Trying to determine if Silkie is sick or broody. Please advise.

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by happy-bird, Dec 22, 2014.

  1. happy-bird

    happy-bird Out Of The Brooder

    48
    4
    31
    Nov 14, 2014
    Northern Virginia
    Hi! I am new to chicken keeping and have had my bunch for about three months. Today, I have encountered our first medical issue (other than basic wound care).

    One black Silkie hen, Sirius, would not stand up today when I opened the coop to let everyone out. She can stand but will not walk. If she was sitting on one of the nests, I would assume broody, but she was sitting in the middle of the floor by the hanging feeder. I set up a large cat crate with straw, food and water (with a capful of Pedialyte) and brought her inside for observation.

    After some research, this is what I have observed and done:

    Gently palpated around and behind her vent to see if she is egg bound. I didn't feel an egg, but I have never done this before. She did have a poop stuck in her feathers, probably from sitting while pooping, but it looked healthy brown and solid, no green or yellow. I carefully trimmed it off.

    Checked her feet- they look good, no wounds, frostbite or curled toes

    Checked her eyes- her left eye looks a little cloudy. The third eyelid was up, so the cloudy bit might just be film. I couldn't tell if her pupils were reactive to light because her eyes are so dark. Her pupils did not appear to be oddly shaped, as far as I could see. I'm going to flush her eye when I locate our bottle of plain saline solution.

    She seems to be in good spirits, quietly clucking at me and receptive to attention. She is a very sweet, snuggly girl and seemed pleased to be in my lap for her exam. Also, when I held her water dish up to her while she was on my lap, she immediately dipped in for a drink. Same with the food dish, but I don't think she actually ate anything.

    Her wings seem fine, she has been flapping them to get her balance when I place her on the floor. Her legs support her, but she just stands there. She has been moving around the crate, but she does it by wiggling, not walking.

    General info: she has recently started to lay eggs, maybe a little less than a month ago. I do not know how old she is, but I think it is less than one year. She seemed a little distant yesterday. In the morning, she did the rounds with the other chickens, but by afternoon, she was by herself. Every time I went outside, she was by herself, hanging out between the coop and the house (our chickens free range). I think she may have had runny poop a few days ago because I saw a bit of white by her vent. It wasn't a lot, I noticed it against her black feathers and didn't give it a second thought.

    She doesn't seem thrilled when I take the eggs, but she has not growled or fluffed at me. She follows me to the door like she is wondering where I am taking the eggs. I do not know if she has been laying eggs the past few days. We have 3 silkie hens (maybe 4-one has be impossible to sex so far). Last week, I was getting 3 eggs a day from them, this week I am getting only 1 or 2 per day, but I can't tell who is laying and who is not.

    That's all the info I can think of to list. Any opinions or ideas would be super appreciated. Thank you!
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2014
  2. KayTee

    KayTee Chillin' With My Peeps

    921
    156
    151
    Sep 21, 2012
    South West France
    If you can keep her separated for two or three days then at least you will be able to see if she is laying or not at the moment, and also if her poop is normal or not. If you want to check if she is egg bound then you need to lubricate your finger and gently feel inside the vent. If you have never done it before then you might think that you don't what to feel for, but if there is an egg stuck then you should be able to feel it quite easily.

    I wouldn't worry too much about the small amount of white you saw on her bum a few days ago - that can be perfectly normal staining from the white part of the poop - it's just extra visible on black feathers. However, if she had brown poop stuck around her vent feathers then that could well indicate some diarrhea.

    What do your girls get to eat on a daily basis, and have you made any recent changes to the feed?

    Now that she is isolated can you tell how much she is eating / drinking and what her poop looks like? I know you already told us a lot, but the more information you give the more likely it is that someone on the forum will be able to help.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. KayTee

    KayTee Chillin' With My Peeps

    921
    156
    151
    Sep 21, 2012
    South West France
    By the way, she sounds like a sweet chicken, and I LOVE her name [​IMG] What are your other girls called?
     
  4. happy-bird

    happy-bird Out Of The Brooder

    48
    4
    31
    Nov 14, 2014
    Northern Virginia
    Hi! Thanks for responding. They eat Dumor layer crumble from Tractor Supply and the 5 grain scratch of the same brand. I also give them veggie scraps, mostly spinach, romaine lettuce, celery, radish, sometimes tomato if I have any. I forgot- yesterday they had cilantro for the first time and seemed unimpressed (I can't blame them- yuck).

    I will check her vent more thoroughly. I am glad to know the egg will be obvious because I was not sure. We've got gloves and Vaseline, so I should be all set.

    She has not pooped yet and is lying in the back of her crate. She still seems alert, clucking at me when I check on her. She has not eaten anything yet and I can't tell about the water. I just now made a mark of the water level to make it easier to tell.

    My youngest cat is absolutely fascinated by her, but I am keeping her away to prevent stress. This cat, Pooper, is good friends with our Splash silkie of undetermined sex. His/her name is Duck and I bring her inside for a bit everyday to visit with Pooper. It's pretty ridiculous. Our other silkies are Penelope and Remus (Sirius and Remus from Harry Potter- Sirius is black, Remus is brown). We have a Red Sex Link named Bill Brassky (most of our hens have male names for some reason), the Poland roosters are Droopy and Virgil Caine, the female is Willy, and we have another RSL named Jill, and Eleanor, the mystery chicken.
     
  5. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

    17,687
    505
    461
    Sep 6, 2007
    spring hill, florida
    What does she do if you take her out of her nest and put her down outside?
     
  6. happy-bird

    happy-bird Out Of The Brooder

    48
    4
    31
    Nov 14, 2014
    Northern Virginia
    Yay! I just took her out of the crate to check on her and she was sitting on an egg! She also drank a lot, pooped twice, and nibbled at her food. She took a few steps, but they seemed a little shaky and high-step. Maybe she isn't used to walking on carpet and tile? I checked her feet again and removed a small bit of corn stuck in the feathers near her toes. We are going to keep her in overnight to keep an eye on her. The back room is dark and with the door closed it stays very cool. I am afraid of getting her too used to the toasty heat of the woodstove, so I'm going to move her to the back room at 9PM, our normal lights out time in the coop.

    She stands and supports her weight, but she appears to be a little front heavy, like she is going to fall face first. Then, she flaps her wings and steadies herself. Mostly, she just stands there, and the steps she just took were her first all day. I can't take her out to the yard to see if she is more comfortable on the grass because it s freezing rain and sleety outside.

    This week I have noticed big eggs from our big chickens in the silkie's nest. I wonder if she felt crowded out of her usual laying spot? Tomorrow, my husband and I are going to finally make the nesting boxes we have been planning on making but haven't gotten around to yet. I am so happy she seems to be feeling a little better. She was napping comfortably earlier and I did not want to disturb her, so I had not checked inside her vent. I was getting her out to do the deed when I saw the egg.
     
  7. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

    17,687
    505
    461
    Sep 6, 2007
    spring hill, florida
    Does she growl? Will she eventually walk back to her nest? Mark an egg and put it in the nest within her reach but not under her. Maybe 6 inches away. See if you come back later and she has pushed it under herself.
     
  8. KayTee

    KayTee Chillin' With My Peeps

    921
    156
    151
    Sep 21, 2012
    South West France
    [​IMG] 'Duck' the chicken, 'Pooper' the cat, Sirius (black), and a whole host of pullets with male names - I love it!

    I don't think you're at all ridiculous to bring Duck in to visit with Pooper every day. My neighbour's cat comes into our garden every day - just to hang out with my girls! Sometimes he sits in the bushes at the bottom of the garden with them, and sometimes he goes and lays in their dust bath, which is under glass and is a fantastic suntrap! It's strange but they don't seem at all bothered by each other!

    I am glad that your girl has laid - at least you know that she is not eggbound. What does her poop look like - normal, runny? She doesn't sound like she's getting worse, but there's definitely something off with her. I would suggest that you keep her isolated for a while longer until she either improves or you can work out what's going on. Your idea to keep her in a cooler area is perfect, so that she doesn't get too used to warm conditions.

    It doesn't sound to me like she's being particularly broody - when I take my broodies off the nest they head straight back there, whereas your girl doesn't want to walk - she just stays where she's put. Have you considered a vitamin deficiency? I know that you feed them well, but it is just possible that if she is bottom of the pecking order she isn't getting enough of the good quality feed.
     
  9. happy-bird

    happy-bird Out Of The Brooder

    48
    4
    31
    Nov 14, 2014
    Northern Virginia
    Sorry I haven't responded, I have a nasty sinus infection and slept most of yesterday. Little Sirius seems to be getting better. She is walking and seems to be happy. Her poop is solid and she is eating and drinking. She has not laid another egg yet. When I took the first egg from the crate, she wasn't bothered by it at all, no growling or posturing.

    I have been wondering if I am giving them too much scratch. They love it so much, I was mixing it in with the crumble in the hanging feeder. The scratch was definitely being picked out and disappeared quickly, with lots of crumble cast aside on the floor. I have stopped that and am only putting the layer crumble in the feeder and the scratch in the roosters' crate dishes (each rooster has their own large dog crate in the coop for night time). I think the girls are annoyed. Every time I go outside, they all run up to me like they haven't eaten in days, begging for scratch. Especially the RSLs. They are such hogs. The feeder is half empty, so I know they are eating. I've got a new bag of spinach, so I'm going to give them a treat today. Hopefully, I'll stop getting the stink eye from Bill Brassky, the head hen. I think I have a flock of scratch junkies.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2014
  10. KayTee

    KayTee Chillin' With My Peeps

    921
    156
    151
    Sep 21, 2012
    South West France
    The favourite treat for my chickens is tinned sweetcorn - as soon as they see me with the tin in my hand they jump up to try and get at it - it's the avian equivalent of crack cocaine!

    You are right that eating too much scratch and neglecting to eat a balanced feed could well cause nutritional problems. I don't know if that has been the cause of Sirius's problems, but as she seems to be improving it may well have been a factor [​IMG]

    When you reintroduce her to the flock, try and observe them as much as you can, especially when they are eating. If the RSLs are pushing the silkies out of the way, and if she is bottom of the pecking order of the silkies, then that could also be contributing to a general malnourishment problem. If that is the case then maybe you need to add a couple of extra small feeding stations around the place, to allow everyone to eat in peace.

    You don't need to stop them eating scratch completely, but restrict it to a small handful as a treat from time to time. My 6 girls get a small tin of sweetcorn between them each day in the winter, but distributed in small doses - a few dozen kernels thrown out each time I go out into the garden. In the summer their treat is healthier - tomatoes, peaches, cucumbers, whatever is over-producing in my kitchen garden at the time!
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by