Sick, Lethargic Hen

by Glenn


Sick three-year old hen: I have 7 Golden Comets (1 rooster & 6 hens). One hen has been acting lethargic, not eating well, her head is pulled in, her tail is down and she is now much lighter than the rest of the hens.

This has been going on for 3 to 4 weeks. I have had her isolated for the past week trying various things, but nothing has seemed to work.

I have been giving her electrolyte/vitamin water mix for chickens. I checked her crop which seemed to be full slightly smaller than a golf ball.

I massaged it and gave it yogurt in case of a blocked crop. Is this size normal? I fed her some hard boiled egg yoke of which she ate very little. Today I fed her some cooked corn and lima beans and she ate that.

Her poop is very watery and smells terrible. This hen seems to stay in one place and doesn't move around at all.

Three weeks ago she stopped roosting and started sleeping in the corner on the floor.

It sounds like this hen needs antibiotics at this point and possibly a poultry heat lamp. You haven’t mentioned if she is fed some kind of poultry feed and if she is willing to eat that and drink on her own.

Mixing it with some live culture yogurt may
help balance her digestive system. At this point, of being acting sick for a month, you need to act quickly.

I couldn’t tell you what is going on inside her or exactly what is wrong. All you are doing to support her sounds good, but what ever has taken hold in her is threatening her life.

A crop, when full, is bigger than a golf ball in most standard sized laying hens, but the fact that her crop has some mass to it is good, as long as it hasn’t soured.

Giving some raw apple cider vinegar, a tbsp to pint of water, may also aid her digestion.

Giving her fresh fruit will raise her blood sugar level, add enzymes to her digestion and possibly perk her up as you attempt to find the right antibiotic for her problem.

Taking a stool sample to your vet might give specifics as to what virus or bacteria is dominating her system.

I would suggest giving the vitamin supplement to your entire flock, in hopes of helping them maintain good health.

A well balanced feed is important, even if free ranging. Access to vegetation is vital for a well balanced chicken diet, along with good water, a clean environment, fresh air and sunshine. I hope you can pull this girl through and return her to the flock soon.

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