Please help - lethargic hen, not eating

CityChicks361

Chirping
Jul 4, 2017
14
12
64
South Texas
Hi everyone,

I noticed that my favorite hen, Henny Penny (age: about 1.5 years), has not been acting like herself since yesterday afternoon. She was doing normal chicken things yesterday morning--foraging around the yard, dust bathing, etc. and then we put the chickens back into the coop so we could leave for lunch. When we returned home and I opened the coop door, all of the chickens came running out except for Henny. She stood in the coop, looking at me, and had no interest in coming out. I walked away and came back and she walked into her nesting box, so I assumed she needed to lay an egg. Later that afternoon, I noticed she was still in the nesting box, but didn't think anything of it until I went to close the door for the night and noticed that she was still in the box. When I opened the nesting box door, I noticed that her bum feathers were dirty and that she had a little poo caked on her bum, so I panicked and brought her into the house.

She seemed a bit lethargic - she stood still and kept closing her eyes. I'm uncertain if she laid an egg because there were several eggs in the nesting box. I thought maybe she was being broody, but the poo on her bum was concerning. A quick search led me to thinking that she might be egg bound, so I prepared her for a warm soak in epsom salt and massaged her. After her soak, she finally sat down and fell asleep. Probably 2-3 hours later, she finally pooped so we went ahead and put her outside on the roost feeling that it might be a good sign that she is not egg bound.

This morning, we opened the coop door and she came out but stood away from all of the other chickens and still seemed lethargic (standing still, eyes closed, a bit puffy but it is chilly outside right now). Every once in a while she seemed to tremble just a bit.

I brought her inside, gave her some water with apple cider vinegar and Nutri-drench and she drank A TON. She perked up and walked out of the little dog cage I had her in and started looking out of the door at the other chickens so I opened the door and she walked out, pooped (see photo below), and then went straight to the coop and back into the nesting box and has been there for about 2 hours now. I keep checking on her and she looks more alert than she did before but she has not laid an egg and I'm not sure why she insists on being in the nesting box.

I was able to get a photo of the poo:
IMG_8284.jpg


There is no bleeding, she walks fine (her legs aren't spread further than usual, no penguin waddle, albeit she was moving a bit slow), I don't see any fluids coming out of her eyes or nose, but her comb does have a purple tint on the tips. I checked her feathers and don't see anything unusual like lice or mites, no signs of bumblefoot, no other obvious injuries or trauma. None of our other hens (5 other girls) nor our rooster are exhibiting any symptoms.

We have been feeding them organic layer pellets (normal diet) and some catfish food as a supplement because they have been molting. They get mealworms as a treat.

We also recently (within the last week or so) changed the nesting box bedding from shredded paper to pine shavings.

There are no vets in the area that will treat chickens, so we appreciate any help you all can provide as to what we might be able to do to diagnose and treat our sweet girl.

This is a photo and video of her after I gave her some Nutri-drench this morning:
IMG_8285.PNG


Poo update (1:16PM CT):
View attachment 1579789
 
Last edited:

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
96,641
130,475
1,807
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
Why is she wearing the cape?
Remove it as it can interfere with, and irritate, growing feathers.
Is she in full molt....any bare patches, lots of pin feathers coming in?
Just how messy are her butt feathers?
Molting birds can be a bit lethargic, at least for a day or two, isolate and not eat as much.

This is what I do when a bird is 'off':
I'd isolate bird in a wire cage within the coop for a day or two, or at least overnight, so you can closely monitor their intake of regular food and plain water, crop function(checking at night and in morning before providing more feed), and their poops. Feel their abdomen, from below vent to between legs, for squishy or hard swelling.

Best to put crate right in coop or run so bird is still 'with' the flock.
I like to use a fold-able wire dog crate (24"L x 18"W x 21"H) with smaller mesh(1x2) on bottom of crate under tray.
Then you can put tray underneath crate to better observe droppings without it being stepped in. If smaller mesh is carefully installed, tray can still be used inside crate.
 

CityChicks361

Chirping
Jul 4, 2017
14
12
64
South Texas
Why is she wearing the cape?
Remove it as it can interfere with, and irritate, growing feathers.
Is she in full molt....any bare patches, lots of pin feathers coming in?
Just how messy are her butt feathers?
Molting birds can be a bit lethargic, at least for a day or two, isolate and not eat as much.

This is what I do when a bird is 'off':
I'd isolate bird in a wire cage within the coop for a day or two, or at least overnight, so you can closely monitor their intake of regular food and plain water, crop function(checking at night and in morning before providing more feed), and their poops. Feel their abdomen, from below vent to between legs, for squishy or hard swelling.

Best to put crate right in coop or run so bird is still 'with' the flock.
I like to use a fold-able wire dog crate (24"L x 18"W x 21"H) with smaller mesh(1x2) on bottom of crate under tray.
Then you can put tray underneath crate to better observe droppings without it being stepped in. If smaller mesh is carefully installed, tray can still be used inside crate.

Thank you for your thoughtful response. Our rooster caused quite a bit of damage to her shoulder area to the point that she had only bare skin and broken feathers so we have been using the cape to protect that area and keep the others from picking at her. I didn't realize it could irritate her new feathers, so we will go ahead and remove it.

She is not yet in full molt, but she does have bare patches in her butt area and pin feathers coming in around her belly and on her head. Her butt feathers were not too messy - it mostly looked like some poo got stuck on them. I soaked her and cleaned her off and have not noticed any new poo in the area.

I borrowed a dog crate like what you described from my parents and will get her set up in the coop and keep an eye on her crop.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
96,641
130,475
1,807
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
I borrowed a dog crate like what you described from my parents and will get her set up in the coop and keep an eye on her crop.
When you put her in the crate tonite after dark, check her belly for any swelling as well as her crop for fullness. Put plain water in crate but no feed, in the morning check her crop again to make sure it has emptied. If she's not eating much due to molting, or she has problems emptying the crop, that may be why her poops are loose.

You might want to leave her in the crate all day tomorrow too, to make sure she is eating her regular chicken feed well.
What all and how exactly do you feed?
 

micstrachan

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Apr 10, 2016
10,762
53,559
1,147
Santa Cruz Mountains, California
I, too, feel like it could be molt. I continue to be amazed at how lousy it make them feel.

Having said that, I have a molting girl with a persistent crop issue that is becoming difficult to treat. I would get on it right away. For starters, try a couple tablespoons of PLAIN (no added sugar of any kind) yogurt with a teaspoon of lemon juice mixed in and see if she likes it. I have recently learned that if there is yeast in the system, feed only foods that starve yeast like meat, green veggies, and yogurt. No grains, grasses, or even layer feed.

You may need to treat with acidified copper sulfate, which is supposed to be the best doughy or sour crop treatment, but my girl refused it to the point of becoming dehydrated (I think).
 

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