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Starving hen--what's it gonna take?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by onafixedincome, Nov 6, 2011.

  1. onafixedincome

    onafixedincome Songster

    Oct 10, 2009
    I have a severely compromised hen and need to have some idea of how long it will take to bring her back into a condition where she can take care of herself...

    Mixed flock banty orp and five standard hens, two black and three brown (breeds unknown). A couple of months back, the brown hens started to disappear at about the same time I had some raccoon issues; I thought the darn coon got them and wrote them off (at the time, they were all free ranging, cooped at night).

    Feed has always been out to supplement the foraging they do, and water is readily available.

    Two or three weeks ago, wow, I had TWO brown hens again. Returned hen was thin, like she'd been brooding, but in reasonable shape, eating, foraging, and I let her just do her own thing.

    Last week, I started cooping the chickens for winter, with the inevitable night gathering of the holdouts, and thought that I had suddenly had a brown hen totally crash on me. She was lethargic, couldn't perch, dehydrated, starved, nearly dead....but when I went to the coop to see which of the two it was...I still had two! This was the missing third brown hen.

    She had no resources to stay warm with, so the first night I brought her in, syringe watered her and offered her anything she might want to eat. She mostly slept in the bed next to me (hey, she needed warmth and protection from the cats!) with occasional water breaks, which I did by dripping water along her beak with a syringe. The liquid was actually diluted Snapple tea for sugar and caffeine as well as hydration.

    The next day she was not thrilled to say put, so out she went to the coop. Could not walk, could not perch, but shuffled around with much waving of wings. This was one determined, very weak, very endangered, hen.

    So I made her a nestbox full of nice warm dry shavings, provided water (not tea), and a dish of raw egg mixed with small wheat bread chunks, a dish of feed, and fenced her off from everyone else, making sure she had sunlight available for warmth without cooking her.

    She has been eating like crazy, drinking very well and is now erect, bright eyed and able to perch on the side of the box, although she still cannot actually walk around--she does the shuffle-balance thing still.

    Totally skin and bones, it's been almost a week now, and I'm encouraged.

    But how long is it going to take her to come back to normal function, if not normal condition? I don't expect her to lay until next year, for sure, but I just want to know how long I'm likely to be coddling her and if there's something I'm missing that needs attention.


  2. EmmyGirl

    EmmyGirl In the Brooder

    Aug 2, 2008
    Skippack, PA
    Hi, I'm sorry about your hen! Did you check for mites or other critters on her? It's frightening how quickly a hen can become anemic if infested with the little buggers. If she was out all night, is it possible she has frostbite? Any change in the look of her feet and legs compared to the others? Good luck--it sounds promising that she's eating...I hope she's OK!!
  3. onafixedincome

    onafixedincome Songster

    Oct 10, 2009
    She did have mites--the teensy tiny ones, not the regular feather mites--but I got those dealt with by 'fuming' her with flea spray (spray a towel, wrap around the chicken all but the head, wait five minutes, all dead except chicken).

    She does not look anemic, although her comb tips were bluish the first night, she's decently pink now and not pale. It's not been cold enough here in N. Central Calif. to worry about frostbite, but with minimal resources, hypothermia is a real possibility and she was, that first night, I think.

    Forgot to mention that the first night she had a big clot of dry poo that was blocking her up, which I removed...I really think this brave idiot was off setting and just didn't quit until she absolutely had to....
  4. Tracy the chick

    Tracy the chick Songster

    Aug 28, 2011
    Try porrige or oatmeal made with hot water and really runny. Once its cooled down to room temprature try spoon feeding her. I hope she picks up, Tracy x
  5. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

    Sep 6, 2007
    spring hill, florida
    I would let her continue as long as she is improving. I think I'd still want to keep her warm at night.
    Tracy's right. Some mushy food, even chicken feed made into mush.
  6. nurse_turtle

    nurse_turtle Songster

    May 28, 2011
    Foothills of NC
    It will take several weeks to be able to feel an improvement in the size of her breast muscles. When those muscles start buffing back up, she may be more able to support herself healthily. Problem may be if she is kept away from the flock for too long, pecking order will be re-established and she will have to be reintroduced as a new hen. I am going through this now with a 3-4 month old rooster that was picked on and not allowed to eat. Severely malnourished and close to death, I brought him in. Consider adding vitamins to her water. Regular sugar drinks may cause small animals to experience hypoglycemia from a sudden release of insulin in response to the sugar load. Also, consider getting a small bag of game bird food which has high protein level which is essential to healing and muscle formation. The vitamin water and game food is working very well for us. Long story short.... I have a house chicken.[​IMG]
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2011
  7. EmmyGirl

    EmmyGirl In the Brooder

    Aug 2, 2008
    Skippack, PA
    Long story short.... I have a house chicken

    Me too!! It's nice to be in the company of people just as crazy as I am [​IMG]

  8. welasharon

    welasharon Songster

    Jun 28, 2010
    North Florida
    Scrambled egg is good food for them too.
  9. branston

    branston Chirping

    May 23, 2011
    Order Lafeber's Critacal Care Nutrition from your vet. You syringe feed it for a week. Definitely worth keeping some in stock!
  10. flowerchild59

    flowerchild59 Songster

    Apr 25, 2010
    Southern IL
    Once she is looking better and gaining weight, I would worm her and the rest of the flock with valbazen. There are alot of threads on the use of this wormer. It will eliminate all parasites and she will gain weight better if the parasites are not present. Fall going into winter is a good time to worm too.

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