Weak Sister is Sick

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by digitS', Apr 14, 2009.

  1. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    I have a sick chicken.

    Yvonne is nearly 1 year old and has been a good-looking Australorp right up to a few days ago. In fact, I was thinking that she was putting on weight and looking a little larger than her Aussie sister lately.

    Two days ago, I noticed that she was staying by herself more. This isn't esp. different for Yvonne - she is the "weak sister" maybe we could say. #4 chicken out of 4, she has never been assertive and certainly not friendly with me, very shy. I call the other 3 the "Three Amigos" because they seem to like me (but not necessarily each other).

    Yvonne didn't join the others for a dust bath a few days ago, nor yesterday. Then I find her by herself, hunched up. I'd thought she might have a nest under the deck there, but she was just standing. By evening, I had herded her back in the coop but she was just stood in a corner with her eyes closed. I fully expected her to be dead this morning but she seems much the same. Even came over to look at the snack I brought the hens but didn't push in to eat anything.

    Her vent is messy which is unusual. But other than that, all I can see wrong is her lethargy. There's no discharge from her nostrils or eyes. She won't want me picking her up or coming anywhere near her and I hate to disturb her by trying.

    The weather has been very unpleasant the last few days - rain, hail, and now snow this morning. They were even caught out in the rain a couple days ago but I've only been letting them free-range between storms except for that. The birds go under the deck often to hang out. I don't really like them under there but my chickens have done that for years. This is a very old home and I'm sure there are paint chips and all sorts of things in the dirt that they like to scratch around in under there.

    Yvonne is always the last to get to any treats because of her shyness but they all have feed available free-choice. These days, water is changed once a day.

    I haven't noticed one thing different about the other 4 hens. But, I'm thinking it may be best to treat them all. I've taken out some yogurt and will have some scrambled eggs and put a tablespoon of sugar in a quart of water for them this morning.

    I haven't had a chicken get sick or die in years and years but I've always had very small flocks.

    About the housing: The coop's 2nd door is replaced after the cold weather has passed with a screened window. I put the screen in because it hasn’t been freezing overnight. I can put that 2nd door back on and the coop will be as tight as can be - fully insulated.

    I didn't think it was necessary to have it closed up like that and maybe not even very healthy to do so thru the days even with the rain. I don't know whether to close the coop up like it's Winter again or allow the circulation of air with the screen.

    Yvonne hasn't been laying well for about a month. Her last egg, a couple of days ago, was so thin shelled that I crushed it while washing. I've dropped eggs but that's the first time I've just crushed one in my hand. There's been shell-less eggs before but not from these chickens.

    I'd like her to live and become productive again. I certainly don't want the others getting sick, too. Should I treat her or them with an antibiotic?

    I'm sorry this ran on so long. I got very little sleep last night thinking about this darn chicken . . .

    Steve
     
  2. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hi Steve- Do you have a way to separate Yvonne to keep her warm and to begin treating her?

    If you have a dog cage or other set-up where she can be tended you could start by examining her vent area closely. She may be having egg production problems which are common among year-olds as they begin to lay larger eggs and to have a greater demand on their systems for vitamins and calcium.

    Pay special attention to her abdomen. Consider giving her a warmth session on a heating pad protected by rags/towels. Takes a full hour and could get messy. You will notice very soon though if the heat gives her relief.

    Will she eat? If so, olive oil possibly soaked in bread has comfortable caloric value, or small bits of diced tomato which also blends well with calcium needs. Yogurt, boiled and crushed egg...if she will accept.

    Will she drink and if so, adding about 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar to a gallon of drinking water will assist her muscles in using calcium and in making eggshell is she is still producing.

    If you have it, Avia Charge or baby vitamins in the water would be even better.

    Has she been getting lots of access to grit and ground oyster? Is crop normal?

    At a year of age, assuming there is not infestation or disease, you could be looking at a vent problem. Check her very carefully to eliminate any other cause.

    Warmth is a huge help for all ailments and along with what is mentioned above, could be a good start. Also watch your other birds, sudden temp changes and change in ventilation could precipitate a chill in any of them. Spring is such a tough time! We're going through the same weather rollercoaster. Good luck and please let us know how things progress.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2009
  3. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 12, 2007
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    Thank you Lynne!

    Good News - Yvonne made it out of the coop (where she spent the night on the floor) and actually flew up on their sunporch. Now if there was just some sun . . . at least there's a roof over their heads.

    She got down and ate a little yogurt and is now eating some boiled egg. How 'bout that?!? I’ll just give all their eggs back to them for awhile.

    I think she got chilled and all of them can get extra care the next few days. Apple cider vinegar went in their water. I misread your instructions - 1 tablespoon/quart, too much?? I'll get either some Avia Charge or baby vitamins today.

    As I said, I fully expected her to be dead this morning she went downhill so quickly. But, she’s the only one that hasn't been laying well for the last few weeks. Of course, crummy weather has been the absolute norm . . . [​IMG]
    It's a wonder that we aren't all sick [​IMG].

    Steve
    edited to say: her crop looks nearly empty, they get free-choice oyster shells and free-range few hours each day on the rockiest glacial till imaginable.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2009
  4. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hi Steve

    I use 1 Tablespoon per gallon with my hens. I know some people use 1 tsp for chicks. My girls adore their ACV. At first I offered it alongside regular water and they literally abandoned the plain water.

    I'm so glad to hear your girl is improving! I know you'l watch her. Layers are tricky, their needs are very specific, and I like them so very much! Thank you for returning with the good news...[​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2009
  5. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,119
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    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    I thought I'd come back and give a progress report on Yvonne.

    The day turned out sunny and all the snow was gone well before noon. With a fairly warm afternoon (48°F [​IMG]), I knew that the other 3 hens would like to be out for awhile on the lawn. I didn't know how Yvonne would react to them leaving but to my surprise, she came on out with the others!

    Mostly, she stood around with her tail down but there were a few times when she really acted more like normal, walked around a little, and found a few blades of grass to eat. When I called the other hens back to the coop, she followed along.

    I couldn't find Avia Charge at either the feed store or pet shop so I got Durvet vitamins & electrolytes and figured out how much to put in a quart of water. I'm not completely sure if Yvonne drank any. She' almost too shy to drink if I'm around when she's feeling healthy. But, something sure drank a lot of that water!

    Right now, Yvonne is on the roost! Last night, she never made it off the floor and wouldn't even open her eyes to look at the food I brought the hens. I'm really surprised about how she's done but she's certainly not "out of the woods" yet.

    The other 3 hens layed 3 eggs yesterday and 3 today. I'll just "cycle" these right back to them and continue with the Durvet. I covered their window with a feed bag for the night and will hope for drier, warmer weather. Things have gone much better for Yvonne than I expected thru this day. Yay!

    Steve
     
  6. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Yvonne sounds like a demure hen. I know I'd adore her! Glad to hear she is improving, and you're right, keep an eye on her. The roosting is *such* a good sign! [​IMG]
     

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