View Full Version : I have a sick chicken--any general advice?

Nov. 12, 2009, 09:00 AM
One of my hens (well, officially they're still pullets I guess) has been NQR the last couple of days--standing by herself, puffed up feathers, just not active and bright like the rest. She'll go out and forage around when I let them out, but more or less spends a lot of time just looking pitiful. :( Her comb and wattles are paler than the others'.

Difficult to say if she's laying or eating or drinking, as they all sort of do everything communally (is that a word?) but she does go after goodies fairly normally.

Any general advice? Taking her to the vet is not going to be do-able until next week in all reality.

Nov. 12, 2009, 09:09 AM
You can buy chicken oral antibiotics at the feed store. I'd try that.

Now if she is egg bound, you have to help manipulate the egg to get it out.

And she shouldn't have new castle disease or anything if she is one or your original chickens. You do have to be careful introducing new chickens to your old ones. And they can get diseases from other birds too. Chickens also get diseases from mosquitoes, they are used down here to check for EEE.

I'd get some antibiotics and feed them to her. And check her to see if she is egg bound.

I grew up with bantams but my grandmother had lots of the big laying hens. But it's been a long time since I had chickens. There are some vets specializing in birds around here so maybe one in your area can check her out.

Nov. 12, 2009, 09:47 AM
My gynecological skills are not what they used to be--how, may I ask, does one determine if a hen is egg-bound? :eek:

Nov. 12, 2009, 11:00 AM
I think if you feel the under and posterior parts of the chicken, you will be able to feel the egg if she is eggbound. I'm not completely sure on that, but I seem to remember something like from when my parents had chickens growing up. Might be a good question for the backyard chicken peeps though.

Maybe she's cold and needs a little chicken sweater =P.

Nov. 12, 2009, 11:28 AM
Chicken Pox?!

red squirrel ridge
Nov. 12, 2009, 12:16 PM
Go to the forums at www.poultrycommunity.com , the posters are good at replying quickly and tend to be pretty knowledgeable.
Be careful with using antibiotics if you plan to eat your chickens or their eggs, at they will stay in the chickens system for a while- read the packaging carefully. Hope this helps !

Nov. 12, 2009, 12:26 PM
My vet indicated that when my chicken, Agatha, was on antibiotics to not eat her eggs for at least five weeks after the last treatment.

Keep an eye out for symptoms of Marek's Disease too, which can start like your chicken's symptoms (depression etc...).

www.backyardchickens.com has great resources for chickeny things.

Marek's is tragic if you get it. Thankfully I only lost one dear chicken to the disease - the others didn't come down with it.

Nov. 12, 2009, 12:27 PM
You should be able to get antibiotics (e.g. Tylan) at your local feed store. Warm water baths may help if the hen is egg bound. Has she started to lay eggs or is she still quite young?

Nov. 12, 2009, 12:28 PM
By warm water baths, I mean having her sit in a shallow rubber tub of warm water a couple of times a day.

Nov. 12, 2009, 01:34 PM
Ugh. Egg bound just does NOT sound like a party.

Nov. 12, 2009, 01:49 PM
Is her comb pale or red? How is her breathing? I she opening her mouth a lot?

Chickens are able to hide illness pretty darn well, so when you notice something amiss, that generally means it's really amiss. Is she laying?

Nov. 12, 2009, 02:01 PM
Comb and wattles are definitely pale and not standing up straight like the others'. No panting that I can see. They're all about 28 weeks old now, and have all been laying for about 4 weeks. I know they all have been laying because there are 5 hens and often 5 eggs a day, but not always.

Guess I will be doing a pelvic exam on a chicken after work today. :rolleyes: :lol: THAT should go over well!

Nov. 12, 2009, 02:09 PM
Guess I will be doing a pelvic exam on a chicken after work today. :rolleyes: :lol: THAT should go over well!

Yikes! I don't think that is among the stuff listed for "Learn something new every day!"

I knew there was another reason I don't have chickens. Probably right up with sheath cleaning in "fun stuff to know".

Keep an eye on her, make sure the others don't start pecking her too. Maybe a short stay in the house, in a dog crate, will make her feel better and keep her handy for the warm bath stuff if you
try that. Good luck with your girl.

Nov. 12, 2009, 04:38 PM
So I took a tour of some of the chicken forums.

Wow. I thought horse people were obsessive! :lol:

I have decided that keeping the chicken in the house, spoon-feeding it hourly and examining its poop minutely(including photos to be posted for general analysis) is simply not something I want to do. I'll put it in the dog crate in the warmer tack room tonight, give it some food and water (after the GYN exam) and see what happens.
For a horse, sure, I'll move heaven and earth. Dog, even. Chicken? Mmmm, no. :uhoh:

Nov. 12, 2009, 04:52 PM
My gynecological skills are not what they used to be--how, may I ask, does one determine if a hen is egg-bound? :eek:

Sorry I went to the barn and didn't wait for your shocked:eek::lol: reply. You are a physician, get some chicken anatomy books! The other poster was right, first, of course you will notice that the hen isn't laying, I always checked each of my bantams when i was a kid. Next you hold chicken and check out if she seems to feel "funny" around her bottom, then you try to help manipulate the egg out. A fluffy chicken is not a healthy chicken, unless it is taking a sand bath in the sun.
A bird specialist vet can probably extract an egg, but most hens get it done with a little help from massaging.
Chicken management 101.:lol: All you folks didn't think you'd have carefree chickens did you? They need their antibiotics, their vitamins, their special feeds and laying mashes, etc. Not as bad as horses, but definitely not maintenance free.
Hope Mrs. Hen feels better soon. All my deaths were due to neighborhood dogs.

If you "deliver" the egg (if she is egg bound) you will have to then put it in an incubator and hatch it and name it. Hope it is just that and not a virus.
Do get the antibiotics as the hen could have caught something from a crow or dove or sparrow. Don't even think about pigeon diseases, as my friends from Jamaica call city pigeons "flying rats."

Nov. 12, 2009, 05:40 PM
Since I have no roosters, I doubt incubating an egg, despite the method of delivery, would be productive. :)

Nov. 12, 2009, 07:09 PM
Since I have no roosters, I doubt incubating an egg, despite the method of delivery, would be productive. :)

Ah no bossy noisy rooster? Well if Mrs. Hen is eggbound you will finally solve the riddle of which came first: the chicken or the egg.

Hope she feels better.

Nov. 12, 2009, 08:40 PM
No egg back there. Nothing unusual about her neck/crop. Chicky still pretty depressed and not eating. :( Others are bright and normal. I was able to get about 20cc of water into her before she started making a fuss. She seems comfortable in the coop and it's not too cold so I decided to leave her there rather than isolate her and stress her more.

Nov. 12, 2009, 10:04 PM
DW--maybe you could sing songs to her and read her a bed time story? :winkgrin:

I lost one of my original 10 to pasty bottom about 6 weeks ago. In all my teen age visions of what being an adult entailed holding a chicken upside down and cleaning its bottom was not in the vision...

The rest have all been hale & healthy and I am now contemplating getting a straight run of 25 in the spring for the freezer. I had one roo in my batch that I gave to a friend, he gave me some stock he made from it & by golly it is right now making the best chicken and noodles a person could have.

Nov. 12, 2009, 10:44 PM
Ok, she sounds more sick than broody...but are you sure she isn't just broody?

Also, be very careful about administering liquids to chickens, it is possible to get the liquid in their lungs if they don't hold their head in the right position.

Nov. 13, 2009, 05:06 AM
Guess I will be doing a pelvic exam on a chicken after work today. :rolleyes: :lol: THAT should go over well!

Welcome to my world.

Today I did a lameness exam on a VERY LARGE, VERY ANGRY potbellied pig.

I mean, there were at least three pigs worth of pig to examine.

Nov. 13, 2009, 09:18 AM
Well, I lost her. :( Poor chickie. The others are 100% fine; I'm hoping it's nothing contagious that will affect the rest of the flock or any of the other critters. :sigh:

Nov. 13, 2009, 09:35 AM
Sorry she didn't make it. The pale wattles made me think of illness/anemia but they usually die on you no matter what you do.

Grataan - pigs do put up quite a fight, don't they. :lol: