Poorly barnevelder, advice or thoughts


5 Years
Aug 24, 2014
Hi all

First time posting, unfortunately I’m after a bit of advice / thoughts on my unwell barnevelder – Britta.

A few days ago noticed she just wasn’t quite right, noticeable change in behaviour, she became quite still not her usual bouncy self. Usually I can’t get near her to pick her – she’s very sprightly, but she didn’t really move when I approached her and picked her up no problem. After a little while just keeping an eye on her she started breathing heavy with an open mouth. At first I thought maybe gapeworm but she wasn’t reaching, stretching her neck out or gagging. So then I thought possibly respiratory.

Trip to vets, she had a good looking over, weight was fine, crop was full but normal she also thinks repertory and we got some antibiotics. We brought her indoors for a couple of days and kept her watered and comfortable. She picked up all of a sudden, a lot more alert, cherpy and flapping about and trying to escape – which is more like the normal behaviour. She was like this all day yesterday and this morning but at lunch time she’s gone back to being very still, unresponsive and heavy breathing.
She’s normally good laying – once a day to every 2 days but she’s not lay since Sunday – starting to think could be egg bound?

I’m fairly new to keeping chickens and this is the first time I’ve had any problems.

Just wondered any others had anything similar anything I can do to help her/ should be doing that I may not be?

Apologies for the long post.

I know this may not help much, I have a hen doing the same thing, minus the heavy breathing. I was a vet tech for 17 years so I looked for all signs of her being ill. I checked to see if egg boulookShe will looked like she is straining. All things looked good. Best sign is she is eating. I know sometimes a crop can feel full and not truly be emptying but your vet would be able to tell. We think our hen wants to lay on some eggs. We collected her eggs. She just stays in be nest box. So some of our others hens laid some eggs. We put them under her. She is sitting on them. My husband said she comes out once a day to eat. I finally saw her come out. She acted fine. I was like you and could pick her up. I hope this helps. I think some hens want to set on eggs.
Welcome to BYC. You can feel inside the vent with a gloved finger 1-2 inches for a stuck egg. When chickens are suffering from a respiratory illness, it can be very common to stop laying for a period of time, especially with infectious bronchitis. MG, coryza, aspergillosis, and ILT are common respiratory diseases also. Here is a link to read about respiratory diseases and symptoms, and another on egg binding:
Thanks for the replies, the vet checked her the other day and there was a egg but said it was normal, that was a few days ago and she hasn't lay it yet. She doesn't look like shes straining though. The only reason i thought that she be having difficulty laying is that she normally very regular.

Her diet is balanced i think, she free ranges in a large area of grass, has fresh water each day and layered pellets, now and then corn and meal worm. Her appetite yesterday and this morning was fine scratching round the grass and eating the pellets.

I think it was just a bit odd that she picked up so much then back to begin very still and sort of heavy breathing again - not as bad.

Great links too - thanks, lots of info there.

I'm keeping an eye on her for a little while and if there is no improvement i think a trip back to the vets may be in order.
Sadly Britta didn't make it.

Turned out that it wasn't respiratory after all. She had a rupture which was stopping her passing the egg, ironically it was sort of keeping the rupture "in place". It also went some way in explaining her up and down behaviour - when she wasn't trying to lay she was back to her sprightly self running and bouncing about the place but would then, presumably when trying to lay, drop her tail and become very still and start heavy breathing. The vets took an x-ray and put her to sleep to see if it could be removed but unfortunately the rupture got significantly worse when the egg was removed and there was no chance of a recovery so they had to put her down.

I must say i'm gutted, a lot more than i expected to be. But i thought i'd share in case anyone else had similar situation.

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