Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Sick Chicken

with 8 comments

We’ve got a sick bird. One of the adult hens, our Australorp. She was losing feathers and then slowly started to lag behind the others in every way. Eventually, we noticed the color was gone from her comb and wattle. Cyndie decided to isolate the hen and made a space in one of the stalls in the barn.

She turned on the heat lamp for the poor girl since there were no other hens around her for warmth.

Since we are enjoying a period of summery warm high temperatures during the daytime this week, Cyndie has been moving the hen outside during the day, either in the brooder or our broody breaker cage, keeping the hen isolated in hopes of protecting the others in case the ailment is contagious.

The primary treatment has been hydration, which the hen has been eager to receive. After a couple of days, the color of her wattle and comb started to improve. Yesterday, the hen appeared to be regaining some appetite. We are hopeful that whatever was ailing her will resolve itself without requiring any additional interventions.

During my commute home from work yesterday afternoon, Cyndie and I were chatting on the phone. She was outside with the chickens at the time and decided to let the Australorp free-range and mingle again. Cyndie offered the birds some treats out of the palm of her hand. She reported the Australorp had wandered off by herself to scratch in the dirt a short distance away.

While we were talking and Cyndie was providing a narration of the antics playing out, she excitedly described an apparent “emergency response drill” that suddenly occurred.

She had been feeding treats with all the chickens around, creating an understandable competition for best access. One of them made a sound and in a blink, the birds all vanished into the trees. Cyndie didn’t notice anything that might have triggered the need to hide.

Then Rocky came out to take advantage of unfettered access to the treats she had been offering.

Cyndie reported it gave the distinct impression the cockerel had triggered the call for everyone to take cover so he could eliminate the competition and have a moment to himself at the treat trough. If that was truly the case, he has my admiration.

Last night, when Cyndie went out to secure the chicken coop for the evening, the Australorp was waiting on the driveway. Guess she wasn’t ready to rejoin the others yet. Cyndie took her back to the barn for another night.

Seems we might need to put some effort into merging her back into the flock when the time is right.



Written by johnwhays

November 6, 2020 at 7:00 am

8 Responses

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  1. Water is far more important than food, administer with eye dropper if you have to. Antibiotics are a hit or miss, might help, might make it worse. We all just try everything in hopes something works. Water, is your best defense right now.

    amy elizabeth

    November 8, 2020 at 2:32 pm

    • I am happy to report that water is the one thing, with electrolytes Cyndie has been giving from the start. It helps that our hen has showed good interest in partaking.


      November 8, 2020 at 9:20 pm

  2. Did you give electrolytes, antibiotics? Both are available at feed stores.

    amy elizabeth

    November 6, 2020 at 8:58 pm

    • Yes, to electrolytes, but no antibiotics yet. Cyndie looked for some but didn’t find so she is headed to our other feed store this morning. Thanks!


      November 7, 2020 at 8:37 am

      • Tractor Supply may be your best bet if you have one by you. Their staff can usually help you figure our a dosage, it will be for livestock, but it’s better than nothing. I would even go as far as trying antibiotics made for aquarium fish. Petsmart carries it. It’s always a guess though, not much help out there for chickens.

        amy elizabeth

        November 8, 2020 at 2:16 pm

      • Yes, Tractor Supply is an option for us. Cyndie did order some antibiotics online. Thank you!


        November 8, 2020 at 9:19 pm

  3. Re:She turned on the heat lamp for the poor girl since there were no other hens around her for warmth – yes, the simplest and most effective remedy was to increase the temperature. Keeping my fingers crossed.

    Ian Rowcliffe

    November 6, 2020 at 10:54 am

    • Thanks. It’s nice to see the hen showing us she senses our efforts to help her.


      November 7, 2020 at 8:41 am

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