Warm bath... how warm?

Kerry in Wa

In the Brooder
8 Years
May 6, 2011
One of the girls isn't well today.
Someone has been dropping rubber eggs off and on... I'm not sure if it's Lucy, but from the way she's standing this afternoon with her back kind of hunched, not eating or drinking, I'm afraid she's got one stuck. She was fine this morning.

I've read here on the forum to give her a warm bath, but how warm should the water be, and how deep? deep enough to sit in (if I can get her to sit), or enough to cover her body? I've given her a couple of droppers of water with sav-a-chick added, and I'll give her more to keep her hydrated. She ignored the boiled egg and yogurt. The poops in the coop all look fine. Is there anything else I should be doing for her?



Uniontown Poultry

9 Years
Sep 7, 2010
Southwestern Pennsylvania
When I bathe my chickies, I use a big bucket (rubbermaid for the big Cochin) & I fill it to about the line of the back (have a cup ready for rinsing/pouring over the back). The water should be very warm, not lukewarm or tepid. When you put your hand in it, it should not be a shocking warm. When you lower them into the water, it has been my experience that many chickens simply relax, drooping their wings. If they do this, their backs slip under the water a little, and you don't need to pour water over them. I don't wash the head or use baby shampoo unless I'm washing them for show or if there is a severe parasite problem. Some chickens just freeze up in the water b/c it's different, but many enjoy it. The warm water relaxes the muscles, and usually if there is a stuck egg, it will come out (sometimes with a little straining from the poor hen). When I soaked my egg-bound banty, she gave a little grunt and dropped TWO eggs into the bathwater!

After bathing, wrap in an absorbent towel and then either 1) blow dry w/ a hair dryer, or 2) put bird under heat lamp in a draft-free area. She'll groom herself as she dries under the lamp. Some advocate just putting an eggbound hen under a heat lamp, but I like the bath method.

If she is really non-responsive, the blow-drier may be the better choice, but make sure you don't put her away damp. A heat lamp is a good idea for any bird that is sick/being treated for a medical condition, as it saves the bird's calories from being burned to warm herself. If she is egg-bound and the egg comes out, you may want to observe her & keep her warm until she's eating again.

If it's not a stuck egg, some other ideas would be 1) coccidosis (even though you said droppings are normal, you never know), 2) worms, 3) something else. Give her a good once-over - listen to her breathe, check the soles of her feet, smell her breath, all that stuff - when you get her in your clutches and are drawing her bath. Good Luck to you both!


Love My Chickens
10 Years
Jul 28, 2009
Floyds Knobs, Indiana
My Coop
I just use my kitchen sink filled at least halfway...and think bathwater for a baby for warmth. I just cup the chest for support if needed - talk soothingly. She may react for the first 30 seconds or so, but any bird I've soaked relaxes very quickly. Good luck with your poor girl.

Kerry in Wa

In the Brooder
8 Years
May 6, 2011
Just wanted to give an update on Lucy...

My first post was Friday. Saturday she was still acting poorly, so she got a couple more warm baths. Nothing was expelled, and after the second bath in the early afternoon, she walked around for a 'minute' and pecked half-heartedly at the grass before finding her corner in the pen and taking a nap.

Because she seemed at least a little interested in eating, I made her a mush with her crumbles, electrolyte water, yogurt and a little smashed boiled egg. She ate 5 or 6 bites, then took another nap. Later, she took a few bites of the watermelon and the fresh corn I'd given the others, but I still needed to force her to drink. Because she was eating something - 'though she had no interest in the dry crumbles, or anything hard - I started doubting that it was a bound egg. Her comb, eyes, beak and feet all continued to look normal, her breath never seemed sour, and there was no crackling or wheezing when she breathed.

Sunday morning, she was puffed up like a football. I didn't know if it was because she was cold (her last bath had been in early afternoon while I felt it was still hot enough for her to dry in the sun... the heatlamp I rigged up the first night made me nervous, and the blow-dryer was a fail), or if something else was going on. Still lethargic, and back in her corner in the run. No interest in her crumbles, but she ate a couple more bites of mush and watermelon, and caught a slow-moving bug that wandered in front of her.

Sunday afternoon, I started wondering about an impacted crop (these are my first chickens, and this is the first problem I've had in the 5-1/2 months I've had them), but there were no lumps or hard spots I could find, other than the general puffiness, but I added some olive oil to her mush and gave her more water. I massaged her a few times (still not sure if I was massaging the actual crop area, or just crushing her larnyx
), but no change.

This morning, I gave her applesauce with more olive oil, and she ate a bit of that. Another massage, more water and another massage. Still wouldn't move from her corner, and lots of cat-naps. Gave her more water and another massage this afternoon (the only hard spot I could feel was in the middle of her throat - about where an adams apple would be. I didn't think that was the right area, so I just massaged from between her legs up to her throat). At one point, I did hear a tiny gurgle - like a small bubble popping in the tummy and working its way up, but I think that was my tummy, since I skipped lunch to sit with her and watch for poop.

After that last massage, she again wandered into the run for more naps.

I watched her stand there and sleep for another hour and tried to give her a little more watermelon because it was so hot out, but this time she wouldn't touch it, then told her "enough is enough... time to go play outside and be a chicken." I picked her up and put her out in the yard with her 3 sisters. She pecked at the grass a few times, then wandered back in. I pulled her out again and set her in the sunshine, and she watched the others run around chasing grasshoppers, and pecked at the ground some more.

The third time I pulled her out, she stayed out, and started taking an interest in what the others were doing. Then she started pecking and eating the grass seeds in earnest. She finally started acting like a chicken again, rather than a fuzzy football, but every time the others would wander more than 10 feet away, she'd just stand where she was and go to sleep. I kept waking her up and chasing her over to where the others were, and by the time it was time for bed (3 hours or so), her back had more of its 'crescent' shape, rather than a full moon, and her body had enough definition again to tell where her wings ended and her body began. She followed the others into the coop and settled right down.

I guess morning will tell for certain, but she definitely seems to be on the mend from whatever was ailing her.

Could it be possible that she was just depressed because she saw me take an egg from the nest for the first time on Friday afternoon? Is that what 'broody' means?

Or could I have accidentally dislodged something from her crop, even though I never felt anything there?

Or was she just retaining water?

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom