SICK 8 mo Hen-Lethargic-Blue Comb-Plucking Feathers-Crop Issues? HELP!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Trendy Chicks, Oct 27, 2009.

  1. Trendy Chicks

    Trendy Chicks In the Brooder

    Oct 27, 2009
    Hello -

    This is my first time using this forum. I would appreciate any advice. I have kept chickens for a couple of years, but have always been lucky enough to have a pretty healthy flock.

    I have a new red star hen - she is approximately 8 months old, but I have only had her for about 2 weeks. I was away for a couple of days and when I returned I noticed the tips of her comb are blue-ish in color and flopped to the side. She seems lethargic and is keeping herself close to the hen house and at night is staying on the floor or in the nesting boxes away from the other hens. She has been drinking water and eating grass (I haven't seen her eat any grain yet), but she is sloppy when she eats and drinks (dripples the water down her chest and leaves a piece of grass hanging out of her mouth). During the day today she came out in the yard and scratched around a bit, but was very slow and tired looking, and would take breaks (stand on one foot with eyes closed and her neck scrunched down). She also looks like she is not cleaning herself - feathers look messy, etc.

    Any ideas? The weather has gotten a lot colder lately - could she just have a cold? I am worried about the blue comb though. She is new to the flock - could she be depressed? She did come with 2 other hens and they all transitioned in well initially, and the other 2 seem fine.

    Thanks for your thoughts!
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2009

  2. Hollywood Chickens

    Hollywood Chickens Songster

    Mar 12, 2009
    What does her poop look like?
  3. OrpingtonManor

    OrpingtonManor Building the Castle 9 Years

    Nov 15, 2008
    Martinez, CA
    First, what color and consistency are her droppings? If you can post pics, it would be helpful.

    I will try to post links to droppings pics to help you. I'm trying to get ready for work, so if anyone else wants to help this new member and her chicken, PLEASE DO! [​IMG]

    The purple comb tells me that something is stressing her heart. Was it purple when you got her, or did it get this way recently?

    She could be in a molt, hence the messy feathers, but if she is not preening herself, that's not good. Have you picked her up and looked at her? Are many of her feathers new? (Still in the casings?) Have you checked for mites or lice?

    Is she laying? How hard are the egg shells?

    I'll try to check back before I leave for work, but hopefully others will jump in and help.

    [​IMG] to you and your chicken.

    ETA -- chickens don't get colds. Does she have respiratory symptoms?
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2009
  4. lauralou

    lauralou Songster

    Dec 10, 2007
    Central Virginia
    Is there any way that you can pull her out and put her in a separate place, away from all of the others? I have no idea what could be wrong with her (Sorry!), but that's always the first thing that I do when anything seems wrong with any of my birds. I quarantine them until I can figure it out.

  5. OrpingtonManor

    OrpingtonManor Building the Castle 9 Years

    Nov 15, 2008
    Martinez, CA
    Here is the link for the droppings pics (thanks to Sammi! [​IMG] )

    ETA -- Yes, you should always quarantine any new additions to your flock. Two weeks minimum, but 30 days is better. You want to know about anything contagious before you put them in with the others. Too late now, I know, but let's keep our fingers crossed that this isn't contagious at this point. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2009
  6. OrpingtonManor

    OrpingtonManor Building the Castle 9 Years

    Nov 15, 2008
    Martinez, CA
    One last thought before I leave for work...

    If you go back to your first post, and edit it, you can change the title of the thread to be more descriptive. Instead of just saying, Help, I have a sick chicken, you can give specifics, like, 8 mo old pullet lethargic not eating... etc. People will check it much quicker if you do.

    Good luck.
  7. Trendy Chicks

    Trendy Chicks In the Brooder

    Oct 27, 2009
    Thank you everyone for your response! Sorry it has taken me all day to post again. Between my 2 little ones, chickens, work, and husband I am not able to get on the computer as often as I'd like some days!

    Her droppings seem normal - as far as I can tell - thanks for the link. I have only had chickens for about 2 1/2 years so I am still learning a lot about them. She hasn't pooped much today but what she has has been firm and green and white in color.

    No, her comb was not purple/blue when I got her - she seemed healthy and active then. It's only been the last several days that her behavior and appearance has changed.

    I examined her more closely today. I have brought her inside. She seems to have a little more energy today, and her comb is a little less blue. I don't think she is laying now (I think she was previously but she is new to me so I am not positive), she doesn't appear to be molting, but she is not preening herself, I didn't notice any mites or lice (they would be obvious - right?).

    She IS plucking her feathers off of her chest - I am wondering if she has an impacted crop??? I am not entirely sure where the crop is located - i am thinking at the base of her neck and at the top of her breast between her breast bones??? - this area is bare (as if she is trying to get at what is bothering her) - she has a soft lump here that is pinker than everywhere else and is warmer to the touch. She let me rub it today and was completely relaxed and closed her eyes. Do I rub in a circle, up, down? If this is the crop - it doesn't seem to be hard like others have mentioned it would be if impacted. Do you think this is what is bothering her? Interestingly enough, in looking at pictures of chicken anatomy - their heart is right behind the crop - do you think that an enlarged crop could be pushing on her heart and that is why her circulation (blue comb) has been affected? Her breathing does not seem to be affected.

    She was eating grain this morning when I checked on her and brought her in. I have given her 1 liter of warm water with 1 81 mg aspirin dissolved in it and .5 ml of polyvisol. She has drank about 1 to 2 10ths of it. She ate some grape tomatoes and soft bread - I tried the tomatoes because someone suggested that acid could help break up what is caught in the crop??? I tried olive oil on the beak and she reluctantly took a couple of drops, but wasn't that interested. I was waiting on the yogurt/protein because some one suggested that that could make the crop worse if it is impacted (go sour?).

    Further, I have questioned whether it is an impacted crop that is bothering her, because I have hay in my nesting boxes and I am wondering if she's been eating it. She is new to the hen house and perhaps wasn't used to hay in the nesting boxes before - maybe I will change this to wood shavings? I have always raised chicks from 1 day to 1 week old - this is the first time that I have taken in older chickens. I have a space in my coop that I will put younger chicks in (when they are old enough to be outside, but still too small to be with full size hens), and once we put one there who was being pecked so that she'd be able to heal, but it is only separated by wire - so it probably wouldn't work as quarantine - I have her inside for now - she is resting comfortably in a cat crate and doesn't seem to mind the small space for now! [​IMG]

    I wasn't able to figure out how to edit my title - if you can talk me though it that would be great!

    Thanks so much for all of your thoughts and suggestions!!!
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2009

  8. Eggs4Sale

    Eggs4Sale Songster

    Jun 29, 2009
    To edit your title, go back to your first post. Click 'edit'. That will let you change the topic line.

    My hens pull out their chest feathers when they are broody.

    But I also have one that is missing those feathers because her crop is so distended. It is actually pendulous, and since you didn't say that, I'll assume yours isn't having that problem.

    When you say she eats grain, do you mean scratch, corn, or lay crumble? Hens need lay crumble (or pellets, though some don't like them). Grain (scratch and corn) is only for treats. It doesn't contain the proper amount of nutrition.

    Mites will not be easy to see. You need to look after dark (they are not on them during the day). Take a flashlight and look every where, all over, at the base of the feathers, legs, everywhere. Google 'mites' so you know what to look for.

    Mites will make her anemic. She sounds possibly anemic. Perhaps a mite dust bath will help. For good instructions, search for subject 'mites' under author 'threehorses'. She has written much about it on here.

    Check worming, too. If your girl seems too thin, this may be her problem. Check threehorses threads about that, too.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2009
  9. Trendy Chicks

    Trendy Chicks In the Brooder

    Oct 27, 2009
    Thanks for the editing info - I think I posted a better topic line now.

    I am not actually sure what pendulous is - this is the first time I have encountered crop trouble with my hens - can you explain?

    Regarding grain - I mean layer pellets/crumble - they eat egg layer plus, that is higher in omega-3, free range about the yard on most days, and get non-meat kitchen scraps. Occasionally they get cracked corn for treats.

    I will look more into mites and worming - thanks.

  10. dlhunicorn

    dlhunicorn Human Encyclopedia

    Jan 11, 2007
    the blue comb indicates circulatory problems > the cold and temp swings will aggravate this so separate her to an area that is temp stable and warm.
    If you have not wormed your birds now is the time of year it usually needs doing > a broad spectrum wormer like the ivermectin you get from the vet (specify a spot-on application ) or spot-on topical application of ivomec Eprinex is what I advise.

    Make SURE your table scraps do not contain ANY salt.

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