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Sick hen--please help!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by chickenladyk, Feb 21, 2009.

  1. chickenladyk

    chickenladyk In the Brooder

    Mar 11, 2007
    We have a nearly two-year-old Blue-Laced Red Wyandotte hen who has been very lethargic for several days now. She is not interested in eating, and she drinks very little. Aside from the lethargy and lack of interest in food and water, she appears healthy and sound. I did check her vent and it seems dryer than usual. She is pooping, but small poops (probably from lack of food and water). The poops look normal, containing both urates and feces.

    I tried feeling her abdomen to see if I could "feel" an egg or other mass, and then I felt the abdomens of two other hens for comparison. I think I felt more "mass" in this girl's tummy, but it could very well be my imagination. I was looking for signs of being egg bound.

    We removed her from the rest of the flock two days ago and put her in our "hospital", which is a large cage inside in a warm, very dark bedroom. We have found in the past that full-time rest (in the dark), along with warmth, seems to have a very positive affect on chickens who seem ill or are healing from an injury. We do bring her out every four hours or so into a bright room to offer food and water and to observe her behavior. (We do have food and water in the cage, too, but as you probably know, chickens rarely eat or drink in the dark.) Usually, we seen improvement fairly rapidly. However, there has been no significant change in two days.

    Do any of you have ideas of what may be wrong and suggestions for what to do? If she is egg bound, I have heard that putting the hen in a sink of warm water (for I can't remember how long) can sometimes relax them enough that they will release the bound egg.

    Two more notes that may or may not be clues: (1) A few days ago, someone laid a huge egg--104 grams--with a double yolk. We don't know if it was this girl or not. (2) This girl prolapsed a year or so ago but healed completely and has had no problems since.

  2. ChickenWisperer

    ChickenWisperer Songster

    Jun 30, 2008
    I have no clue what is wrong - but it seems to me, that this may be a bound egg? Are there any other symptoms? Runny nose, sneezing, panting, cant walk, funny poo (smells weird/bad, strange color?) Has anyone attacked her lately?
  3. chickenladyk

    chickenladyk In the Brooder

    Mar 11, 2007
    Thanks for your response, ChickenWhisperer. No, there are no other symptoms. I was thinking it might be a bound egg, too. What would the symptoms be? If it is, what would you recommend?
  4. Renee

    Renee Songster

    May 7, 2008
    This is a real mystery. I wish I had something to tell you. Good luck.
  5. sammi

    sammi Songster

    Dec 21, 2007
    Southeast USA
    some symptoms of eggbound hen:

    The bird seems very restless
    She will drink little and eat little
    She will tend to stand all hunched up
    She visits the nest regularly in an attempt to lay her egg
    she may just sit hunched up with feathers fluffed
    She may smell badly
    Her vent will look quite red and protrude
    She may have fecal matter that has built up behind the egg, if you see white liquid that will be her urates trying to pass.

    you can warm a towel in microwave (not too hot) and set her on it in a dim quiet place undisturbed.
    or..set her in a sink of warm water..
    either of these can help relax the muscles to expel egg.
    it's possible it's a soft shelled egg..and hard to pass.
    some say by giving a crushed Tums in food, or liquid calcium..can help muscles expel the egg.
    applying KY jelly to the vent area might help also.

    could be something else..check the crop very well..
    best to check in the morning before she eats..it should feel empty or flat..feel for any lumps or grainy feeling..or any odor..

    others might have suggestions.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2009
  6. chickenladyk

    chickenladyk In the Brooder

    Mar 11, 2007
    Thank you all for your responses. We are still struggling with this mystery.

    This is now day four since we've had her inside in our "hospital" cage. She remains alert but relatively inactive. Her poops are small but normal. Her comb is in good color. She grooms, even tried to take a dust bath on our carpet! (Is our carpet really that dusty?!?)

    Yesterday we gave her a warm bath for 30 minutes, in case she was egg bound. She did not lay an egg afterward. She hasn't laid an egg for at least four days now. Her abdomen does not seem distended, nor does there seem to be any mass when compared to our other hens.

    Now we are wondering if she may be starting to go broody, just in an atypical way. But when she was still out with the rest of the flock, she did not hang out in the nest box, as our girls usually do when they go broody. Instead, she stayed on the roost or just hung out in a corner somewhere.

    She has not pulled out any breast feathers.

    She still is not eating or drinking much at all. This is our most worrisome symptom. We have not seen her take a single drink of water for several days. (There is water in her hospital cage, but it's dark in there, which usually discourages eating and drinking.) She doesn't appear dehydrated. We have done the "pinch test" on her skin, with negative results.

    Her abdomen is not swollen, nor is it hot. She does not seem hot, either.

    Vent looks normal, though a little on the dry side. It is not red or swollen. We see no signs of parasites.

    When out of the "hospital" cage here in our home, she shows some exploratory curiosity this new environment. Soon, however, she seeks out a private or dark corner and sits down. Feathers are fluffed and her rear end "pulses" with her breathing. However, she shows no sign of being in distress or in pain. Rather, she just seems to relax there.

    She does not seek to go back into the "hospital" cage to lay an egg, as our other girls have when they've been in hospital. (We do have several fake eggs in the back corner of the "hospital" cage.)

    We're worried about putting this hen back with the flock until we know what is going on with her.We live in the northern mountains of Washington State. It is still winter here, and quite cold. It won't feel like spring for awhile yet. We still have snow on the ground. We may get up to 37 F (3 C) during the day, but we're down around 19 F (-7C) during the night. I wouldn't have expected her to go broody this early in the year.

    Do any of you have any ideas? We would very much appreciate any insights or advice you can offer. Thank you so very much!!!
  7. maymiegirl

    maymiegirl Songster

    Jul 27, 2008
    Could she have gotten damp feed? Check her crop to see if it is mushy.

  8. chickenbike

    chickenbike Songster

    chickenladyk: I too, have a hen who is exhibiting very similar symptoms to what you describe. I am hoping she is just going broody, but she hasn't laid an egg in 10 days or so, so no eggs to sit on. I am puzzled by all this and other than doing the "hospital" treatment, similar to yourself, I'm not sure what else to do. I'm hoping some of the wisened chicken members may have some advice?

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