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Urgent!! Need Help with a Lethargic Hen

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by swmalone, Nov 5, 2012.

  1. swmalone

    swmalone Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 30, 2011
    Northern Utah
    Hello everyone. I am hoping that some of you might have advice for me. I have a black australorp that is about 18 months old and when I opened up the coop to let the chickens out for food and water this morning she just stayed on the roost. Her eyes kind of look like she was sleepy with these long blinks and she was just puffed up. I pulled her out and she would not eat or drink, even when I offered scratch grains. She just stood off and did nothing. She was really active yesterday but did not lay an egg.

    We had our first chicken die a few weeks ago. That was a black sex link and when I went out one morning she was just laying on the floor of the coop. I hope that it is nothing contagious, but I can't be sure.

    I brought the australorp into the house and gave her a warm bath and put her in a small animal carrier with some water. She seemed to enjoy the bath but has still not drank. I massaged her abdomen and tried to feel her crop. I am not really sure exactly where I should be feeling and exactly what I should be feeling for.

    Any help would be appreciated. I think if we lose another chicken so soon my wife might just give up on the idea of having them because they are her pets and she gets extremely upset when anything happens to them.

    Thanks in advance for the assistance.

  2. swmalone

    swmalone Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 30, 2011
    Northern Utah
    Update...So I gave her another bath and I still don't feel an egg in there. I also lubed up and explored inside and didn't feel an egg or pieces of an egg. When I removed my finger a very liquidy whitish/yellowish pool came out, only a small amount though. She had not gone to the bathroom at all today and has not drank that I have noticed. She won't eat the regular food but ate a live meal worm that I gave her.

    I also gave her a little olive oil from a syringe because I hear that can help with some crop issues. I still don't know exactly what I should be feeling for there. She is still fairly lethargic but her eyes don't seem closed as much now.

    I would still appreciate any advice.

  3. Shadowgrass

    Shadowgrass Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 1, 2010
    An impacted crop would present with a very large (baseball sized) lump in the upper chest, it would be very hard to miss. Are there any other symptoms that you can feel or see? How is her comb/wattle color? Inspect the vent area is it clean and pink? Check her all over for any type of injury. Check her feet very closely, is there any swelling? Can you feel any types of tumors or anything unusual in her body. Does she walk around? WOuld you call her walk normal? She may be egg bound, but a hen not laying an egg is not really a symptom of anything, could be an off day, could be she is not feeling well, could be that it is getting late in the year.

    What about temp? Should be around 106. What about her droppings? What has she been eating/drinking? Any table food or food items other than chicken feed/scratch?
  4. swmalone

    swmalone Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 30, 2011
    Northern Utah
    Haven't noticed any lumps or anything unusual. She is just kind of standing or sitting around. Her comb looks nice and red. I don't have a thermometer to check her temperature. I give them some table scraps, recently rice, tomatoes, and some bread. They also have access to area with grass, but it is pretty short. The vent area is kind of red but she has been losing feathers in that area for a while. It doesn't appear to be swollen or anything. There have been no droppings since I noticed her being lethargic this morning, other than the water stuff that came out when I was feeling around her vent.

    What do I need to look for when checking her feet?

    Thanks for the pointers.

  5. delisha

    delisha Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 13, 2012
    Racine, WI -
    My Coop
    Is this one of the hen you had problems with eggs?
  6. cowcreekgeek

    cowcreekgeek Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 14, 2012
    Hurricane, WV
    For the moment, you can only be certain that you have a sick bird (sorry for stating something so obvious, but there's a point I'm tryin' to make here), and one other has been suddenly lost to an unknown cause. Although they may be unrelated issues, it is *far*more*probable* that it is something common to both birds, and has the potential to affect others w/in your flock. Also, thinking the worst (diseases w/o treatment) leads folks to not treat what they can (the far more likely causes of symptoms, and greater chance of recovery).

    In helping to know what she should feel like? It helps to handle one of the same breed/age first, for comparison. Also, there is a presentation on the Anatomy of the Chicken that may give you a much better chance of helping her ... for the introduction and further details >>peck here<< to open it in a new window. The full URL is:

    Also, you suspected being egg bound. >>peck here<< for the best article I've ever seen on the subject (again, in a new window).

    If she still gets up and moves on her own, then she is far more likely to drink/eat on her own. Otherwise, you may have to decide whether to take further action, or to let her go in peace ... that's entirely your call, 'cause she's your bird.

    The rest of your flock needs closer inspection for others that may show symptoms that can help you better identify what the problem is. In the signature of this post, you will find a list of links that all open in a new window ... bookmark each, 'cause you'll find 'em useful in the future as well. The one that helps to identify diseases/conditions based upon symptoms makes it much easier to know what to look up in the others.

    You should immediately scrub up your equipment, and replace the water for your entire flock with an astringent solution made by adding 4 teaspoons of Apple Cider Vinegar to each gallon of water (but not in galvanized metal containers). This serves many good purposes, and can do absolutely no harm to your birds ... of greatest potential benefit in your case is the reduction of botulism in their mouths, and that it aids in the removal of toxins this bacteria produces. It also helps to 'cut through' the mucus or other coatings in their mouth, throat and intestines, which improves the uptake of nutrients/vitamins, and allows them to better absorb any medicine(s) that you may be givin' them.

    This may be a good time to worm them all. The BYC member casportpony gives fenbendazole to nearly every sick bird encountered, as it is a wormer that has been proven both effective and safe up to 100 times the normal dosage, although if given during molt is can affect emerging feathers. See the 'Solutioned Used for Poultry' link in my signature for more details on this, as well as the inclusion of ACV in their water.
  7. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

    Nov 27, 2008
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Perhaps a malformed egg broke inside her. Bacterial infection may set in. I recommend a vinegar/water flush, like a douche:
    Use a large syringe without a needle, mixing 1 tablespoon of WHITE vinegar to one quart of water. Use a full syringe of the mixture and insert the syringe into her vent and gently flush. Use about 3 or 4 syringefuls. The liquid may or may not flow out of her vent afterwards.
    1 person likes this.
  8. swmalone

    swmalone Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 30, 2011
    Northern Utah
    No. She has actually been a pretty good layer. I had one that laid soft eggs often, but that is the one that ended up passing away a few weeks ago. I really can't figure out what is wrong with her other than she just seems to stand around not moving, eating, or drinking. I have felt her abdomen, probed inside her vent (this made some very liquidy light yellow/whitish droppings come out), have felt her crop but it feels kinda soft and squishy. She really hasn't done anything today include going to the bathroom.

    I have her in the house now since I bathed her and it is kind of cold. I also don't want to risk something contagious spreading to the others. She isn't broody, I have a buff orpington that does that a lot so I'm familiar with that behavior.
  9. swmalone

    swmalone Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 30, 2011
    Northern Utah
    I was providing a cider vinegar mix until recently. It has been getting cold enough that I had to use the heater and switch back to the galvanized container. I have provided this chicken with a cider water mix, but she isn't drinking at all. I did purchase some worming medicine, I am also wondering if I should find some kind of antibiotic and treat her just in case it is a bacterial infection. If so what antibiotic should I use?
  10. fmacken13

    fmacken13 Out Of The Brooder

    May 8, 2011
    I'm in the same situation and absolutely do not know what to do for my Susie. Her crop is enlarged like a baseball, she's very lethargic and she's normally the most vocal. She's been quiet for days and now she's almost lifeless. I've been reading through the threads and where do I start??? I've looked her over and there isn't any wounds.

    Any help is appreciated!

    Thank you!

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