Reproductive issue in 'older' hen


9 Years
Jul 20, 2014
This is relative age, because in reality she isn't really that old, but compared to the other chickens we got from the same place she's outlasted many, at 3.5 years. Can't tell if she's laid an egg in awhile. No lights in the coop so they slow down/stop in the winter as it is.

I've been keeping an eye on this hen for some time, because I've seen the slight 'hunch' in her and a penguin-like stance. I tried aspirin therapy to help with any organ-related symptoms and she's been staying in the same general health for quite some time. She had just hatched some eggs and raised her chicks back in August and once she started showing symptoms (to me) she weaned them. No strange poop. She molted successfully last month and her feathers are regrown. She's eating and drinking normally, however...

She was kicked out of the coop tonight after she failed to fly up to the perch by one of the hens who proceeded to chase and attack her. One of the young cockerels (the keeper, I think) stopped the fight and chased off the attacker. I grabbed the hen because she was seemingly shocked and placed her in the hospital coop. I've had various chickens of the same breed (RLR) from the same hatchery, from the same group of hens die from ascites and reproductive disorders. Usually soft, squishy, very heavy bellies. Last year I lost 3 of that batch, one to ascites and 2 to reproductive issues. Her belly is only slightly swollen but feels firm (not soft or squishy) in the area of the swelling. I added some liquid calcium to her water, just in case she is egg bound (although I do doubt it). The coop is dark and very warm.

Tomorrow, if there's time before work (time has been an excessive problem here lately since I'm moving in a few weeks and trying to get ready for my new job), I'll get a better look at her and see if she's improved and decide what to do from there. I may not be able to do anything major until tomorrow afternoon.

Basically just looking for some brainstorming, possibly, and anything else to check for.

I'll keep an eye out for her poop tomorrow since she's alone and it may be easier to see it if it's not being drowned in rain.
Unfortunately if she has any signs of ascites it isn't good. If the rest like her went in the same manner it could be genetic. Another option is your feeding and she's too fat. Have you felt her keel bone. It should be prominent but not sharp. Fat hens will have lots of problems. What do you feed? Sometimes we kill them with kindness.

3.5 years isn't really old, although about half my birds pass by age 6.
The hens are all fed Blue Seal layer feed, with access to calcium. They forage through a lot of the property. As for treats, they don't really get many. Some cracked corn on the coldest days of winter, some pumpkin or squash here or there. Occasionally they get tomatoes, cucumbers, and one of their favorites, green pepper.

Usually they'll get one treat every couple of weeks depending on what we've cooked that week and if there's any vege-leftovers.
Doesn't sound bad. I would probably go back to thinking something they are predisposed to. Maybe someone else has a better thought than me. :hmm
Yeah that's what I worry about.

I had gotten 18 chicks from that feed store that gets their chicks from the same hatchery a few years ago. 12 Rhode Island Reds, 4 EEs, and 2 Buckeyes.

Of that, there are 8 RLRs remaining (including the sick one), 2 EEs and no buckeyes. One of the buckeyes was killed by a skunk so I can't count that one. The 2 EEs both died from laying related issues.

I know when you buy from feed stores and hatcheries you do risk skimping out on good quality, well-bred birds with hardy backgrounds. Unfortunately for these poor birds that may be the case.
Most of mine are from a hatchery. In my experiences breeder birds don't live as long. It could just be that particular hatchery, and their stock, but you should of had a few live longer just because of the odds. So it's strange none have. I'm not familiar with that feed brand. Just trying to find a common denominator, but your feeding sounds okay. You may be low in protein but that shouldn't contribute to reproductive problems.
Just an update. The hen has been living in the extra house for a few days. The others can see her during the day through the screen door. She's been pooping like crazy, eating and drinking, and walking around... no eggs. This morning she was determined to get out so I decided to let her out and see...

Initially no problems, but eventually one of our meanest hens attacked her which encouraged the rest of the flock to go for her. The same cockerel that protected her last time chased them off and stood by her until I picked her up and put her back in the house.

Poor girl. I know it's their natural behavior but I really hate it how they pick on the weak like that.
Just a final update on the poor girl. She has passed away. I felt that she would when I checked on her this morning. She was simply laying down, eyes closed, uninterested in me touching her. She did stretch out in the sunlight, however, and seemed to be relaxed. I came home from work and she was gone.

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom