Trouble balancing and weight loss


In the Brooder
Jun 14, 2015
Atlanta, GA
Hey y’all. I have a chicken who may be sick and am wondering if y’all can offer some insight into what it may be. She’s about 2-3 years old and a Rhode Island Red.

She’s been losing weight and at first we thought she was just molting but she has almost all her feathers now and is still much smaller than she used to be. The most concerning thing is that she’s been moving slow and stumbling, like she keeps losing her balance and has to put a wing out to steady her. It’s not a limp though because it happens on both sides. I’ve checked her talons, skin, and feathers and all looks well. I have seen small bugs in the nesting boxes that may be mites so i just dusted with diatomaceous earth. She’s been sleeping in the nesting boxes but isn’t territorial in a broody way. The other chickens don’t seem to be picking on her or acting any differently and all are healthy. She has been eating and drinking normally when I’m around in the mornings and evenings but can’t say anything for during the day. I haven’t seen her poop to tell if it is unusual. I kicked her out of the nesting boxes tonight and she got up on the roosting bar after awhile.

We don’t really have a safe place to quarantine her, although I would like to if necessary. Any suggestions?


I love September
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
6 Years
Jul 16, 2015
She doesn't sound good. The stumbling is from her slowly getting weaker. My guess is there's something internal wrong with her and she will probably pass. It can be near impossible to figure it most times, and there may be nothing you can do anyways. Hopefully someone else has a better idea.

Hen Pen Jem

Sep 19, 2017
Southern California
Greetings rak5085,

When a chicken is obviously ill, like the chicken you describe, it is important to isolate them.

Isolating a suspected sick chicken is for the following reasons:
  • Protect the flock from possible infectious diseases.
  • Protects the sick chicken from attack by other chickens.
  • Allows the sick chicken to get enough food without having to compete in a weakened condition.
  • Allows the keeper to monitor food intake, poops, and other symptoms.
  • Allows the keeper to conveniently administer medicines and treatments.
  • Allows the keeper to provide supportive care, warmth if needed, etc.
  • Increases the survivability of the sick chicken, by allowing the chicken to rest.
Most of the time, the chicken only needs to be isolated for a couple of days. Once the keeper has accessed the situation and is sure there is not threat to the flock, and the chicken is strong enough and/or satisfactorily recovered, then isolation is no longer needed. Many times treatment can continue after the chicken is back at the coop.

So, if you are serious that you want to help this chicken recover, then yes, you must isolate it.

Weight loss can be the result of inadequate food intake, the body using excess calories to fight infection, diarrhea, a heavy parasite load (internal or external), or can even be a metabolic disorder. Your hen is very weak, which accounts for the slow walking and stumbling. She may be anemic from fighting infection, and most likely has at the very least, loose stools.

If she were my hen, I would isolate her, verify whether she has diarrhea. Administer a good vitamin tonic with iron. I like to use Pet-Tinic for dogs and cats, which can be purchased where animal products are sold. Administer .5 mL with an oral syringe, once a day for 10 days, to rebuild the blood and hen's strength. Next, a fecal float test should be run to check for worm load. If she is heavily infested, this may also be affecting her health. Perhaps a local vet can test her poop for you. I would not waste time, and would also, administer a broad spectrum antibiotic for 10 days, to protect her from secondary infection, which she may already be suffering from. Tylan 50 is a commonly used antibiotic by many keepers. You would have to get dosage instructions here on BYC. Or, you can take her to a vet, and they may provide the antibiotic.

Finally, good supportive care: feed her some cooked meat protein or cooked eggs, diced fruit, diced black or red grapes, fresh greens, cooked grains like: brown rice, wheat berries, oat groats, pearl barley, also some toast with butter is good. Always offer her moist feed daily.

She should have soft foods while healing, as they are easily and quickly digested. This diet is also good for chickens if that have crop problems. Something you may encounter in the future.

Also purchase some probiotics, give her some for three days, after antibiotic treatment.

Clean fresh water daily. I like to add some echinacea tea or aloe vera, to boost the immune system.

If it is really cold where you live, you can provide a little heat for her at night. Make sure she can move away from the warmth, if she wants to. She may only need warmth for a couple of nights. Keep her out of drafts and windy conditions till she is fully recovered.

Rhode Island Reds are such a strong and hearty breed, she may still have some strength to survive this, if you act quickly and consistently.

These are my thoughts...I hope they are helpful.

God Bless :)


Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Apr 10, 2016
Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Permethrin. She needs to be treated with something stronger than diatomaceous earth right away or I think the mite infestation will kill her. Sorry to sound so harsh, but this is an urgent situation and you need to act fast. Is it cold at night? She may also need a heat source, since she probably cannot regulate her own temperature right now. Good luck and please keep us posted.


In the Brooder
Jun 14, 2015
Atlanta, GA
Thanks y’all for the advice. We’re going to try to scrap together a chicken hospital ASAP and isolate her to see if we can figure out the issue. We live in Georgia and luckily it’s warm right now so we won’t need to worry about the cold but she’ll get lots of love and care.

Any tips on throwing together an isolation cage quickly with things laying around the house? (We don’t have a dog crate, which I know would be perfect). Kicking myself for not being more prepared!

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom