RIR-Columbian Cross is Weak -- No Appetite


6 Years
Sep 20, 2013
For about a week one of our hens has grown steadily weaker. She's a 2-1/2 year old RIR-Columbian cross. Here's a list of symptoms:

- weak. won't walk. just sits.
- lack of appetite, thirst. We're getting her water with a dropper, and (gently) forcing pellets.
- comb getting darker
- labored breathing (I think)
- poop appears to be undigested pellets -- like you'd soaked laying pellets in water
- smells terrible

No mucous or goo around beak/eyes.

Any ideas?

It sounds like she may be reaching the end of her life. 2 1/2 years isn't all that old, but older chickens are much more susceptible to problems than younger ones. I'd suspect some digestive problems, but other problems could be related to egg laying.

Check her abdomen. Is it squishy or hard? Squishyness might indicate Ascites, or Egg Yolk Peronitis. This can afflict older birds especially. A hard abdomen could mean internal laying, another common problem in older chickens.

Check her over for mites and lice as well. These parasites can weaken a bird. Check around the vent, under the wings, and beneath the hackle and tail feathers. Does she feel thin? Thinness or a prominent breastbone could indicate worms, as could lethargy.

Try to get her to eat more. Give her some raw egg yolk (this is fine to give chickens), or some scrambled egg. Moistened chicken feed would be a good idea as well. Give some plain yogurt to help her digestive system, and see if you can get some chicken electrolytes or some vitamins.

Had she been laying up to the time she started getting sick? Are any of her droppings greenish? A disease called Lymphoid Leukosis can affect older birds, especially layers. It causes green diarhea, lack of appetite, sometimes a slightly enlarged abdomen, and death.

Sorry I couldn't be more helpful!
Probably acities
Check to see if her rear area is swollen and bloated.
If you don't know, just feel another healthy hen and compare.
If she is big in the rear, find a large gage syringe needle and poke it about 4" below her vent leave it in for min or so. Most likely fluids will come out. Do this at evening when she has roosted for ease of handling her and watching if fluids come out. Have a flash light.

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