Two-year-old Rhode Island Red* (I've now been told she is Welsummer) is thinner/scruffier (possibly

cofarmgirl

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 18, 2014
34
5
24
My fiancé and I are very new to raising backyard chickens, and we are so appreciative in advance for anyone's input!
--

Background
- We currently have four hens, all of which are different breeds, and one rooster.
- We got the hens from my fiance's co-worker, who also wasn't an experienced chicken-raiser or farmer.
- We have had them since Sunday, March 23 (so we're going on four weeks), and the rooster since March 30.
- They are provided a generous space in a wooden shed-like structure with a nesting table (and separate nest boxes) and multiple roosts of varying heights.
- They free-range during the day in an enclosed yard. The ground is natural dirt inside and out, with patches of grass and weeds outside as well.
- They eat Country Acres 16% Layer Feed. Their nest bedding is MannaPro Fresh Flakes. The Welsummer has only walked on the nesting table once or twice and has never laid.
- Presently we receive one egg almost every day, but it's always from our youngest hen, the Buff Orpington. We have two hens that are supposedly two years old and one that is three, and none of them lay.
- With the introduction of the rooster (from a different co-worker who has raised chickens for years), the pecking order was thrown off. The hens had never interacted with a rooster prior, so the three-year-old hen was the "leader." The Welsummer and our black one (not 100% sure on her breed) seem to be the lowest ranks.

WELSUMMER
- A little over two years old
- Not laying since her arrival on March 23 (previous owner didn't know which ones were laying for him, unfortunately)
- Typically aloof and reserved in nature (stands or lies down alone often, naps often, flighty/timid around us)
- Strong flier (able to fly to the highest roost with the rooster at night)

- In the last week, our Welsummer was looking slightly different, although at first it was difficult to put my finger on exactly what. With careful observation and with time, it seemed like she was smaller in mass all around.

- Side note: The black hen that is also two years old is now fuller and bigger next to her, and probably not due to coincidence, that one has been pecking at/picking on our Welsummer since the rooster's arrival (i.e., competing in the order). She snaps whenever the Welsummer tries to eat or drink, but it's not too aggressive and it's not consistent. (We are monitoring that!)

- We then took note of the Welsummer's feathers around the coop and run, and this led us to think she is molting. She is certainly scruffier in appearance, especially around the head and neck. However, blogs and articles everywhere tell me to first rule out other possibilities like mites or lice.

- Just two days ago I noticed one of her toes on her right foot was slightly curled; it stuck out next to the other toes, and it looks uncomfortable. Towards the base of it (close to the interdigital web - not the claw) there appears to be a lump - a swelling of some sort. See attached images.

- I read up on Bumblefoot, but that seems like it's more on the top/external of the toe and not the bottom of the foot. I will still be checking the bottom for any scab today. I also read about scaly leg mites, but her legs and feet don't look raised or crusty.

Photos (8 total)
- First four (4): All of the hens for an initial size/shape comparison (black one is same age and used to be thinner but relatively comparable in size)
- (1): Close-up while relaxing under a tree (taken three days ago)
- (1): Foraging on a slightly breezy day (taken two days ago)
- (2): Feet (taken yesterday)

--
Thank you so much once again!















 
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boskelli1571

Crowing
9 Years
Mar 7, 2011
3,587
1,287
371
Finger Lakes, NY
Hi there & welcome, First up, your RIR looks like Welsummer to me!
Birds are sensitive to change and they have had a lot recently - change of territory, intro. of rooster etc. so that may put them off laying. You say you checked for lice/mites etc. check again closely just in case. Also, it's possible they are older than 2, which will affect their laying, but they still should lay something eventually.
There is definitely some sort of swelling on that foot. Try to catch the bird and do some Epsom salts soak. Check the area carefully, there may be a splinter or such in the foot. Keep a close eye on her, but if she's eating/drinking ok it may be that she's stressed and dropping feathers. Try some yoghurt mixed with oatmeal, high protein snacks like mealworms etc. to up the protein intake.
I'm sure someone else with more experience will also guide you, good luck!
 

cofarmgirl

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 18, 2014
34
5
24
Thank you SO much for replying!

I've been worried about the sweet hen all day. I love that there are forums like this to help. Anyway, I looked up Welsummer, and you definitely are onto something! One of my hen-raising aunts thought she was a RIR, but I'm learning by the second how it's not always easy to identify breeds. I think you raise a good point about all of the environmental changes that may be causing her some stress, especially because she has always been on the timid side. We will get some foods that are high in protein and safe to feed the hens, as well as some Epsom salt to soak her foot. Each day I will observe the foot and her appearance. I'm so glad I am an avid picture-taker so that I have documentation! Have a great day!
 
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cafarmgirl

Crowing
10 Years
Mar 24, 2009
5,523
583
327
California, central valley
Definitely something going on with that foot. They also all look a little pale in the combs/wattles to me....I would deworm everybody with Valbazen and do a careful check for mites.

(hmmm, our screen names are almost identical lol!)
 

Eggcessive

Enabler
Premium member
9 Years
Apr 3, 2011
50,848
41,241
1,202
southern Ohio
The toe on the Welsummer looks like it could possibly be broken. Also bumblefoot usually is on the bottom of the foot, although swelling and abscess can occur on top between toes, too. I would look at both entire legs and feet for any unusual swelling of joints or the upper leg. Does she limp or lie down a lot? I agree with worming (Valbazen or SafeGuard liquid Goat wormer)--1/2 ml of either, repeat in 10 days--toss eggs for total of 24 days. Check for mites an lice near vent. Chickens usually molt at 18 months , and yearly thereafter, so watch them for any feather picking.
 

cofarmgirl

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 18, 2014
34
5
24
Definitely something going on with that foot. They also all look a little pale in the combs/wattles to me....I would deworm everybody with Valbazen and do a careful check for mites.

(hmmm, our screen names are almost identical lol!)
I did a double-take at the aliases, too! We are so original, obviously.

I wondered if their combs were more faded-looking, too. Could that also mean that they aren't receiving enough calcium and/or protein? Or does it usually point to worms?
Thank you for your input!!!!
 

cofarmgirl

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 18, 2014
34
5
24
The toe on the Welsummer looks like it could possibly be broken. Also bumblefoot usually is on the bottom of the foot, although swelling and abscess can occur on top between toes, too. I would look at both entire legs and feet for any unusual swelling of joints or the upper leg. Does she limp or lie down a lot? I agree with worming (Valbazen or SafeGuard liquid Goat wormer)--1/2 ml of either, repeat in 10 days--toss eggs for total of 24 days. Check for mites an lice near vent. Chickens usually molt at 18 months , and yearly thereafter, so watch them for any feather picking.
She does lie down often. However, she has done that since we got her four weeks back. I'd hate to think she has suffered with this toe issue for a while! My fiancé and I will be pulling her out and examining her thoroughly tomorrow. When the rooster arrived and the social dynamics were being redefined, she started aspiring to fly to the highest roost (of three) that we have. I wonder if she has hurt her toe by flying/jumping from roost to roost, or from landing in the mornings. There are rocks in their yard and two wooden roosts that could be sanded better, so there are many potential factors for injury. We will look into Valbazen - especially because we have limited information about them all and their histories, it's probably best to treat them anyway. I have more photos, and I'll return with any additional questions tomorrow. Thank you, thank you, thank you! You've all been great.









 
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cafarmgirl

Crowing
10 Years
Mar 24, 2009
5,523
583
327
California, central valley
Yeah that's a pretty high roost! I keep mine at about 3 feet or so because I just don't want my heavier standard size birds making a long jump to the floor.

Does the swelling on her foot feel soft or is it hard? I guess if it's hard it could be an old, calcified break.
 

Eggcessive

Enabler
Premium member
9 Years
Apr 3, 2011
50,848
41,241
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southern Ohio
I found that I had placed my roosts too high when starting with chickens, and of course, they all must be at the top level, while the other roosts are empty. I also would recommend to use ther wide side up of 2X4s for roosts. It will keep their feet warmer in winter. Just keep an eye on the joints in her leg, and examine her breastbone for any blisters or sores. MS is a disease that can affect joints, and occasionally will have respiratory symptoms.
 
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cofarmgirl

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 18, 2014
34
5
24
A couple of updates:
1. We moved the top roost over to the left, above the lowest one, and it's about the same as the second highest one now. They all shifted down to the second highest one.
2. We sanded the wooden roosts to help prevent injuries like splinters. (These were already put in because we live in a rental farm house and the landlord used to have his own chickens.)
3. We picked up and held the Welsummer and found that her skin on the bottom and all around the feet and legs was perfectly normal in appearance - no scabs, discoloration, raised scales, or crustiness. We felt the toe, and the swollen part was hard. No puss was present, and the swelling didn't move (for instance, if liquid were inside) if we pressed down and moved it, so it didn't seem like a skin abscess. We think it is a break in the joint.
4. We washed her feet and legs during this process. We gave her an Epsom salt/warm water soak. She had started to look like she was limping yesterday, and this morning when I let them out into their backyard she seemed to do it less.

Will this break fix itself? Should we try to make a splint for the toe? What other recommendations does anyone have? Thanks in advance. Happy Easter!
 
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