Sick Chicken or Old Chicken?

BecKub

Songster
May 11, 2015
72
89
131
Pennsylvania, USA
So I have a Rhode island red hen that is 4 years old this year. She's from our original flock and she's 1 of 3 we have left from that first year. She started looking a little rough on Mother's Day, just laying in the run next to the food bowls. She didn't seem to walk much. I went to work the night shift and when I came back (11pm) she was nested in the corner of our fence line. I picked her up and put her in the corner of the coop, not expecting her to live until the morning. Well, here we are on Thursday and she's still with us. She still doesn't really walk and lays down most of the time. I have her in a large dog crate in the yard because she was getting picked on. She tries to run away but she can't stand up all the way. She only half stands up and uses her wings as balance. Her legs check out fine, there's no external damage on her anywhere. Besides being muddy and gritty from laying down for several days, she seems fine. Nothing oozing from her eyes or ears and she's alert. I put apple cider vinegar in here water and she's still eating and drinking ok.

Are we thinking she's just old or do we think she's sick? Thoughts? I can try and get a video of her "walking" tomorrow if that would help. The rest of our flock is perfectly fine. We just recently got 4 new red crosses.
 

sunflour

Flock Master
8 Years
Jan 10, 2013
14,974
7,757
772
Macon,GA
I think she's very ill. Many folks report a longer expected normal life expectancy.

For me - I lost 4 of my original 6 - and the remaining 2 over 4 years old are healthy.

Chickens can get almost all the same diseases as humans in addition to those unique to birds.

Keep her in the dog crate and in a safe, warm place. If there's nothing obvious on an exam and observations to help decide what is wrong, then TLC IMO is all you can offer to her at this time.
 

smudge

Songster
7 Years
Mar 20, 2013
419
174
207
Long Island, NY
Half of my original 6 made it to 4 years old. One of those died sometime during the might a week after turning 4. I was mildly concerned about the appearance of her legs on her last day. I would be utterly freaked out if she had acted like yours.

Yours is definitely sick.
 

chicknmania

Free Ranging
14 Years
Jan 26, 2007
5,861
1,225
522
central Ohio
Have you ever dewormed her? Worms can make her very sick and that's where I would start. Most vets will do a fecal float for you for a small charge. If that is not an option, I would deworm her anyway, before she gets any weaker. Put her in a cage or pen where she can still see and hear her friends but won't be picked on, because she needs some privacy. If you can get to a vet, ask for some Safeguard suspension, that is a very safe and effective dewormer. Safeguard goat dewormer paste also works. Make sure that whatever dewormer you use if broad spectrum, not just for roundworms. This is an urgent thing, don't delay, or you could lose her. Worms can kill, even after you 've started deworming.

She's not old. Average life span of ours is around seven years, but we've had some live to be eight, nine or ten, and they often can live even longer.
 

Wyorp Rock

🐓 ❤ 🐛
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Sep 20, 2015
37,374
52,786
1,332
Southern N.C. Mountains
Sorry to hear she is not doing well. I agree with the others, she is very ill. It could be a number of things. Since you mention that she is having difficulty walking only stands up halfway, she may have some type of reproductive disorder. Supportive care is usually all you can do, unless you can take her to the vet.

Having a fecal float performed on a fresh poop sample would be a good idea to rule out worms or cocci overload as well.

http://scoopfromthecoop.nutrenaworld.com/tag/laying-issues/
 

BecKub

Songster
May 11, 2015
72
89
131
Pennsylvania, USA
Have you ever dewormed her? Worms can make her very sick and that's where I would start. Most vets will do a fecal float for you for a small charge. If that is not an option, I would deworm her anyway, before she gets any weaker. Put her in a cage or pen where she can still see and hear her friends but won't be picked on, because she needs some privacy. If you can get to a vet, ask for some Safeguard suspension, that is a very safe and effective dewormer. Safeguard goat dewormer paste also works. Make sure that whatever dewormer you use if broad spectrum, not just for roundworms. This is an urgent thing, don't delay, or you could lose her. Worms can kill, even after you 've started deworming.

She's not old. Average life span of ours is around seven years, but we've had some live to be eight, nine or ten, and they often can live even longer.

Wow, seven! Did they stop laying at a certain time? I'm fairly certain my older ones stopped laying.

I will check out a dewormer tomorrow. I can probably get some at tractor supply. Would it be specific to chickens? If not, how would I know the dose? Thank you!
 

BecKub

Songster
May 11, 2015
72
89
131
Pennsylvania, USA
Sorry to hear she is not doing well. I agree with the others, she is very ill. It could be a number of things. Since you mention that she is having difficulty walking only stands up halfway, she may have some type of reproductive disorder. Supportive care is usually all you can do, unless you can take her to the vet.

Having a fecal float performed on a fresh poop sample would be a good idea to rule out worms or cocci overload as well.

http://scoopfromthecoop.nutrenaworld.com/tag/laying-issues/

Very good article. Thank you!
 

Lady of McCamley

Free Ranging
10 Years
Mar 19, 2011
7,491
5,538
502
NW Oregon
Wow, seven! Did they stop laying at a certain time? I'm fairly certain my older ones stopped laying.

I will check out a dewormer tomorrow. I can probably get some at tractor supply. Would it be specific to chickens? If not, how would I know the dose? Thank you!

There are no FDA approved chicken wormers left on the market, so no farm stores are carrying them any more for chickens.

You'll have to go to the goat or horse or cattle aisle.

Many use Safeguard goat wormer, although it is hard to dispense in the water as it doesn't mix well. Some use the horse paste, a small pea size.

She could also have a heavy load of mites which can make her weak. Have you checked her for external parasites? (Look at night to see if she is crawling with bugs, usually at the vent).

When I have a "Hail Mary" pass with a very sick bird, I often apply Ivermectin cattle pour on. While not a perfect wormer, if your flock hasn't been exposed to Ivermectin (and thus the worms desensitized) it will rid internal worms and external parasites. It also works pretty quickly. I use the pour on in a syringe and give about 5 to 6 drops at the base of the vent being sure to not get it in the vent. You can also give it at the base of the neck between the wings.

However, at 4 years of age, especially the commercial production birds like your RIR if hatchery, they succumb to liver disease, ovarian cancer, among other things for which there is nothing you can do.

Good luck with her.
LofMc
 

chicknmania

Free Ranging
14 Years
Jan 26, 2007
5,861
1,225
522
central Ohio
You can get dewormers on line that are suitable for poulltry. As I said, you can get Safeguard suspension from your vet. I'm not sure what the dosage is for goat dewormers, but Safeguard goat dewormer is still available at TSC and lots of people on here use it. We use Levamisole (Levasol) this is still available without a prescription as far as I know. Look on line. It is a safe broad spectrum dewormer that has been around for a long time. Try www.firststatevetsupply.com. I am pretty sure you don't need a prescription for Levamisole, but if you do, First State will let you know, and also give you directions on how to use it for poultry. You should be able to get a scrip for dewormer if you need one, but you would probably have to have a vet do a fecal float first.
 

chicknmania

Free Ranging
14 Years
Jan 26, 2007
5,861
1,225
522
central Ohio
Oh, also, I think it's more the individual bird than the age, that determines how long they lay. We had an old hen who was nine years old and she still laid an egg once in a while. Breed and genetics figure in there somewhere.
 

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