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What do I do with a very thin chicken?

(11 Posts)
newmumwithquestions Wed 11-Jan-17 22:05:56

I'm new to chicken keeping. I have 3.
2 seem to be thriving (one is chunking up nicely and the other started laying a few days ago).
The other (a Pekin) is really skinny - i can't normally get near her but I thought she looked like she's been dropping weight so managed to catch her 2 days ago and she was as light as a feather and very bony sad. She feels totally different to the other 2. Her crop did have something in but wasn't full.

I have had some cocci and treated them all for it in late November so I wondered if it could be related to this so I got a poo sample tested but it's just come back that she's got no worms/cocci.

She was pecking at some pellets this morning but didn't eat a thing when I took some scraps out this afternoon even though I added a load of mealworms to try to tempt her and split it into 2 bowls so it wasn't that she's getting pushed out.
I added oregano oil suppliment to their water today and will keep doing so for a few days to see if that gives her a boost.

I'm really worried she's slowly starving. Not sure what's best to do.
The only way to separate her is to bring her into the house and I've 2 small children so it will be noisy and stressful for her. Better than starvation but not a great option.

I'm thinking of grabbing her off her perch in the morning and syringing some drops into her to try to give her a boost. (I can't catch her once she's out).

I'm reluctant to take her to a vet as I had to take a different chicken (who died) and I don't think they were very good and it cost me £200.
I do have access to antibiotics but don't want to randomly dose her if that wouldn't help.

Anyone got any advice??

Pixel Thu 12-Jan-17 18:43:03

Poor thing. It's a worry as chickens tend to cover up illness quite well (they are prey animals and don't want to look vulnerable) so it's quite easy to miss something until they are really sick.

I'm certainly not an expert though so I'm not sure what I can suggest. You say there is something in her crop but she isn't eating, could she have an impaction there or be developing sour crop? One of mine had that and I can't remember noticing it at first, not until she had got quite swollen. I took her to the vet who tipped her up over the sink and emptied it out! I wouldn't like to try and do it myself as apparently you can drown them.
Can you check inside her mouth? I've just seen a thing here about oral canker which lists the symptoms you are describing so it's worth a look if only to rule it out.

Hopefully someone else will be along who knows more about it than me and you can get her sorted out.

Shallishanti Thu 12-Jan-17 18:46:14

have you checked for mites? they can cause weight loss

Ilovecaindingle Thu 12-Jan-17 18:52:54

If she is using all her energy to keep warm would a chicken jumper be any help?

Pixel Thu 12-Jan-17 19:13:52

I give mine warm porridge before they go to bed when the weather is cold. Wonder if she'd eat some of that?

PourquoiPas Thu 12-Jan-17 19:16:48

I would definitely check for mites, very common for one chicken to have it much worse but all of them would probably be infected.

Ilovecaindingle Thu 12-Jan-17 19:18:23

We used to do that in the winter too!! They sat under the window on a morning waiting for it being delivered!
Ah I miss my ladies.
We had to move and rehomed them with a friend. Only 1 left sadly.

newmumwithquestions Thu 12-Jan-17 22:15:24

Thanks for the replies. I took her off her perch this morning and gave her a few drops of poultry drops. After her initial shock she ate pellets out my hand so she is eating... Then when I put her down she had some water and more pellets. Maybe she's just not eating enough or maybe something is draining her.

I'll try to do the same tomorrow morning and will check for mites - I haven't done this ever so thanks for suggesting this - anyone got a good link as to what I'm looking for? I've read to check the vent and under her wings but are they easy to see?

Also I'll look for canker - thanks - that looks horrible.

I didn't get a bad smell from her and her crop didn't feel spongy when I felt it so I don't think it's sour crop. Also I think she'd be dead already if it was something like that! (A bit morbid but probably true).

They love porridge so I'll make them some tomorrow afternoon and hang around to make sure she eats it. She's the shyest of the 3 and gets a bit spooked by me if I hover over her (the other two will jump on my knee to get to the food!) but maybe I'll pull her out the run and feed her some separate porridge.

I'm wondering if she's really unhappy being shut in the run with the avian flu restrictions (they did have the run of a small garden before the restrictions). Their run was grass but has turned to a mud bog so I've ordered hardwood chips to get down this weekend which might make her happier. Can't be helping, especially if she gets pushed out a bit by the other two.

Thanks again for the replies.

CaptainMorgansMistress Wed 18-Jan-17 16:42:17

Porridge isn't great for chickens to be honest. It sticks in their crops and can cause problems. Also feeding it warm can really mess up their internal temperature management and actually leave them feeling colder. The best thing to help them stay warm overnight is a handful of mixed corn about an hour before bed. Then hat stays in their crops and they digest it to stay warm in the night.

How old is your Pekin? And are your other 2 hens pekins too or another breed?

The first thing I would do would be set up an additional feeding station in case she is being pushed off the food by the others. I'd also give a good handful of corn at tea time for warmth and as it is high in calories. A pekin breeder also swears by a cooled scrambled egg (not their own though) at tea time for a protein boost too. Similarly sardines (not in brine) or sunflower hearts can help

Pixel Thu 19-Jan-17 17:26:41

Gawd, it's a minefield isn't it, I
thought I was doing them a favour! Also I don't like putting corn out too late in case it encourages vermin. Oh well, I only just started with the porridge anyway as I bought some to make flapjacks and had some left over. It's back to the vegetable mashes then. Don't suppose they will mind!

PenelopeFlintstone Sun 22-Jan-17 04:55:26

Bit of mince? Scratch mix? Mine hate pellets.

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