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Very sick hen - any advice?

Cris Kiely

Total Posts: 51

Hi folks,
Does anyone have any advice? One of our hens is very sick and we don’t think she’ll last the day. Yesterday, she was sheltering under the car which I noticed but didn’t pay much heed to. I’d never seen her do that before and in hindsight, I should have registered that there was probably something wrong but yesterday was a crazy day and I was rushing and racing everywhere so didn’t give the poor hen a second thought.

Roll on to this morning and DH found her out at the henhouse curled up, freezing cold, unable to stand. We brought her into the house and she’s in a box in the utility room now on a bed of newspaper with a thick mat under her.
She has food and water and isn’t touching either.

When we got our hens first, we lost one within 24 hours. The breeder told us that sometimes they catch a cold and don’t recover. I suspect the same in this case.

Apparently we’re to try and keep her warm rather than warm her up.
Is there anything else we can do for her?
On a major guilt trip here!

Lorraine Foster

Total Posts: 71

Poor little thing! Have you given her anything warm to eat? We give ours layers mash with some warm water and they love it - it’s also quite soft so she might pick at that?

Has she any marks on her or ruffled feathers? Just wondering if maybe another animal (dog or such) went for her and she got a fright - hence getting under the car?

I hope a day indoors might set her right. Best of luck!

Cris Kiely

Total Posts: 51

Well, she’s still with us, which is a good sign.

Thanks a mill for your reply Lorraine. On your advice, we gave her some warm layers mash (added a little milk to the warm water) and she ate it. She actually ate a fair bit of it for a girl who seemed to eat nothing at all yesterday.

We took her out onto the tiled floor on a little newspaper to see how she would fare trying to get up off the cold floor. She made a few attempts to get up and was stretching one of her legs. She wouldn’t have been able to do that yesterday.

So, she has definately improved. Fingers crossed she continues to go that way!

No signs of ruffled feathers or injuries so we’re presuming it’s a cold like the first poor hen we lost.


Lorraine Foster

Total Posts: 71

I’m delighted she’s doing better! Maybe once she’s a bit more strength put her back in with her buddies so she doesn’t get too stressed - plus they should keep her warm.

Just be careful if you give her cows’ milk - hens are lactose intolerant apparently, but goats’ milk is fine.

Garden Gate

Total Posts: 90

I hope she makes a speedy recovery, it’s sounding promising. 
We put crushed garlic and apple cider vinegar in their drinking water to help reduce infections and keep them well.

Cris Kiely

Total Posts: 51

Thanks Mick. I think we’ll start adding something to their water too. Will try them with the garlic and vinegar and see how they fare. No vinegary eggs though, I presume Garden Gate wink
If they won’t take that, we’ll look out for a tonic for them.

We give ours porridge from time to time too and it goes down well. Having said that, we haven’t given them any in a while so we must get back into that again.

Lorraine - Hens are lactose intolerant. Well, ya learn something new every day! Would never have thought of even questioning something like that! Thanks for that. Normally when we make porridge for them, it’s made on water but still good to keep a cap on the milk. We’ve had dairy problems (cows milk protein intolerance) in some of the humans in the house but really weren’t expecting it from the garden!!

As for our poor hen… well it’s good and bad news really. She seems to be doing really well and has recovered from her cold. She’s really alert and spending a lot of time standing up - which brings us to the bad news. Her left leg seems to be injured so she’s only standing on one leg. She’s still inside and we’ve tried putting her outside but she stands for a little while and then sits down again. If she’s down, she’ll get cold again and won’t survive.

So, we need to see about fixing her leg or….. what?

The phrase ‘wringing her neck’ has been used but it’s not something that’s filling me with joy, as you can imagine.

Does anyone know enough about hens to be able to tell me that her leg will just get better after a few more days of tlc?

Or any more realistic advice?

Greengage 1

Total Posts: 62

Im sorry to hear about the chicken but you just have to read this itll cheer you up.

Mícheál O Cadhla

Total Posts: 183

One of the best laughs I have had in ages! Thank you Mr Ed.

I had to stop reading it when I got as far as the bloggers answer to the helpful man in the shop! I was laughing too much to read on, and then had to stave off two of my kids who came running over to see what as so funny.

Thank you very much ofr posting this, and I hope to read the rest of it at some stage!

Georgina Moloney

Total Posts: 13

Hope the hen is still alive- any chance she might have a splinter in the base of her foot or a possible infection? Some wood chips can give hens splinters and if this is the case then I would try soaking the foot in some antiseptic and keep her in as clean an environment as possible. If the splinter can be safely removed then do so.
If the injury is higher up the leg- gently feel along to see if there is a break in the bones. If there is a break then I am afraid it is the end BUT if there appears to be no break and she seems to be eating and drinking then it may just be a sprain and time will heal it.
Any chance the skin on her foot and leg appears rough and slightly raised? This could be mites and the best cure is plenty of vaseline smeared along her leg as this suffocates the mites.
Hope this helps.

Lorraine Foster

Total Posts: 71

Fantastic blog post! Thank for posting Mr Ed

Cris Kiely

Total Posts: 51

Mr Ed. Hilarious. Clucking hilarious (get it wink

ANyone reading this thread - you have to read that blog post. It’s brilliant!

Georgina, thanks so much for that. It’s a great help. She’s still alive. I phoned the place we got her from and he asked about lumps and bumps on the leg. She has none which is good as it’s a sign of bumblefoot which is bad news. So, it’s not that. He advised us to massage the leg with olive oil and then giving it a shake of Johnsons baby powder (Did I really just type that or dream that I typed it?) There were various jokes in the house after about the hen spa and whether her feathers might need a blowdry etc.. You can imagine!

Anyway, we did what he said and she’s started opening the foot - which she hadn’t been. Fingers crossed she’s on the mend. Despite all the hen spa humour!

She’s still in a box in the utility room. In the morning, we’ll have a look to see if there’s any sign of a splinter. There’s no sign of infection and the skin doesn’t seem any more rough than normal. Again, we’ll have another proper look though with that in mind.

The saga continues but seems to be heading towards a positive outcome!

Cris Kiely

Total Posts: 51

Folks, a very brief update…
Our little hen is thriving. She is still limping but other than that, is happy as larry out in the chicken run. She’s not as mobile as the others (ie, she’s the one who doesn’t escape the run wink) but other than that, she’s doing well.
We did not expect a positive outcome at all.