RIR hen is thin, lethargic, poor appetite, hasn't laid in months and feathers turning white??

EggDropSoup

Chirping
7 Years
Sep 12, 2012
108
8
81
Hi all--

I'm baffled as to what could be going on with one of my girls.

She is a RIR, around two years old. Shortly before the onset of winter this past year, I noticed that she had stopped laying. Shortly thereafter, she molted--right as it was getting very, very cold. She lost almost all of her feathers, and I was concerned enough to start putting her inside on the mud porch at night when it got very cold. It was at this time, I noticed that she had gotten very thin, to the point that her breastbone was jutting out prominently. She's a very skittish hen, so I had rarely handled her up until that point. It felt as though she weighed nothing. She was always shivering.

I was surprised she made it through the winter, honestly. Despite the fact that I kept her in her own crate on the mud porch and tried to feed her as many high-fat, energy-dense foods as I could, she still just picked at the food, and never really seemed to have much of an appetite.

The oddest thing is that her feathers starting growing back in WHITE. She is now a mostly-white RIR with a few red feathers, and some odd black feathers.

She made it through the winter, and I thought that once there was lots of bugs and weeds to eat, her health might improve. It really hasn't. She seems less miserable, but she is an outcast from the flock, sleeps in a nest box instead of on the roost, and is still very thin. Her appetite is still poor.

I have 8 hens, and she is the only one doing badly. Everyone else is a picture of health--fat, shiny, laying huge, beautiful eggs, and generally just being chickens.

I'm wondering if maybe I need to worm her. I have had chickens for 4 years and have never felt compelled to worm, but I'm wondering if that could be the problem. I got a tube of Safeguard from Tractor Supply.

She doesn't have runny poop or anything like that. She just looks rough--especially for a hen who should be in the prime of her life.

Does this sound like a parasite issue, or something else?? What would cause her feathers to have come back in white?? All of my hens eat a quality layer feed supplemented with things like oatmeal, sunflower seeds, and fruit or veggie scraps. They free range on grass all day, every day.

She hasn't really gotten worse, but she's not getting better, either. I'm at a loss.

Thanks for any advice!!
 

Mtn Laurel

Songster
8 Years
May 18, 2012
1,534
201
216
Northern Virginia
My Coop
My Coop
I would definitely worm her. Given how long she's been under the weather and her lack of improvement, It doesn't look like you have anything to lose even if worming isn't the answer.

This could also be a mite and/or lice issue. They can impact the feathers, especially depluming mites, but depluming mites usually exhibit as a feather loss. I've not heard of feathers coming in a different color and don't know what could have caused that other than her general deterioration and overall poor condition.

I hope she improves. Good luck!
 

EggDropSoup

Chirping
7 Years
Sep 12, 2012
108
8
81
So I wormed her today with the recommended pea-sized amount of Safeguard.

Should I worm her every day for a few days, repeat it again in a week, or....? I'm not sure she actually has worms, but like you guys said, it won't hurt her to try. Since I don't know what worms she might have, I'm going to assume she has all of them. I guess I'd want to follow the most rigorous treatment protocol, then, but I'm not sure what it is. If anyone could shed some light on how often I SHOULD worm her with the Safeguard, that'd be great.

I also dosed her with Nutri Drench and gave her a liquid B-Complex supplement. I have decided to give her the Nutri Drench and B-Complex every day, to see if it helps her get some traction.

I've never seen an animal be so poorly without any obvious signs of illness going on. It's very strange.
 

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