How Help A Sick Chicken – Q & A With A Chicken Vet

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Backyard chickens are pretty easy to care for on any homestead, but just like other animals they can fall ill sometimes. Sick chickens can be targets for predators and bullying, so let’s talk about what you should do if you think your chicken is sick.

Finding a chicken vet can be difficult, and this leaves chicken owners pretty much on their own to learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of common chicken illnesses.

So I teamed up with a colleague to write about how chicken owners can tell if their birds are ill, and what they should do if one of their birds gets sick.

How To Care For A Sick Chicken

Chickens are the new backyard pet, thanks to their gentle natures, ease of management and the delicious fresh eggs. But that means many new chicken owners have questions…lots of questions.

Most of the time, chickens require very little care and illnesses are less common in a well-maintained coop. Hopefully, you’ll be buying your chickens gifts more often than taking care of then when they’re sick.

But it’s necessary to be able to identify symptoms of chicken illness in your flock. So let’s go over some ways to determine if a bird is sick.

Backyard chickens: 20 common signs of illness in backyard chickens

The most common signs of illness in chickens include:

  1. Not eating well: going off feed is a tell-tale sign of illness in animals
  2. Bubbly or watery eyes or nose
  3. Rasping when breathing
  4. Sneezing or coughing
  5. Swelling around the eyes
  6. A strange odor to the bird(s)
  7. Swelling of the comb and/or wattles
  8. Unusual lesions (sores) on the comb and/or wattles
  9. Limping or inability to stand
  10. Diarrhea or stools that look or smell different
  11. Parasites visible in stools
  12. Feathers that look bedraggled, broken
  13. Bald spots with an unusual loss pattern
  14. Bloody stools
  15. Visible wounds and sores
  16. Enlarged crop
  17. Hunched appearance when it isn’t cold
  18. Standing by itself
  19. Straining to pass an egg
  20. Holding the wings in an odd position

Here’s a video of a chicken coughing:

What should I do if I think my chicken is sick?

If you notice any of the above sick chicken symptoms, your first and most important move should be to remove the bird to an area that is completely separate from your other birds.

Quarantining sick birds as soon as you identify them is the most important factor in preventing the spread of disease to rest of your birds.

Chickens can also be very nosey, and they will peck at sores on sick birds in the flock. Separating an injured bird from the rest of the group will help it heal faster.

What’s the best way to quarantine a sick bird?

To quarantine simply means to keep the bird completely separate from the rest of the flock.

It is not sufficient to just take it out of its coop and put it in a pen next door. The sick bird needs to be removed from the main chicken coop and placed it in a crate or pen in a different building.

A wire dog crate like this one is great to have around when you need to isolate a sick chicken.

Tips for preventing spread of disease

You’ll need to have dedicated food and water supplies for the sick bird, and don’t carry feed buckets in and out of the quarantine area. This helps prevent accidentally carrying the disease pathogen into the coop with the well birds.

Additionally, to prevent spreading disease, care for the sick chicken AFTER you’ve fed, watered, and collected eggs from the rest of your hens.

In the case of very contagious illnesses, wear boot covers or place a foot bath of bleach water just outside the pen. Step in the foot bath on your way out of the quarantine pen to disinfect your footwear and prevent carrying germs out of your quarantine area.

Use a disinfectant, made up properly, to disinfect any items used in the area. Wash your hands after every encounter with the sick bird, and monitor the other birds for illness removing any that show symptoms right away.

Keep your state veterinarian and state lab phone numbers handy. They will be aware of any disease outbreaks and may be able to help you find a veterinarian to come out and treat your bird.

If the bird dies, you may want to consider a necropsy to determine the cause of death.



How do I catch a chicken to examine or quarantine it?

Trying to run a chicken down is an exercise in futility that will only result in you wearing yourself and/or your children out! I promise you can’t outrun a chicken unless you happen to be Usain Bolt!

The simplest way to catch a sick chicken is waiting until dark and then taking the bird in question off the roost. 

I also find it useful to have trained my birds to come when called for grain, and as they peck at a treat, I can scoop up a chicken that needs some attention.

If this isn’t an option, I round up my kids to help me herd the chickens into a fenced area like the garden, backyard, or chicken run. Then use a catch net for chickens or a large fishing net to catch the bird.

A leg crook can also be purchased and adjusted to fit the leg of the chicken that needs catching. If I get the chance, catching the hen in a coop or run can also be useful.

Bear in mind that some breeds can and will fly if especially upset, so they may very well fly over a low fence to escape.

How do you restrain a chicken for its own safety…and your own?

I restrain the wings by tucking them gently into my arms. A towel is also useful, as you can cover the chicken’s eyes and wrap their wings. Handle them gently but firmly and most chickens will calm down and not move.

It’s very important not to squeeze tightly and restrict breathing.

If their chest is compressed, they can’t breathe and that will cause panic or suffocation.

You may have seen pictures of people restraining chickens upside down; it does not harm them if done for short periods of time but it is usually not necessary.

Words of caution:

If the wings are loose, the chicken may flap wildly and injure you. Especially if they hit you in the eye!

Some chickens will peck, and an older rooster may have strong and large spurs, and those can injure you if he kicks or flails. Just be aware of these possibilities and protect yourself as needed.

Here’s a great video with more information about how to hold a chicken:

How do I care for a sick chicken?

For most illnesses and injuries, providing first aid and nursing care is usually all that is needed.

In many cases, all that is required is to provide safety and shelter, fresh food and water nearby, and keep injuries clean to prevent infection. Given some peace and time to heal, your chicken will often recover on her own.

Read more: First aid and feeding a sick chicken

What medications can I give a sick chicken?

I do not recommend antibiotics for treating respiratory illness. Antibiotics do not cure respiratory illnesses in chickens.

Chickens do not get colds.

They get infections that never go away. Antibiotics simply decrease symptoms, but then you have a carrier in your flock.

It’s sad to terminally cull a chicken — and it’s usually your favorite — but better than your entire flock becoming infected or dying!

Antibiotic use is also strictly limited in farm animals, including backyard chickens, so you should ALWAYS discuss antibiotic choices and usage with your veterinarian!

For my own birds, I limit antibiotic use to severe wound treatment which are honestly quite rare in my own birds.

What about antibiotics I can buy at the feed store?

Yes, you can buy oxytetracycline and penicillin OTC at the feed store, along with a myriad of topical and oral treatments.

But ALWAYS discuss usage with a veterinarian. There’s a tendency to throw these two antibiotics at everything, and they may not be effective or even indicated for some conditions or diseases.

What are withdrawal times for meat and eggs?

All drugs have withdrawal times for meat and eggs that need to be kept in order to maintain food safety. A withdrawal time is the period of time after administration of a medication that the food animal should not be used for human consumption. 

This means, do not slaughter or collect eggs from your chickens during the withdrawal time. After the set number of days recommended for withdrawal, you can resume using the eggs or dispatch for meat.

The withdrawal time for drugs is on the label, or your veterinarian can look them up.

Never Give Chickens Baytril!

Important note on giving antibiotics to a sick chicken: NEVER give Baytril (enrofloxacin) to chickens.

Baytril is a member of a class of antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones. They are very potent, broad-spectrum antibiotics, that are often reserved for very serious infections.

The use of Baytril for chickens (& all food animals) is not allowed even off-label, period.  Administration of Baytril to chickens can lead to legal action against you and even result in jail time. 

While it’s unlikely you would actually end up in jail after giving your chickens Baytril, you will certainly be contributing to the problem of antibiotic resistance in bacteria that cause significant disease in humans.

Here is a link to restricted drugs in food animals at FARAD stands for Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank. an excellent resource for learning about using medications in your food animals


The information within this post is for informational purposes only. Always consult a veterinarian before treating or administering medications to your pets.

About The Co-Author

Mixed animal veterinarian, Dr. Williamson contributed to this post to help backyard chicken owners. We’re so grateful for her time and input.

Hey, everyone! I’m Susan Williamson, DVM, and I’m happy to be sharing some chicken care tips and tricks with you today.

I’m a 2002 Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine graduate where I studied mixed animal medicine. I grew up on a small farm, and I myself own a small farm.

I breed Swedish Flower Hens and various rare breeds of waterfowl, miniature Nubian goats, American Guinea Hogs, and Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dogs, along with keeping alpacas and Arabian horses. My husband and I have four boys we homeschool. Currently, I work as a relief veterinarian.

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  1. I have a 2 year old hen, her name is Cheddar, that has always been active and healthy and eats well and does all the usual chicken things, but over the past 2-3 days I have noticed that she is not eating much, dust bathing, digging or even moving around the yard much. She has not been laying eggs regularly as she was doing. I have had 5 ‘tiny’ eggs from her in the past 3 weeks. She has always socialised with my other two chickens and now stays away from them.
    I picked her up this morning and felt under her “chin’ and it felt wet then when I put her back on the ground she dribbled clear fluid out of her mouth. She has never done this before. Her poop is liquid, looks almost like egg white with some white in it but no yolk.
    Can anyone please tell me what could be wrong with Cheddar, and what do I do for her? She is a family member and we are very worried about her.

    1. Hi, Jacki. Poor Cheddar! Let’s see if we can work through what is going on with her. It sounds like she is definitely ill. First off, make sure you isolate her from the rest of the flock until we figure out what is going on and get her well. It could be a bacterial or viral illness or parasites. Have you tried deworming/treating for coccidiosis? Do you think it could be Fowl Cholera?

      1. Hi Laura,
        Thanks so much for your reply to my question about my little Cheddar. I have been monitoring her for the past few days and she seems to have recovered very well from whatever it was that made her unwell. I was so worried about her the day I wrote my question that I thought I might have lost her that day. By some miracle she is back to her energetic, bright self. She is eating well, dust bathing, digging, and running around the yard. The only thing she is not doing is laying any eggs, but I’m not worried about that as I did not get her solely for eggs. I just hope she doesn’t get sick again. She is family. Thank you again for your kind help.
        Regards and best wishes

      2. I have a sick chicken that can’t move much or even walk, she’s a female and is about 6 months old. We left her out last night because it was still warm then it dropped below freezing. When we brought her in she didn’t stand and seemed to be malnourished. I’m afraid she might not make it much longer without treatment. She can barely open her eyes too.

      3. Hi please help my Golden Lace Wyandotte is looking tired and standing in the corner, she’s been doing so for about a week. Her comb is slightly pale but some of our other chickens combs are pale and they seem fine. How can I send picture, I think it would explain better than I can

    2. We have had this problem before; I think it’s a respiratory infection. We couldn’t heal ours, but you should try. Be prepared if she hops the twig. When our chickens had this they expelled fluid from their mouth after death. Use a Dodd’s crate to quarantine the sick chicken. If you have any other chickens, you definitely don’t want them to get this. I hope Cheddar gets well

  2. I agree . My betsyred is sick she not eating or drinking. She isn’t walking her legs are going out in front of her and she pushing back she’s pushing her but t backwards I really need to know what I can do to save her . Berpoop is runny yelloher..

    1. I’m so sorry to hear that! It could be a viral or bacterial infection. I would, first and foremost, make sure you separate this chicken from the rest of your flock. If he is eating and drinking, keep him separated until his symptoms clear up completely. If he’s not eating or drinking, you can try some antibiotics. Do you have a vet who can help you get some medications?

    2. My chick is 2 month old now looks like hunched and feathers big look sitting only.. My english is bad

      1. Hi, Fattah. Diseases in chicks that we worry about most include coccidia and Marek’s. For coccidia, she’ll have bad diarrhea, and you’ll need to get some medication (usually at a feed supply store) to treat her. For Marek’s we like to get vaccinated chicks, but barring that all you can do is support her and wait it out. Let me know if I can be of more help.

  3. I have a 5 month old RIR hen that started with just a limp. The leg was warm to the touch but we couldn’t find anything that appeared wrong with the leg. We isolated her and put her in a dog crate in the garage in hopes she would get better. That was approximately 5 days ago. Now she doesn’t use either of her legs, she just lays there on her side and she constantly opens her mouth which appears to look like a yawn. She is not doing well and is in obvious pain but we don’t know whats wrong with her. I have done lots of research and at first I thought maybe Merek’s but she hasn’t had any change in her eyes. Up until today she was still eating and drinking very well. She did not do much of either of those today. Please help 🙁

    1. Oh my goodness, that is terrible. I’m sorry I didn’t see your message before this morning. I hope she made it through the night. If you can, offer her food and water through a syringe. Put a little bit of water in her mouth first and watch her to make sure she is able to swallow so she doesn’t choke. If she swallows well, also offer her some baby vitamins (like Poly-vi-sol). I suppose you have called around to see if any of your local vets will treat chickens. If you can’t find one, the best you can do is keep her hydrated and nourished and wait it out. I know it is hard to watch her suffer. I hope she pulls through for you.

    2. Neck stretching, mouth stretching (sometimes described as yawning) or head shaking if continuous or frequent can often (most commonly) be from a worm known to most as gape worm. And in time they can die from it.

      I realize its after the fact with your hen but hopefully this can help others.

      Contrary to popular belief (incorrect information) you cant always see worms in the throat. In fact Ive never seen one with visible worms until dead.

      The easiest way to know for sure is have them dewormed specifically for this.

      Within 24 hrs the hen or rooster (even guines, etc) will have stopped its yawning, stretching or head shaking

  4. Hello . I have a flock of chickens in our back yard and over the past couple months , I had like three chickens that had swollen and very bloody vent and protruding outward and we just had to exterminate them . And now I noticed two more that have the same thing . I want to save the flock and know what’s wrong with them and how to treat . Their butt is swollen and bloody and covered in runny feces. Can anyone help with suggestions ?

    1. Yikes, that sounds awful! First of all, isolate all affected chickens away from the healthy ones. I also recommend taking a fecal sample to a vet and asking for a dewormer. You can offer your birds probiotics in their water. You may be able to find a probiotic for sale at your local feed store. If not, I’ve included a link to one for sale on Amazon. (FTC required disclosure: if you buy on Amazon using my referral link, I’ll get a small commission)

  5. Thank you for this post. I have an Americana that has feces all over her back side. We washed her off last weekend and it came back and smells really bad this time. After washing her off this evening, we were able to see that there were quite a few feathers missing and it was red but there were no signs of infection. She isn’t able to fly up the ramp to the coop like has been able to in the past. Thank you for your help

    1. Hi, Emily. I’m sorry I was out of town this weekend and couldn’t respond. I wonder how your hen is looking today. If she’s not any better, but not worse try rinsing her back end with some dilute betadine solution. Betadine is an over the counter antiseptic, but it can burn if not diluted. Add a small amount of betadine to water until you get the desired dilution. It should have the color of iced tea. If she’s not any better and you see any black/dying skin or pus, take a picture and send it to me by email laura at I’ll see if I can help.

      1. Thank you so much for responding. I soaked her behind in a bucket of warm soapy water and it has been looking better after that. I also quarantined her from the other chickens and gave her water with extra probiotics and some acv. She seems to be more peppy today but still has diaherra. Her butt looks much fluffier than it has been after soaking

          1. My hen is doing the same thing. She has not laid an egg since Aug. She looks fine, but is starting to not sleep on her roost. I will try to clean her popo area today. Any other advice?

    2. I cant believe how many people are postig on chicken with runny feces or pasty but there are 2 major concernes that need to be pointed out the chicken owners.

      1st the most common cause is usually a worm or parasite issue and if theyre not dewormed you should always try deworming them as 1st resource and if that doesnt clear it real quick there is something more going o .

      2nd and most important if theres feces backing up all over hens vent area (espicially if it smells) you need to clean and possibly trim the fluff because flies can and do lay their eggs and those maggots are evil little things and they will start eating right on through your hens backside and into their insides.

      I hope this helps someones hen from the pain and very slow death that “can” come from pasty butt issues related to not being dewormed and propery cleaned

      1. I do not deworm my chickens, and haven’t had a problem. I would always recommend taking a fecal sample to the vet for testing before administering medication.

  6. I could really use your advice. Dumpling our Plymouth Rock that we love so much, is sick! She is not eating or drinking, holding her head up and should like she is weezing. My husband gave her some water with a lot vinegar in it lastnight. But she still seams so bad. Any advice would be appreciated. we have never had a sick chicken and we love our Dumpling she is our sweetest and most loving girl.

    1. Poor Dumpling! It’s hard to watch them suffer, but often there’s not much you can do beyond basic care: Keep her isolated, and make sure she gets some water and food.

      From what you’re saying it sounds like a respiratory issue. If it’s a virus or bacteria, you might try some Penicillin or Oxytetracycline. But antibiotics are not a cure for respiratory illness in chickens. They can mask the symptoms, but the disease remains dormant and can still spread to the rest of the flock. Make sure you clean the coop, feeders, and waterers and add new fresh bedding to minimize exposure to the rest of your birds.

      Hopefully, you can pull Dumpling through with supportive care. You can add the ACV and a smashed garlic clove to her water and sprinkle some oregano, dill, or thyme into her feed. I hope she feels better soon!

    1. I have a 3 year old RIR who has yellow discharge with a swollen belly and her tail feathers pointing down. I noticed the discharge a few days ago. I checked and she does not seem to be eggboind. She is eating but waddles when she walks and the swelling in her abdomen is soft but quite large. She is my favorite chicken “ Chicklet”.

      1. I’m so sorry this is happening to your Chicklet. I think she could really benefit from a physical exam from a vet. Based on what you’re describing, I would need to look at her and put my hands on her to narrow down what is happening. I recommend calling your local vets and asking if there is a bird doctor near you. Sometimes, small animal vets or farm vets will see a chicken if you ask. I wish you the best.

      2. My favorite hen has these exact same symptoms. I have been unsure how to treat her. Wondering if you found out what your hen was sufferings from?

        1. My barred rock had this 2 years ago. Our vet said it was fluid in her abdomen and she was in heart failure and advised to put her down.

          We opted to care for her til the end which took nearly 5 months but aside from her diuretic and heart pills she took daily and the occasional fluid draining needed, she had a beautiful last 5 months.

          But this type of care is hands on and time consuming and not everyone can do it.

  7. Help our very loved Belgian danvens hen is very sick she our show girl and is limping and life less siting on one side off her food and water looking like a leg injury but can’t feel anything have put her in dog box on her own we only have two girls and the other looks fine think they are a good age . Help please my daughter is broken hearted.

    1. That sounds just terrible. Unfortunately, the symptoms you are describing sound very severe, and there may be nothing that can be done. It’s terrible to have to watch something happen to your pets! If she hasn’t passed on, call around to see if any of your local small animal or farm vets can help you.

  8. Hello, my beloved RIR / 4yr old hen is ill. Won’t leave the high roost in the cage for two days, so hasn’t eaten or had any liquid that I know of.
    She seems so swollen all over, especially her bread area. I listened to the chicken cough video and it sounds like what she is doing, plus she is kind of soft moaning or calling out. Pecks at me when I try to reach for her, though not like her to not allow me to pick her up.
    I will isolate her this afternoon… any suggestions? I don’t want to lose her, but a vet trip is to very expensive around my area. Can you help/advise, please? So very grateful!

    1. Hi Linda, I’m so sorry to hear about your hen. I wonder if she is in pain given that she won’t get off the coop and pecks at you when you try to hold her. The first thing I would do is get my hands on her and look her all over, being as gentle as possible as she may be in pain. If she starts to resist you in an aggressive way, that may be her signal that what you’re doing is painful. Still, take a look and see if you can identify any injury or outward sign of illness. If you find a wound, try to clean it but be very gentle. A little iodine in some water is a good choice for cleaning. Keep her isolated from the rest of the flock so she doesn’t get picked on. Give her a comfy place to stay and try to get her to take some water in. If she takes that, offer her a little food. If not, get a syringe (no needle) and drip some water into her mouth. If she won’t start eating or drinking for you within a couple of days, it may be that there is nothing you can do at home. I do worry if she is swollen up as you say, but maybe if you get a closer look, there is something you can find that could be treated. Let me know if I can be of more help.

  9. Our Oreo isn’t doing so well. She won’t leave the coop and she’s the boss of the flock. When I open the coop, all her feathers stand on end. She has lost her feathers on her belly like she’s molting, which she did about 3 months ago already, but she is laying eggs. When I put her on the ground, she walks without a limp, but goes right back to the coop. No cough, limp, or obvious illness, just not acting like herself. She’s acting like she doesn’t feel well. Any thoughts?

    1. Hi, Stephanie. The first thing to do is give her a full exam. So just pick her up and look her all over. Feel her belly for any hard lumps or swellings, look in her mouth if you can to make sure nothing is stuck in there, check under her feathers for mites/fleas etc, her wings/body under wings for injuries, check her legs and feet (even though there’s no limp), etc. Look at and feel everything to see if you can find something to explain what’s going on.

      The other thing I would do is go ahead and isolate her from the rest of the flock so you can observe her and make sure she is eating & drinking, laying eggs, and you can check the consistency of her stool.

      If you find something you can treat, do your best to treat it. If not, do your best to care for her while she heals on her own. Sometimes we don’t get to know exactly what is wrong, but a little supportive care helps them pull through in a few days. I hope Oreo feels better soon!

      1. My little chick Plucky is doing this too – always sitting & walks wonky/unblanaced when i can get her up. She hasn’t lost any feathers, as she hatched on Feb 12th this year – so still young. She is the biggest hen out of that hatching group. She does eat/drink when i hand feed he/put it beside her. – Did you find anything when you examined your Oreo?

    2. I’ve had some hens act like this when they are broody. They just want to sit on eggs and hatch them. Sometimes I just wait them out, but recently I had two of my Cochin hens go broody at the same time. So what I do is get a few chicks from the local feed store and put them under the mamas at night. Then they think they hatched them. These two are so cute…they are “co-mamas”, taking care of all the chicks together. I’ve never seen hens share chicks like this before, but they are doing a beautiful job. The chicks are about 6-7 weeks old now.
      So if you don’t find anything wrong with Oreo, and she just keeps wanting to go back and sit in the henhouse, especially in a nesting box, I would suspect she’s broody.

  10. I have a barred rock hen that all of a sudden stopped eating, drinking, and her poop is diarrhea. I took her to the vet yesterday to see whats up and she examined her and said her crop was good, empty but good, took X-rays no bound eggs, said her abdomen was a little hard, temp a little above normal. She put her on antibiotics Amoxicillin 250mg. She receives it 2.5ml every 12 hours for 6 days. Today she is still not eating well and holds her beak open and is very sluggish. She’s had 2 doses of antibiotics. She’s about 5 years of age and never had any problems with her. She is a single chicken and I have no others as she does not like to be around other chickens. I’ve tried but she was so ugly with others I gave. up. Do you have any suggestions for me. Thank You for your time!!

    1. Hi Chris, I’m sorry to hear about your hen. It sounds like you’re doing all you can for her. The comment that the abdomen felt firm is concerning. At her age, it is possible to have tumors brewing in there. Give the antibiotics a few more days to help. But the sad truth is that sometimes there is not anything you can do. I’m sorry I can’t be of any more help, but I’m hoping she takes a turn for the better and pulls through for you soon. Feel free to ask me questions any time.

  11. My 3yr old hen camel is very ill. She developed some type of foot infection 3 weeks ago. She is housed in my shower at night but out in a pen on her own in the day. I have been using a barrier cream with antiseptic. The vet has taken scale sample & no mites present. Her feet have black crusty lumps & has lost one toe already & with another main toe soon to fall off. My vet is not very helpful. I feel uterly desperate.

      1. No the vet says it’s not bumble foot as it’s not large round bumps. I have sent some pictures via my mobile phone as cannot transfer to tablet

  12. I’m in serious need of help! My chicken who is about a yr old started limping last week, so I quarantined her and today noticed she’s panting. She’s not eating (I’ve cooked eggs and threw on eggshells) vitamins in her water and oregano. She seems to be getting worse! Any help would be appreciated!

    1. Hi, Misty. I’m glad to help in any way I can. When she started limping, did you look at her feet, legs, belly? Check for any indication of injury that could be treatable. Panting is usually a sign of overheating, but they will also pant when they are stressed or having respiratory issues. Could she be egg bound?

      1. What is egg bound? I noticed my chicken yesterday was on the ground with her head and body turned to one side like it was a paralyzed just on one side of her body. I picked her up and she could stand and walk for a little while but would fall and couldn’t seem to get up by herself. She looks healthy still in her eyes and still making soft clucks eating and drinking and then I noticed another hen with a slight limp and unbalanced walk but still was able to sit and get up on her on. Anybody seen this and knows what’s happening? Any information would be greatly appreciated!

  13. Hello i have a question my baby chicken recon there chickens pecked at him and has 2 wounds and hes shaking is this a sigh of th for the poor ckicken?

    1. Hi Christal, for pecking wounds make sure you get him away from the other birds. Do your best to keep the wounds clean and provide him with warmth, food, and water while he heals. Introduce him slowly back into your flock once he’s feeling better.

  14. It was good that I came across this article and learned that the best way to pick a chicken up is to wait until its dark and grabbing it off the roost. Though I don’t think I need to do this since my pet chicken is close to me, I will still keep it in mind for the other family members. Anyway, my pet has been acting strange for a while now, and I plan on taking her to the vet. It was good that I saw this and learned a few things.

  15. Hello. I have eight chickens I’ve raised from day olds and one of the wynndots has developed a limp which has progressed. She is now able to get on the roost but waits for me to take her down in the morning. She is getting along well with others but seems down and is definitely not as mobile as the others. I hate to think of putting her down because she limps, but I’m conflicted about pain she might be in. And a vet is too expensive for our “egg producer”. Any thoughts?

    1. The first thing to do is check her for injuries to her legs and feet. It may be something you can treat. Look for signs of bumblefoot, lacerations, or even something stuck in her foot. If you can’t find anything, watch her for signs of quality of life: is she eating, drinking, laying eggs? Does she seem to enjoy being outside? Is she dust bathing and scratching around like a normal chicken? If she does all those things, then she is not in enough pain to worry about putting her down. I hope she feels better soon.

  16. My chicken Henny penny has not been able to stand for 5 days she is a 3_4 year old hen I have checked her vent and throat and cant see anything. She’s eating and drinking fine. We have her separated from the flock and are feeding vitiman and probiotic yogurt and her symptoms have not changed?? She is alert no weezing or discharge she has her legs tucked under her and can move her feet she was wormed recently too

    Any ideas

    1. Did you feel inside her vent for an egg that’s stuck? Sometimes when they’re egg bound, they will stay sort of hunched over. Has she been laying up until now?

  17. Hi,
    I have a month old chick. 3 days ago it started limping and the next day it was unable to stand properly. It falls down whenever tries to stand. I have Isolated the bird and i am taking special care from 2 days but the condition is same. Can you kindly suggest anything which i should do?

    1. Were your chicks vaccinated for Marek’s? If not, I would be worried about Marek’s disease. Definitely isolate your baby chick. If it’s Marek’s, there’s nothing you can do besides provide a safe place to stay, food, and water. Your other birds may become infected with the disease. Some will live and some may die.
      Other possibilities include nutrient deficiencies…try giving it some liquid baby vitamins (like poly-vi-sol). It’s also possible it ate something that is causing heavy metal toxicity which requires veterinary treatment. If you’re lucky, it will recover on its own with supportive care from you. Keeping my fingers crossed your baby chick gets better soon. Laura

  18. Hi,
    My chicken seems to have a depth perception problem, suddenly.
    She’s pecking but not reaching her target. Also walking in a circle.
    It’s over 100 degrees here so I took her inside and force fed her water and food. That was 2 days ago. She’s stronger now but still same problem. Any ideas?

    1. There are many neurologic diseases that can affect chickens. Many of them are viral or bacterial in nature. In these cases, sometimes isolation and supportive care can help her recover. I hope she gets better soon!

  19. Hello, my flock has not been doing well with the recent heat wave. Two of my flock have taken ill, one died after a day of me isolating him. The other I’ve had in isolation since I found her on the roost bars pretty unresponsive about 5 days ago. She was having diarrhea, very thin and pale. I offered her water with electrolytes, and eventually started giving her moistened food. She eats and drinks on her own for the most part now and is having solid bms, also seems to be gaining some weight. She is still very drowsy though and a little clumsy on her feet. Today I’ve noticed one of her eyes becoming increasingly goopy. What should I do to treat i? Is there anything else I can do for her? Would it be better to put her out of her suffering, or is there hope she might pull through? I’ve installed a mister, box fan, and increased the number of drinkers around the chicken house and have had no more take ill. I just don’t know what to do with her?

    1. It sounds like you are doing the very best you can. Make sure she gets plenty of hydration and nutrients/food. If she won’t eat for you and continues to get worse despite your care, then you might make a decision to end her suffering. However, I hope she pulls through for you.

  20. Hello, We’re wondering if you may have any advice for us – our 3 yr old ‘Belle’ laid thin shelled eggs for weeks despite having all she requires. Last week we saw some blood spots on the flagstones and the next day we saw she had a prolapse vent. Our vet showed us how to replace it if it prolapses again and said the best reatment was some anti-inflammatory given by mouth in a syringe. She began to act unwell after the first dose so we stoppeg after the 2nd or 3rd. We have been liquid feeding her each day for a week and encouraging her to drink. She stays by the coop all day and show no sign of improveent. Can you suggest anything please and do you think antibiotics would be a good idea. Her breathing is fine. Many thanks.

  21. I have a normally mean chicken that I think is sick. She usually bullies the other chickens and is first to eat and drink. Now she won’t eat or drink, and all she does is sit on the roost. I don’t know what her poop looks like because we use straw in a large coop with 6 other chickens. She is super tired all the time. What should I do?

    1. Hi, Lexi. The first thing to do is isolate her so you can watch her more closely. When you move her, take some time to look her all over for any injuries or clues to what might be going on. From there, try to provide supportive care and see if she’ll pull through. Also, watch your other chickens for signs of illness to make sure it’s not something contagious. I hope she feels better soon!

  22. My chicken has been limping for a week and now has watery diahrrea. She is eating and drinking fine. We don’t see any injury to her foot.

    1. Hi, Kim! I’m so sorry. I thought I had replied to this already. There are many reasons for limping in chickens. Sometimes it’s a simple as a sprain that will get better on its own, other times it’s a symptom of a more serious illness. If she’s not already feeling better, let me know and I’ll see how I can help.

  23. I have a white hen that has a growth on her foot. It is round and has a black spot on it. Is their a way to treat this at home? Or is it something i should take her to the vet for.

    1. Hi Kala, it sounds like bumblefoot to me. You may have to take her to the vet, but here are some suggestions for treating it at home. Bumblefoot is an infection in the skin. You need to remove/release the swelling and scab (black spot). Start by soaking her foot in a warm bath with Epsom salts. The longer you let it soak, the softer the scab gets which makes it easier to remove. After about 10 minutes, try gently squeezing around the swelling to see if the scab will come out. If not, let it soak longer. Once the scab is removed, clean the open area with some dilute (50:50) betadine, apply some antibiotic ointment, and wrap the foot. Cut a small patch of this bandage dressing to the area then cover it with vet wrap. You may need to isolate her for a few days so you can keep a close eye on it, changing the bandage daily or as needed, and monitoring for signs of infection like heat, swelling, pain, and general malaise. If you notice those signs of infection, then I would get her to the vet. Hope this helps!

  24. We have a hen that is less than 2 year old but has stopped laying and was found hiding away from the flock during the day. We noticed this several time but she always came back to the coop when we closed it for the night. Her comb is very pale and food intake may be low. We see no signs of discharge from nose or eyes, no limping, vent is clean. She has been isolated from the flock and given apple cider vinegar water to drink. Her eggs were always large but had very thin shells. Any suggestions?

    1. The pale comb and hiding are signs that something is wrong. Unfortunately, not specific to any one thing. I would consider taking a fecal sample to your vet and asking them to do a routine fecal. They should be able to identify roundworms or possibly tapeworms if they are there. Malnutrition (possibly from bullying by other hens?) or pain/stress from being eggbound can also cause pale combs. Have you noticed any unusual behavior since you have her isolated?

      1. During the first 2 days of isolation she was eating some and appeared to be drinking the water (with a touch of apple cider vinegar. After that she seemed as if she moved about very little and the food was not being consumed. We lost her on the 5th day. The rest of the flock(s) appear to be doing fine. This is not the first chicken we have lost with similar symptoms and sure wish we could discover the issue causing the problem. Eggs with very thin shells (often broken in the nesting box) may be an early symptom.

  25. I suspect my poor rooster Buster is sick and I have no idea what to do for him.
    About a week ago I noticed he was keeping his right eye half closed. He could (& still can) open it all the way and it looks normal to me when he does. My first thought was a peck to the eye or something stuck in there as there was a little white lump or piece of tissue that looked like it was stuck behind his upper eyelid. It was only noticeable for a day or two.
    While free ranging on the weekend he was standing on his left leg for quite a while. It looked like he was about to put his foot down a few times but he brought it back up before it would touch the ground.
    I sometimes catch him shaking his head back and forth but never thought anything of it until recently.
    His balance seems to be fine and he doesn’t have a funny smell. He is definitely still eating and as far as I can tell he is also drinking regularly. He still stays with the flock and doesn’t seem to be lethargic. Comb is unchanged. He might be a little bit wheezy/laboured breathing but it’s hard to tell since we’ve had heat warnings everyday for the last month.
    I did see two poops on the weekend with some red/orange in it although I’m not sure if they came from Buster or somebody else. It wasn’t a liquid but more like half of the actual poop itself was a funny colour. I haven’t seen anymore poops like this since the weekend.
    Do you have any ideas as to what might be going on? If so what do you suggest I do?

    1. Hi, Kelly. You’ll need to isolate Buster to observe him more carefully and determine what might be going on. If you can get your hands on him, look him over including the bottoms of his feet. It could be bumblefoot. Let me know if I can help further.

  26. My hen is barely eating or drinking sits with eyes closed opens her mouth like she yawning but no sound comes out … her poop is normal most of the time and I’m so worried ! She’s now quarantined and drank some water tonight! But not eating it’s been going on for almost a week … what can I do ? Any ideas on what it could be ?

    1. Hi Tammy, I’m sorry to hear about your hen. With her acting sick and the yawning, I would think about respiratory disease. You’re definitely doing the right thing by having her quarantined. Unfortunately, with these things, there’s often no treatment. Best you can do is to keep her safe, provide basic necessities, and hope she pulls through on her own.

  27. Hi guys, i was just wondering if you could give me a little insight as to whats going on with my hen. Shes 10 years old this year and has always been a bright and bubbly girl, healthy chicken who is a great pet. Within the last 2 days, i realized she wasn’t with the other hens and was isolating herself in the coup. She is keeping her eyes closed and only opens them if she really has to. She can stand but unfortunately she wont walk. all she does is huddle down like they do when its cold ( we live in Australia and the weather is beautiful around this time). She also does this really strange thing with her head were she moves her neck around in circles ? Today she began to have excessive diarrhea which smells quite odd. There is no wonds to her body nor lice. There is also no way they could have come into something toxic or dangerous. I am just wondering if this is old age or something more sinister? thank you for your help
    kindest Regards

    1. Hi, Willow! I think with her age, this could really be anything. If she is still laying, it could be that she’s egg bound. But it could also be cancer causing the diarrhea and neuro signs. If no other birds are ill, I worry less about something contagious. Maybe she’ll pull through, but 10 years old is pretty old for a chicken. Best of luck.

  28. We have lost one roost two,three week ago from unknown sickness and now one of my chicken is an active,she does eat,she is lazy like and choking,she open her mouth like gasping for breath I don’t know what to do for her as there is no vet doctor in my place.Please help me out am worry she may affect others chicken too.

    1. Hi Minot, I am sorry to hear about your chickens. Unfortunately, I am not sure I can narrow it down based on this information. Your birds could have a viral or bacterial disease that is causing the symptoms. It could also be worms. If you don’t have access to any medications or dewormers, I recommend isolating any bird that shows symptoms right away. If you have multiple birds that are ill, they should all be kept separate from each other. Sometimes chickens can get over an infection on their own, but you want to keep them away from all the other birds so they don’t spread their sickness. Best of luck.

  29. Hi – I have a Jersey Giant who is about 16-18 weeks old. She has been doing very well, but just yesterday she seemed to not be mingling with the other flock (we let them free range during the day) and was laying under a bush for the better part of the afternoon (she did eat and drink). She went back in on her own at sun down and got on her perch with her best friend.
    This morning, I found her in a nesting box, thought maybe this was it! and she was just ready to lay an egg. Checked on her a few times and then decided to give her a nudge. She made quite a scene and tried to get away, but was having GREAT difficulty walking.
    Grabbed her and separated her from the rest of the flock. She is currently in a box – eating/drinking and I have given her some scrambled eggs.
    Not sure what else to do for her, but she def. can not stand or walk well. No injuries that I can see, but she just does not seem well.
    She does get feed with grit added in and I use Backyard Chicken Health Pack in their water. She was wormed about a month ago.
    I do not believe she is egg bound. She was not waddling like a hen would when bound.
    Thanks for our help!

    1. Hi Paula! I’m sorry to hear about your hen. Whenever I hear about chickens that are not walking, I worry about Marek’s. I hope that is not the case because it can be fatal. Was she vaccinated? As long as she is eating and drinking, you can hope that she will get better. Best of luck.

      1. Thank you so much for your reply.
        Sadly, she passed away last night. Devastated and very sad. I only had her for a very short time, but she was turning out to be a very sweet and kind hen.
        I did look up Marek’s and it does sound like that is what she had.
        We bought her from a breeder, so not 100% if she had been vaccinated, but I am def. going to follow up with them.
        Thank you again for taking the time to respond.

  30. My chicken was standing yesturday but not moving around she was unstable. I put her on top of her roosting table and found her the next morning on the ground not able to get up. Wonder if she has an egg stuck, i felt a little up there but didnt feel anything but i am new to chickens so not sure if i am doing it right. She has been in house with me for 7 hours hasnt pooped. I soaked her in warm water an epson salt now have her on heatimg pad. Shes getting worse hasnt eaten drinks very little when i hold the water up to her beak. She is getting very nethargeric , now just lauing there with eyes closed her claws are curled up and shes laying flat on stomack. Below her butt area it is swollen a lot. I have two chickens but all last week only one egg didnt thnk nothing of it because i was told if its to hot outside a chicken will stop lahing eggs. Can you please help me

    1. Hi, Norine. I’m so sorry to hear about your chicken. She does sound very sick, and it sounds like it’s time to get into a vet if you can. 🙁

  31. Hi we have a sick chicken her symptoms are: diarrhea, walking stiff, off by itself, wilted comb, not eating well, not laying eggs. We have quarantined her and dusted her with DE.

    1. Hi, Danielle. She could be egg bound…have you checked? Quarantining is a good idea it helps you keep a close eye on her. If she’s egg bound, you may need to see a vet or you can try to help her get it out. If she’s not egg bound, I’d consider getting a fecal test to check for worms. Let me know if I can be of more help.

  32. I have a two year old Buff Orpington hen that has been sick for about a month. The vet did a blood panel and it came back that her liver enzymes were highly elevated. I was ready to have her put down because she was not eating and had lost a lot of weight when she suddenly rallied and was back to her old self Of for an it three weeks .. nNOW for the past week she has not eaten again. I am mystified as to what to do. She had been isolated in a crate until the vet determined she’s did not have anything contagious. Now she is back out with the flock.

  33. One of my chickens has a red swollen rear end and it seems to be a bit bloody and it smells horrible, she is staying away from the other chickens and she is acting very strange. Last night I soaked her rear in warm water for about 20 minutes, as I was soaking her I noticed very small worms swimming around in the water. After I soaked her I sprayed some antibiotic spray on the affected area. What do you think could be wrong with her?
    Thanks, Autumn

    1. It sounds like flystrike. That can be a very serious condition that is definitely worthy of a veterinarian. But if you caught it early, you may be able to treat it at home. You’ll need to clean out the area and make sure to get all the maggots (not worms) out of the wound. Soaking is good for this. Sometimes you’ll have to flush into a pocket or hole if it’s there. Get a syringe without a needle or a dropper to flush into the hole. Use betadine diluted to a tea color to clean and flush the wound. Then dry her and spray with the antibiotic spray. Repeat 2-3 times daily. It may take several times going through the cleaning procedure to get all the maggots out, and definitely keep her isolated from the flock.

  34. I have a Rhode Island Red hen that would go outside but just lay there. We isolated her and her back and cone are white and flopped over. She was eating and drinking but know only drinks. What can o give her?

    1. White is not good. I would start with some electrolytes or vitamins in the water. Try something like this: you might be able to find a similar product at your feed store. Also, check her to make sure she’s not eggbound. If you think she is and you’re not comfy trying to help her pass it, a vet may be needed. I hope she gets better for you.

      1. Hello Laura:
        We have a chick that is a couple of months old. Her siblings are almost the size of their mother, but she has quit growing and is being singled out from the rest of her family. She is barely eating and seems lethargic. She can’t also can’t fly like the others. She has at a few points not even allowed in crows roost but only forced to lay outside on the ground. We tried to hand feed her yesterday and she is barely pecking at this point. Any advice?
        Thank you!

        1. Hi Rinda, that is so sad! I would isolate her from the rest of the flock, and make sure she has a safe place to eat, drink, and sleep. Put vitamins and electrolytes in her water – your local feed store probably has something like this –> Give her a little TLC, and see if she comes around. It’s possible she’s just being bullied, but it’s also possible she has some kind of illness. So it’s best to keep her where she won’t be picked on, and you can watch for any new symptoms. I hope she pulls through for you. 🙂

  35. I have an old girl, 4yrs. Today I noticed her comb is very dark red and limp, laying nearly flat on her head. Her backside was dirty and I gloved up, washed her up with soap, felt her abdomen gently for eggs but did not perform an internal. I’m not comfortable I have the skills or knowledge. She also seems a bit lethargic and slow. She’s a Buff Orpington. I’ve got her in a small covered coop tonight… what else can I do?

    1. Hi Rita, I would make sure she’s comfy – not too hot and has food and water – and just watch her for a bit. If she’s kind of waddling and her tail is flicking up and down, she could be egg bound. Since you are uncomfortable helping her out, I’d recommend seeing if there’s a vet who will do it for you. If you call around, you can often find a small animal vet who is willing to try. But it could be any number of other things, so hopefully, some TLC will be enough for her to start feeling better.

  36. Hi, we have had 3 sick chickens. One has already died. They are about 6 months old. The one that died would not get up, eat or drink. She died within 3 days. Then we noticed two others not able to get up on the roosting bars and they just laid on the bottom of the coop. We put them in kennels and have been giving them charco capsules in water, probiotics and electrolytes in their water. One is able to stand but tires real easy and she is now not eating and barrels drinking. She also has green diarrhea. She’s sitting worse. The other one had not been able to stand it walk for 7 days. She barely eats and we are giving her water with a syringe. She isn’t paralyzed because when we clean her she kicks at us. It’s like they have no energy. They were both supposedly vaccinated for Marek’s disease. We don’t know what else to do. The one that can’t walk does seem to be getting a tiny bit better. We would appreciate any help you can offer. Thank you!

    1. Hi Melissa, it does sound like Marek’s, but if they were vaccinated it would be very unusual for them to get sick. The only thing I would add is that you might try treating for coccidia. You should be able to find something at your local feed store or somewhere like tractor supply to treat for coccidia. I hope they pull through for you.

  37. My chicken is sick and I’m unsure what to do. Henrietta has a swollen eye for the last few days. I have isolated her and have been washing her head, gave her plain yogurt, acv, vetrx, and covered the area in neosporin. She doesn’t look any better and I have been doing this for 3 days. None of my other Hens are displaying any symptoms and Henrietta has been drinking and eating (she couldn’t see where the food was at first with one eye). I thought she may have been stung or something, and last night saw some scratches on her cheek..but she still isn’t better for it to be just a scratch. So I don’t think it’s that. I looked up worms in the eye and I really hope that isn’t it. I have tried opening her eye and don’t see anything. Is there anything I can put in her eye to help? Any suggestions about what it COULD be? Thank you for your help.

  38. Hello, my easter egger hen, Six, is sick. She will eat and drink a little bit, but I have to hold her and feed her. She can’t stand; one foot seems to be particularly bad. She’s protecting it like crazy. She can’t even balance sitting; I have to give her a towel to lean up against so she can sleep. Her poop is very consolidated and smells AWFUL! My vet took x-rays of her “injured” leg (which is what we thought was wrong originally), but the x-ray showed nothing wrong. She is only 2.5 months old, so she hasn’t started laying, yet. The x-ray showed some “suspicious looking calcium deposits,” but I don’t know if that’s normal for a hen who should start laying eggs in about 4 weeks…? My vet wasn’t well equipped to deal with birds. Can you help?

    1. Hi Lauren, did you examine the bottom of the foot for injuries? Sometimes they’ll get an abscess under the skin on the foot that is very painful. Was she vaccinated for Marek’s as a chick? Marek’s can cause paralysis of one leg and very foul smelling diarrhea, but they don’t usually get sick if they’ve been vaccinated.

  39. I have a Buff Orpington that is 7 months old. Friday afternoon, she suddenly started having respiratory problems, “yawning”, raspy, labored breathing. Her comb and wattles were very dark in color, and she doesn’t want to eat or drink. We took her to the vet for an after hours visit. He gave her an injection to help open her airway. He said that she may have just been born with poor heart and lungs, and that she may not make it. She does not seem to be in as much distress as she was on Friday, but she is still very weak, yawning, and wheezing. I hate seeing her suffer, and wonder if it would be wise to have her put down.
    We also have an Easter Egger and a RIR that we got along with our Henrietta (the Buff Orpington). They do not show any signs of illness. We also aquired 4 more chick about 4 weeks ago. They also seem fine. Henrietta was seperated from the others immediately. The new girls are in a seperate part of the coop till they are big enough to play the big girls. Should we be concerned for their health?

    1. Hi Deb. You did the right things separating your sick bird from the rest of the flock. It’s super hard to say what is going on, but it is definitely possible she has something contagious. If she’s not showing signs of improvement, putting her down may be the best thing for you and the rest of your birds. So sorry though. The Orpingtons are such cute birds.

      1. Thank you for your response. We took our Henny back to the vet on Monday. A different doctor looked her over and told us she thought maybe Gapeworm. She changed her to a tablet antibiotic because of a secondary respiratory infection. I thought she may have aspirated the liquid antibiotic, which only made her wheezing worse. She also gave us a dewormer for Henny and the other 2 older girls. That is now complete, but we have still kept them seperated. Henny still sounds a little wheezy when she is stressed…when we have to give her her meds. All the others still remain symptom free. We hope to reunite Henrietta with the big girls sometime this coming week, and perhaps start the intergradting of the old and the new in a couple of weeks or so. We were so very happy that we didn’t have to make the difficult decision of having her put down. That had to be the longest weekend of our lives with chickens. Mostly spent holding and comforting her, like when you are caring for a sick human baby.
        Again, thank you for your response.

  40. Hi..I have an approx 20 week red sex link we got about 4 weeks two..but the other one is absolutely fine..this concerning one doesn’t seem to want to eat..or decreased appetite. .isolates interest in scatching outside/sun ba thing. .etc…..kind of stands hunched up..I have isolated loose stools…..I *think * I have heard occasional respiratory sounds..not sneezing or coughing..clear eyes..chicken looks okay. .but I can feel her breastbone unlike the other one….no chicken vets around..I have got super booster ..have started to add this to water cause I wanted to take some action…2 days better no worse. …looking for advice please…

  41. Hi Laura, I have a two year old Wyandotte acting lethargic.. Molly’s lost a lot of weight (felt very light when I picked her up) and isolating from other chickens. Last night, she slept on the ground in her coop instead of roosting with the others. She has watery poop and her comb is a little lighter and floppier than normal. My flock is just finishing up with fall molting so only one of 7 are laying, I soaked her in Epsom salts and fed her scrambled eggs today. She ate well, but very gently. Her crop felt full like a ball after the eggs I fed her. I think that’s normal. Abdomen feels tight. Vent looks small and normal. Could she be egg bound? Or sign of something else?

    1. Hi, Dawn! Do you see her trying to lay an egg? Waddling, squatting and lifting her tail up and down? With the weight loss and stool changes, I would consider intestinal parasites. You might give her a dewormer or even take a stool sample to the vet for testing. Go ahead and separate her from the group so they don’t start picking on her and you can keep giving her lots of TLC and keep a close eye on her for changes.

  42. Good Morning! My 2 year old EE, Dirty Gerty has been puffed up for the last several days but she is eating and drinking. Today she is out and pecking but seems to be slightly off balance. It isnt cold but sometimes she just stands still and puffs. Any ideas?

  43. Hello. We are new at raising chickens, and we are having a terrible time. Our girls are getting sick and dying. We don’t know what the problem is. A few of them get sick and have symptoms for a few weeks then die. And we have also had a few that just drop dead and appear completely healthy the day before. Symptoms vary but include lethargy, diarrhea, not eating or drinking much, feels like they are wasting away, you can feel their ribs/breast bone, some are limping. We don’t know what to do. We love our little girls so much, we raised them from peeps. We got them from a breeder who claims to have vaccinated them for marek’s. Any information would be appreciated. Thank you!

    1. Hi, Jess. That is so sad! At home, did you make sure to give them a balanced feed and plenty of water? Their coop is clean and has adequate ventilation? If their basic needs were taken care of, then that sure sounds like it could be Marek’s. The vaccine is effective, but inexperienced chicken owners may not be administering it correctly. But it could be any number of other things. Have you spoken to the breeder about it? If they have an infectious disease in their flock, they need to know. It could also be genetics, and the breeder needs to know that, too. If you contact the breeder and they shrug it off, I’d go with another source for your chickens and give it another try.

  44. Hi! I cracked open a rotten egg today am not exactly sure which hen it came from so I checked all of my hens today and found one that is bald on her underside and looks a little red. All of the others have lots of feathers so I think it may be from her? She’s a black sexlink. Any suggestions? Thanks!!!

    1. Hi Lorisa, oh my gosh the horror! Rotten eggs have to be one of the most disgusting things on the planet. It’s very odd that your hen would lay a rotten egg, but it can happen. I don’t know exactly what would cause that but here are my theories: she was egg bound for a period of time and the egg started to rot before she laid it, she has an infection somehow in her reproductive tract, or maybe the eggshell did not form correctly which allowed it to become infected. Perhaps some combination of these. You do need to isolate her to confirm that the black sexlink is the one laying the rotten eggs. Once you’ve identified which bird it is, and confirm that this is more than an isolated incident, you may need to get her to a vet for an exam and antibiotics. If she has an infection, I would expect she’s also showing other signs of illness.

      1. Are you sure of when the eggs were laid? Bald underneath? Sounds like a broody to me, and she is hiding sitting eggs that are probably not fertilized?

  45. hi my chicken flapper is limping and staying away from all the other chickens it doesn’t have a egg stuck, and it eats but it looks like it’s in pain. the other day he vomit a little bit we don’t know what to please help!!

  46. Hi there,
    My 18week old Isa Brown (Australia) was normal the day before (laid, are, drank) stood in one place all day yesterday, not scratching around with the other girls, no food or drink. Late in the afternoon I picked her up (no resistance from her, very unusual) and popped her in a nesting box where she stood still for another 2 hours. When it came time to lock the coop, she still hadn’t moved so I put a towel in a basket and brought her in to sit on the couch with me. I popped a towel loosely on top, she put her head down to sleep. I left her in the basket next to my bed overnight and she didn’t make a sound all night. I popped her out on the grass this morning (she had done one black looking poo in the basket) and she still just stood there. I ‘forced’ her to drink a little bit she refuses to eat at all. Her crop is squishy, her eyes and breathing are clear and her vent is clean and not swollen. Her comb and feet look normal enough also!
    I’ve spent most of the morning just sitting with a heat pack on my lap, with her resting her chest on top of that, she has had her head hanging down and eyes closed 90% of that time. Have I missed anything? Is here such a thing as chicken depression lol?

    1. Hi Cassandra, poor baby bird! I’m sorry for not responding earlier, we’ve had a pretty tragic month over here. I fear there’s not much more you can do beyond giving her lots of TLC. If she won’t eat or drink, she’s pretty ill and sometimes no matter how much we care for them, they still pass away. I hope to hear she pulled through for you.

  47. Could you please help me? I have two little baby chicks that I am raising in my apartment. One of them (she is around 6 weeks old ) suddenly stopped walking yesterday and couldn’t seem to walk properly at all and started sleeping all the time. She is eating and drinking fine but needs help being held up while drinking because she cannot balance herself while drinking. Her droppings have mucus like red in them, but it looks like intestinal lining being shed (this has stopped for the past 2-3 times that she has pooped). This has happened multiple times since yesterday, but she has also had normal brown droppings along with droppings with water surrounding it but otherwise solid. Her legs are very weak and she spreads her wings for balance whenever she stands and her skin seems weirdly red (around the shoulder area). I rushed her to the vet yesterday itself and started treatment. But he has not told me if it is any particular ailment. Today I separated both the girls and am keeping them in different places. For medication i have started giving her 2 drops of Vimeral (I have given them Vimeral before also) mixed in water (around 500 ml) along with a pinch of Tetracyclne Hydrocloride since yesterday. In the evening I gave her fresh water with Jaggery dissolved in it and she took some sips of it. Please please respond as I am really worried about her.

  48. Hi my silky bantam, ‘Speckles’ is 8yo and got sick over a week ago. Can you help me please? We live in Australia. She started limping on one leg and then lying down a lot. Now she can’t walk at all. Mum brought her in the house in a box and we put new barley straw in it. We put AVI-Vital liquid in filtered water and SYNBIOTIC. She’s eating and drinking ok. She’s alert. I feed her food with cheese and fruit and grain mix. Her left leg is curled over. She tries to flap her wings to stand but can’t. She doesn’t have bumblefoot. I question Marek but not sure. I don’t know what to do – can you help me? She hasn’t laid any eggs in years she’s too old. could she have a broken leg? Her poop seems normal but a bit watery. She is my last chook so she’s lives by herself in her coop but has a friend pigeon who visits her daily.

    1. Hi Nicole, with her age, I would be suspicious of arthritis, gout, or cancer. If you think it might help, you can ask your vet for a prescription for Metacam (a common small animal NSAID) to relieve pain.

      1. Thanks Laura but ‘Speckles’ died after losing muscle control in her neck. She was such a lovely chook.

  49. My brother has 5 chickens when we got the last chicken a nu out 3 months ago they stopped laying eggs. The new I be is laying but other nothing give them oyster shell protein pellets small gravel pieces. Fresh water. Clean cage everyday. They have all their featherswe might get 2 eggs a day usually only 1 from New chicken only.. Suggestion. Our white chickens have had diarrhea. But other chickens are fine

    1. Hi Patricia, I have experienced something similar. In our case, it was that the chickens were still laying, but started hiding their eggs. Sometimes the addition of a new bird will cause them to quit using the nesting box. Have you looked for a hidden nest?

  50. My roo is looking down today, could you please be of help and direct me to understand what condition my roo is in? Its head is hanging very low, its still standing and when my husband goes near it, it still moves and flutters away. I am afraid it wont make it till tomorrow and the vet is fully booked. Please whats the solution for my roo?

    1. Hi Monica, I’m so sorry about your rooster. It could be a neurological condition called wry neck. Sometimes birds with this condition cannot even hold their head off the ground. It can be caused by many things including toxins, vitamin deficiencies, trauma, or Marek’s and Newcastle disease. You’ll need to isolate him and give him a lot of TLC. Make sure he eats and drinks – you may have to do this by hand. He may recover over several days, but if he passes I do recommend a necropsy so you can rule out infections that could make all your birds sick.

  51. Hi, I have rooster who is not doing well.He isn’t crowing at all and very lethargic. He stays by himself and shakes his head frequently. Last night he didn’t go back to coup like he always does. He let me pick him up( a first) . He is eating but not acting normal. His head is down most of the time. He has diarrhea. Any thoughts? Please advise. Thank you

    1. Hi, Tom. Those symptoms may be related to worms. You might consider taking a sample of his feces for testing at your vet (any vet can do this) who can recommend a treatment with fenbendazole if they find anything.

  52. I have an 8 month old RIR starting limping and it’s worse right after she lays an egg. She eats and drinks and otherwise acts normal. No mites or Bumblefoot, could she have sprained it? Also notices today that her neck feather tips are missing. Any suggestions?

    1. Could it be that she’s getting too much attention from a rooster? Sometimes they can injure hens with their aggressive attention. It’s also possible that she’s injured herself. I would watch her to make sure it gets better over the next few days – up to 2 weeks as long as it’s not getting worse.

      1. Hi Laura, Thank you so much for the reply. I am happy to report that “Dotty” seems to be feeling much better after a weeks worth of TLC and itty bitty doses of aspirin morning/night. (Talked to vet about correct dosage : ) ) I don’t own any roosters so I was leaning towards injury. I also caught another hen feather picking her, now that she’s much better that has stopped. I stopped aspirin to give her a break and see how she does and will go from there. Just wanted to say how much I appreciate all the information and advice you give on this website, Happy Holidays!!


  53. Let me start by saying I am VERY new to chickens. I just got my first flock 3 weeks ago. They were 16 weeks when I got them. I have 2 ameraucana and 2 Rhode Island. This week I noticed the ameraucana was separating herself from the group and I think they were pecking at her because I noticed a bald spot. I thought they were just being bullies, but today when I went out her eyes were glossed over and bubbly. She was doing this weiRd thing with her beak. There are some red sores around her eyes. I cant tell if they are sores or from the other chickens. I separated her from the others but am not sure what to do?my husband and I have no idea what’s wrong with her but are concerned because we have young children. Also a lot of scary things pop up when you google sick chickens. Any advice is appreciated!!!

    1. Hi Alexis! Poor chicken! Fowl pox is a common illness that affects chickens and causes sores. It is usually a disease that works itself out on its own and is not contagious to humans.

  54. so my Boo-tiful Lady was havin issues with either her hip or her leg cause she favored the one more than the other. and when she needed to be balanced she would open her wing on her right side (if i was standing behind her) so she wouldnt fall over. she had no other symptoms she was eatin and drinkin and poop looked normal. could she have dislocated her leg or hurt her foot jumpin off of one of the perches?

  55. Greetings from Australia. My chicken, who has always seemed the most robust, has all of a sudden come down ill, is not eating or drinking and has diarrhoea. She keeps away from the other chickens and looks like she’s trying to push out an egg. Ive put her in a warm bath and massaged her stomach thinking that she might be egg bound but I can’t feel an egg. I’ve got her in a basket in our laundry to keep her quiet. Any thoughts on what could be causing this? Thanks for your help

    1. Hi Lisa, if she seems eggbound but you can’t find an egg, you might need to find a vet that can look at her and maybe take an x-ray based on physical exam. Call around an see if anyone is willing to give it a try.

  56. Hi. My rooster is not looking good today. His pea comb (he is an americauna) is very purplish and he is lethargic. It is not exceptionally cold out 25-30 degrees, but it is windy. He was standing in a corner of the run not paying attention to any of the ladies (very odd). I am thinking back and I have not heard him crow in the morning for a couple days. He is separated from the rest of the flock, in the house and in a crate with food and water. I gave him treats of bread and scrambled eggs. He has eaten a small bit and is now laying down in the crate. Any advice?

    1. Hi Lena. So sorry about your rooster. He does sound like he is sick. The best you can do with the information you provided is to isolate him where you can keep a close eye on his behavior and watch for any new symptoms. A lot of times when they get a minor illness, you just have to keep them safe while they work through it on their own.

  57. We cannot find a vet so here is our story. We have had backyard chickens for 3 years. We moved to the country a few mo the ago. Unfortunately we lost one to heat and one to a predator. Left us with one lonely hen so we found someone who had state certified flock and got 2 more young hens. We noticed our older hen sneezing randomly and separated her for 2 days but it was very random and she was acting fine so we let her back out. We got 2 more hens from the same flock so we now have 5. We cleaned a nice big coop that was already here and put them all in there. Now most are sneezing and our older hen makes a gurgle type noise when roosting at night. We thought it was just the cold weather change but now we are scared it’s more. We never had issues before. Now we can’t find a vet. We are lost what to do. We were so excited to expand our flock and now we regret it. What should we do?! I hope you can help 🙁

    1. Hi Ashley, if the birds are showing signs of a respiratory disease, there isn’t much you can do. Medications and antibiotics are generally not indicated for respiratory disease in chickens. Hopefully it will pass on its own, but I would be very careful bringing any new birds in in the future.

  58. Hello I have a question about one of our young chickens. She is constantly holding her head down in front between her legs as if she’s rubbing her chest. Walking backwards and losing her balance. She just wants to keep her head down the whole time. I don’t see anything in her feathers that she might be getting irritated by. Someone at the feed store said that she might have an ear infection. Is there any home remedies for this? Or could it be something else that you’ve seen?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Jennie! With those symptoms, I’m thinking either Marek’s or wry neck. For either, I recommend you isolate the affected bird so you can observe her and keep her safe. Make sure she has access to clean food and water, and try giving her some vitamins. You should be able to find a vitamin supplement at the feed store. Sometimes, they’ll pull through for you but sometimes they do not recover from Marek’s or whatever is causing the wry neck.

  59. Hi! I have a 9month old rooster named Jane (I thought he was going to be a hen lol) two days ago I noticed a drop in his eating. They are free range with chickens with a nice large coop they come into at night. I have another rooster and 14 hens. I didn’t think much of the drop in forage since I’m in Montana and with the snow and cold I gave them some extra feed. But yesterday I noticed him isolating himself from the flock. He did come over with the rest of them when he saw me with a back of scraps, everyone else ate but he just stood there. He’s moving slower than normal and still won’t eat this morning. Just standing at the water bowl drinking all morning. He’s comb is still red his eyes don’t seem as distant. But he’s still off. He hasn’t crowed the last two morning. His breathing seems okay and his coloring isn’t pale, I haven’t noticed any mites. He is the only one in a matter of 2 days acting off. Am I overreacted? I’m just really worried about him. He’s more like the pet/therapy chicken in my flock. One last thing I noticed was when he took his 6 hens off to their favorite spot he just sat down instead of pecked around with them. And then left them entirely to go across the acre to lay under one of their favorite big trees. Hope my message doesn’t sound all over the place. What should I do? And does this sound serious?

    1. So I just separated him (he has been drinking water for hours) and when I picked him up water and spit basically throw up came pouring out of his mouth. And it smelled awful. It was clear with some green in it. I am adding this to my above comment about Jane the rooster.

      1. Hi Blair! Poor Jane! I wonder if he has an impacted or sour crop. Pick him up and feel for his crop. It’s located on the front of his neck near the chest. If it feels full and hard, it could be impacted. The bad odor might also indicate sour crop which is basically a yeast infection in the crop. Try dropping some olive oil into his beak and gently massaging his crop to see if you can get whatever is in there to move out. You may have to do this several times. Also offer him apple cider vinegar in his water and see if he’ll eat some yogurt. If you can’t get him to feel better within a couple of days, then you may need to see if your vet can look him over. Hope he gets better for you!

  60. Hey. I have a bantam chicken, and she is a year & 3 months old. For the past couple of days she hasn’t been eating as well as she use to and her stool is coming out like a small ball. And has been lingering in one corner just looking at the other birds like she wants to socialise but ultimately doesn’t. I’ve checked to see if she has any fleas or anything and she is clear. She is my first chicken & I’m really worried about her. I love her to bits & will be devastated if anything were to happen to her (I’m crying as I write this). Please, if you can help me it will be most appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Hi Katrina! Sounds like you need to isolate her so you can figure out what’s going on. Give you a physical exam to see if you can find anything off. Is her foot hurting? Could she be eggbound? I would also offer her a little ACV and probiotics in her water. If you don’t have probiotic for the water, you can give her some yogurt. By separating her and giving her a little TLC, you’ll be better able to determine what’s going on. Feel free to ask more questions.

      1. Hey Laura. Ok, I had a close look at her and her feet are completely fine. She could be egg bound, I just gave her a warm salt bath which she felt relaxed in – I plan to give her another tomorrow. Gave her double the amount of love and care she gets daily. I had a go at giving her some yoghurt, she didn’t seem too keen to eat it. I added some ACV in her water which she is drinking. She has started to move around more.

  61. Im hoping you may be able to help.
    My daughter’s Rode Island Red is sick.
    She just noticed today that her comb is pale and her crop feels empty. She isn’t eating and is staying to herself. I cant seem to find anything on what that could mean. Can anyone help?

    1. Hi Bridgett! Those can be generic symptoms of illness or even just a broody hen, so I can’t say what’s going on based on that information. I would recommend isolating her from the other birds so you can observe her closely and give her some TLC. Let me know if I can be of more help.

  62. I have an Easter-egger that stopped laying, as expected, over the winter. She began laying again a few weeks ago. Now she has stopped. She is losing a lot of feathers. Feathers all over the yard and the coop. Appears to be losing weight, however, could look thin from the loss of feathers. She eats, drinks and does not isolate herself from the flock. Goes out a forages every day. She still flies up to the roost in the coop. Doesn’t really act sick, but just looks terrible. None of the other birds are suffering. I wasn’t sure if maybe she is getting “pecked” by other birds or if something is wrong with her. Any ideas? Thank you

    1. Hi, Suzanne! Do you think she could be molting? Usually, chickens will molt in the fall, but it can happen at other times of the year. Definitely check her for parasites (like mites) and make sure she’s not being bullied to rule out any need for treatment. But if you don’t see any of that and she’s just losing feathers, it’s probably just molting. It takes about 6 weeks for the molting process to complete, and she should start laying again after she’s done. Hope that helps!

  63. Hi
    I have a 3 year old that has not left her roost for the 3rd day I picked her up and examined her but found nothing
    She is not eating or drinking any ideas

    1. Hi, Michelle. I would isolate her and try giving her some treats, water with probiotics or ACV. Watch her for diarrhea, straining to lay an egg, or anything that can help you narrow down what’s going on. Sometimes, just giving her some private space and a little TLC will get them through.

  64. Hi, I’m so grateful to read all your caring responses to all these people who love their chickens as much as I do! My favourite hen dug up a piece of an old plastic bag buried about s foot under the ground. By the time I found her I’m not sure how much she’d eaten. I quickly removed it and kept an eye on her. This was 2 days ago. I read up other (less qualified) sites & they basically had lots of comments saying they had lots of examples of hens living through 5 he experience. Peggy is pooling, drinking and eating & laid an egg today,,but was acting really strange tonight. She wouldn’t walk to the coop to go to bed, hardly moved, & normally runs to me. She is all puffed up an hunched, slow, and not making her usual noises. Almost silent, which she never is! I sat with her a while and even her blinking seemed laboured and unusual. Is there anything I can do to help her pass the plastic or be more comfortable? I’d do anything for her.

    1. Hi, Karol! Poor Peggy! The first thing I would do is move her to her own space. If she continues acting sickly, the other birds might start picking on her and that’s no good. Then I would give her lots of water – maybe even make a slushy with food and water to help move things along. Hopefully she’ll keep eating for you and it will pass on its own. Hope she feels better soon!

  65. Hello, I have three chickens and Buttercup my (buff orpington) she hasn’t been right for two days now happened rather suddenly the symptoms. She is lethargic, not eating but is drinking, she’s quiet sleepy, puffs up her feathers like she’s cold, closes her eyes alot and opens them when she has to, also she did lay an egg about three days ago that had no shell but she’s not egg bound because you can’t feel anything is there and hasn’t layer since. Thankyou for any feed back would be appreciated

    1. We need to get some food in her and make sure it is a well-balanced layer feed. No shell could mean a lack of calcium. Isolate her and see if she’ll eat some yogurt – that will be good for calcium as well as probiotics and water. Check her all over for anything that might be causing discomfort like skin mites, bumblefoot, or any injuries. Let me know if you have more questions.

      1. We have been giving her yoghurt and trying to give her layer feed, she is still sleepy, gets sleepy just standing/walking around and Her pupils are really dilated when they are open. Vent is clean, crop is fine, can’t feel any eggs stuck will eat but only a little if encouraged. Treated with apple cider vinegar and live yogurt, she’s been having vitamin and mineral powder. We cleaned the whole enclosure and are now using a disinfectant foot bath for boots to minimise contamination to the enclosure. She hasn’t been laying since the shell less egg, really not sure what it can be we are trying our best but are still insure what could be the issue.

  66. Hi, I’m on holiday in Cypress and my husband is at home in the uk looking after my feathered babies, he has told me that one of my girls is not very well, her comb is droopy and purple she is eating and drinking ok, he described it as it looks like a stroke, as she can’t walk and is crouched down, he had the sense to isolate her, but as I can’t see her I can’t give you much more information, can you give me any advice please.

    1. Hi Lorraine! Based on the information you gave me, I recommend he calls around to see if any vets will take a look at her. It sounds very serious.

  67. I would love to know how to follow this Vet. She has some of the animals I have and this is my first time having my own little homestead. Would love to be able to ask her questions when I run into problems.

  68. I am a chicken breeder who needs awareness of diseases in chickens to prevent the disease from spreading. Chicken farming is my favorite job every day. Thank you for sharing your very useful information to the community.

    1. I got chicken who can stand and sit normally, their eyes hadnt changed. They keep peeping and I warm them up occassionaly. But I noticed a younger chick sneezed only a few times and i worry that it has madebthe younger chick sick. I just ordered them yesterday and the youngest chick doesnt seem well. Intried feeding them water. They can swallow and drink but with their eyes closed, they dont want to. It vomited a clear substance in the water during the time i was making sure itnwas drinking. But there are times where I put it in a hot spot, the chick raises its neck and opens its mouth. Is there any way I can help it or is thisna normal? I caught them sneezing as well, but only once for now. Theywere completely fine the other day..

      1. Hi Angela. The chicks need a heat lamp and access to food and water at all times in the first few days. If they’re cold, that will definitely cause them to be lethargic and unwell. You can also try giving each one a few drops of baby multivitamins (like poly-vi-sol without the iron) or put a dropper full in their water.

  69. Hi,
    I am caring for someone else’s chickens (2 females and a rooster) during a hous esit and one female is very unwell.
    She had a very dirty bottom when we took over and it wasn’t mentioned by the owner as something to watch.
    2.5 months later she is being attacked and shunned by her mates, not allowed out to get food or water, so we separated her.
    After the first night I thought she was a gonner, she couldn’t lift her head out of the wood shavings but I have drip fed her water with some honey and apple cider vinegar and she perked up some.
    I treated for lice (a neighbour brought round some powder) and then the next day I gave her an epsom salt bath and a blow dry (first time I’ve ever seen her with a clean butt!).
    I have to prop her up on a towel in her crate as otherwise she can’t seem to hold her head up, and her feet are permanently clenched, although I can straighten them under her in the crate, and when I hold food out for her she pecks randomly, like she can’t see where it is.
    She does seem to be improving gently as we push food and infused water on her, but is there anything elese I can do, or shouldn’t be doing??
    Thanks in advance,

    1. Hi Jo! Have you called around to see if there’s a vet that will see her? Let’s hope that her symptoms are a side effect of starvation and not an infectious neurological disease. So I recommend you get some food in her. You can use canned cat food that is very soft and use a large syringe to put some food in her beak. Up to 15 ml per pound per feeding with 3-4 feedings per day. Give her 2-3 drops of poly-vi-sol baby vitamins (without the iron) twice daily for 2-3 days. Maybe she’ll perk up for you with some TLC.

      1. Hi Laura,
        Vets aren’t big on chicken maintenance round these parts I’m afraid, but we have made some progress using Google searches.
        She is alive and kicking, and eating and drinking lots but still unable to stand properly as her feet tend to remain clenched like little fists – although she manages to stand when she needs to “go” – which is sometimes solid, sometimes liquid…
        We added a multi-vit to her food, and grass cuttings when I saw that her flock loved them, since my friend Google suggested a riboflavin deficiency.
        And then another search suggested it might be a worm infestation, so we have wormed all 3.
        The TLC continues, thanks for your advice Laura!

        1. hi jo…if you ever want a housesit in new zealand get in touch…Love that you caring so well for animals there and finding animal lovers for my lot so i can go away is always an issue. Good on you!

  70. Hi! Can you help me? All 11 of my hens have lost the feathers on their butts, which may(?) be swollen. I’ve been giving them Ropa in their water daily to help them stay healthy, as we had some respiratory problems a few months ago. I stopped giving them the Ropa a couple of days ago to see if that was causing them to lose butt feathers, but now one of them is listless, hardly moving, only opens her eyes when she has to and stays separate from the others. Her comb is kind of purplish and I saw her poop some kind of mucusy stuff. Could this be worms? Should I re-start the Ropa?

    1. Hi, Nancy! For raw bottoms, check them for mites and fly strike (which is when flies lay eggs in sores on their skin and the maggots hatch and start eating dead flesh). You might need to hunt down a vet that would be willing to check them over if you see any maggots.

  71. I have a 3 year old hen who has not been feeling well. I have isolated her from the others. She is eating somewhat and drinking. When we first brought her in her comb was purple and leaning over. Once we got some vitamins in her it perked right up. I gave her an Epsom bath and have been taking her outside to let her enjoy the spring weather with me. She just wanders and finds a quiet place to relax. How do I tell if she is egg bound. She has a little poop on her backside but she is confined to the dog crate. Her vent looks clear and she is pooping fine. She is a sassy girl so it makes me sad that she isn’t feeling well. No vets around her really look after chickens so I am on my own! Any thoughts…am I missing something egg binding. She has suffered from impacted crop before and bumblefoot – both seem okay this time. Thank you 🙂

    1. Hey, Karen! If she’s egg bound, you should see her straining to move the egg. Sometimes they squat or walk funny. She’s not going broody?

      1. No she’s not broody. Almost a week as a house chicken. She’s eating and drinking. No more eggs since she’s been in the house. She’s always been sassy but very slow. Breathing was a little heavy so I started her on vet rx and Tylan. Just at a lose!

  72. Hi there. I am so happy I found this page. I could really use some help. I got two new hens from a breeder. I introduced them to my flock (5 hens) and they both seemed spirited and ready to rumble. One hen had a swollen red bum. After a day, she just slept all day breathing heavily. She had mites in her feet and looked so sick. I brought her in my house and she just layed there. She had neon green poops with blood. Would eat and drink but nothing else. The breeder came and took her and brought me a new hen. The sick one died that night. Now I’m terrified my whole flock has been infected. One of my original hens, Olive, started sneezing and coughing today. I noticed that she is segregating herself from the rest and seems a bit lethargic. I heard one more hen have a few sneezes as well. I’m really scared and not sure what to do. They have ACV in their water daily and I have been putting a few drops of oregano oil in their water since getting the new hens. Any advice? I’m thinking of separating the sick one? I just cleaned the coop a few days ago from deep litter over winter, could that be it? I haven’t been getting many eggs lately either. I put that down to new hen stress. But now I don’t know 🙁

    1. Hi, Amy! The sneezing and coughing could very well be from new bedding, and new hen stress can for sure cause a decrease in egg production. So I don’t think you’re wrong there, but I would separate the lethargic one so you can keep a close eye on her. Hopefully it’s nothing, and she’s back to normal soon. All you can do is wait and see at this point. How old were the new hens? I would be thinking of coccidia but that’s usually the babies who get sick from that.

  73. Hiya, i really need some advice on why my flock seem to be suffering with water belly. i had 6 hens, all different breeds all about 4 years old. In the past few weeks ive had 3 girls with water belly, 2 that have been euthanized and 1 who is on furizomide twice a day and has been drained, she seems quite perky and has had it a coupe of weeks now.
    Can you shed any light on why they seem to be suffering with this as i no its not contagious?
    They are kept at our allotment and checked twice a day, we also had 1 die from sour crop recently and 1 was found dead in the coop which was a mystery.

    1. Hi, Gemma. That’s just terrible. I’m so sorry to hear about your chickens. For some breeds, 4 years old is getting toward the end of their lifespan. It could be that they are getting older and starting to have organ failure. Were they overweight? Too much fat or high protein feed can also lead to ascites. The only other thing I can think of is a toxic plant or fungal toxin (in feed) that would cause heart/liver failure.

  74. Dear Laura:

    I have a 3 year old Aracauna hen that is most likely egg bound, I found her on the floor of the hen house this afternoon, panting with her mouth open, tail bent downward, occasionally straining. She can move around, and was on her perch tonight, but still uncomfortable, and tail down. She consistently lays an egg, which she did not this morning. Two days ago, I noticed blood smeared across one end of the egg she layed. She lays very large eggs. Her comb also seems very pale. I feed her layer pellets along with greens picked from the garden and some 5 grain scratch every day. She is lean and very healthy otherwise.
    What do you recommend I do to help her?
    Thank you very much! .

    1. Hi, Joan! You can try giving her a bath in warm water and Epsom salt. If you feel comfortable, you can try to reach in and feel for the egg. But you have to be very gentle. If you can’t feel the egg or get it to move, you may need to find a vet that is willing to try. Staying egg bound can be fatal. I hope she gets better for you!

      1. Thanks, Laura, very much for your reply!
        Before you were able to answer, that first night, I isolated her, put her in the dark for the night, and gave her Liquid calcium and magnesium by mouth, and put some olive oil into her oviduct to lubricate and held her upside down.(was that okay to do?) I don’t know if that helped at all, but I put her back with her friend the next day, and thankfully….Success! She layed a large egg that was mis-shapen. She has not layed an egg yesterday or today, however. Do I need to worry about that? She seems to be acting normal….And, is there a benefit to doing the warm epsom salt bath even now? Would she absorb something she needs from that? Or, what makes that work?
        Thank you very much!

        1. It sounds like you did a great job taking care of her. If she’s acting normally, then I wouldn’t do anything else. The Epsom salts contain magnesium which can be absorbed through the skin in humans, and we assume the same for chickens. We suppose this will help them relax, but I think a lot of it is just the calming effect of a warm water bath. So glad your hen is feeling better!

  75. Hi! I have just brought in some new birds to my flock about a week ago and just noticed today they had runny noses. They won’t eat the corn or scratch feed. All the manage to eat is starter for the babies. I went from getting 2 dozen eggs a day to 6 eggs a day. After reading this article I have noticed that some of those symptoms apply to a few other of my existing flock, but none of them have more than 1. I have lost 3 of the new ones in the last couple of days I noticed you said that antibiotics don’t normally help if it’s just a “cold”. What would you suggest for caring for them? Would there be a general antibiotic to give the whole flock just in case some are sick and need them?

    1. Unfortunately, with respiratory illness, you can only isolate and provide supportive care. They will either recover and be carriers of the illness, or they will continue to decline. That said, bringing in new chickens can, in and of itself, cause a decline in egg production while they sort out their new pecking order.

  76. I really need some help. One of my chickens started isolating herself and not eating. My first thought was that she was egg-bound, so I started giving her warm water baths with Magnesium. She seemed to like this and her condition temporarily improved. However, yesterday she went downhill fast and when I cam e home, she was outside the coup by herself in the rain. I took her into the bathroom and dried her with the heater. I put her on a thermal blanket and she slept last night there. She has access to foot and water, but doesn’t want anything. I asked my local vet, but he said he didn’t know much about chickens. What should I do?

    1. It’s so hard to say when they just start acting poorly all of the sudden. If she’s older, then it could be cancer or just her time. I think, short of finding a vet to examine and run tests, what you’re doing is as good as you can do. Keep her isolated, offer her food and water and just take care of her until she gets better or doesn’t. If you feel like she’s suffering, ask your vet if he can put her down and do (or send off) a necropsy if you want to make sure it’s not something contagious.

  77. The reason I am here is because my main girl who is normally all over me, follows me everywhere, very vocal, head chick has been listless for a week now. I looked under her wings for ticks, nothing, her comb looks healthy, eyes clear, feet great not injures. She does have some poop stuck to her feathers and hasn’t been eating, no longer peppy, lays around more than she eats. Today I’m going to go out set up the dog crate for her in the shed and clean her with some warm water and Epsom salts clean her bottom. Not sure what else to do? I don’t believe in bringing chickens to the vet but willing to do what ever I can do to help them when they are sick. I also have some Probiotics I can put in her water. Wish me luck and any suggestions are appreciated. Thanks

    1. It’s so hard when they just aren’t themselves and you can’t find anything wrong. Sounds like a good plan. Probiotics can’t hurt. I hope she’s feeling better for you now.

  78. Hello! My sweet Tina hen had a mushy crop yesterday night that felt like sour crop (from my understanding). This morning, it was flat so I figured all was well. Through the day she ate, drank, and pooped (normal firm ones and watery ones) I gave her a bit of food with lots of grit, and had water with a splash of apple cider vinegar for her. However, after eating the food, her crop felt deformed, almost like something was stuck in it (eating something she shouldn’t have). She has also been extremely noisy all day, yelling like she is in discomfort. She laid an egg yesterday morning, but is usually a 6 egg/week kind of girl. Nothing today, but it could also be her normal day off. Any advice I would greatly appreciate. I just want to help my poor girl! Thanks

    1. Sometimes my chickens will make crazy noises or they’ll sound like they’re in distress. But really they are just singing their egg song. I would isolate her for further observation. Then you can tell if there’s something wrong or if she’s just being vocal.

  79. Hi, my favourite chick Plucky seems to be sick. She is about 13wks old so not laying yet. She was fine on thurs morning when I left for work & up running round at lunchtime. When I got home from work she’s as just sitting on the ground ~ not moving or excited for the night feed. The other hatchlings from same time kept crowding her & she just stayed still. She did eat from my hand & drank lots of water. Next morning she was just sitting on the ground again. She’s didn’t move all day – but still eating/drinking when we took it to her. She’s been isolated from the others. Her left wing is kind of paralysed and her feet curl. Her iris look fine & is still eating/drinking again today. I took her out of the box & she walked about 2m over an hour but mostly just lay down & closed her eyes.
    What can I do to help her?

    1. Hi, Summer. I hate to say this, but I don’t know if there’s anything more you can do. Keep giving her the TLC you’re already doing and wait it out. Hopefully, she pulls through for you.

  80. Hi Laura!
    My sweet girl is not feeling well. She started standing away from her sisters with her tail feathers facing down. She is mostly uninterested in the usual treats and whatnot and allowed me to man handle her with no complaints, she is one of my squawkers. She keeps sitting down and her tailfeathers are pulsing up and down like she is either trying to poop or lay. I checked her vent for egg impingement and that is not the case. I’m worried about egg yolk Peritonitis. She is roosting now and I’ll check her poop in the morning. Any thoughts?
    Thank you so much!

    1. Hi, Katie! Definitely sounds like she’s eggbound. It’s possible it’s up higher than you can feel in her vent. Sometimes a warm bath with Epsom salts can help them relax and pass the egg. If she continues to struggle, call around until you find a vet that will at least try. If she’s eggbound and it doesn’t get fixed, she can die.

      1. Thank you so much for getting back to me! This is exactly what I did and she passed a massive egg the next day. She is back to her usual happy self! I love that you have this page, it is so very helpful for any chicken owner but especially for a newbie like me!

  81. Taking care of chickens is hard work, but I love chickens that give me joy when raising chickens.

  82. I’m so happy I found this site, I really hope you can help. My RIR started doing this strange thing with her neck. She would completely turn it around that started a week and half ago. Now when she walks, she cannot walk straight, like she’s drunk. I have picked her up several times to move her neck around to see if it was hurt but it seems fine. She will still rest and drink but it’s hard since it’s like her balance is completely off. Tonight she ws not even in the coop but all by herself in a corner in the run. I’m not sure if she has been sleeping down there, but she’s usually in one of the boxes they lay eggs in when I go out there in the morning. Every time I walk up I think she’s finally dead. She recently started to rub her head on the ground, but her neck is still all crazy and she cannot walk.

    I thought it might be wry neck. I have put some vitamin E oil on some meal worms, that only seemed to give her the runs. I cannot bring myself to put her down because she’s not crying out in pain and still eating and drinking but I have no idea how to help. I pray you do!

    1. How old is she? Have you checked her ears? I wonder if it’s an ear infection. Definitely isolate her so you can observe her closely and prevent other birds from picking on her. If you see any debris in her ear, you can gently clean it with peroxide and qtips – but DO NOT push the qtip in her ear, just use it to remove debris as much as you can. Some ear infections are internal (causing loss of balance and weird neck movements) and those are harder to treat, but she might pull through over time. If you see significant debris in her ears, clean them and see if you can get a vet to rx you some antibiotic ear drops. Hope this helps!

  83. My Rhode Island Red crosses have been getting sick, more or less one after another, for months. They start sitting hunched, tail down, getting weaker and weaker, more and more lethargic, finally stop trying to run away, and take a couple of weeks to die. I’ve lost close to a dozen. When I isolate them, they barely eat or drink. I have started dispatching them, which I find hard to do. I’m worried my whole flock will eventually die. Is it likely they are all already infected? Would antibiotics for all of them be of any use? Anything else? Vet bills for a home flock of 25 birds or so, intended to increase self-sufficiency, would be prohibitive. These are free-range birds, so get much variety for food, as well as pellets, scratch, and veggie scraps from the supermarket.

    1. If it’s infectious, it’s likely they’ve all been exposed. But it could also be environmental-I recommend you have the vet come out. If your vet can save you from having to cull and rebuild your flock, it will be worth the money.

  84. You have helped me before and I’m baaaaack!
    One of my ladies is pooping dry the past 2 days during roosting. It’s crumbly and full of grass and corn. I give 1 cob a day for 5 girls to peck at.
    She has access to water, feed and laid an egg 36 hours ago.
    Her behavior is normal and I saw no parasites in her feces. Any thoughts?
    Thanks so much!

    1. Make sure her water is fresh and easily acessible. Is it possible she doesn’t want to drink for some reason? Bullying, dirty water, weird thing in water bowl that is spooking her???

  85. Hello there, one of my chickens is having a bit of trouble. He doesn’t each much, segregates himself from the rest of them, walks a bit funny, almost as if he’s limping, and makes noises like he’s yawning. I have no idea what to do to help him, or what to buy him to cure him. My chickens are still quite young, about 3-4 months old and haven’t started to lay eggs yet either. Do you have any idea what’s wrong? Any advice would be appreciated x

    1. Hard to say but I would definitely keep an eye on him. If it gets worse, definitely consider Marek’s disease. Were your chicks vaccinated?

  86. HI I have a 4 month old ranger in a coop with three other hybrid chickens. I’ve gone to see them today and she was hiding behind the coop. She seemed wobbly on her legs. We had a red mite infestation about 4 weeks ago, but I have sorted the coop and have regularly sprayed with Net tex spray (when the chickens can’t access). Popcorn is the bottom of the pecking order and along with the red mites, she’s rather bald on her back end. Her eyes are bright, her nose is clear and her comb is dark, but she’s not her normal self. My daughter is beside herself. We’ve separated popcorn from the others and she is currently shut in the bathoom with everything she needs and the blind drawn. I don’t know what to do.

    1. Hi, Rebecca. I think you’ve done exactly what needs to be done. Separate her from the flock, and I bet she’ll perk up with some TLC. Best of luck!

  87. Hi, I have a Black Sexlink hen who suddenly looks beat up, her feathers on both wings and chest are ragged and bare and she looks like she’s missing her tail feathers too. She has white around her face and comb and what looks like dandruff in her feathers. I can’t tell if she suddenly fell from the peaking order to the bottom or if she’s got some sort of illness or both! She lets the other chickens peck at her but in my observation it doesn’t seem aggressive and perhaps they are grooming or eating mites off of her. Any advise is greatly appreciated. She’s always been one of my favorites with a very sweet nature. She is about a year old

    1. Could she be molting? Pick her up one evening and examine her back end with a flashlight. If you see mites, then you know that’s the problem. If not and she’s otherwise acting normal, it could be a normal molt.

  88. Hi! I have 1 pet hen that lately hasn’t wanted to move and today we found her on her side. When I picked her up she fell back down. I’ve got her now sitting up but she doesn’t want to move. She’s eating and drinking, but does have feces on her feathers. I was wondering how to tell if she’s egg bound? She hasn’t laid in awhile, a few weeks at least. I didn’t think much about it until today as it’s not the first time that she’s gone a bit without laying. Any advice you can give me would be very appreciated. This is the first chicken I’ve ever had so I don’t know too much about sicknesses. I’m very attached to her and will do whatever necessary to help her get better.

    1. Hi Jessica. She really needs to get to a vet. Laying on her side is not a good sign. Try a warm Epsom salt bath and gentle abdominal massage. Isolate her until she’s feeling better.

  89. I have a 10 mo old hen that is hardly eating, she stands around with her feathers fluffed up and her crown is darker and flopped over. I let them out during the day and she has little want to go out. Been going on for a couple days now. what can I do to help her? I’m pretty new to raising chickens.

    1. First thing to do is get her isolated where you can keep a close eye on her. Try to get her to eat and drink and give her a nice warm place to recover. Watch for other signs that point toward a particular illness. Has she started laying, yet?

  90. Hi I wonder if you can help. I have a four year old buff Orpington who for the last few months has started sounding like she is a duck. The past couple of weeks it sounds (on searching google) like she is coughing and more recently sneezing. (Sounds like she has swallowed the inside of a squeaky toy). All of a sudden the last few days she has been shifting her neck sideways momenteraly and making a high pitched shrill which sounds quite alarming but then it stops. She is still wandering around with my other Orpington’s. Still eating and scratching for food. Maybe not as fast as the rest but she is a bit plumper. Her breathing sounds a bit laboured when you are up close. Wattles and comb still bright red. Please help! Worried sick about her and can’t find a vet that deals with chickens around. Many thanks in advance. B.

  91. Hi. I have three chickens with some kind if respiratory infection. What symptoms do you consider worthy enough of antibiotics? I have read a few people say don’t treat them because it don’t really do anything. Do chickens tend to Get better on their own over time? And, a question I haven’t been able to get answered, can you eat their eggs even if they do have an infection? Please, email me with your opinion, if possible. Thank you SO much! Kristina

  92. My 3 year old Golden Comet, Lucy, hasn’t laid for the past few weeks. We had trouble with her getting runny, loose stools, and her bottom became smelly and red, and she lost her feathers. I treated it as if it was vent gleet. The issue seemed to dry up, but she started pulling out feathers on her tail, chest, and abdomen a few days ago. When I went out this morning, her comb is completely limp, she is trying to coo but no sound, has almost pure water stools, and just seems overall pretty listless. Our weather has been nothing but humid rain for the past week. Any advice?

  93. Hello I have a chicken named Rosie she is a black copper maron she is young still not laying eggs yet
    She will not open her eyes it started Wednesday of this week and I have her quarantining because her sister same blood line came to me together died last week for unknown reasons but she was acting similar she would not walk I don’t know what to do 😔 Rosie is also shaking her head back and forth kinda today

  94. Hi Dr Laura. You have helped me before so I’m hoping you have some insight. 2 weeks ago I notice my 2 yo hen was a little off. I did an Epsom soak and she pooped and I discovered worms. I dewormed her and she started having watery poo after that. I figured it was part of the deworming process. Then yesterday I was investigating her vent, it was covered in wet dirt which was weird, when she started to “vomit” she almost asphyxiated on her crop contents but I massaged it hard and she was ok but I know she aspirated some of it. Today she is sneezing a bit and when she leaned over to peck the ground clear fluid ran out of her mouth. Also, she is literally just pooping water. No smell at all. Has an appetite, good comb color, roosting per normal and just did the 2nd round of deworming Monday. I’ve separated her from the flock will check for an impacted crop in the morning. Any idea about the poo water? And should I get an antibiotic in case she aspirated too much from the crop? Poor chicken nugget. Thank you for your help!!

  95. I have a PBR that is acting the same way as Barbara Taylor described her Buff O. on 27Apr. I heard that adding a cup of apple cider vinegar per gallon of water could help with the sneezing/squeaking as well as simultaneously deworming. This is day one of that treatment. From what I’ve read tonight, I will quarantine the one hen until she’s better and watch the others. I’d love to hear any other recommendations for treatment. Thank you!

  96. I’m hoping you can help me. My favourite 1.5 year old Red SexLink Linda has been off for 3-3.5 days now. She has very little energy and seems to lay down every opportunity she can. She struggles to keep her balance. She’s very puffed up all over and stands like a penguin when she does. Limited poops and watery and dark when she does.

    We don’t have a veterinarian within 300km from us that will go near a chicken and I’ve been struggling. Based on what I’ve read I thought she may be egg bound. She has no visible signs of any injury, her waddle looks red and healthy and her bum looks normal (albeit poopy with excessive pulsing.) I’ve had her isolated for 2 days now and have been giving her Epsom salt baths with extra calcium snacks (there’s always oyster shells available in the coop) and electrolytes in her water, but she still seems to be struggling.

    My husband says it’s time to put her out of her misery. I don’t want her to suffer, but she’s still been eating and drinking so I don’t want to euthanize her too early if she may pull through. Without a vet to consult I’m a little lost. Help!

  97. I have a 3 year old Brahma chicken named Eggatha. She has been not moving and eating. I am very concerned And she has not been getting better. Please HELP!!!!!

  98. My poor hen was attacked by a dog 5 days ago. Her wounds were pretty bad, but I have managed to keep her from infection. She has had no signs of internal injuries. I have been syringe feeding her first with just water and electrolytes. Yesterday I also started a very thin solution of dissolved chicken pellet, ground green bean and ground up hard boiled egg. She took to it very well, but is still not interested in eating or drinking on her own. She does move her legs, but i think she is sore and so she will not stand on her own. I have been bathing her daily and she layed a large egg yesterday. But tonight after bathing, she started panting – opening her mouth to breathe in. Giving her water also seems uncomfortable for her. I turned down the heat in her cage area. But she is still doing it. Anything I should be doing or considering?

  99. Hello,my lil bantam rooster has been suffering with respiratory issues for over a year now and it just got first it was just a wheezy raspy noise in his beak seemed to get worse when he ate wet food(bananas,apples,cucumber,ect) but recently now his chest is kinda inflating like a balloon on the left side like around where his crop is and sometimes makes like a popping noise.he opens his mouth wide for breathe sometimes while extending his kneck.he is still eating and drinking and seems to have energy.ive been giving him a respiratory tea(oregano,thyme,basil,garlic,black pepper,ginger,tumeric, cinnamon,peppermint,chamomile,and a lil bit of honey but not everytime with the honey) for about 14 days or so now,also been doing warm full strength vetrx at night under wings,on chest and below roost(for about 8 days or so),also gave him 1/2 a ml of nutridrench mixed with egg,olive oil and oats once a day the last couple of really not sure what else to do except check his crop?!he is still pooping but I’ve noticed when I go to put the vetrx on his chest he seems to react part of the time as if his chest is tender to the touch!:(any advice would be very much appreciated,he is my special Mr.Rooster and I can’t imagine not having him around,me and momma(my hen) need him to stick around,please any help is yet again very appreciated!

  100. i have two chickens that have feather loss, and has been like this for a couple of months, no wounds, they are not molting and do not have mites or lice, i have not noticed them getting picked on, but do question if they are doing this to them self, they are healthy, eating, drinking, running around with the rest of them. what can i do .

  101. Hi,it’s a wonderful post. Thanks for your nice post . Do you know?The decision to make the pump so small, rather than life-size or larger, was deliberate and is crucial to its functioning.

  102. Hi we have a buff Orpington that has been acting funny lately mostly staying in the nesting box idk if she’s laying. She is puffing her feathers out and flapping her wings when she gets out and walks around even spans her wings our making herself look big. I think she has watery poo as well! We’re not sure if she is broody or is sick we’re new to this she is about a year old

  103. I was wondering if I could get some advice on one of my chickens. I have a chicken that is about two months old and a couple of weeks ago she was no longer able to stand. Her legs would go one in front one in back and she looked like she was doing split. Now she only has her legs in the front but she can’t stand on her own and I’m consistently swaddling her in a blanket to keep her from flapping about. Other than those things, she actually seems pretty healthy. I’m just trying to figure out what I should do. I don’t want to have to put her down because I think she’s just a wonderful little chicken however I also want to do the right thing and not keep her going just so she suffers. I keep her close to food and water all day and most of the time she’s just sitting comfortably in a box filled with shavings. I will take her out and put her in the sun and quite frankly she has become sort of a household pet. I want to know if there’s anything I can do to support her or is it a feeble effort.

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