Penny has watery diarrhea & lethargy


10 Years
Apr 5, 2013
Efland, NC
Our Gold-laced Wyandotte, Penny, seems to be declining. She is a little over 4 years old. She is one of 11 hens. We also have 1 Silkie rooster, and 3 chicks which 2 of our Silkies are raising off to the side from the main flock.

It's been a few months since Penny has laid an egg. For a long time before that, her eggs were formed with a hardened, thickened shape to the pointed end - we'd call them a her "nipple eggs". My thoughts were that she had something going wrong in her egg system, as she has pretty much completely stopped laying. Over the past couple of months she just seems to be slowing down. She often by herself, away from the flock.

All of the birds are kept cooped safely at night, and during the day they roam inside of a fenced-in back yard with grass, woods, and lots of cover. The poop is scooped out of their coop pretty much daily. Their many waterers are washed out every 2-3 days. They are fed Purina Nutrena Pellets, and also given fruit and veggie scraps and crushed baked egg shells. Even though their trough is always full, all food tastes much better when I hand-feed it to them. It's pretty much Paradise for a chicken, I'd think.

Penny's symptoms include watery diarrhea and semi-lethargy. Her crop is squishy. She has pooed so much watery poo that her outer backside is inflamed. I hosed it off today with warm water and she really seemed to like it - she relaxed while I was doing that. Her vent is not distended. Her poo has been watery, mostly clear. She has been sleeping on the lowest roosting bar, usually alone, and the sand beneath that bar has been wet.

For about 5 days now I have been temporarily penning her for about an hour in the late afternoon and hand-feeding her unsweetened Greek yogurt (with a bit of Rooster Booster added to it) and some Purina Chick Crumbles, and scooping that up and handing it to her off pieces of pear. Most days she has gingerly slurped down the mix, but the 3rd day she did not.

Today I used red grapes today instead to scoop the goop and hand it to her, and she tore into them. I also did not observe poo running out of her like it had been, and she was a bit perkier. I think there may be some improvement. She also finally made a few noises at me today, and even gave us a bit of a chase trying to catch her to put her in the temp pen.

She has been drinking the Rooster Booster water while in the temp pen, and the first days, I observed her throwing up a little, and it's clear. But she did not do this today. Yesterday I changed all of the outside waterers to include the Rooster Booster.

I've combed through BYC here a bit, trying to sort this out. Being that her poo is watery/clear, and not green, I don't think it's Egg Yolk Peritonitis. I also don't think she is egg-bound.

Her eyes and comb seem fine. Overall, her feathers are in good shape (except her poor bum.)

So I have some questions:
Am I doing the right things? Is there more?
Is 4 really that old? The rest of the gang in her age group are laying.
Is a hen who lays deformed eggs liable to quit laying earlier?
Should I clip the bedraggled feathers off her rump?
Would Bag Balm soothe her raw backside?
How much longer to continue the Rooster Booster water? or the yogurt?

Thank you for reading all of this!
4 is an average age for chickens to die. Most of mine live 4-10 years of age. Most die at 4-6 years of age. I personally would suspect something internal is wrong with her. She many have even eaten something that wasn't edible like metal bits or string. It's amazing how long she has hung on.

Your best bet is to have a vet look at her. You can't buy over the counter antibiotics anymore, and it's hard to say if they would help. I personally would cull her to end her suffering at this point.

All my Wyandotte lay torpedo shaped eggs, seems to be a breed trait. Most chickens that are unwell will quit laying. Sorry I don't have a better answer for you. Chickens seem to be healthy until they are not, and than it's usually the end for them unfortunately.

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