Sick hen, ruffled feathers, acting strange


9 Years
Jun 13, 2010
I'm quite a novice at BYC, though I grew up with barn chickens years ago. I have four Buff Orp hens, less than 1 yr old, pets of my four kids. They live free range in our one acre fenced in back yard. All four lay well. One just recently began spending more time in the nest box. Now she is eating poorly, ruffling her feathers up a lot, wanting to stay in the nest box most of day, and has diarrhea. In fact, I cut some of it off the ends of feathers tonight just to view her noticeable injuries or skin infections. Her comb appears fine, eyes clear, no discharge, though she does seem to be "panting" more than the other hens. No wheezing. She has started clucking more, squawking mildly occasionally, like she is in some discomfort, but I cannot ascertain where she is hurting or even if she is for sure. We feed the hens a mix of organic feed and Dumar layer pellets from TSC.

I am fairly certain she is still laying normally, though I"ve had to depend on my kids for this information as I've worked long hours lately.

Three questions:
1. Is this a good time to take her to a vet or should I watch her a couple more days?
2. How important is quarantining at this point? She's been around other hens for two days since she began acting a bit strange.... the first two days, though, she merely spent more time than usual in the nest box.
3. Do these signs point me in any specific direction regarding what might be going on with her?

Thank you for any advice you can give.


10 Years
Sep 4, 2009
Other than the diarrhea, sounds like she's broody. Is there a bare spot on her chest/belly area? Does she feel "warmer" than the others, especially on her "underside"? Is she becoming a little more aggressive towards the other hens?

If those answers are "yes", she's probably broody.

Otherwise, something could be wrong medically.


Flock Mistress
Premium Feather Member
15 Years
Sep 6, 2007
Corydon, Indiana
I'm thinking broody, and possibly drinking alot of water because of the heat, and less food because she's broody. If she ruffles and squaks at you when you come near, she's most likely broody. 2 of mine are right now, and also a silkie-who is always broody!

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