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What could be wrong (if anything) with my silkies?

21 replies

suwoo · 17/05/2011 10:59

I have 2 silkies, I got them as POL last October (however old that makes them). They seem to be on strike. They haven't laid for about two weeks and are refusing to come out of their house. They are free range but only come out when I force them, and then only briefly. They behave exactly the same as they always did when they are out but go in after 5/10 minutes, whereas they used to be out all day, rain or shine.

One of them seems to have a problem with her neck, it is at a funny angle. She is eating and grooming fine, but is just looking a bit sideways.

Are these two things connected do you think?


OP posts:
mummymeister · 17/05/2011 18:11

Any changes in behaviour like the ones you have described usually mean there is something else going on. Have they been frightened outside (fox visit) Might be that there is something missing from their diet. The only time our girls have suddenly stopped laying is if there has been a fox visit and this can go on for a week then they start up again. Might be worth a chat with your vet. There are some great speciailist websites that can help will find the one on the tip of my tongue and post it

LizHurleysVPL · 17/05/2011 18:30


I have nothing else but silkies. Couple of questions;

  • do they get cross (fluff up and squawk) when you turf them out?
  • when did you last worm them?
  • have they been vaccinated for Mareks?
  • is there any gunk in their ears?
  • any coughing or discharge from nostrils?
  • any very smelly poo?
suwoo · 18/05/2011 07:16

I don't think there has been a fox visit, I am revising at the moment so mostly in all day and haven't seen anything. It started with Goo Goo being broody and refusing to move off her eggs unless I 'forced' her, now Jennifer seems to be keeping her company- they are always inseparable when out. To answer the questions:
Yes they get affronted,
I have never worked them,
No idea about the vaccinations- got them from a breeder,
No visible gunk, no coughing. They are lovely and clean and fluffy and well groomed ATM
Poo seems normal but perhaps less.

Re their diet, they have water available all day. Greens, crusts and kitchen scraps and their food is layers pellets mixed with brakemen and raisins. I have included some sunflower seeds recently, could that be a bad thing? They have grit available too.

Thank you

OP posts:
suwoo · 18/05/2011 07:17

Sorry about iPhone autocorrect. Worked = wormed. And brakemen = mealworm. Random.

OP posts:
VivaLeBeaver · 18/05/2011 07:36

Silkies are prone to having twisted necks. I had one who had this so badly she couldn't walk and we had to have her pts.

Sometimes it can be due to brain damage as they have such thin skulls that a small bump or peck can cause brain damage. I have read that sometimes it can be due to a vitamin deficiency. I've heard about people adding vitamin powder to the food with good results. Other people have had success at the vets with getting Baytril antibiotic and also antiinflammatories.

Have they been wormed? Have you checked them for mites/checked the hen house for red mite?

My silkie only laid about 2 eggs in her life. Was never sure why.

VivaLeBeaver · 18/05/2011 07:37

You need to worm them. That could cause the lack of laying.

suwoo · 18/05/2011 07:45

Ok will get some worming stuff, a pet shop nearby breeds chickens so has loads of products. The twisted neck isn't causing any other problems ie eating/walking/grooming. Will keep eye out for mites, they are similar to cat fleas, yes?
Thanks for the help.

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VivaLeBeaver · 18/05/2011 08:12

Red mite live more in the hen house rather than the chicken. They're little grey mites but once they've sucked blood out the chicken they swell up and become red. I doubt you'll see them on the actual chickens, though chickens can rarely get bigger lice that you can see. Red mite can make a chicken anaemic and quite poorly and will affect laying. They normally hide in little cracks, crevices - I tend to find them round the nesting box door when I open it. I sometimes find them on the actual eggs as well.

suwoo · 18/05/2011 08:16

Will have a look, thanks. Just thinking about it, I wonder if my toddler has scared them, he has been a bit chasy with them over the recent half term (he's usually at cm). Is it cruel to close their door thereby forcing them outside? No kids here.

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VivaLeBeaver · 18/05/2011 09:52

Do you think they might be broody? Are they sitting in the nesting box all the time? Silkies do go broody a lot.

suwoo · 18/05/2011 10:12

I think they are broody yes. Would this stop them laying though? I let them straight back in this morning, especially as it was raining. Couldn't see any mites in the house.

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VivaLeBeaver · 18/05/2011 10:26

Yes would definetly stop them from laying. It might take a few weeks for them to stop going broody. I'd definetly shut them out the hen house as long as its not raining.

ChickensHaveNoEyebrows · 18/05/2011 10:31

A broody hen won't lay, and she will mutter when off the nest and be actively pissed off if you disturb her. And hissy fits when you try and move them?

suwoo · 18/05/2011 10:35

They dont go mad when I move them out of their bedroom, the best word is 'affronted'. They cluck to themselves and flap a bit. So its not cruel to shut them out?

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VivaLeBeaver · 18/05/2011 10:58

I don't think its cruel to. A broody hen if allowed to sit in the house can lose quite a bit of condition as they don't eat/drink as much as they should. So I reckon its for their own good. Grin

ChickensHaveNoEyebrows · 18/05/2011 16:08

Viva is right, a broody hen can literally starve herself to death if she's particularly dim. Shut them out and ignore any complaints Grin

suwoo · 18/05/2011 18:10

Theyve been out all day Grin. One is looking a bit skinny.

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LizHurleysVPL · 18/05/2011 18:58

Oh good Smile They sound broody to me. When they go broody they don't eat as much and get thin - but worm her anyway as "going light" is a symptom of a heavy worm burden. Flubenvet is best. A broody will not lay whilst she is still broody. You have to chuck them out to get them to feed.

The neck thing is an issue - vitamins can help. Mine get a stiff necks if they've been sitting for too long.

As for mites - check round their vents and crests - if you have a serious problem there will be hard white deposits on the base of the feathers.

HGSmum · 20/05/2011 13:58

We have 6 chickens 2 of which are broody at times as they are silkies. Yes I think it is definitely broodiness reading all the threads here without a doubt. The only way you will break the cycle is to cool her chest down (when you pick her up she will feel red hot here- so she can incubate the eggs she's sitting on). Not only will she loose condition if she doesn't eat she will encourage the others to stop laying too. You need to make a "sin bin". we made ours from a guinea pig run & put chicken wire on the 4th side. You then stand this on 4 bricks at each of the corners to elevate it in the air ( allowing cool air to circulate underneath & making it difficult for her to sit down. Put her in there for about 3-4 days & nights with some water & feed & she will recover. If she goes straight back in the house when let out then its back in the "sin- bin. If she doesn't she should be cured & start laying eggs again in a few days to a week. She will be fine for a while then will go back to being broody most likely. Its a bit like toddlers & the longer the behaviour is aloud to go on the worse it is to break the cycle. You may also notice that the colour of her comb is pale when broody, but goes back to red when shes "cured". Good luck & remember you have to be cruel to be kind:)

suwoo · 20/05/2011 14:10

Blimey. I need to read that properly and digest. Its really cold here at the mo. I can't leave her 'out' at night can I?

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HGSmum · 22/05/2011 10:39

well we do & we live 1100 ft up in the Pennines of Yorkshire where it's windy & cold

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