better than cure
    Some simple preventative measures can help save a great deal or worry and loss of birds.

    Give them clean ground regularly. Never allow them to stay on bare earth for long periods, the ground will become 'fowl sick' and harbour countless worm larvae, bacteria and potential infections.

    If in a fixed Run then move it regularly to new ground, or if you are not able to move the run then consider a surface that can be cleaned with disinfectant (not concrete please, not a natural surface at all). Using a loose hardwood woodchip surface for example and then make a watering can mix of Virkon disinfectant, or
    Bi-OO-Cyst Coccidial disinfectant, to regularly (fortnightly) water the ground is a good solution. When dry, follow up with Net-Tex Ground Sanitising Powder.

    Use Apple Cider Vinegar, or Apple Cider Vinegar and Garlic, in your birds drinking water regularly (plastic drinkers only). This changes the balance of acid in their gut so that it becomes a rather inhospitable place for worms to live and breed. One teaspoon per litre of water is all that is needed. Diatom (diatomaceous earth) can also be used to mix with their feed at a rate of 5% to feed. To be effective though Diatom must be used all the time.

    Keep grass short as sunlight destroys worm eggs.

    If your birds free-range and come into contact with wild birds, like pheasants and rooks for example, as well as having regular treats of slugs, earthworms and snails, then more vigilance is needed. The herbal answer is Verm-X Pellets for Poultry or Herbal Gut Conditioner every month, or the chemical answer is Flubenvet twice a year.

    To conclude ... ... it is important to get rid of, or prevent, internal worms to have healthy happy hens, and for your own peace of mind. A few simple tasks and vigilence is all that is needed.

    We hope that helps to simply explain what can often be very worrying for new chicken keepers.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2012
    1 person likes this.
  4. farm-gal91

    farm-gal91 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 28, 2012
    This is another source for you to read over on another parasites that could be causing turmoil.

    Pooh and Piglet were walking together in the Thousand Acre Wood.

    The wind was blowing ferociously and the treetops were swaying hither and thither until it seemed even the very wood itself could not withstand such a storm. Somewhat disconcerted, Piglet asked Pooh, "What if a tree falls on us?"

    Pooh considered for a moment (as a bear of very little brain and with a lack of imagination which we can only envy), before replying "What if it doesn’t?"

    Such are the dilemmas that face us.

    Most of us keeping a few hens will enjoy a lifetime of blissful feathered friendship without ever coming across the lurking nasties than can afflict even the fittest of fowl.

    But forewarned is forearmed ...

    Coccidiosis, pronounced cock-sid-ee-oh-sis, is a disease caused by a coccidial oocyst (pronounced oost) the most common of which is 'Eimeria tenella'.

    In simple terms a microscopic parasite (a coccidia) is ingested by the bird, it attaches itself to the lining of the gut, multiplies and becomes an oocyst feeding in the digestive tract of the bird and consequently will make it bleed. Once infected, the bird will be passing these parasites in its poo days before symptoms occur. The most common tell-tale sign, from the most common type of coccidia, is blood in the poo because it makes the gut lining bleed.

    There are many types of coccidia but one type will only infect one type of animal i.e a poultry coccidia will not infect a cow and vice versa. However, treating and curing one type of poultry coccidia does not mean that they cannot be later infected by another type.

    The oocyst eggs are also passed out through the droppings and so infect other birds. Adult birds can live perfectly well with small infections their whole lives and if you use a preventative tonic like Apple Cider Vinegar & Garlic this can certainly keep on top of any oocysts and other worms. This 'acid' in the gut will help to prevent the formation of the oocyst which does the damage.

    However, when egg production drops, there is blood in the poo, the bird is lethargic and generally looking unwell then other treatment is needed. If not treated quickly at this point the bird will die.

    Quote from government document about coccidiosis in poultry:
    Coccidiosis caused by E. tenella first becomes noticeable at about three days after infection. Chickens droop, stop feeding, huddle together, and by the fourth day, blood begins to appear in the droppings. The greatest amount of blood appears by day five or six, and by the eighth or ninth day, the bird is either dead or on the way to recovery. Mortality is highest between the fourth and sixth days. Death may occur unexpectedly, owing to excessive blood loss.

    Symptoms and Causes


    - Passing blood in their poo.

    - Drop in egg production.

    - Droopy, hunched, withdrawn chickens with ruffled feathers.

    - Not feeding or drinking.

    Causes of infection:

    - Coccidiosis is caused by a parasite (coccidia) found in contaminated ground and damp bedding. It can be transferred on contaminated boots, clothing, feedsacks, insects and rodents.

    - Poultry are exposed to the parasite via their droppings, dirty drinkers and damp litter in their housing. Wet areas around drinkers are particular areas of infection.

    - Coccidia can also be found in water that is not kept clean and free of chicken droppings.

    - Young birds and chicks (of all kinds) are most prone to infection and will quickly die if not treated.

    - Overcrowding and intensive rearing of chickens leads to infection passing quickly throughout the flock.

    - Infectious parasites can live in housing that was previously contaminated for a number of months and so will infect new birds when they are introduced.

    Cure and Prevention
    The Cure:

    - Coxoid* is a widely available treatment and other treatments are available from a Vet or licensed supplier e.g. Baycox. Egg withdrawal periods (i.e. eggs must not be eaten) are normally needed with treatments and then follow-up with a health tonic e.g. Lifeguard Poultry Tonic. Coxoid* is administered in their drinking water for seven days, egg withdrawal period 28 days. Severely infected birds may need the medicine administered by small syringe or pipette (a straw also works well).

    - Clean their house, run (and the ground they live on), and all utensils with Bi-OO-Cyst Disinfectant which will kill all coccidial parasites. Regular use of this will prevent any further infection. Parasites can live in empty houses, and the ground, for several months.


    - Vaccination at earliest age. One commercial vaccine has a brand name of Paracox. If buying birds from a breeder ask if they have been vaccinated or fed on a feed containing a coccidiostat. If buying from an auction - beware!

    - During growing stages feed the birds with a feed containing a coccidiostat so that they have built immunity by the time they reach adulthood. This type of feed is prevention, not a cure, and there are differences of opinion as to its effectiveness.

    - If hatching eggs yourself, treat with Coxoid* in their early days, or keep the chicks on a wire floor so they do not stand in their own poo. Birds under three weeks old are seldom infected.

    - Keep litter dry when housed indoors, particularly with young birds. Clean brooders every day and do not allow birds to walk around in their own poo. Put drinkers on a wire/mesh stand so that the birds do not stand in wet bedding.

    - For birds housed outdoors - keep the bedding in the house clean and dry - do not put drinkers and feeders inside the house (this is one of the greatest causes of infection). Unless the birds live indoors on a semi-permanent basis, the birds will only use the house to lay eggs and sleep at night. They do not feed or drink once they have gone to bed.

    - If birds are housed indoors then consider a watering system that will not allow contamination from poo or debris, and that will not spill and make the bedding damp. e.g. BEC mini cup drinker or for outdoors, a large tripod drinker.

    - Outdoor birds need clean ground, their run will need moving regularly so that the ground does not become 'poisoned'. If this is not possible, then a regular cleaning of the ground in the run is necessary to prevent infections. Use Stalosan Disinfectant Powder or Bi-OO-Cyst Coccidial Disinfectant. Bi-OO-Cyst is specially formulated to kill coccidial occysts.

    - Oocysts can be killed by freezing, extreme dryness and high temperatures.

    - Vigilance is necessary to watch for tell-tale signs. Coccidosis is most common in young birds over three weeks and their first year or so. Older mature birds are likely to have built up immunity.

    In short, keep the house bedding dry and clean, do not allow contamination of drinking water, wash drinkers and feeders regularly in disinfectant. Keep the ground in their run clean and again disinfect regularly.

    Coccidiosis, a Beginners Guide is [​IMG]Flyte so Fancy 2010. Reproduction of part or all of this text is only possible with the express permission of Flyte so Fancy.

    * Coxoid is not licensed for use on poultry because it has not been tested on poultry regarding a meat withdrawal period, although it does have a 28 day egg withdrawal. We cannot therefore advise on its use for poultry as we are not qualified to do this and to do so would breach VMD rules. We strongly advise consulting a vet before use.
  5. Mrs Hughes

    Mrs Hughes New Egg

    May 20, 2012
    Thank you so much for the help and resources. I have a great update. After two days of the Corid and TLC from my DH, Kernel is out and about today. She is drinking, enjoying her bread as usual, and having normal droppings! Due to the reading we have done, we are now proceeding to worm the whole flock of girls with Safeguard and will toss the eggs for 10 days. Do you think that we should give the other girls Corid as well? We are all so happy to see Kernel pull through!!
  6. farm-gal91

    farm-gal91 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 28, 2012
    That is so awesome to hear! You're doing great by worming the rest, just remember to do rotational worming. I wouldn't necessarily treat the other girls with corid as well unless they are showing signs. Just keep a good eye on the, but it sounds like your doing a very fine job :)

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