Tail down


Apr 21, 2010
I have a five year old hen that has what appears to be vent gleet. Her tail is up and she is foraging in the yard. I washed her butt yesterday and isolated her overnight. I gave her water with ACV in it and trimmed the feathers around her vent. Since her tail is up and she is foraging I’m not as concerned about her as I am for my other hen. I opened the coop and this other hen, also 5 years old, didn’t come out and is standing lethargically with her tail down and then she laid down and won’t come out. She also has a poopy butt. Last week we had to cull another hen that had poopy butt and ended up being diagnosed with possible yolk peritonitis. She had a fluid filled belly and eventually couldn’t walk at all. To me it sounded like ascites, which the vet said she might have had. I spent a lot of money at an emergency vet and he told me it wasn’t contagious and not to use any antibiotics. I’ve thoroughly washed their water container which had a little green scum in it but not much. Their coop has a clean, sandy run and inside the coop is as clean as I can make it- new hay, but some areas are poopy like their ladder up to their roosts but it’s not possible to remove every bit of it. I think my husband is going to have to cull the chicken with the drooping tail because the last chicken he culled looked and acted just like her. I can’t spend more money at the vet right now. Thanks for any advice.
At 5 years old reproductive problems are not uncommon, cancers, infection, internal laying, etc. One of the symptoms is often dirty vent feathers. With the issues going on internally it can put pressure on the digestive tract and slow digestion which may cause crop problems, and can make it harder for them to push droppings out resulting in the dirty rear ends. Many times these birds will have bloated abdomens, either very hard, or water balloon like, and also may lose weight and the keel bone will be prominent, though they may still feel heavy due to the material or fluid in the abdomen. Treatments for most of the reproductive issues are limited and many times not very successful. Sometimes antibiotics may help for a time, but it just depends on the issue, and it can be hard to narrow down since we can't see inside. Symptoms can be very similar. There are other causes that can cause runny droppings and dirty rears, like carrying a worm load (did your vet check for internal parasites?) or drinking a lot of water, particularly when it's hot out, or dietary changes, so it's good to look at the whole picture with each bird to try to narrow down what may be going on. With many internal issues and reproductive problems the definite answer isn't known until a necropsy is done.
I'm very sorry. :hugs
Thanks for your quick reply. We just changed their run from wood chips to commercial sand. I’m seeing a lot of sand in some of their poop. Now I have another chicken acting slow and tail held lower than normal. Could the sand be the culprit?
Also the chicken that was laying down and acting lethargic is now up and in the run with the others, she has a watery feeling crop and a watery blob about the size of a tennis ball between her legs
I know a lot of people use sand in their coops and don't have a problem. The kind of sand can matter. Play sand and paver sand is not good, construction sand is. I have very sandy soil, being in Florida, and have not lost a bird due to sand ingestion. I sometimes find sandy droppings, but I think they are more from the birds shaking off the sand after dust bathing and it gets all over the dropping, on examination that's what it looks like to me. I would imagine if they ate enough sand it could cause a problem, I just haven't experienced birds doing that, or had any issues with my natural sand. The watery blob between the legs could be ascites, which is fluid build up from organ failure or cancer usually. It also could be fat, some fat birds will have large abdomens and it can feel somewhat like ascites. Fat birds can suffer from liver problems and fatty liver disease. But ascites will usually get worse with time, and the abdomen will get firmer with added pressure. The slow, soft crop in combination with the swollen abdomen, suggests a reproductive problem. If you lose another, or end up culling, I would recommend a necropsy to get a better idea of what is possibly going on. If you can't get a professional one, then you can do an informal one yourself, if you are up to it, and there are several people here who will look at pictures of the organs for you and give you opinions based on their own experience.
More info on sand:
And a necropsy manual attached.


  • Avian_Necropsy_Manual-English.pdf
    2.9 MB · Views: 1

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom