seingly healthy hen crashed suddenly, why???


In the Brooder
9 Years
Aug 6, 2010
Madison, Florida
My 9 month old bantam hen crashed yesterday, but why? At 2:00 she was her usual feisty self. When I went out to fill feeders at 5:00 I found her limp and unresponsive in the nest box, eyes closed. She had a problem in the past laying soft shelled eggs, which has been under control with a twice weekly snack of Tums and canned salmon. Her eggs have had very good shells until yesterday, when I found one of her eggs without any shell at all. Her eggs are a distinctive size, there was no question it was hers. She seemed fine at that time, though, so I just gave her more Tums and a bit of salmon.

After finding her apparently near death, all I could think was that maybe the shell to her egg was still inside. I put her in a warm Epsom salt soak while my husband got supplies. An internal exam found nothing. After a while she opened her eyes a bit and was awake enough to swallow some crushed Tums. My husband noticed that her crop was stuffed full and hard. I massaged it until the contents loosened up, and after wondering whether or not I had smelled a sour crop, I fed her some Monistat cream and put some in her vent just to be sure.

We dried her with the blow drier and put her in a pet carrier, still very limp. We did not expect her to live. She was just strong enough to pull herself around with her wings so she could see out the door, then she went to sleep. By 8:00 she was sorting pine shavings! This morning she's acting fine. Her poop looks perfect. I haven't offered her food yet, but she drank deeply when given fresh water. The only thing I notice is that her crop is not completely empty, there is still a small amount in there. I massaged it and fed her more Monistat. She was raising such a ruckus that I put her in the pen with her flock and will watch her carefully.

Any ideas what could have caused this hen to crash so suddenly? Was it and egg issue, a crop issue, salt from the salmon (I only give her a tiny amount for that reason)... And why the sudden relapse to laying an egg without a shell? Can parasites play any part in that? (She was wormed with Safeguard the first week of February, but we're in north Florida and it's been warm and wet. She is one of a small flock of bantams that was an impulse buy from the feed store last summer, and I nursed them all through a very bad bout of coccidia.) Which, if any, of our treatments helped bring her back? I don't know if there is anything more to do for her today, and appreciate any suggestions.
Sorry you're not getting replies, though I see some 15 people have read your post. I suspect no one really has anything useful to offer. They often surprise us with illness because they are so good at hiding being ill from the flock.

Maybe it was the egg problem, and she will straighten out with the additional calcium, and may be another soak or two. I'd check her crop first thing in the morning to see if it's gone down overnight, and maybe try treating it as sour crop if not.

Trouble is, it could be something really serious that is underlying, such as cancer or internal laying.

And maybe someone will still come along who has more to offer than I have. I wish you good luck!
Thank you! My husband wonders if she had gone down from natural causes, and the adrenaline boost that came from the shock being handled snapped her out of it. He may very well be right, as she seems completely normal today. I'll continue to keep a close eye on her.
Wish I had anything useful to add! You might want to nix the canned salmon if it has a high sodium content. There's just a lot of potential things this could be. I would be suspicious of the egg laying issues she has, maybe a bit of retained shell caused some infection? I don't know. Underlying illness can cause the crop to be slow or that could be a problem all by itself.

Not much you can do without knowing what exactly is going on other then keep an eye on her and treat her symptomatically. Good luck. They can be so darn hard to figure out sometimes!

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