Silkie keeps scratching her head and scraping her beak on concrete

Wildberries

Hatching
Oct 25, 2018
4
1
9
Hi! I’m new here so please forgive me if this question has already been asked. My 6 month old silkie keeps scratching the side of her head and scraping her beak on the ground and pavement. She stays in her nesting box most of the time and will only come out if I get her out. She will eat a little but won’t drink much. She’ll walk around with my other two girls for a few minutes but she scratches constantly and seems miserable! She bathes herself a lot too but we’ve had a lot of rain recently so she can’t seem to find dry dirt. She hasn’t laid eggs for several days either. I haven’t seen any signs of mites and the other two chickens aren’t scratching. I took her to the vet and he treated her for a respiratory infection ($125 vet bill for my $2 chicken!:) even though I’m pretty sure he was grasping at straws. I gave her a bath in diatomaceous this morning and I’m hoping it will help. I’m not sure if this is an ear issue, beak issue, or behavioral issue. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!
 

Wyorp Rock

🐓 ❤ 🐛
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Sep 20, 2015
37,313
52,690
1,332
Southern N.C. Mountains
Hi! I’m new here so please forgive me if this question has already been asked. My 6 month old silkie keeps scratching the side of her head and scraping her beak on the ground and pavement. She stays in her nesting box most of the time and will only come out if I get her out. She will eat a little but won’t drink much. She’ll walk around with my other two girls for a few minutes but she scratches constantly and seems miserable! She bathes herself a lot too but we’ve had a lot of rain recently so she can’t seem to find dry dirt. She hasn’t laid eggs for several days either. I haven’t seen any signs of mites and the other two chickens aren’t scratching. I took her to the vet and he treated her for a respiratory infection ($125 vet bill for my $2 chicken!:) even though I’m pretty sure he was grasping at straws. I gave her a bath in diatomaceous this morning and I’m hoping it will help. I’m not sure if this is an ear issue, beak issue, or behavioral issue. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!
Can you post some photos of her?
Photos of her poop?
A video of her actions would be good too - upload to youtube or similar platform, then provide us a link.

I would look her over really well for lice and mites - look around the vent, under the wings and at her head since she is scratching that.
https://the-chicken-chick.com/poultry-lice-and-mites-identification/

Have you looked inside her ears for discharge or any debris in there?
Look inside the beak for any lesions, plaques or canker.

What does her crop feel like? Is it empty in the morning?

What symptoms did your vet see to make him think she had a respiratory infection? Coughing, sneezing, runny nose, watery/bubbly eyes, wheezing, etc. What antibiotic did he use?

Is she going broody? Her staying in the box can be because she is under the weather, but Silkies are notorious for being broody. Does she growl at you or make a fuss when you take her from the box?
 

Saaniya

Crowing
Aug 31, 2017
2,527
7,553
482
New Delhi India
Hello ,
Have you checked her crop
Mostly crop filled with water or if bird having sour crop they devloped excessive beak rubbing

So.do check her crop it should be flat in the morning
 

Wildberries

Hatching
Oct 25, 2018
4
1
9
91531782-7D53-43E0-BF85-00E55665531E.jpeg
46C36E80-1775-4D91-A5C1-A13E9D7F11D2.jpeg
8B63C2CD-1FFE-4F18-9772-C29415A3BA41.jpeg
The vet did a fecal float and didn’t find any parasites. He gave her a shot of baytril and put her on metronidazole for 3 days. He said he really couldn’t see anything but thought maybe there was a little dried nasal discharge. She hasn’t been sneezing or wheezing.

I didn’t realize silkies could go broody. She does growl a little when I open the nesting box! She did seem to start some of this behavior since the weather turned cooler.

Her crop was not completely empty in the morning but I have been leave food and water in the coop, hoping she’ll eat. It does seem to be a lot smaller though.

Her ears look clear, as far as I can see but I haven’t been able to get a good look inside her mouth. I’ll keep trying!

I’m also trying to figure out how to download a video. Thanks so much for your help!!
 

Wildberries

Hatching
Oct 25, 2018
4
1
9

Here’s a short video of how she’s acting. Hope this works! I’ll look into the sour crop too. Thanks!
 

Wyorp Rock

🐓 ❤ 🐛
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Sep 20, 2015
37,313
52,690
1,332
Southern N.C. Mountains
@oldhenlikesdogs do you have Silkies, what do you think?

Oh yes! Silkies are broody girls:)
To me I'm going to say she is acting a bit broody. Maybe not full blown yet, but her posture and the low clucking makes me think that.

In the photo she is bright eyed and oh so cute!

I would still re-check her for lice/mites. The comb and wattles look slightly dry, you can put a little coconut oil on them.
 

oldhenlikesdogs

Grateful
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 16, 2015
45,528
79,415
1,462
Wisconsin
She does sound broody. Silkies often will have problems with external parasites when broody. I personally would dust her with a pyrethrin based poultry dust, as well as the nestboxes. DE does nothing for parasites. The ear scratching to me sounds like possibly mite crawling around in her face. Dust her weekly for 3-4 weeks to break the life cycle. Dust the nestboxes under the bedding as well as all roost cracks. You really have to have a huge parasite problem to see them easily. Mites are quick.

The beak rubbing just sounds like regular obsessive cleaning of the beak. Chickens will rub the beak to try to dislodge stuff off it after eating a sloppy meal, or when something is stuck in their mouth like a piece of hay. I would give her a good look over to make sure there isn't a reason for it. Otherwise it could just be her quirk as silkies are odd little birds.

I don't currently have any but plan to get a few more next year as they are reliable moms. Silkies do sometimes need extra attention. I took a few years off from having silkies because of that, but I am now ready to get some again.
 

dawg53

Humble
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Nov 27, 2008
27,903
14,552
906
Glen St Mary, Florida
Head shaking and head/neck scratching or neck stretching are signs of respiratory disease, mucus in the trachea would be the cause. There would be other signs and I dont see them. Besides, the Baytril wouldve cleared it up.
Did the vet actually look inside her ears and state that they were clear? I was thinking possibly ear mites. Treatment would be putting a drop of vegetable oil or olive oil in the ear canal to smother the mites.
You have to look inside her mouth for possible lesion(s) such as canker because treatment is metronidazole, and the vet prescribed it and would fall in line with the symptoms you're seeing. Smell her breath too. If it's canker you'll know it. If it's sour crop, you'll also know it.
I'd keep her away from DE, it may be irritating her infraorbital sinuses which might be a cause of what you're seeing.
I've had birds go broody, but never seen them shake their head and wipe their beaks like your Silkie. I've seen birds wipe their beak usually after eating and scratch their head once in awhile which is normal.
You didnt mention if she is eating and drinking normally. Broody birds usually dont eat or drink, same with birds that have a respiratory disease or canker....they eat and drink very little or not at all.
 

Wildberries

Hatching
Oct 25, 2018
4
1
9
Thank you all for your advice! “Oops” seems to be doing a bit better today. I think her main problem is the broodiness! If I get her out of her nesting box, she will eat and drink but if I leave her in the box, even with food and water, I don’t think she will. So, I closed up the coop today. She’s not happy though! She’ll try her best to get in and give up. Then she’ll hang out with my other girls. I did put some olive oil in her ears because she is still scratching a bit and rubbed a little on her face for any dry skin. We got a good look in her mouth and didn’t see any cankers and no bad smells.

Has anyone ever used homeopathics on their chickens? I was a wildlife rehabilitation, once upon a time, and I was thinking of using a little bit of aconite or ignatia. Just something to relax her and maybe break the OCD behavior.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom