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dislaney

Older hens - how to cope with health problems?

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Hi all - I've now got a mixed flock of 11 hens, and my two oldest birds are Angela (4) and Claire (3). The whole flock has recently had a bacterial infection which was apparently caused (in part) by vermin, so they've been dosed twice with Denaguard as advised by the vet. The 3 younger girls who were visibly affected by the infection are now all fine, but my 2 older ladies seem to be struggling.

 

Angela (no longer laying) looks very subdued, and is half-heartedly pecking at her food. She has ever so slightly mucky knickers still. She goes to bed about 2 hours before the rest. Claire was looking really perky until a couple of days ago, when she passed a soft shelled egg and hasn't laid since. Today she became quieter and quieter, again putting herself to bed really early and looking sorry for herself. I had a feel around and there didn't appear to be an egg stuck anywhere. She has clean knickers.

 

The whole flock has just been moved to a large new free range area in our field, out of the garden enclosure where they've spent the past 3 years. Although they all looked ecstatic when they moved in, I don't know if the stress of the move might have contributed to the older girls' declining health.

 

Your advice would be greatly appreciated - happy to try anything to perk them up. Thanks in advance!

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Have they been wormed lately?

That seems to be the first thing to consider when hens are a bit peaky and off

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At 3 and 4 they are getting on a bit and maybe the infection has been too much for them. If they are hybrids, then they are approaching the later stage of their allotted span.

 

You could try a tonic.

 

Might be worth taking them back to the vet for an opinion.

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Morning! Well, Claire is back to normal this morning, strutting her stuff around the hen houses and making lots of 'egg on its way' noises ... what a relief! Angela is still a bit subdued but following the others around and showing interest in everything. The changes in her are more marked as she used to be the lead hen, but seems to have gradually lost status since she stopped laying. She now just seems to keep out of the way of trouble, and doesn't deal very well with being chased by the younger girls.

 

You're right that they're getting on a bit now, Egluntyne - what would be a reasonable life expectancy for a hybrid? And does it differ for pure breeds, as 4 of my other girls are Cuckoo Marans and they seem remarkably vigorous?

 

I'll pop a tonic in the drinker though, it won't hurt. :D

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The average life expectancy for a hybrid is 3 - 4 years, whereas a purebreed may live for 8 - 9 years or longer.

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I too, have 2 elderly hens.

Boo (6.5) is still laying the occasional egg and is as lively as ever.

Lily (4) has bouts of seeming to be on the edge of death for a few days - standing hunched up, not eating much (sometimes nothing for 2 days) - all very worrying - but she seems to pick up again after a few (3/4/5) days.

Have taken her to the vet in the past and would do so again if it looked worse than normal.

I assume she is just getting old.

H

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Thanks folks - sounds like Angela is just suffering the ageing process (as are we all!) and perhaps will just take a steady, graceful decline to match the lovely, gentle Bluebelle character that she is. Hope that Claire manages to stay perky now - she was on tremendous form today, although despite all the noise there wasn't an egg again. Maybe tomorrow!

 

Really good to know the life expectancy of hybrids v. pure breeds, Egluntyne - thanks for that. :)

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I would suggest an oregano based supplement to help the oldies immune systems. I decided Ropiadar is best value esp as no one likes herban :( and Oregostim diluted down their product. :x

My old girl has out lived all her sisters, she is 4 years and 5 months free, a disabled ex bat so getting on :D approx 6 and a half ...

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Hi all - a belated update: sadly Angela died at the weekend, despite a further course of antibiotics. :( Was just about to start her on a course of probiotics but she had a little seizure in the middle of eating her treats on Sunday, then just died.

 

Thanks for your advice - and well done to those of you with older birds still going strong! Pleased to report that my other older bird Claire has come back into lay today though, so hopefully we've managed to turn things round for her with the probiotic ... fingers crossed.

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So sorry to hear this, at least it was quick. She was a lucky chicken to have had such a kind owner.

 

Latte is my oldest girl (one of my original four) and sometimes I wonder how long she will be with us, she had a week or two of being spoilt in the utility during the cold weather as she lost her top spot and was pecked but after a gradual introduction she is back with the other hybrids and seems very happy but the last couple of nights she wanted to sleep outside in the WIR rather than in the (cube purple) with the others so I wondered if this was a sign that she was not 100 % but she seems fine.

 

Chrissie

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