Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Chicken under the weather  (Read 746 times)


  • Joined Jul 2020
Chicken under the weather
« on: August 19, 2020, 08:19:31 pm »
Hi all,
I'm new to the world of keeping chickens but have had my 6 ex-commercial ladies since 2nd August. One of them was really feisty at first, but for the past week (ish) she has just seemed a bit under the weather. At first I wondered if she was egg bound, but we had a feel around and she doesn't appear to be, the fact that she is still with us leads me to believe that this isn't the problem. The other 5 are all absolutely fine and she herself doesn't have any odd secretions. Her symptoms are- snoozing often, standing hunched up and with slightly droopy wings, paler comb then the others.

If anybody has any ideas then I would love to hear them! If you think that I need to take her to the vet then equally please say so! I think that she is getting better, but it's slowly... they have poultry spice in their food and I have started adding poultry drink concentrate into their waters in the hope that she'll pick up. I also haven't seen any red mite and when I clean their house I dust it with DE.

Thanks in advance for any advice :)



  • Joined May 2015
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Chicken under the weather
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2020, 10:40:31 pm »
There's a good forum on FaceBook for ex-battery hens which has a lot of advice for these girls.

Standing hunched and/or sleeping a lot are obvious symptoms of pain so I would suggest a conversation with a vet if you don't have someone very experienced who can point you in the right direction.

Is she laying and if so is there anything odd about the eggs (e.g. soft shells, shell-less eggs etc)?

Is she pooping?

Is she eating and drinking normally?

Is her crop empty in the morning and full at night?

Does her breath smell?

What is her feather status (is she bare, showing pin feathers etc)?

Have you done a faecal egg count to check for worms?

I think anyone giving you advice on what it may be would just be guessing so you would be better to get an avian vet to check her over if you can.  I hope you can get to the bottom of it quickly and she recovers for you.
Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical and expecting more than others think is possible.


  • Joined Jul 2010
Re: Chicken under the weather
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2020, 08:56:22 am »
Hello Amy,
We started off with ex-battery hens, they were brilliant birds, but unfortunately they are bred to lay a lot in a very short amount of time, not to live long lives.

You’re spot on on their care, maybe just take a pooh sample to the vet to check for worms (that should be really inexpensive, I remember paying £4 a few years ago). Most of the time chickens seem fine even though they need worming, but every now and then one bird really suffers under a heavy worm load even though the others can cope wit it.
Chickens can’t get fleas but they can get lice, tiny beige creatures, fast moving, that lay eggs in clusters on the shafts of the feathers - check the feathers around her vent, you may need to google a picture of lice eggs first.
Whilst checking her vent, clip away any soiled feathers in case she’s had an upset tummy, it makes it easier to tell if the upset tummy is continuing. You can use a normal pair of kitchen scissors for clipping feathers. She may have a bit of a bare bum but it’ll grow back quickly.

As mentioned above, what does her crop feel like and what is her food intake like? You may need to keep her in overnight, maybe in a utility or kitchen, in a crate or box on some bedding to be able to tell if she’s poohing and if so, if it’s not al pooh. One of the tell tale signs of a bird that doesn’t eat is if the pooh is bright green / yellow wet stuff  - that’s stomach acids without food content. So if her pooh looks normal, she’s eating, if it’s thin and wet and bright green she’s not.

But there could be endless things wrong with her, and most vets have no idea about chickens, less than you will have. I had a vet say “the pooh looks good” whilst pointing at wet sludge, she should never have accepted that appointment in the first place.
Chickens are classed as exotics (yup...) so you may need to phone around for a vet that has experience with them. Chances are, though, that they’ll just give her a broad spectrum antibiotics, either injectable or oral. If you’re ok with needles, then they’ll show you how to do a subcut (subcutaneous, under the skin, easiest with 2 people) injection if it’s one of those that needs repeating at home. If it’s oral antibiotics, you can mix it with yoghurt, scrambled eggs, porridge or whatever, but you need to know first if she eats so again you may need to keep her indoors overnight and also check her crop whilst you have her there.

Do keep us up to date, you’ll find lots of help on here! Good luck!  :thumbsup:

Wanabe farmer

  • Joined Jul 2020
  • Whithorn, Dumfries and Galloway
Re: Chicken under the weather
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2020, 11:17:30 am »
Hi Amy.
Have you had a feel of her crop? Sometimes if this is  compacted it can cause those symptoms. I had one last week who's crop was bloated but soft. It turned out to be full of putrid dark fluid and once emptied was absolutely fine. Also has she been laying 'rubber' eggs?


  • Joined Jul 2020
Re: Chicken under the weather
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2020, 07:59:02 pm »
Thank you so much for the replies!

She is still not right but seems a little bit better, she is definitely eating and drinking some as I have seen her, and she joins in the rush a little bit in order to get any tasty weeds which I throw in there. I'm not seeing any weird poops around and only normal eggs. I've had a feel of her crop in the morning and it felt the same as one of the other hens. I'll try to grab her before bed to check on how full it is (typically she is one of the more flighty girls!)

I am wondering if it is to do with her feather growing, she has lots of pin feathers growing through at once, which I imagine uses a lot of energy and may feel uncomfortable?

I will see if I can get her into the local vet. They are listed on the BHWT website as chicken friendly (rural agricultural practice) so hopefully they will know what they are talking about!


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