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    • CommentAuthorkimcally
    • CommentTimeMay 17th, 2012 11:27am (May 17th 2012)
    Hi there, I have just joined this site and am in need of some advice!!! I have been keeping chickens for approximately 2 years. I have bog standard ISA Browns as I have both horses and children and thought they would be the best option (in terms of being handled/noise/egg production etc). Up until about a month ago they were fine, but after some nasty cold wet weather hit the UK after a particularly dry spell in March, Ruby chicken started to lay 'soft' eggs. This continued for about two weeks. The girls have always been fed on Layers Pellets, with access to oystershell grit, flint grit, corn and sunflower seeds. They also get natural yoghurt. My first thought about Ruby was a lack in calcium (but she has regular oystershell grit).

    Now things have progressed to the point that Ruby has stopped laying altogether, and appears 'off-colour'. She has a bit of diarrhoreah which has a watery film on it and is a mixture of brown, white and green. She also feels as though she's lost loads of weight and almost appears 'drunk'? (if that makes sense?) She's still eating, I've felt her crop (which feels normal, no masses) so I've now purchased Flubenvet wormer which they've both been on for 4 days now (they've always been wormed on the organic pellets once a month before now.)

    They are both regularly wormed, cleaned out once a week (hutch and run completely sprayed and red mite powder put down), they get to free range for a couple of hours a day, but have their hutch within a large run which is moved around every few weeks, so I am at a total loss to what might be wrong! My other chicken is well so any ideas?????
      CommentAuthorchief chicken
    • CommentTimeMay 17th, 2012 4:58pm (May 17th 2012)
    Red might be able to help. There's a thread (believe it or not) on chicken poo - have a look at that, as it might offer a clue.
    • CommentTimeMay 17th, 2012 5:27pm (May 17th 2012)

    Keeper of the hens


    I'll try reply with some ideas but not sure how helpful it'll be as you seem to have pretty much everything covered. It shouldn't be a calcium deficiency as they're on layers, have grit and yoghurt too. Just out of curiosity what % protein are your pellets?

    How many hens do you have and are they all laying, apart from Ruby? Have a read through this thread:

    If you've tried a lot of the suggestions there (checking for mites, using DE, Apple Cider Vinegar etc) then you might want to try find a chicken friendly and experienced vet (not easy to find so you might have to ask around) and ask their opinion, just in case they might have infectious bronchitis or anything more serious.

    However not all vets are sympathetic to chicken owners and will advise the hen be PTS for even minor illnesses, so you may have to ask around or report back here what the vet has said is wrong and the course of action.

    Sorry I can't be more helpful, but yes, do a few searches on the forum for various things and see what you can dredge up. Keep a close eye on your girls and make sure they are eating and drinking, as long as they are doing that you shouldn't have to worry quite so much.
    • CommentAuthorkimcally
    • CommentTimeMay 18th, 2012 8:01am (May 18th 2012)
    Thank you Red!

    I only have two chickens now, both 2 years old and always been well.

    The layer's pellets they're on are the Natural Free Range Layers Pellets. 4.8% oil, 16% protein and 5% fibre.

    One of the chickens stopped laying after a year and a half, and now my poorly one has stopped as well (after a couple of weeks of laying 'soft'eggs'. Neither seem to be impacted so wondering if for the 'well one' at least maybe it's 'just her'? Obviously for Ruby as she's not well I wouldn't expect her to be laying but I am in hope that she might lay again if I can get her better! Either way they are both pets so it makes no difference if they lay or not!

    I shall give it until Monday (they'll have had the 7 day course of Flubenvet by then) and if no better I hear there's a local chicken specialist near to us.

    Just for information, if I'm wrong and it is impacted croup, is there any way to help? I have added cider vinegar to the water but is there anything else I can try?

    • CommentTimeMay 18th, 2012 3:06pm (May 18th 2012)

    Keeper of the hens

    Hmm, that's very odd...two years old is very young to stop laying. I'm wondering if it's an infectious illness that has kind of 'built up'?

    Check out the link above (scroll up to the top of the thread as the link seems to take you to the bottom of the page for some reason!) as that lists signs of crop impaction and things you can of the most important things is to try massage the crop as often as possible, as if there is something 'stuck' it can dislodge it.

    Have a check in their house for mites too; run your fingers under the perches and see if they come away bloody. I wouldn't think it was mites but it can't hurt to check. Are both their combs bright red?
    • CommentAuthorkimcally
    • CommentTimeMay 18th, 2012 3:41pm (May 18th 2012)
    The well one's comb is bright red, but Ruby's is kind of a dull dark red and not plump, kind of 'thin' if that makes sense? She's dropped a huge amount of weight in a short space of time, although appears happy - she free ranges with her mate, but can't run and topples to one side if she's unbalanced by anything, ie stepping over something etc. She's taken a liking to drinking muddy water from puddles as well (although she also appears to be drinking the water supplied in the hutch as normal) more that she seems to want the muddy stuff (deficiency or something?)
    • CommentTimeMay 18th, 2012 10:02pm (May 18th 2012)
    I don't own any hens but am really interested in your thread kimcally. Please do keep us up to date on how Ruby get's on - it sounds like a real puzzle!
    • CommentTimeMay 20th, 2012 9:53am (May 20th 2012) edited

    Keeper of the hens

    I dunno, our girls if free-ranging will drink from the grubbiest water they can find...maybe it's a chicken thing!! :laugh:

    Although if it's a new behaviour it could be something to consider. Darkened combs can be a sign of chronic respiratory infection / disease. Points to her not getting enough now you want to look out for any wheezing, sneezing...

    I think the best option is to get her to a vet. You want to rule out any respiratory infections and vets will be able to prescribe you anti-biotics. The sooner she is checked out the higher the chance (and faster) she will recover :smile:
    • CommentAuthorkimcally
    • CommentTimeNov 21st, 2012 9:49pm (Nov 21st 2012)
    Sorry for not posting sooner, I haven't been on the site for ages. We took Ruby to the vet, who wasn't sure what was wrong - possibly egg bound (even though she hadn't laid for ages, and thought possible peritonitis was setting in so we decided to call it a day :(
    • CommentTimeNov 21st, 2012 11:49pm (Nov 21st 2012)
    I'm so sorry you lost Ruby. I am sure you already know this, but you did the best for her by taking her to the vet and giving her a painless passing. It's a shame the vet was so vague with you, but if he couldn't do anything for her then ending any suffering is the final kindness. I hope your other girl is still doing well.
    • CommentAuthorLynnW
    • CommentTimeNov 22nd, 2012 8:00pm (Nov 22nd 2012) edited
    I'm sorry to hear you lost Ruby, I was hoping to hear better news. Chickens are so good at hiding their illnesses, it's often too late to do much to help them.:face-sad:
      CommentAuthorchief chicken
    • CommentTimeNov 23rd, 2012 5:31pm (Nov 23rd 2012) edited
    Yes, you're so right Lynn; my vet (well not mine, the chickens'!) said that there's no such thing as a sick hen - they're either dead or alive,..:(