Very thin Rhode Island Red--can't figure it out


9 Years
Oct 3, 2010
I have a year and a half old hen that has become extremely thin over the last few weeks. I first noticed she had a problem when she was doing the following:

-isolating herself from the other chickens
-fluffing up her feathers
-looking drowsy
-her feces were extremely watery, and when she perched at night, it was like she was leaking throughout the night
-her tail feathers are at half mass and she seems to waddle, sometimes more than others
-feces on her tail feathers, under her vent
-I watched her fall over one day

Withing the first few days of noticing the symptoms, I thought she was egg bound, so I soaked her, but I didn't see anything come out besides more watery droppings. After doing the soaks a couple of times over a few days without an egg I tried to see if I could pull something out. It looked like something was attached to her oviduct (?) just inside the vent. I speculated that it could be a piece of an eggshell, but I couldn't be sure. While I felt something inside that I thought might be an egg, it seemed to be too low in her abdomen, and I didn't want to pull too hard (I just had another chicken with a prolapsed oviduct).

She seemed like she might have a fever at one point, so I gave her small amount of ibuprofen per a message board. I have been keeping her in a large dog crate in my pantry on and off for rest and so that I can monitor her food intake more often. She is still eating and drinking so I like to keep her free ranging. I added a garlic tincture to the drinking water for about a week (for all the chickens) in case it was a worm issue, but I don't see anything. I've been giving her an electrolyte mixture I made of water, yogurt, salt, baking soda, honey and banana. I was excited to see a solid poop the other day, but they seem to be pretty watery again.

We did notice that some of the eggs were thin shelled awhile back, so we started adding oyster shell to the food. We also discovered a few partially formed (i.e. shell-less) eggs which I'm assuming were hers. A few days after the soaks I noticed a portion of shell hanging from her vent when I let her out of the coup, so that became obvious.

So far, I have speculated around:

some sort of crop obstruction
egg peritonitus
liver problems

She free ranges, and eats compost and organic laying pellets. Any suggestions or ideas you have would be great, because I'm at a loss!
It sounds like she may have broken an egg inside her, which may be encouraging infection. I don't have personal experience with this particular problem, but i don't know if there's much you can do if she's getting infected. I do know that others have tried antibiotics, but laying problems often persist.

You said you've considered crop problems - is there any indication that this is her crop?
Thanks for your thoughts. Perhaps it is a crop issue, since she is eating yet seems to be getting thinner? I had read somewhere that an impacted crop could cause this. One day when I picked her up to check out her vent, a bunch of water came out of her mouth. I don't remember an unusual smell or anything, and I've since been paying attention and it seems to be fine. Part of my thought here comes from the fact that my neighbor frequently lets the chickens pick rabbit and fish carcasses clean. I thought maybe a bone got lodged in her.
If something that big is blocking up her crop, you should be able to feel it.

Since you mentioned the waddling, i just want to say that if there really is a crop problem, it's probably not the only problem. It sounds to me like there is a problem in the abdomen - probably related to egg-laying.
Have you ever wormed the birds? A heavy infestation can cause what you have described. Another possibility is Vent Gleet.
I haven't wormed them, and I definitely prefer to do things as organic as possible (within means). I had the chicken with the prolapsed oviduct to the vet, and she did say a parasite could cause the issue, but she didn't recommend worming them at the time. I did start adding a garlic tincture to the water as a preventative worming measure. I haven't see anything in their feces that indicates worms. Thanks so much for your response....I will look into vent gleet. I should mention, I only have 7 chickens, so a small flock.
That's just it, if you wait until you can see the bird shedding adult worms then it is probably too late to save them. If the vet did not do a fecal float test then how would they know whether or not the bird had a parasite load?

Worms shed eggs in the droppings which can not be seen with the naked eye. Here is how to do the fecal test, it is about goats but the principle is the same.

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