Strange comb

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by krista74, Oct 9, 2014.

  1. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi everyone.

    I have a Momma hen who hatched out a chick just over 4 weeks ago.

    She used to have a bright red, plump comb while she was laying, but now it has turned a slightly darker colour, and looks drier and shrunken.

    Is this normal for what she has been through? She is also losing some feathers (mostly around the neck area) and is not as interested in her food as she once was.

    Her eyes and nostrils are clear, there is no coughing or sneezing, and she is still moving about with the chick. She is still looking after her chick well.

    Any thoughts as to whether this is all normal, and what I can do to help her recover?

    Krista
     
  2. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    It sounds like your broody hen may be starting her molt, but I would make sure that there are enough feed and water stations in case she is not feeling safe enough to take her chicks to the feed and water. She may be dehydrated.
     
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  3. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Up until last night they were in their own pen so there is no possibility of anyone scaring her away from the water. Right through the hatching and up to the present date I have been feeding her layer's pellets (not that she has chosen to eat many), cracked corn, some wheat, and fresh green vegies each day. On the odd occasion I also give her a little meat to boost her protein levels, and her waterer never runs dry.

    Maybe it is the moult. Is it normal for them to go off their food a bit during this time? She does eat, but no-where near as voraciously as she once did. I guess being penned up for the last 8 weeks means she is not burning as much energy either, but I'm just used to seeing the chickens race to their food! She really does look raggy! The amount of feathers she has lost is not massive, but she just looks dull all over.

    Krista
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2014
  4. BantamLover21

    BantamLover21 Overrun With Chickens

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    It does sound like your hen is molting. While they molt, a chicken's comb shrivels, becomes paler or darker than usual, and they may have behavioral changes. It would not be unheard of for a molting hen to be less interested in eating than normal.

    However, it is also possible that something else is wrong. I'd check your hen for signs of mites/lice, since those can cause weakness and stress. Do a thorough examine of her entire body, looking for any abnormalities (swelling, etc.).

    To help boost her strength, I would put some vitamins/electrolytes and probiotics in her water, if possible. Encourage her to eat, too. Keep offering favorite treats, especially high protein ones (mealworms, etc.) which will help her if she's molting.

    Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2014
  5. Wyandottes7

    Wyandottes7 Overrun With Chickens

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    I agree with the other posters, your hen may be beginning a molt. My birds usually have paler, smaller, and often dry combs before and during molting. Their behavior is often a little off (not as hungry, meaner, etc.).

    As Bantamlover21 stated, she could have mites and lice. These can cause feather loss as well, and also listlessness and weakness. I would be sure to do a thorough check for external parasites.
     
  6. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So this hen, up until yesterday, was in a separate pen along with her chick. Last night I moved them both into another pen which backs onto a pen with another Momma and 5 chicks in it, hoping to at some point integrate the two Momma's and 6 chicks in total. After what I've seen today though I have removed them back to their isolation pen - as a precautionary and hopefully temporary measure. What I found on examination and extensive observation was:-

    1. Momma Hen has no signs of lice or mites and no redness on her skin. Vent looks fine, under wings looks fine. Eyes and nostrils clear. No discharge. No spots anywhere.
    2. Momma has extensive feather loss around the back of her neck and down her back in patches. As she has been in isolation with her chick it cannot be roo damage. Where the feathers were missing, there are new pin feathers growing in, and from the little shaft I can see about 1 cm of fresh new feathers emerging. This is the case on her neck and in patches on her back.
    3. Momma is definitely off her food. I even made scrambled eggs and she even didn't take a bite.
    4. Momma is not caring for her chick as she once did. He is peeping and jumping around, she just sits and watches him. When i drop food she no longer calls him to it. He knows how to find food and water in the coop on his own now so he is fine, but she is not eating at all.
    5. Momma is drinking a lot of water. More than usual.
    6. Momma's remaining feathers are dull, not shiny. She shows no interest in dust bathing and has not done so (under my watch) for weeks.
    7. Momma is lethargic. I can walk up to her and pick her up, which I could NEVER do before she went broody, and she used to run around a bit and at least try to evade me after hatching her chick. Now I can just walk up and pick her up.
    8. Momma is sleeping whilst standing up in her pen. Her eyes just close and she goes to sleep.
    9. Momma will walk around with her chick, but does not scratch on the ground any more. At all.

    No idea what is wrong or what to do for her. No obvious injuries, just a lot of 'not quite right' vague symptoms. The chick seems fine.

    In contrast, my second hen with 5 chicks is eating, drinking, flapping, scratching, calling her chicks for food, dust bathing, you name it. They are like chalk and cheese.

    Also, the chick with the sick Momma is now 4 weeks old, and will be rehomed with my brother in due course. At what age should this be done? He is going to be with 22 laying hens - I presume he will need to be a few months old to do this?

    All comments welcome.

    Krista
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2014
  7. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    If you are re-homing him, then I would probably put her back out with the others, so the chick can be a part of the flock, since it sounds like she is really going down hill fast, and may not be of much help to him. It could be that her broody time going right into a molt has really done her in. Have your chickens been wormed recently? Worming her now may push her over the edge, so I would keep try to get some protein into her, along with vitamins and probiotics that BantamLover21 suggested. A chick 4 weeks old is going to be mighty lonely by himself. I've had 3 week olds left by broodies, but their were enough to keep each other warm at night. Only chicks are lonely chicks without a mom. Are the other chicks close in age, where he could be with them? If so, I would stay with what you are doing now instead, so maybe the other broody will tolerate him.
     
  8. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    All the hens were wormed about 2 months ago. The other broody attacks the 4 week old chick, so he can't go with her. I am really at a loss. If I put them within he main coop now she might make the others sick. Here's a pic taken today....
    [​IMG]

    You will note that she is all puffed up, too. This is not usual for her, and has only been the case for the last couple of days. So she's still not eating and keeps falling asleep standing up like in this picture.

    Krista
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2014

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