regurgitating lethargic chicken, has dandruff, not eating


10 Years
Jun 15, 2009
just changed the subject to more accurately reflect what's going on...


I've had my chickens for about a year. When I got them they were just over a year old and laying everyday. I have two white leghorns and one brown chicken whose breed I don't know.

the leghorns still lay everyday but 2 months ago the brown hen just stopped laying. previously to stopping she was laying almost everyday, there was no gradual decrease. other than that she had been appearing totally healthy, eating and drinking, scratching, eating greens, etc.

for the last few weeks I've been noticing she's been looking more and more, well, puffy. it's not quite that her feathers are sticking up, she's just looking larger and fluffier. and tonight I found her outside on the steps to her coop, long after the others had gone inside to sleep (it was full dark). she was just standing there, a little hunched over, eyes open, as puffy as ever. I shined a light on her and she didn't move, so I picked her up and put her in the coop. she felt fine, solid, not hot to the touch or rigid.

as a side note which may be related, I've had problems with rats eating the feed at night, so I've been pulling up the feeder at dusk and dropping it back down in the morning for the last 3 days. she seemed to be facing the area where the rats enter the enclosure. may be coincidence.

please help! thanks.
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To better help you, we need some more information please if you don't mind? At the top of the forums is a post (the second sticky) that gives a list of questions that we need answered so we get The Big Picture and make as few mistakes possible when helping you help your bird.

We want to get it right the first time.

If you would, please? We'll look forward to your reply and do our best.
sorry! I'm usually better at posting on boards, I'm just a little distressed. I'll try to fill in what I missed...

1) What type of bird , age and weight.

I'm not quite sure of the breed, she's about 2 years old, probably weighs around 3 or 4 pounds? A 'normal' standard chicken weight?

3) Is there any bleeding, injury, broken bones or other sign of trauma.

no other sign of trauma or injury. eyes are bright and clear, comb is normal colored and stiff, no mucus, easy breathing.

5) What has the bird been eating and drinking, if at all.

I feed them layer pellets, occasional oyster shell, and lettuce everyday. they have continuous access to water, which I changed this morning.

6) How does the poop look? Normal? Bloody? Runny? etc.

I haven't witnessed her poop firsthand in awhile, but everything on the ground of the enclosure looks pretty standard: firmish, black with white parts.

7) What has been the treatment you have administered so far?

just put her inside the coop.

8 ) What is your intent as far as treatment? For example, do you want to treat completely yourself, or do you need help in stabilizing the bird til you can get to a vet?

I'd like to treat her myself if I can...

9) If you have a picture of the wound or condition, please post it. It may help.

I'll try to get a pic tomorrow

10) Describe the housing/bedding in use

The hens live in a full enclosure of about 10 ft x 10 ft, about 4 ft tall, made of hardware cloth. Ground is dirt. Their coop (2 ft x 2 ft, 3 ft tall) is in the corner, straw and wood shavings on the bottom, straw in the nesting boxes, two roosts above.

Hope this helps. Any other info needed? Thanks so much.
Tomorrow, when you check her out, can you check out a few things for us?

First check her thoroughly for parasites - against the skin, especially around the vent. You'll want to check there anyway to see if there are any signs of gleet (smudging around the vent), or pasty vent or white anywhere on the vent or at the bases of the feathers near the vent. Check her crop -make sure it's empty, open her mouth and smell her for any bad smells of her throat/mouth/crop area.

Particularly feel her weight gently on her keel bone, and also her abdomen. Tell us if she feels too weighty on her abdomen, or too sharp in the keel.

Have you ever wormed them? If so, how often and with what?

If she's laying, she should probably have continuous oyster shell. Being given lettuce, they should have grit. This might be causing some of the issue (the grit) but I'm more concerned about her possibly internallly laying, or having a deficiency.

Now's a good time to give her an all purpose boost in nutrition and hydration. Make sure she can get to food and water at all times and isn't being bullied away from it (especially on the new feeding restraint, which is a great idea). Make her a special mix of some yogurt, a bit of boiled egg yolk (feed the white to the other girls), and her crumbles. If you have applesauce or could get some, that's a great thing to add as the pectin in it helps good bacteria in the gut, the pH helps their gut, and the taste encourages them to eat the yogurt mixture so that they get more good bacteria to help her through the stress as far as her digestion goes. yogurt also has a calcium boost, protein, and vitamin D which helps in calcium absorbtion in case she's having a laying issue.

Let's start there and reevaluate mid-day tomorrow or when you can post again.
You hen is probably broody which means that she wants to sit on eggs to make them hatch. That is why she has stopped laying & is all puffy. To break the broodiness & get her laying again, you can put her in a wire cage with food & water where air can circulate under her. Otherwise, find the place where she sits & put some eggs under her.
so I went out this morning and she was huddled against the door to the enclosure, with her head tucked in. she also has what seems to be white flakes sprinkled over her feathers on her back. I looked at them but couldn't determine what they are. she seems interested in eating lettuce, but not so much the oyster shell, feed or drinking water.

I haven't checked her crop, vent or breath yet. I'll post as soon as I do. at a summary glance the feathers around her vent seem fluffy and normal, but I haven't looked at the skin yet.

Here's a few pictures, the first two of her and the other of her huddled behind her water and one of the leghorns.



ok here's the update:

her vent is totally clean, looks great in fact. her skin also seems parasite free.

her keel feels pretty sharp, and her abdomen doesn't seem like there's any internal egg in there.

I made the yogurt/yolk/applesauce/pellet mixture and she wasn't interested in eating it at all.

I smelled her breath and it seemed to smell like an all-purpose barnyard smell.

I've never felt a chicken's crop before, but here's what I took away from this experience:

when I sat her on my lap, her crop felt a little squishy (what I think was her crop). I dangled her by her legs to check her vent and she started drooling, just a little at first and then more of a yellowish liquid came out of her mouth, along with a few clumps of lettuce. I held her upside-down and massaged her crop for about 5 minutes, during which she kept drooling (or maybe vomiting?), sometimes a few drops, sometimes a steady stream. all told it probably turned out to be about a tablespoon or so, maybe more. during this I felt like her crop was a little more firm, maybe hard? but I'm not sure if that's what it was, or just another part of her body. when the liquid seemed to have stopped, I put her down and she immediately went into her house, I think I traumatized her.

she's definitely sluggish. I'll observe her more when she comes out of the house.

I've never wormed my chickens, or given them any kind of medication - they never seemed to need it before this.

as I said before, she's not interested in eating any kind of food except lettuce.
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Well she has something going on with her crop. I'd curtail the lettuce for now. it could be the primary cause of her problem, or it could be a secondary result of the problem. But it's an issue that needs fixing, so that's at least something we can work on.

On the yogurt - that's the most important part of the mix, so I'd try giving it to her straight. You don't actually "force feed" her, but putting enough in her mouth where she really kinda has to tongue it and pull it back to swallow is how i'd do it. I like putting it in the side of their mouth with a spoon or very slowly with a syringe. I would never do this with water because it'll run straight back. You only want to put enough yogurt in her mouth to where she has to pull it back so she doesn't choke.

The importance of it is the bacteria in it.

Is she eating otherwise?

Also, I would definitely use apple cider vinegar in her water for a week. All the hens can have it. One ounce ACV per gallon of water. Use organic only pls, not because of the philosophy of it, but because it's not chemically made and we need the bacteria in it. The pH will help clean out the gunk in her crop that you can't. The bacteria in it (the "mother" of the vinegar) will help the yogurt to replace her good bacteria. The electrolytes will help in case she's dehydrated, the D will help if it's a laying issue. Vitamin D is required for calcium absorbtion, thus for egg laying, and unfortunately easily degrades from feeds because they're not oil based and are dry. So both the fortification in the yogurt as well as the ingredients in the ACV will help in case this is her issue.

I'd wait on the worming until you can figure out exactly what her droppings are like; this will be important.

In the mean time, maybe she'd eat the egg without the other stuff? Boiled egg yolk? I'd also hold off on grains - pretty much make sure she eats pellets because they dissolve easy and can pass any blockage or slowness in her digestive tract.

If her droppings turn out to be green and frothy, I'd suspect worms primarily with a secondary bacterial imbalance causing her to be unthrifty with a slow crop. (Crop stasis). Were I you, I'd worm with Wazine 17 (which is piperazine 17%) in their water. Then in 2 weeks I'd worm with ivermectin drop on between their shoulder blades. Then every six months I'd hit them with the ivermectin.

This will not effect eggs, is broad spectrum ,and will also kill blood-taking mites and parasites in case there were some you didn't spot. But you don't want to start with it *because* it's so strong. Use the wazine because it only kills roundworms and not totally - it'll knock back a heavy population that you might not realize you have without killing the bird from shock in the process. That way you make a dent, and when you go back with the heavy-hitting (but very safe for birds) wormer, it gets everything and the worms aren't stealing food from her.

That's my thought on it until some other symptoms appears, or until we get a reading on her droppings.

I'd also consider doing a gentle crop flush - quite like what you did. If you need instructions on that, PM me or Glenda Heywood.
my americana stopped laying eggs and eating. she just recently started laying eggs. she laid 2 small egg than an extra large egg. she's drinking lots of water and panting. i've read that she maybe egg bound so i gave her a warm bath for approx. 10 min and felt for any eggs by inserting my index finger in her vent and felt no egg. she's alert but getting weaker by the day. not sure what else to do. perhaps she ate a plant that did not agree with her but she has been in foraging in the yard for several months now. i did lose two other chickens a few months back that had similar symptoms but both were not old enough laying. maybe i have a plant that is poison to the chickens or a neighbor spraying pesticides that may have effected the chickens?

i placed the sick chicken in a crate with water and food and have the brooder light on. i've been hand feeding her by pulling her lower beak slightly and placing feed in her mouth but it is not much.

any suggestions? she's the sweetest of the flock.

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