Underweight chicken doesn't want to eat pellets

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by starchicky, Dec 4, 2016.

  1. starchicky

    starchicky Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 14, 2013
    I recently noticed my oldest laying hen had a "I'm sick" posture. She is in the middle of molting, so I thought she might just be uncomfortable but when I caught her I realized she was very underweight! I've never felt one of my chickens to be so thin.

    By interacting with her, she seems very hungry, but doesn't want to eat the pellet feed. I've had issues lately with mice getting into the feeder and am in the process of getting grandpa feeders set up. So I think this is why she doesn't want to eat the feed.

    But she ravenously eats up meal worms, seed and quinoa that I cooked for her. So I'm trying to think of what I can feed her to get her weight back up. Or ways I can prepare/present the feed to get her interested in it again-If I get 20% protein feed she still might not eat it. The only other thing I've done before is scrambled eggs for them.

    I'm also wondering about worming, if that wouldn't be a good idea since she's not that healthy at the moment. Or will that only help and not be harmful? I'm assuming I should worm all the chickens.

    I have her inside the house right house in a kennel. Thanks for any ideas!
  2. rebrascora

    rebrascora Overrun With Chickens

    Feb 14, 2014
    Consett Co.Durham. UK
    Definitely try some scrambled egg again. Also try mixing some clean pellets (known to not be mouse soiled) with warm water to make a warm mash and if she will eat scrambled egg, then start mixing the scrambled egg into the warm pellet mash. Meat or fish or cat food will also help increase her protein intake. Keep her in the warm until she has put on some weight and is eating well otherwise she will use up those calories keeping warm and not put any flesh on. A bit of porridge is usually well accepted too or bread soaked in warm water along with the higher protein foods, but bread is low in nutrients, so only feed it if it's all she will eat.
    I wouldn't worm her at this stage unless you know there is a worm burden. You should be able to get a faecal float test done via a vets or independent lab that will identify if internal parasites are a problem. You can just send a sample of poop off, so it's not as expensive as an appointment at the vets. Giving her wormer when she is already unwell and underweight, if she doesn't need it, will just put more strain on her system.
    You might want to try some Nutri drops or similar vitamin supplement (I believe Rooster Booster is a brand in the USA) as well to give her immune system a boost.

    Good luck with her.

    1 person likes this.
  3. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Have you checked her crop? I've had hens with sour crop, and the symptoms you describe are related to this condition. Typically, a hen with sour crop loses weight due to no appetite, but she will eat small amounts of alternative foods since regular feed often contributes to sour crop.

    With sour crop, the crop is full and squishy. If you push on the crop, sometimes the fluid comes up and out of the beak. Be careful doing this as it can risk aspiration.

    The cure is the same yeast treatment for women who have yeast infections. The dose is a quarter inch "dab" twice daily for five to seven days. Greek yogurt is also a good food to combat the yeast.
    1 person likes this.
  4. cluckcluckgirl

    cluckcluckgirl Queen of the Coop Premium Member

    Jun 16, 2012
    Tending to my chickens
    x2 on the advice above.

    What has worked for me has been feeding pellets moistened with warm water. This has worked on any chicken I've tried it on, most of whom didn't want to eat a single thing.

    During hard molts, I've also given my chickens some wet cat food, as an added protein source.

    Definitely get the mice situation taken care of, as mice can lead to contaminating the food.

    Best of luck!
  5. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member Project Manager

    Jun 24, 2012
    My Coop
  6. starchicky

    starchicky Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 14, 2013
    Thanks everyone! I did give her some eggs, as well as peas and quinoa. She is out now that it is warmer and I was eating fresh pellets today. I didn't think about sour crop so I will go check her crop and maybe give them some greek yogurt anyways. We will be building the new feeders today and I have been taking their food in at night to help with the mice in the mean time.
  7. starchicky

    starchicky Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 14, 2013
    An update. She is doing much better and back to being plump after feeding fermented feed and fresh pellets everyday. I think sour crop was a likely culprit. Fermented feed is great and I'm so glad she is back to normal!

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