What Is Wrong With My Hens?


10 Years
Jun 8, 2009
I’ve been searching the internet for help, and I’m glad I found this forum. About two weeks ago, I went in to feed my chickens for the evening. As I opened the door, my RIR was waiting, and didn’t bother to move. That was strange. I looked her over, and saw that her bottom was very dirty with green diarrhea, and that her comb had swollen a bit and flopped over. I noticed no other symptoms. She wasn’t like that earlier that morning. Immediately, I separated her. For three days, she refused to eat, and hardly moved. On that third day, I saw maggots on her bottom. For fear that she might be a carrier of whatever she had gotten, I culled her. So far, the rest of my hens seem perfectly fine. No signs or symptoms of anything. No listlessness, no loss of appetite, no discharge, so strange droppings, except one thing. Two hens’ rosecombs seem more swollen, like someone blew more air into them. It's not very noticeable, but I was watching them so closely. Other than that, there is no discoloration, and no other swollen areas. Nothing.

Still, I’m very worried. If only I had gotten a necropsy done on the corpse of the dead hen! Today, I called the vet. The secretary originally told me I need to stop worrying, and searching the internet. I still asked if they ran tests for illnesses or diseases on poultry, and they do. However, I couldn’t just drop her off, and let them run every test under the sun. They need to know what to look for. What illness might my birds have, if one at all? Sound familiar? Fowl Cholera maybe? Thank you for any replies.

Oh, some more details... small backyard flock, been closed for two years until I bought some chicks a few weeks ago and I keep a clean coop, I promise!
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11 Years
Oct 1, 2008
Hector, Ar
If you saw maggots then the hen had a wound of some sort. I think she was feeling miserable from maggots on her butt and hence her appearance. I haven't had a chicken be able to inflict the sort of tissue injuries that produce maggots on the other, so I am wondering if you had a predator attack? The other possibility is that she prolapsed, exposing internal organs to infection.
If it were me, next time I would relax, try to clean up the hen, take some pictures, so you have a bigger view of what happened. The kind of diseases that most people on here encounter are respiratory or staph related bumblefoot, foaming eyes with tissue swelling, cocci and worms..stuff like that
Very sorry for your loss, hope that helps
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10 Years
Mar 5, 2009
Humboldt County
I agree with "luvarabhorses" - flies are attracted to excessively poopy butts, or a prolapsed tissue issue.
Sorry for your loss - if it happens again (the maggots), examine the bird and see if cleaning them off + disinfecting can help.
I worked at a vet hospital and had the enviable task of flushing maggots out of a tail wound on a goose. Took at least 1 hour of constant flushing in a bathtub with warm water, and massaging (with gloves, of course!) to remove all the maggots. Grossest task I've ever had. From there we flushed with a diluted Betadine solution and gave it Amoxicillin for infection. It survived and was none the worse for wear.
Hope this helps for future reference.
Again - sorry for your loss.

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