We've only had chickens since the middle of June, so I'm still very new at this. Today one of my 17 week old Speckled Sussex hens (Queen Elizabeth I) began acting strangely. She didn't run to join the others when I threw out their evening scratch. When she did eventually join them, she pecked half-heartedly, then settled down in a heap as if very tired. This scared me because we just lost another hen two weeks ago (an adult bantam Cochin), and she'd done the same thing--not moving much and just sleeping all the time. I immediately isolated the Sussex, gave her a warm box with as much food as she wanted (the Cochin died after losing too much weight and then stopped eating--by the time we noticed, it was too late). Elizabeth, on the other hand, wolfed down everything I put in front of her, and still had plenty of energy to protest being kept away from the rest of the flock. That made me feel a little better. Once isolated, I could tell which droppings were hers, and it's diarrhea. The first was a plain yellowish, the second a clear, almost mucus-y, and the last greenish and white (but much more of it--don't know if that's because she finally had food in her system or what). I also saw that she had a strange lump in her vent area. Because our Sussexes _hate_ being picked up and handled (they will protest most vociferously and struggle to get free), no one had noticed it before. She hasn't started laying yet, but may start soon: I wasn't sure if something had happened while trying to lay her first egg. So I brought her inside and had her sit in a warm Epsom salt bath for about 15-20 minutes. While blow-drying her feathers (before returning her outside to her little private room), I was able to get a better look at the lump/cyst/tumor That's actually the upper edge of the vent. You can't see the vent at all because the lump overhangs the vent opening. I clipped a couple of feathers that were growing out of the mass, just so I could examine it better. I don't think the other hens have been pecking at it--it looks more like she's been worrying at it herself while the new feathers come in (she's finishing up her molt). I've found plenty of pictures for lumps _beneath_ the vent area, the fluid-filled sacs that can sometimes be lanced, but nothing really that looks like this. It's firm but not rock hard, kinda squishy (somebody elsewhere used the description "like a fingertip" for a different lump, and that's about right). The skin is pulled very tight and you can see the blood vessels through the skin. If it were cutaneous Marek's, then the feather follicles would have the white "pimple-y" looking tumors around them, not the whole area in one big lump. Right? I also read that some flukes make cysts near the vents of chickens, and we certainly had plenty of dragonflies around the run this past summer, but those cysts are only 4-6mm in size, and this thing is a good 1"-1.5" (25-40mm?) across. I wormed the chickens with hygromycin B two weeks ago, but am not sure they got enough of it since it was added to the feed. I was going to go to the feed store tomorrow and get a different dewormer, one that I have to give directly to each chicken. It may be harder to apply, but at least I'll know that each got the full amount. The run unfortunately backs up to a wetland-type area, so mosquitoes are pretty thick (and I can't spray them because the area is part of the Potomac River/Chesapeake Bay watershed and the gov't gets really cranky about too many pesticides in the the water supply). The coop is small, but I scrape it out about every 2-3 days, and give it a thorough hosing-down at least once every 2 weeks. Can't think of any other pertinent information at this time. So does any one have an idea what's going on? Is the cyst-thingy even connected to the rest of Elizabeth's symptoms? I could really use some advice right now--I don't want to lose another of my girls Thanks.