What's wrong with my Buff Orpington?


In the Brooder
Aug 13, 2020
Our eight month old BO recovered from a mystery illness about a month ago, where the vet couldn't even figure out what was going on, and now I fear that she is becoming ill again:(

She has been the first one to roost for the past few days, and I'm not even sure if she's been laying eggs. She's the only one of our chickens that lays distinctly shinier eggs than the others, and I haven't seen any of them for the past couple weeks. I've been watching her and she seems to have less energy than before as well, and is also having very runny droppings, and as a result is drinking a lot more water. I've been putting electrolytes in the water and that seems to give her some more energy.

I've been pretty worried, she's the only one of our hens that is susceptible to disease like this, and I don't know what to do:confused: Any advice would be very appreciated!
Here are some things that will help us help you. Can you get a picture of her poop? (Yes, poop pictures are very common here on BYC, and no one thinks it's strange.) Does her crop empty over night? Have you checked for mites or lice? How is she acting/moving/walking?

What can you tell us about the former mystery illness? You took her to a vet who couldn't figure out what was wrong; what did he/she say? Maybe you should do a fecal float test for various worms?

I'm going to tag some people who know more than I, but in the meantime, pictures/info can help get the ball rolling.

@Wyorp Rock @Eggcessive @azygous
Was she laying right before she started acting sick? Were any of her eggs soft shell?

Drinking lots of water and watery poop can indicate a blockage. If it's not from a crop issue and the crop seems to be emptying okay, then perhaps she has an egg stuck.

Other things that can cause blockages are worms and cancer tumors. You can rule out worms by worming her. Safeguard is easy to use. Get some.
Thank you so much for the replies and the information. @Sally PB, your profile says you live not very far from me, so I was wondering if you were familiar with the Animal Emergency Hospital in Cascade? That is where we went last month, and when I filled out an introductory form there, I had no idea what was going on her at the time, so I just said that the illness she was experiencing could have been egg binding. The papers we got back from the vet basically reiterated that it could have been egg binding, and just explained what it was. I was really frustrated with those results because the vet did not seem to know what was going on either when she called us on the phone(we couldn't actually go into the vet because of the pandemic so they had to contact us remotely). She ended up putting her on antibiotics and pain medicine, and she was back to normal a week and a half later(about three weeks ago).

I really don't know if what is going on this time around is as bad as last time, she is still eating and drinking and is showing interest in treats, and her crop seems to be functioning normally. Her vent is a little dirty from all of the runny poops she's been having, but she doesn't seem to have any external parasites. Here is a picture of her latest poop, and believe it or not, it is one of the more normal looking ones compared to the ones she's had.

@azygous, she was laying very strong eggs last week, and they all seemed normal; we haven't gotten any soft eggs from any of our hens in a long time. It was like she started laying all of a sudden after she recovered from her mystery illness and then stopped again. Also, I will look into getting Safeguard. Is it the kind that people use for horses too? And if she started laying eggs again while she's on it, would they be edible? Should I treat the whole flock?
If your hen was eggbound, she would be stationary, eyes droopy, tail down, shoulders hunched. There would be a lot of fluid coming from her vent, sometimes chalky white, sometimes clear. It might smell very acrid and unpleasant, distinctive from normal poop which is sulfur smelling.

Yes, Safeguard is also for horses and goats. It's easy to use. I don't worry about egg withdrawal with a wormer. Other folks discard the egg for a week or so. It's a toss up whether you really need to. Worming meds aren't like antibiotics and are pretty benign.
When you have questions about anything chicken, post them here. So many people are so knowledgeable that someone will most likely have some idea of what to do. The more info you can supply up front, the better. Pictures are always a help. Another thing is to post what you feed your chickens, including any treats. (I thought a cucumber would be a nice cool treat for my chickens last summer. Gave them the runs, big time.)

Of course, it can be a hands-on emergency too, which limits what help you can get over the internet. So having a vet who will see chickens is a good thing. Not all of them do. If I ever need a vet for my chickens, it'll probably be Cascade, as they're the closest.

What part of the GR area are you in?
With the advice and information you have given me, I think it is very possible that she has worms. I still don't know what was going on with her last month, but she had some of the egg bound symptoms that you listed, and was not interested in anything, just no discharge. Now, she still has some energy and still seems to be exhibiting normal chicken behavior. If I were to use the dewormer, would it be best to treat the entire flock?

I haven't really used this website before for chickens, I had just Googled everything. But now since I'm really not sure what's going on, I decided to try it out for once. I'm in the Jenison-Grandville area, and we had to do some research and call a few vet places that actually treated chickens around us.

I really appreciate the help both of you have given me, and I'm really glad I decided to consult this website!
It hurts nothing to treat the entire flock when you worm, and it's actually the best practice if you have the time. Last week, I wormed the entire flock, and I'm glad I did. I didn't see any wormy poop that evening, but it's no sign there weren't any. Winter is an ideal time to do this, and it's not at all hard on the chickens to do it.

You can get a fecal float, but sometimes a worm load may be too light to show up in it. I'm not in the group that worms on a schedule, but I do like to do it every so often just for peace of mind.
If it's not necessary to do a fecal float test before worming them, then I think I will plan on doing that as soon as I stop by TSC the next couple of days. My chickens have never been wormed before, so, like you said, now is a good time to do so. Thank you again for the tips:thumbsup

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