Sick or 'slowing down'?

Kneedles

Songster
6 Years
Jul 22, 2014
254
108
186
Wellington, New Zealand
I have three black sex link hens; one is five years old and the other two are four years old. In the past, I always thought that one of my hens sitting down in any place that wasn't for nesting or dust-bathing was cause for concern; namely I thought that this meant that my hens had worms. De-wormer would promptly solve this problem. Starting about two months ago, however, all three of my hens have started regularly sitting down in random places in my backyard. I tried using both Aviverm and Flubenol to treat them for worms, but this did not make a difference. I have taken two of them to an avian vet; the vet assured me that there was nothing wrong with either of them. She inspected the droppings of one of them for worms, but saw no sign of them. She was nice enough to sell me antibiotics for both of them anyway; both of them have since completed their prescriptions. I've also started feeding them cucumber regularly (upon learning that chickens need to be fed vegetables more often), and have added Livamol to their feed several times (which I have heard can help them recover from illness). I think that they still eat normally (apart from one of my hens going off food for most of one day, but the vet said that there was nothing wrong with her two days later), but ultimately, the increase in sitting has not gone away.
What does this sound like? Is this to be expected for middle-aged chickens, or is there some sort of complex hidden illness that is causing this new behaviour? I am seriously worried about their condition getting worse, and I have run out of ideas for how to make them go back to normal.
 

oldhenlikesdogs

Great Horny Toads
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 16, 2015
44,720
78,089
1,452
Wisconsin
4 and 5 are getting up there in age on average for a chicken. Most of mine pass at 4-6 with a few going on to ten or so. Older birds can move less. Some will develop arthritis, so that can slow them down. Chickens don't really need vegetables as it isn't necessarily a natural part of the diet. Don't feed too much, your birds still need a balanced ration. I also would not be feeding older hens a layer ration anymore as that extra calcium can be hard on them. So a all flock or non medicated grower is best with a separate bowl of oyster shells for the calcium needs.
 

Kneedles

Songster
6 Years
Jul 22, 2014
254
108
186
Wellington, New Zealand

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
94,924
125,406
1,807
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
Without any overt symptoms or definitive labs, I'm surprised antibiotics were prescribed.
I'd say they are just aging and slowing down in general, 4-5 is pretty old for sexlinks.
As long as they are eating/drinking/pooping ok, let them rest.
When a bird is acting 'off' here, I isolate for observation and exam of crop function and feces production.

From my notes:
I'd isolate bird in a wire cage within the coop for a day or two....so you can closely monitor their intake of food and water, crop function(checking at night and in morning before providing more feed), and their poops. Feel their abdomen, from below vent to between legs, for squishy or hard swelling.

Best to put crate right in coop or run so bird is still 'with' the flock.
I like to use a fold-able wire dog crate (24"L x 18"W x 21"H) with smaller mesh(1x2) on bottom of crate under tray.
Then you can put tray underneath crate to better observe droppings without it being stepped in. If smaller mesh is carefully installed, tray can still be used inside crate.
 

Kneedles

Songster
6 Years
Jul 22, 2014
254
108
186
Wellington, New Zealand
Without any overt symptoms or definitive labs, I'm surprised antibiotics were prescribed.

The first one was actually prescribed antibiotics on the basis that I had seen her display signs of developing a respiratory infection; the vet trusted that my observations were accurate and prescribed the antibiotics because of this. The second hen was taken to the vet because of one day in which she was acting unusually lethargic, but the vet said that there was nothing wrong with her. The vet prescribed antibiotics for her on the basis that the hen was gaping during most of the visit, but I knew that this was just a stress response and not the symptom of a respiratory infection. I think the vet was actually reluctant to prescribe antibiotics for the second hen.
 

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