Post-coccidiosis pullet very slow in gaining weight

Jadore Poules

9 Years
Dec 22, 2011
Northern Virginia
This is my first post. Ever. On any website. So I'm a little shy about it but willing to give it a go. Because I've got an unknown about which I cannot find a satisfying answer.

It's about my barred rock pullet, Little Jane. She is just about a year. She has not yet laid an egg. About 3 months ago I noticed she was lethargic in movement, dozy, and not peckish. I wormed her and the flock (4 total) with Wazine, and dusted them for mites and lice (I saw the lice, eww, in spite of cleaning their coop and run every day--yes, this is my first time with chickens...).

No change in Little Jane, and she was eating even less. The other birds began picking on her. I tried bread, yogurt, hard boiled egg mashed, BOSS, but she wouldn't eat. The vet tested for coccidiosis. Inconclusive. She seemed a bit raspy, so he administered Baytril and, over the next two weeks, did two wormings. He also directed I tube feed her, which I did for about four weeks, but she still did not seem to want to eat. All during this time Little Jane was isolated in an extra-large dog crate in a heated shed. I sang to her, petted her, took her out for walks to see the other girls. Although she liked the green stuff I gave her, she seemed to eat so little carbs.

At about the sixth week Little Jane had very little meat on her. She was now eating, but scant little. Amazingly, her comb and wattles were full, red, and growing. But she was so tiny now that I couldn't put her out with the others. I called to vet again to see how I might put her down as it didn't seem right to keep her cooped up alone and she not putting on any weight. He wanted to try one more thing, so we took another fecal -- and found coccidiosis. So it was five days of the medication Coci (?) by mouth, tube feeding, and steroids to give her an appetite.

Short story long, three weeks have gone by since that last vet visit and Little Jane is beginning to eat again, with a purpose. I still tube feed her once a day. She consumes half a heel of bread everyday, likes her BOSS and white millet to some degree, and -- when I put her outside in a pen -- scratches and digs for bugs, plucks clover and grass, and even dust bathes.

BUT, she is still so skinny! And although very feisty, squawky, and curious, she cannot even flap up to my lap for a sit (probably no wonder, being inactive so long--).

Question is, when can I expect her to start plumping up? Her keel is so pronounced one could slice bread with it.

I know this probably sounds ridiculous to have spent all this time and energy (and, let's face it, money) on a chicken, but she is precious to me. Especially when, sitting on my lap preening herself, she stops to preen my hair bangs in-between oiling her own feathers.

Has anyone every had experience bringing chickens back from emaciated conditions? I would sure appreciate any information or advice.
Stop the yogurt, BOSS, bread and green stuff. Give her layer feed mixed with scrambled egg and buttermilk to make mash for her to eat. Tube feed it if you have to. Scrambled egg to build her strength up and buttermilk to coat her digestive tract and since it's a probiotic, it will bolster her immune system better that yogurt. Yogurt tends to pass through birds, buttermilk is also easier to absorb.
Agree with everything but the feed choice. Since she is not laying I would go for a grower formula rather than a layer pellet. (You can always offer oyster shell should she miraculously start laying.) It has more protein in it and may help her bulk up quicker. All the treats need to be cut out of her diet. They offer an unbalanced diet that may fill her up, but offer not as many nutrients as she needs.

Sounds like you have been taking really good care of this bird. She's lucky to have you. I hope she starts to put some weight on and recovers from this whole ordeal soon.

Good luck.
I agree with the above posts, she needs a balanced diet with a little added fat to help her gain weight and condition.

And welcome to BYC!
Last edited:
dawg53, CMV, & 1muttsfan,

Many thanks to all of you for the (very consistent!) advice. I will get her mash, eggs, and buttermilk on her plate today and tube feed her the lot if I have to. I have some medicated chick feed the vet said to try (she wouldn't even peck it): do you think I could use that as the mash? I also have some capsule pro-biotic - do you recommend that as well as the buttermilk?

I hadn't realized I've been feeding bon bons (treat food) to the gal. Thanks for opening my eyes.
Yes to both questions. The starter should work in the mash and some extra probiotics wouldn't hurt on top of the buttermilk.

I hope this gets her fixed up.
I agree with the above and u can sneak some oil in with chick feed wet mash.

My roo had cocci real bad, laying on his side, spewing blood. He recovered, but it took him five months to catch up to the size he should be. He ate well.

Thanks for the advice! I'm willing to take as long as you did in bringing back your roo (great success story) - my Little Jane is totally worth it. Would olive oil do the trick?

BTW, checked out your BYC page - really enjoyed it! Beautiful flock you've got there! And the mule was adorable!
Why would you want to give her olive oil, or any other type of oil? It'll pass right through her, causing diarrhea... flushing out nutrients etc...just the opposite for her to gain weight. Ever get dosed with castor oil or castoria as a kid? If so, you know what happens.
dawg53, good point. But I've also heard contributors on this site talk about drizzling a bit of garlic olive oil over their chicken feed to fortify chickens, especially during cold weather. Is oil added to chickens' feed a big no-no overall, or just when trying to pack as many nutrients into a sick bird as possible without wasting a single calorie? I'd appreciate your advice.

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