Buff Orpington not acting well

by G. Jones
(Plymouth, MA)

Question

Buff Orpington not acting well: She is separating herself from the rest of the flock.

She either lays down or just stands in the corner. No outward signs of sneezing or coughing; doesn't seem to want to eat or drink.

Has a pasted bottom. I have had issues in the past with respiratory illness (lost many hens) after I introduced mature hens from a person who shows them. She said some of her chickens had "colds".

At the time I didn't know how serious of an issue this could be, she made it sound like a common thing. After much research, I know better now! Shame on me, I feel so helpless.

Any suggestions. I feed organic mash, organic scratch, grit & oyster shells. They go in the hen house at nite and have a yard to use in the day.

I recently gave them a bail of hay/alfalfa as recommended by a chicken magazine I got recently.

I have gotten a couple eggs lately with a lot of blood in them, I don't know if it was this hen though. I got a rooster & his companion last fall.

She is not acting very lively either although not like the buff. Your thoughts are appreciated.

Answer
If there is a lot of blood in the eggs the eggs sound partially incubated. Blood on the outside of the egg can mean mineral deficiencies.

Chickens need a full array of minerals, not just calcium. Having a yard for them sounds like they may not get to fresh grasses and plants, which are a vital part of a healthy chicken diet.

The alfalfa is probably a good idea, but they will just eat the leaves and flowers. The stems will be wasted, but might make good nesting material.

The sick hen should be separated from the flock in a cozy pen or good sized cage. You may need to coax her to eat and drink to save her life.

She needs a heat lamp, conditioning food, vitamins and minerals and possibly an antibiotic.

Which antibiotic depends on what she is afflicted with. If your flock has been exposed to a respiratory infection, antibiotics might be needed, but I wouldn’t treat any chickens without signs of illness.

Some blood lines of chickens reach their prime productive life by 2. After that egg production decreases and general health can too.

I regularly give vitamins to my flock. Having enough of certain vitamins, but a good balance of all, can prevent illness, along with adequate food, exercise, fresh air and stress free life.

I use a vitamin electrolyte powder from the feed store. I prefer not to use antibiotics on a whole flock and have been able to avoid that with vitamins, even in the face of some respiratory problems with some new chickens last summer.

You may need the help of your veterinarian to figure this out. These are some suggestions based on how I handle my flock, my experience and some research I’ve done.

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