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HELP!! Poorly chicken /bank holiday weekend, what shall I do?

(17 Posts)
Tryharder Sun 30-Aug-09 14:16:48

Please can anyone help??? Bit long, this sorry but please bear with me.

I recently rehomed 3 ex battery chickens - they live in a smallish ark but i let them out in the garden for some hours during the day to free range.

The trio consisted of 2 nicer looking chickens and 1 which was a bit mangy and featherless. They seemed to get on OK, the mangy looking one (Helen) seemed to get on with one of the other 2 and they were together a lot and the 3rd chicken was by itself a bit but there was no bullying, no problems and everything was fine. Helen's feathers started to grow back and they were all laying eggs.

Anyway, I noticed yesterday that Helen seemed a bit listless and wasn't with the other 2 in the garden. I didnt worry about it much but by last night, she seemed really listless, not pecking or scratching, not eating, just standing there looking miserable. She has also started looking really, really thin whereas the other 2 have suddenly really bloomed, put on weight and look massive in comparison to her.

When I let them out this morning, I noticed that Helen had been pecked around the top of her head as some of her feathers were missing. She is looking worse than before, not eating at all despite food being put in front of her. The other 2 chickens now seem to have ganged up on her and are bullying her and pecking her. Every time she went near another chicken, it lunged at her. She has spent the best part of the day so far in the sleeping quarters of the ark just sat there doing nothing - the other have been in the garden. I have just put the other 2 back in the ark as we have to go out and I dont want to leave them in the garden alone. I am really scared that they will peck her to death - I have nowhere else to put her or them and I'd take her to the vet but it's the bank holiday weekend plus I'm not even sure that a local "pet" vet would know about chickens.

So what can I do? I am terrified she's going to die. Am in the Harrogate area if anyone knows of a decent chicken vet or a ex battery helpline I could call..

bronze Sun 30-Aug-09 14:19:51

If you think its just a case of pecking order try keeping her separate during the day, do you have anything you could separate with/ old doors fencing anything to section her a safe area. At night they wont bully as theyre too lazy. Just to give a bit to recover her strength.

I would also worm her and check for red mite as they are rife at the moment and will drain a bird of energy

TheDMshouldbeRivened Sun 30-Aug-09 14:25:08

the others are bullying her because she is poorly I expect. Chicken are bastards really.
Try the Omlet poulty forums. have you checked her crop for a mass? She might be cropbound. Or she might have a stuck egg.

Tryharder Sun 30-Aug-09 14:27:29

Riven,how do I check for a mass in the crop or a stuck egg??

I dont think it;s the pecking order as she was quite strong at the start..

bramblebooks Sun 30-Aug-09 14:38:25

Agree with the above. Check on the Omlet forum. There is a list on there somewhere of poultry vets too, I think. Keep her separate with food and water.

TheDMshouldbeRivened Sun 30-Aug-09 16:06:37

the crop will feel very solid.
As for a stuck egg.....rubber gloves time I'm afarid. Omlet have a forum on it.

bronze Sun 30-Aug-09 17:04:29

I wouldnt go trying for a stuck egg in case you break it

If you think she is egg bound then stick her bum in warm water for a while or hold her over steam. Can even lubricate her vent with vasoline or similar

But please do check for mite having lost two very quickly recently because of them I've had a lot of people tell me they also have mite. Bad year apparently

Tryharder Sun 30-Aug-09 20:34:52

I went out for a few hours and when I was gone, shut her in the sleep compartment bit of the ark so she was separated. Now they are all sleeping together - Helen by herself and the other 2 lying together.

I checked for a stuck egg but couldnt feel anything. I am sorry but I have no idea where her crop is but will google it and I will go to the local poultry suppliers tomorrow if they're open and get something for red mite. Will let the other chickens have the run of the garden tomorrow and keep her in the ark by herself.

My DH is laughing at me because I'm so stressed out by this. Arse!

Thanks for all your ideas ladies, hope she makes if through the night - I literally held food and water under her beak earlier on but she wouldn't touch it.

Tryharder Sun 30-Aug-09 20:53:10

Just googled impacted crop and tbh I have no idea if this is the problem or not as I had no idea where the crop was - do now, will check tomorrow. All the people on the internet seem to be recommending home surgery - get a blade, slice the chicken's skin, take out the stuff in the crop...

shock shock shock

bramblebooks Sun 30-Aug-09 21:22:04

NO! Don't do that! From memory, it involves olive oil down the throat and gently massaging the crop. PLEASE look on the Omlet site, they've got a forum with an area for chicken illnesses, you'll be able to read about it all even if you don't post.

You could try syringing water down her throat to help with hydration.

Unfortunately sometimes ex batts have a short lifespan once rescued and hopefully she will have at least had a happy few weeks of freedom.

Tryharder Sun 30-Aug-09 22:23:02

Thanks Bramblebooks, no believe me, chicken surgery is certainly not going to happen here. Have looked at the omlet site, the BHWT sites and loads of others and have seen mention of the olive oil thing. But to be honest, am going to take her to the vet tomorrow if she hasnt perked up. Poor little thing, she was letting me pick her up and stroke her earlier. Will definitely try syringing some water down her throat as well if I can find a syrine that is - must have one somewhere.... poor thing, she must be literally dying of thirst.

DH has a friend staying - they were making lots of jokes about various chicken dishes they were going to make... bastards. Not talking to either of them now.

Tryharder Sun 30-Aug-09 22:25:18

Oh, forgot to say, yes at least if she dies she will have had 3 decent weeks of life... oh God, am crying now... Bloody chickens, my children have never given me this much grief..

TheDMshouldbeRivened Mon 31-Aug-09 06:07:12

red mites have been terrible this year. Really bad.
Hope she makes it.

bronze Tue 01-Sep-09 16:49:05

tryharder- they wouldn't want to eat a chicken thats died from unknown causes anyway

MarmadukeScarlet Tue 01-Sep-09 17:02:39

I'd got for a red mite/worm option.

Red mite can cause anemia and death.

Get some poultry shield and scrub your house, squirt it hard in all the cracks (I've got tongue and groove - looks pretty by my god it's a bugger to get rid of the mites) and you'll soon see if that is the problem as they will be washed out.

I'm doing this every 5 days at mo, which involves actually getting inside the damn house to do all the joints inside - home perm anyone?

Tryharder Thu 03-Sep-09 18:07:10


Chicken a lot better, eating and drinking now. Checked for stuck egg and impacted crop but couldn't see/feel anything.

Just sat with her on my knee and gave her milk and egg to eat.

Have bought some stuff to clean the ark for redmite but it's peed it down almost continually here for the last few days and I need a dry day to do it.

She's still thin and is clearly the last hen in the pecking order but not getting attacked anymore from what I can observe


Thanks for all your advice, ladies. It really helped. I never thought I'd be sat with a chicken on my knee feeling it's arse but there you go...

bramblebooks Mon 07-Sep-09 18:41:43

Glad to hear it. I thought the worst when I heard nothing for a little bit.

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