Please, any suggestions for what I need to check with sick hen

Henny Penney

14 Years
May 2, 2008
wet side of WA, Olympic Peninsula
no one has responded to my post last night asking about medication for my sick chicken. I would really appreciate suggestions on what I am over looking, need to check out....I will repeat what I wrote.

I have a very lethargic hen. She is a very small bantam. For a week she mostly just sits, frumpy, wings droopy, looking like a sick chicken but comb looks fine. She rallied a few days ago and was scratching around again, but now is not rallying, just sitting. She does seem to have slightly watery, mucus, runny poop, but isn't really going much. I have given her terramycin in her water, she was drinking a lot of water last night. I just don't know what else to do - I have checked for a stuck egg since she has a history of that.

Appreciate any ideas. I've raised chickens for 30 years and have had sick chickens only a few times and they are usually more obviously sick.
Sorry about your little chickie. Here's a few things to look at.

I would isolate her from the others; as a bantam, she should fit into a cat carrier or the like. Keep her warm and quiet.

The watery runny stools could be the sign of a couple of possibilities. First, it's possible she was egg bound and the egg broke and you're seeing the white and yolk coming through. This is fairly serious and is addressed in far more detail than I can do here in the search section on egg binding.

Secondly, she's not got any nutrition in her system and all the water she's drinking is just coming through. Scramble an egg and feed this to her. It's very nutritious and good for her in her weakened condition. You might make a gruel out of her mash or some oatmeal and try to feed her this. In addition, you can use some vitamins, Poly-vi-sol, from the baby section in the store, get the stuff without iron, mixed in her water.

I personally question the use of antibiotics in the absence of a definite infection. Antibiotics as a rule are hard on kidneys and using them without specific targets can generate resistence in the animal. You know your animal best, but I sure wouldn't run to antibiotics as a cure-all first thing. Try isolation, warmth and nutritional support first.

Good luck, Mary
thank you for your reply. I have isolated her, she has been comfortably in a cage, in the house, in a cool spot. She is eating this morning, or at least pecking at her food quite consistently, maybe picking out what she wants. It seems if there was a broken egg in her she would be in even more stress and sicker, but maybe not. I will see if I can take her to a vet today, there is one a few hours away who will see birds/chickens. I was trying to avoid this - he charges outrageous rates. We've been there.

I have been in a wait a see mode all week as she was getting neither worse nor better. We have to go to Seattle tomorrow for two days - medical appointments and elder care responsibilities. I am in a quandary, I don't want to leave her, and could take her, we can transport her cage, but I am sure two days away and traveling would be stressful, though putting her back in the coop could be also.

thank you again, I'll keep a watchful eye and make a mash if she doesn't appear to be eating. I appreciate the comments about medications.
If she has a history of being egg-bound, it can't hurt to put her in a warm shallow bath and see if she loosens up. Just make sure to keep her nice and warm while she dries.

I would also keep an eye on her crop - just in case this is not egg related. Sometimes the the runny poop resulting from a stuck egg is similar to the runny poop resulting from a crop/digestion problem.

I would also not give her antibiotics.
I discontinued the antibiotics and appreciate the comments on this, it didn't feel right but I didn't know what to do.

She does not have runny poop this morning and does seem to eat.

It's the lethargy, though more alert this a.m., sinks back into a funk. I think it could be digestive related, I am wondering about giving her probiotics, has anyone done this to a chicken? How would I know if she has a crop problem?
If you think there is a digestion problem, plain yogurt can be helpful, and lots and lots of people feed plain yogurt to their chickens on a regular basis.

If the digestion problem is crop-related, you will probably be able to tell the difference. I would simply feel her crop this evening at bed time, take away her food for the night, and feel her crop in the morning. Hopefully, if she's eating, her crop will be at least partially full this evening. In the morning, it should be empty. If it isn't, then you know that the crop is where the problem is, and you can go from there.

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