Thin chicken, lethargic


10 Years
Oct 29, 2011
Onyx was my fattest, most voracious eater until a week ago. I noticed her not eating as much when free ranging. During our routine bed, squeeze check, I noticed her crop was empty. Since we were down to end of the bag of laying crumbles, I thought maybe she didn't like how there was a lot of the dust as opposed to the crumble. I got a new bag the next day, but no change. They are slowing down their laying, but she has only laid one or two eggs, and the color is different. Rather than the smoothe pinkish brown they usually are, they are pale and speckle/whitish on the ends. She is a Dominique, about a year and a half old. When I check her every night, she seems extra sensitive to the touch around her crop and throat.

So far I have done the following:

Thorough body check. No injuries, mites, signs of respiratory infection

Wormed her two days ago with Ivermectin paste

Put out oyster shell crush

Yogurt every morning

Anyone have any ideas? She seems interested in her favorite snack, moist play doh type dog food, but doesn't seem interested in much else. Should I try to feed her whatever she will eat, or might too many snacks and people food complicate things? I hate not knowing what to do.
Egg color fades as the season winds down. Perfectly normal.

Has she molted yet? She is at the age where she should be starting. That would explain why the slow down in laying, and that also would explain the "weight loss". She is not actually losing weight so much as losing feathers which makes them look much thinner than usual. Molt also makes birds grumpy and tired.
Yes, she is molting. I forgot to mention that, but she definitely is thinner. Her breast bone is where her fat, full crop used to be. Do they eat drastically less when they molt? How long does molting take? My rooster looks like he's had a comb over for weeks. Thank you for replying.
Molt is very hard on birds. They suddenly have a huge protein draw on them- regrowing feathers. They eat less because they feel terrible- itchy, uncomfortable, cold/drafty. They are under extreme stress, as a result of the aforementioned, which can lead to underlying health issues surfacing- chronically sick birds get acutely ill again, reproductive issues for birds coming back into lay, frequently crop issues emerge in birds that previously had no crop issues, etc. Molt is basically a bad time for most birds.

The duration of the molt is dependent on her nutrition and her genetic make-up. I have birds that go through a complete, hard molt in 1.5 months, but I also have a bird that takes about 4 months to go through a hard molt. The most productive birds will go through molt much faster. They will also molt much later in the season.

Adding protein to her diet should help to speed things along.

I hope this helps.
I didn't realize it was so hard on them.. Poor things.. How should I add protein? Meat scraps, or eggs, or vitamins or something else?
have you looked in her mouth?

No, I didn't think to do that because she is eager to eat her snacks. I'm not sure I would know what to look for. I guess i would be able to see if something was stuck. Is that what you are thinking, or maybe a growth?
Meat scraps, tuna, BOSS, meal worms, low sodium cat food in limited quantities, and yogurt are all ways to add protein.
Thank you so much! I feel better now, although now I realize she is miserable and that makes me sad. I will keep a close watch and give her the protein.

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