Help! Weak Hen

by Zach
(New York, USA)


Help! Weak Hen: One of my Cornish Cross hens (2 years old) looks very tired and weak. It ate in the morning a little and drank in the morning and afternoon but it did not eat or drink tonight.

It might be because it was cold (59 degrees F) and rained after I fed it lunch. But, she doesn’t like to stand up and if she does, she runs underneath the more healthier Cornish cross hen. When it sits down, it pants and spreads its wings out and its eyes are not fully open.

It’s been like this for about a week now. But today, it seemed the worst. It got better sometimes during the week and then got worse later. It seems to poo normally but not as much as it used to.

It might be like this because of its weight but the other chicken (about the same weight) can run and jump. What can I do?

Both chickens never laid an egg since last year. She ate bread and some vegetables but I do not think she ate anything suspicious. She is fluffed up a little. It might be a disease so I might have to give it some vitamins/antibiotics.

I have no local farm store near me so all I have is a human vitamin (chewy tablets), Advil/Motrin, and 500 mg Amoxicillin capsules (all for humans). Can I use any of them? How many per day?

A Cornish Cross that has reached this age is ancient. This is a fast growing breed that was created for butchering at about 6 weeks of age.

When they are allowed to live beyond that many problems can arise. The most common is that their bodies become too heavy for their legs and they can’t walk. Most are unable to roost.

If this hen has been with you since a chick, you have given her a good long life. Her breeding makes her body lacking the ability to live very long.

Giving her human medications would be too much. If you want to try to save her, you should get chicken medications and following the dosing for her weight.

But I really think that you would prolong her suffering to try to keep her alive. It might be good for you to study up on the breed on line so you understand how Cornish Cross are so different from most breeds of chickens.

In all my years of raising chickens I have only seen one full grown adult Cornish Cross and she was in bad shape. Unable to walk well, unable to roost her entire life, and she had chronic diarrhea with a filthy rear end.

She looked miserable. She was taken in as a rescue by a friend and my friend couldn’t stand to see her suffering, knowing there was nothing she could do.

I hope this helps. I know many people hate to think of a chicken being raised, only to be used for human food, but that is what this breed is designed for.

Keeping them alive to adulthood only leads to many physical problems and discomforts for them, even if it seems like a more humane thing to do.

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