Jump to content
Sokokomo

Last autumn's illness story - your thoughts please

Recommended Posts

Hi all - Been a while since I've visited but glad to see the forums and fellow-minded chicken lovers still going strong.
I wanted to pick your brains about something strange which happened last autumn and continued for a few months... Allow me to summarise in the briefest way possible (hopefully!). 

After having multiple hens over the years we are sadly down to our last. She is a Light sussex and over 4 years old now. She was always top hen, and after some initial worries about how she would cope on her own, she seems to have taken it in her stride and is now happy without having to keep all the others in check. 

The problems started at the beginning of autumn last year, where she started her usual moult.  Before any noticeable amount of feathers began to fall, I noticed some strange behaviour. She would come close to the house at dusk looking for company, and begin to look a bit 'bemused'. She would stare up to the ceiling in a sort of panicked way, and seemed not to understand where she was. I duly carried her to her coop for a few nights, but then the behaviour started to become throughout the day as opposed to just at dusk. More panicked gazes, more gazing towards the sky, and general unawareness of what she should be doing. All very strange.

Then the feathers started to fall, hundreds and hundreds! She was still eating and drinking and free-ranging, but at this point had to be carried home every night. As she became balder and balder, it was as though she couldn't behave like a chicken anymore. Any time she came out, she began to walk backwards! Feeling the need to 'duck' under imaginary objects, in-between the strange staring skywards. She stopped leaving the coop in the day and sat on her perch all day and night. She would eat and drink ravenously if we held the food and water up to her, on her perch. I can only think she stayed on her perch as she was too concerned about walking, which she could only now manage backwards.

I had no idea what to 'google' but stumbled upon a protein-deficiency in hens during the moult, and so began to hand-feed her growers pellets, tinned tuna, scrambled egg, anything we could think of. She ate and ate but seemed to get no better. This went on for at least a month if not 2 during the winter! Finally her feathers began to grow back (thankfully, as she was so bald and being alone in the coop couldn't have been very toasty when the snow hit). We did put a heat pack in the coop but I doubt she ever got off the perch to use it. It wasn't until she resembled a chicken again until she ventured off the perch. It took about a week of feeling comfortable in the coop, until she came down the ladder one day and hasn't looked back!

Such a strange few months, and I'm pleased to report a year on she is still with us and doing as well if not better than before. However, I am feeling the autumn air approaching again and worrying if this 'illness' is likely to repeat itself this year? Has anyone ever experienced similar with their hens? She is still laying daily bless her, so I want to keep her on the layers pellets, but I have started supplementing with around 20% growers in the hope of fending-off a repeat. If indeed it was a protein-deficiency!?  I could even understand her wanting to stay inside, as she was a lone-hen and the moult is stressful and leaves them vulnerable, but it was her staggering and walking backwards and general panic which was the really strange thing. 

Love to hear your thoughts.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn't read all through your post, but t sounds as if she had a very heavy moult, which can impact the immune system and also their neurological system too. 

I would treat her with NutriDrops immediately, and for 4 days, dosing as per the packaging.

Add Vit Boost tonic to their water and Biotin to the feed. The latter is available from horse feed stores. She needs the Biotin to help her grow new feathers and the extra B vits to help her nervous system.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Dogmother - sounds like I wasn't too far off the mark with her moult causing the issues. She is fine now thankfully, it only lasted from perhaps Sept - Dec last year. Will definitely make a note of those remedies and perhaps keep them on hand this year, thanks.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks - how do you feed it? And how much? I only have the one hen so not sure how much I would need....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Only one hen??!!!

They really don't like to be kept on their own, not at all - this could be a source of the problem. Can you get her some friends or have her rehomed? It isn't fair to keep her in solitary.

I would add at a rate of 1 teaspoon to a litre of pellets, drizzle a little cod liver oil on the pellets first. Try not to feed too much protein as it can cause kidney and urate issues.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Hi, As I explained in my long spiel, I did have some concerns and did post on here when she became a lone hen. This is due to her friends slowly succumbing to old age and us not able to continue keeping chickens in the future due to failing health, after having them for many many years. I was assured by a few folks on here that some chickens did OK and to see how she goes. We did worry at first but she seems as happy as ever on her own. As I say, this trouble re the moult resolved itself in December last year and she has been absolutely fine since, in high spirits and very healthy for a 4 year old hybrid. She has an acre of woodland/fruit orchard to free range and often comes down to the house for treats, so she is well entertained :) 

Thanks for the info about the biotin I will look into sourcing it :) Also for info re protein.

Thanks

Sokokomo

Edited by Sokokomo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×