Sick hen? Listless, no appetite, light comb color and slow capillary refill


13 Years
Jul 20, 2008
Hey all,

I suppose this isn't much of an EMERGENCY, but my chicken is unwell and I would be upset if she died. I don't live where my chickens are but my dad has been reporting on her condition and I said I'd try to figure out what's wrong. Here is the situation:

Old English Game Bantam hen, ~6 months old. I bought the chicks from a Tractor Supply Company here in Minnesota right around Easter. Raised on organic chick feed, now on organic layer feed. Supplemented with forage from my backyard (urban) and occasional vegetable scraps. Coop has sand/vegetation on the ground in the run and mixed softwood shavings on the floor of the coop itself. She and her sisters have been laying pretty well up until now. She was just fine last night when he put them to bed but this morning, she was on the floor of their little coop, not up on the roost. She is not coughing or sneezing, her poop seems normal, temperature seems normal, does not appear to have an impacted crop or eggbound, but is listless and weak. Her comb is yellowish pink rather than a healthy red, and the capillary refill is slower than normal.

We gave her some duramycin-water using an eye dropper (allowing her to swallow and not aspirate) but she could not/did not take food and it appeared that the water was just staying in her crop. I'm not sure if this is normal or connected to her illness. She is in our basement cage now, separated from the other birds, with access to food and water.

Thank you for your help, any suggestions for diagnosis or treatment is appreciated!
Thank you for your reply, she died in the night and so there's nothing I can do for her now. I do want to see what it was in case it could affect my other birds!
I would check the others for lice and mites, and some mites only come out of the woodwork at night, so check after dark. Mites could cause anemia and pale comb. Sour crop (when it is full and squishy, but not emptying) can cause them to starve to death. It can be a symptom of other disease in the body, or fungus overgrowth in the digestive system. She may have a heart or other defect that killed her though. Sorry for your loss.
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