Sick or Just Old?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Bea Love, May 27, 2008.

  1. Bea Love

    Bea Love In the Brooder

    Apr 2, 2008
    This is a call for help from all of the vetran chicken owners out there...
    I recently bought a home that came with a flock of 10, 5-8 year old hens. Out of the 10 only 6 lay...and occasionaly at that.
    Approx. 2 weeks ago one of the hens began to act very different. Standing totally alone in the free range area, with eyes closed. She would not interact with the others at all. Her posture was "hunched" down, wings dropped, and lots of manure in her backside feathers.
    Last week she became totally weak unable to stand, or fend for herself. I seperated her, and provided water and some crkd. corn. She died Wed. of last week.
    I thought she was just old untill 2 days ago I have notoced the exact behavior in another hen...Hunched over, not eating or interacting with the other birds.
    Is my flock just checking out? Or do I administer the antibiotics?
    Please help, I do not want to contaminate the whole
    flock...if it can be helped.
  2. msrma7670

    msrma7670 Songster

    First start with the simple answers. Look at the feed and the water are they both good and safe? Have they been playing in something they shouldn't be. Just one i would say old age a few then something is a miss. look in the pen and around the yard for clues kinda like nancy drew. Do they have parasites on them? or in them check the poop? Watch what they are all doing and going carefully. You may even consider opening up the next one and take a look inside. Think of it like CSI CHICKEN. Sorry I could not help ya more. If they are that old they are bound to have somthing wrong.
  3. s6bee

    s6bee Songster

    Jul 1, 2007
    Western, NY
    I'm not sure but the advice given sounds good. They are older hens and you'll be lucky to get much out of them. However happy hens will lay for you occasionally. What breeds are they?

    Make sure they are not just on cracked corn. They need layer crumble. That gives them the nutrients they need. Corn gives them very little and should be used as a treat than as a staple. I would check for worms. Put a little apple cider vinegar in the water to help with that for a couple days. Make sure they have grit, layer crumble, and some veggies from time to time. See how they do then. Again, they are older and may not give you many eggs.

    Good luck.
  4. bigzio

    bigzio Crowing

    Jan 20, 2007
    Yep, I would first make sure that the hens are getting layer feed for most of the diet. Corn is only a treat and not something that is good for a healthy diet.

    I would go to the near farm store for some layer feed to keep the flock on a healthy diet. Good Luck!

  5. jjthink

    jjthink Crowing

    Jan 17, 2007
    New Jersey
    There's definitely something wrong with them. Chickens can live till quite a bit older in perfect health.

    There is so much to investigate here.
    What is their diet? It should be layer food with appropriate supplements like fresh fruit/veggies, sunflower seeds. Corn/scratch is for treats only and only in cool or cold weather. Corn is like a Charms lollypop for us - okay in small quantities but won;t keep us alive.
    Is water changed at least daily and scrubbed clean so no bacteria grows?
    What are their living conditions?
    Should start fresh with totally clean bedding - fresh pine shavings. Cleanliness like crazy.
    Get Avia Charge 2000 supplement for their water. Can order on line.
    Apple Cider Vinegar (with the mother - check health food store) for 2 days in their water (tablespoon per gallon or whatever dose you find elsewhere here on BYC) - I do not put Avia Charge in their water when I put ACV in their water.
    Offer fresh plain yogurt so they can get some probiotics.
    Did the prior owner worm them and if so, when? If not, get Ivomec Eprinex pour on (on line or at a Tractor Supply or some similarly outfitted store). Dose depends on size of bird, but it's a very small amount placed on skin on back of neck.

    You have an urgent situation with the hen acting like the one who just died. Much more than above may be required, depending upon what's wrong with her.

    Answering the above questions will help us help you. If the diet has been corn, it would explain a lot.

  6. SpottedCrow

    SpottedCrow Flock Goddess

    Obelisk just turned 5 yesterday and she still lays most every day from March til July.
    I would see if the "sick" ones could be eggbound or trying to lay soft eggs...That could stress them enough to push them over the edge...
    I wouldn't start antibiotics quite yet.
  7. Bea Love

    Bea Love In the Brooder

    Apr 2, 2008
    Varied food--check.
    Layer crumble, flax meal, greens and all the bugs they can catch. And yes, some crkd corn.

    Clean water--check.
    Changed daily and scrubbed containers.

    Clean coop--check.
    Lots of fresh pine shavings. Little accumulated manure.

    I will try the apple cider in the water, and perhaps some palpatations to see about the egg situation.

    My main concern is the frantic feeling that comes with Avion dieases. I have 12, 1 week old chicks up at the house (far from the coop/orchard) and I do not want them to become ill when it is time for integration.

    I bought Terra Vet Oxytetraycline HCL, but it says not to use on chickens producing eggs for human consumption. Hmmm?
    Still going to wait on using it. ANyone have an antibiotic reccomendation if it comes to that?
  8. jjthink

    jjthink Crowing

    Jan 17, 2007
    New Jersey
    Sounds like you are doing many good things.

    Not sure on the antibiotic cuz not sure what the problem is. Someone will come along who has experience with these symptoms, I'm sure. During antibiotic treatment and for a little while after, you can feed the eggs back to the chickens.

    In the meantime, how is her breathing?
    Comb color?

    (same questions re: the one who died...)

    You mentioned arriving at your new home recently (how recently?). Did you bring any chickens with you (other than the 1 week old chicklets you mentioned) or just inherit the ones already there? Did you come from a place that had chickens?

    Crucial that the sick bird remain well hydrated. Is she drinking?

    Hoping very much for her that things get better.
  9. Bea Love

    Bea Love In the Brooder

    Apr 2, 2008
    Breathing has not been an issue for either of the hens-dead or alive.
    Comb color---TERRIBLE. Very dried out looking and almost red-grey. This is one reason why I thought they were simply getting old.

    I moved in Sept. '07. Did not bring any cluckers with me. In fact have never had chickens before. This is all new to me.
    The hens that were here have been an established flock for 5-8 years.

    I have the "sick" hen seperate from the others right now. I want to observe if any others show symptoms.

    I am feeling pretty bad about not letting her up into the coop to roost tonight.
    Oh well--time will tell.
    Thanks for your input---really appreciate it.
  10. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    Purple combs.. could it be heart failure? Is it a larger breed of chicken? Have you taken a stool sample to the vet for a fecal float test for worms or cocci? Often worms or cocci will cause alot of weight loss at the same time. I'd cut all corn from their diet and limit treats for now.

    As for antibiotics, general administration is a big no no now a days since more is known about how they work and how bacteria react. Use of antibacterial things and administration of antibiotics increases incidence of resistant bacteria and will often make them unusable when you really need them, such as when there is an animal bite or open wound. If you can confirm open injury or a bacterial infection, then it is a good idea, otherwise, best to hold off unless absolutely necessary, which in some cases it can be.

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