Sick pullet... Mystery! Thoughts about next steps?


8 Years
Sep 20, 2014
Denver, CO
Indie, approx 11 month-old Easter Egger, started self-separating about 3 weeks ago. She started being bullied by the old girls, appetite decreased and she became very timid. I treated them all with Corid in case of Cocci.

She has lost a good deal of weight (and she was small to start... both my EEs are smaller). I brought her inside about 5 days ago. She has slowly stopped eating, then drinking. She still interacts well with us, but she’s super slow. I began tube feeding and watering on Thursday (3 days ago).

She also has a great deal
of green diarrhea. Sometimes she passes 100% liquid, sometimes there’s some mass in the stool. (See picture below) Sometimes she shakes her head. I have checked her ears (clean and not red), her temperature (no fever), her breathing (no wheezing or labored breathing), her feathers (no mites or lice), her eyes (no discharge) and her crop (multiple times a day... it empties within 2-3 hours.) Her belly is not swollen. None of the other girls are sick BUT two of them are showing looser-than-normal stools, but only in the daytime... nighttime poops are all normal.

Oh, and they were wormed in December.

What am I missing?


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It's strictly coincidence, but a couple months ago I had an eleven month old EE with the same symptoms. She stopped eating, was lethargic during the day, but somehow found the strength to put herself on her roosting perch at night. She had the green runny poop which signifies starvation.

I treated her first with penicillin, then switched to amoxicillin after she didn't respond. There was no improvement with the amoxicillin, either. I finally decided that she had suffered enough and there was no chance she would improve so I euthanized her.

I called a friend who is a surgical nurse, and we both did a necropsy on the pullet. Everything was normal except for fat everywhere, in every nook and cranny of her little body cavity. This is something I hadn't seen even in my older hens that I had opened up after death. The other odd thing was her gizzard was practically petrified, so stiff and leathery was it.

My flock carries the lymphotic leucosis virus, and this pullet had hatched within the flock. Even though both parents are healthy, I suppose she could have developed the virus. What is also likely is her gizzard was a sign of genetic abnormalities, and this is the reason she got so sick and didn't respond to antibiotics.

My do-it-yourself necropsy didn't have the benefit of a microscope to look at pathogens, so I can't say for sure what was going on. Sometimes we do all we can, and it remains a mystery why we couldn't save a much loved chicken.

You might try an antibiotic. I recommend amoxicillin if you can get it.
Thanks... I forgot to mention that she is on amoxicillin right now - I decided to give it a shot since I couldn't figure out anyhing else. She's been on it for 5 days as of today and @TwoCrows told me that if she didn't improve in 5 days to quit, so unless she's markedly better tomorrow morning, we're done with the amox.

Also, I forgot this symptom: She often stands as though she's going to poop - you know how they drop their tail feathers right before they do? Well, she does that a LOT, and she doesn't usually poop when she does it.

I don't know how long we're going to keep this up, but she still perks up when I greet her and seems to like the attention, so I can't give up on her just yet. She doesn't sit with her eyes closed, like she's in pain (and like my others have done right before we had to euthanize them), but as soon as that starts, I'm going to let go. Today she ate a LITTLE bit of cooked oatmeal - maybe a teaspoon, so hardly anything, but it's the first I've seen her eat in over 2 days...
The squatting sounds like an oviduct obstruction. Have you tried giving her calcium? It seems to help in may cases of oviduct issues. I just had a serious problem with a two-year old hen laying double eggs since she began laying this season resolve after several weeks of a daily calcium supplement. She was only secreting enough calcium for one shell and the other egg ran the risk of getting stuck, which two of them did. Now she's back to laying one normal egg per cycle and is off the calcium.

Your girl is young so there's reason to hope she will rally. Don't give up on her just yet.
No - I haven't even thought about Calcium! What do you recommend? I used to have some serious heavy-duty calcium I got from Tractor Supply, (Calcium Gluconate?) but I'm out now. My husband could probably swing by TSC and get some more tomorrow but is there anything I could give her in the meantime? (She has access to calcium in her quarantine, but she's not eating it)
I use calcium citrate with D3. If you have that on hand, it would work just as well, maybe even better than Ca gluconate. I've heard it's absorbed faster. It sure can't hurt to try. I use the entire 400mg tablet crushed into something she can't resist eating. For my chickens it's peanut butter, the kind without sugar added.
Perfect! Yes I do have that on hand for me (which, I don't take as much as I should...)
I'll soak some overnight so it will crush easier in the morning. Right now she's resisting everything, so since I am going to tube feed her for at least one more day, I'll add that to breakfast (unless she surprises me and eats). Once a day enough you think?

But what the heck - I've got natural peanut butter too. I may see if she'll eat that. I'm not holding my breath though!
Once a day. You never know, maybe the antibiotic will allow her to make a turn for the better by morning. Let's be positive that she's young and she can make it.
So, I thought maybe we had some poop improvement because yesterday her day poops were all brown. Very very soft, but brown and none of this liquid + mass stuff. Today, it’s about half and half.

1) she eats, with purpose, the grit. 18 bites while I was watching ; 2 bites of oatmeal. I think that’s the only food she’s had all day (with the exception of what I coaxed into her mouth this morning).
2) she now appears to be quite itchy... especially around the ears and tail (not vent).

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