Urgent!!! Red Star hen: lethargic after/before laying an egg, HELP!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by 77horses, Nov 7, 2009.

  1. 77horses

    77horses ◊The Spontaneous Pullet!◊

    Aug 19, 2008
    Help!!! My sweet Red Star hen, Cinnamon, is acting strange; it has been happening on and off for a while this year now. [​IMG]
    Sometimes when she is about to lay an egg, she will become very lethargic and fluffed up, usually on days when she doesn't lay her egg in the morning (like she usually does). If she's free ranging at the time, we will put her by herself in the caged-in run and she will just stand in there until she lays her egg.

    This morning she didn't lay her egg again and I knew from experience that she would become lethargic and sick-looking. Sure enough, I found her out under our big fir tree, just standing there all fluffed up. I put her in the run so she could lay her egg in peace (she wouldn't go into the nest boxes). She stayed in the run area, once and a while aiming her butt to the ground and dropping her wings like she was going to lay her egg. Finally, she laid her egg, which looked normal.
    But usually after she laid her egg, she would come out of her stage of being lethargic. Now, after she has laid her egg, she is out in the run still. She's laying on the ground, her neck pulled in and her feathers fluffed out. She's mostly closing her eyes like she's sleeping but opens them occasionally and she's squinting a lot and closing her eyes again. One of our other Red Star hens, Penny, is out there on the other side of the fence laying next to her for some reason. Maybe she's worried and wants to comfort her?

    I'm really worried about my poor Cinnamon! [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] What's wrong with her?
    She gets a good amount of fine cracked corn, layer mash, AND layer pellets and she eats them without any problems. She has plenty of water available. She doesn't have any worms because we just wormed her a couple months ago and haven't noticed any worms in her droppings since then. She used to have lice but since we've been dusting her, the coop, and all the other chickens, we haven't noticed that many on her anymore.

    Also, when she was laying her egg, we noticed that her vent was a little foamy. Again, she doesn't have worms.

    Please help!!!!
  2. 77horses

    77horses ◊The Spontaneous Pullet!◊

    Aug 19, 2008
    Oh and I forgot to add that she and most of the other chickens are/just molted (it's just a small molt right now; not a lot of feather loss). But even when she wasn't molting she sometimes acted lethargic when laying an egg). And along with her corn/layer mash/layer pellet diet, she also eats grass and other stuff while free ranging and we sometimes feed her leftovers like bread, donuts, cereal, etc.
  3. 77horses

    77horses ◊The Spontaneous Pullet!◊

    Aug 19, 2008
    UPDATE: Cinnamon laid a 2nd egg a little while ago; it had no shell, just a membrane and the yolk/whites inside. She ended up eating it because it broke when she laid it.
    Now she seems to be coming quickly out of being lethargic and is walking around more and she got a drink.
    So, she skipped the time when she usually lays her egg in the morning, then was lethargic and fluffed up, then laid a normal egg, was lethargic and sleepy-looking, laid an egg with no shell, and now seems to be acting fine again. [​IMG] Any advice? I'm worried that when this happens again it will get worse and worse until.... [​IMG] I don't even want to think about it. [​IMG]
  4. Blue_Myst

    Blue_Myst Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 5, 2009
    I"m glad she's feeling better!

    I'm really looking forward to the replies you'll get. I had a hen that did the EXACT same thing as you described! Used to scare me to death! I'd go out and find her on the floor of the coop just sitting there, her eyes closed as if she was in pain. I'd isolate her, and it always looked like she was just going to die right there she looked so sick. She'd be so tired that she couldn't move very far, except to eat a bit. But every time, she'd lay a soft shelled egg and be up within fifteen minutes ready to run around outside. It happened almost every two weeks [​IMG]

    However, I did notice that when I started putting ACV in her water, this stuff happened less often. I never got to the bottom of exactly 'why' it did, though.
  5. caralouise1974

    caralouise1974 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Me too! Our bluebelle used to do this exact same thing for the first three months she was in lay. Lots of soft shelled eggs, lots of fluffing up, lots of squatting and looking poorly, and one day she laid FOUR soft shelled eggs in a row! It cost us a fortune in vet's bills.

    Thankfully, after a lot of worry and heartache, she seems to have grown out of it, and her first moult at 13 months old seems to have sorted her laying issues out really well. It appears that simply having a 'softie' backed up in her system made her feel under the weather, and once it was laid, she was fine. Sometimes she needed to lay two softies to be fine again, but she's always come through okay. Recently though she's not had any laying problems at all.

    I think it's simply a passing phase, but do be aware of any serious complications, such as a soft-shelled egg breaking inside your hen, as it can cause a fatal infection (peritonitis). Hopefully though she'll just grow out of it, just like my Bella did. Good luck xxx
  6. Kittymomma

    Kittymomma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 9, 2009
    Olympia, WA
    The only thing that comes to mind is that she might be needing more calcium. I couldn't tell for sure from your post what percentage of her diet is the cracked corn. Mine will eat way more scratch then is good for them if they get the chance--kinda like my kids with chocolate [​IMG] Anyhow, if she's filling up on cracked corn she may not be getting the calcium and other nutrients that she needs. Maybe cut-back on the treat so she eats her layer pellets and offer free choice crushed oyster shell. [​IMG]
  7. OrpingtonManor

    OrpingtonManor Building the Castle

    Nov 15, 2008
    Martinez, CA
    If she is laying shell-less eggs, she probably needs more than oyster shell. I just had a hen get Egg Yolk Peritonitis from having a shell-less egg break and get infected inside her. I was told to give 3cc liquid calcium (<1 if a banty) if i ever saw her start to behave like you are describing.
  8. Tala

    Tala Flock Mistress

    I'm immediately thinking calcium too.
    Not just because of the shell-less egg
    but because a lack of calcium can cause problems with the muscles that are required to lay the egg! It sounds like laying an egg is REALLY putting a drain on her system, so I think calcium would help!

    I would cut out all corn from her diet, and offer oyster shells free choice.
  9. 77horses

    77horses ◊The Spontaneous Pullet!◊

    Aug 19, 2008
    Quote:That's what I was thinking. Where can I get some oyster shells? About how much is it to buy them?
    My dad isn't too happy about it; he thinks of it as just spending more money on them and complains about the time when he had to buy wormer for them and lice/mite dust. Now I have to convince him that we need to get oyster shells for her; but he keeps disagreeing because he says chickens shouldn't get "special treatment and don't need a special diet". He thinks that it's spoiling them and other chicken owners don't buy them oyster shells and wormer and stuff. [​IMG] [​IMG] Is this true?

    Cinnamon is fine today. I don't know if she laid an egg because there was a mix of eggs from all our chickens and some were from yesterday so I couldn't tell which were hers.

    Actually, she doesn't really get much cracked corn in the first place. Mostly the pellets. Once and a while she will get some of the fine cracked corn in her feed dish and sometimes will find some on the ground when free ranging.
    And usually we add more corn to all the chicken's diet when it starts getting colder. I've been told that it's best to add more corn to their diet because it adds more fat and keeps them warm or something like that. So how can we give them more corn if she shouldn't be eating any more of it????
  10. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2009
    wow, that sounds a lot like what my Billina did this morning, except I am also noticing abnormal poop (clear, mucousy, with brownish yellow unformed material). No soft shelled egg so far, though.

    She has layer feed, plus free choice oyster shell.

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