SICK Skinny hen with full bowels


11 Years
Oct 2, 2008
Hello there,

I have had a number of dilema's with my poultry.

I noticed my alpha hen was sick last Sunday. She was walking about and pecking, but kept sitting and closing her eyes. On closer inspection she was straining with her bowels being full - only little bits of faeces coming out from what looked like an internal obstruction.
She was very, very thin with a normal red comb and her poo's were normally formed.

I took her to the vet who said it might be an inflamation of her oviducts or a bacterial infection and gave her a weeks course of AB's. She did an internal palpation and found no obstruction. I have been giving this to her morning and night. Vet said she was very skinny and might not be assimilating her food properly - said she had some musculature to her still.

She was initially eating but has now slowed her intake and her poo's are much smaller and green in colour. Her comb now has a purple tinge to it.

She has not been wormed and I am going to worm her today.

I don't know how old she is as she was given to me. She was just found one day in someone's back yard. She hasn't laid an egg for about 8 months. She doesn't look to old as her feathers look nice and glossy. She is usually free range but I have seperated her and confined her to an avairy.

We also have a little call duck who lives with our hen and 4 bantams. The duck loves the hens very, very much and we are very fond of her also. I have put the chickens water dispenser on a bench so that the duck can't get to it. I thought the hen might have been drinking water from the ducks pond and picked up an infection this way?

Any other thoughts on what could be the problem?

Also, currently I have a gosling running with the aforementioned mob (minus hen). Today I will make a seperate enclosure for the gosling and bantam 'mum' after reading about the risks of disease having them together.

Any thoughts or ideas will be greatly appreciated.



Human Encyclopedia
13 Years
Jan 11, 2007
It will be difficult to even guess what is causing this... If you have finished the course of AB, then be sure to offer your bird live culture yogurt free choice (if she does not seem to want to eat it then get a few mealworms from the bait shop and sprinkle on top to get her interested...usually once they taste it they will keep on eating it)
You need to get her on a nutritional/vit supplement... I would order some AviaCharge 2000 from Mcmurray or go to the petstore and get some baby parrot handfeeding formula and mix that up to a porridge consistency and mix that in wiht her normal feed to concentrate the nutrition. You can also give three drops of POLYVISOL enfamil formulation once a day for a week.
If she has never laid all that time it could be she is an internal layer.


11 Years
Aug 8, 2008
Sonoma Co, CA
I do not have any good news for you, but I can try to help you understand what has probably been happening.

Skinny skinny bird means she has not been meeting her calorie needs for weeks or months.

Most old hens die from reproductive tumors or some form of egg peritonitis (peritoneal cavity is the body cavity that contains all of the organs). Egg peritonitis aka internal laying can be caused by just about anything stressful that disrupts the lay cycle. IB (virus) damaging the repro tract, bacterial infections, severe heat stress or parasite infection ect. Egg yolk can get into the body cavity where it is not supposed to be when a portion of the repro tract impacts and or ruptures, or the motion of the yolk down the tract gets reversed. There are not shelled eggs floating around inside, but egg yolk in dried up cheesy clumps. Very ugly to see.

Antibiotics may help briefly for egg peritonitis if there is a bacterial component, but in no way will antibiotics get rid of yolk material floating around outside of the reproductive tract. It is a nidus for inflammation/infection as it moves around and causes tissues to stick together with the inflammation.

If she hasn't laid in 8 months and she is older, she probably has a reproductive tumor or egg peritonitis. Neither is easily fixed. From your description of discoloring comb (poor circulation), diminished eating and feces production (dark green poop is mostly bile- she is not eating enough or anything)- she is getting worse and her body is shutting down.

She could have a really heavy parasite load, but you would likely have seen evidence of this- roundworms passing out as she gets sicker. I doubt worming her will help, but it shouldn't hurt.

If she is/was straining repeatedly, she is uncomfortable. If she is not eating well , she feels rotten (chickens love to eat), and I would recommend humanely ending her life if she is not improving with the antibiotics and extra nutrition.


11 Years
Oct 2, 2008
Thank you very much for your informative and compassionate replies.

I will more than likely take her to the vet on Sunday, which is my first opportunity, to have her put to sleep. Tomorrow I will set her free into the yard to spend the last of her time with her friends.

This breaks my heart. She is such a friendly and special chook.

A few months ago one night when I went to shut the chicken pen door I found her asleep perched upon a broken guitar neck right up on the back door step. The wind had blown the door to the run closed before nightfall and the rest of my brood had roosted in trees for the night. Thanks to Henrietta I realised this is what had happened, found all the chickens and returned them to their coop.

[email protected]@2four

11 Years
Mar 12, 2008
Hello...Just wanted to add my 2 cents!
I have had many sick hens and roos who looked like they weren't going to make it. I have found that many have pulled through when I thought for sure I needed to cull them. I would try dlhunicorn's advice. I would separate her and give her plenty of vitamins and water. Make her a mash food(chicken crumble/pellets wet and mashed) with a tsp or two of olive oil, and cooked rice. I have found that this works wonders for my sick chickens.
Good luck!


In the Brooder
11 Years
Aug 10, 2008
Athens, Georgia
Thanks for sharing this dilemma. One of my hens seems to have most of the same symptoms. I can't fatten her back up. She did have worms, which I treated, and I don't see any evidence of reinfestation. Now she is molting, which seems to be taking more of her energy. I wish you and Henrietta the best. Thanks to everyone for the advice!

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