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#17599 - 07/30/02 01:28 PM Anorexic hen?
Anonymous
Unregistered


I recently acquired a hen who is quite thin and doesn't appear to be eating adequately. I bought her at a livestock auction, which I won't do again, but now I'm concerned that the hen is ill. She doesn't, however, show any signs of illness, no respiratory problems, swellings, etc. She will eat, but not with nearly the enthusiasm I see with the others. She will also drink, and appears alert but weak.

I'm wondering if she was neglected prior to my getting her and if she's just weak and not really ill. I've done some research and haven't found any symptoms where the hen is just thin and somewhat disinterested in food.

The other thing is that she mostly wants to be in the hen house on the perch, not out with the other chickens. I suspect it's the stress of a new flock she can't deal with since she seems weak... if she is ill, I want to get her out of there, although finding a place to keep her will be a challenge. Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions?

Thanks!
confused

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#17600 - 07/30/02 02:08 PM Re: Anorexic hen?
Anonymous
Unregistered


Susan, If your hen seems fine in every respect but eats eithout enthusiasm, then I would give her some vitamins to perk her up.. you can do this, using CJR's technique of putting a tablespoon of codliver oil on a slice of multigrain bread, spread it around, then fold it in half (here, I squish it to get both sides covered well).. offer her a few pieces a day for a week and see how she does... some chopped grapes, tomatoes and other fresh fruit should wet her appetite also...
Also, if she is sick and carrying something, it may be too late to move her from the flock to prevent anything, and in that case, I would give them all a 'pinch' of vitamins to boost their immunity...

It's always a good idea, when bringing new birds home from anywhere, even if you take yours to a show, to quarantine them for two weeks before introducing/re-introducing them to the flock... It'll save you a lot of grief!
We can only hope that your new girl is just stressed from the change and get's over it quickly!!

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#17601 - 07/30/02 02:08 PM Re: Anorexic hen?
Bill Ludwig Offline
Classroom Professor

Registered: 07/17/02
Posts: 2582
Loc: Ohio
I dont know what or if your new hen has wrong but it is always good practice to keep new poultry seperated for about two weeks before putting them together. I've read too many stories of people loosing thier whole flock because they brought in a new bird. Seperate her quik then wait and see if any changes take place. If she starts getting worse let us know and we'll try to help. Good luck!

Bill

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#17602 - 07/30/02 02:26 PM Re: Anorexic hen?
Anonymous
Unregistered


Thanks for the comments and information. I'll try the vitamin approach. I'm afraid I'm learning the hard way about separation. I had chickens when I was younger and never did anything for them, no separation, no vitamins, etc., and they flourished, even with introducing new birds. Now I've been having all sorts of issues. Or maybe I'm just paying better attention....

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#17603 - 07/31/02 08:10 AM Re: Anorexic hen?
Anonymous
Unregistered


Thanks, here's what I know. She's an Aracauna, and I don't believe she's laying. I have another Aracauna, so it would be hard to say with certainty, but I'm almost positive she's not laying. I suspect she's not a young hen. Her keel bone is sticking out, but she's emaciated all over, she doesn't have any firmness to her abdomen. I recently had a hen who had cancer of the oviduct, and I know what you're referring to. In that case, the abdomen seemed heavy and full. This hen is just plain skinny. I've been making sure she gets plenty of food, as much as she'll eat, (which isn't a lot) so she's got a little substance in her crop, but that's about it.

I have a really wonderful avian vet, who helped me through the hen with cancer, and I think I may just take this girl in for an eval to see if the vet thinks we can save her or if she's just going to suffer. I have some chicks who are ready to join the flock, but there's no way I'm putting them in there until I am certain that there's no illness with the big birds.

My email is slwalberg@providence.org, if you or anyone wants to contact me about this, thanks for the response.

Susan

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#17604 - 08/05/02 09:23 AM Re: Anorexic hen?
Anonymous
Unregistered


Just wanted to give an update and see if anyone has any further advice. I discovered, quite accidentally, that my skinny hen will eat chick mash with great relish. I can't figure this out-she'll eat other food, but not with much enthusiasm. I put some left-over chick mash out there, and she went for that like crazy. I can see that she's starting to recover, I really think she was almost starved when I got her (which makes me SO mad that someone would do that to their chickens, but that's another rant... mad )

Anyhow, anyone have any ideas why she'd eat this chick food instead of the other? Is there some reason why a grown chicken might have problems eating food in bigger pieces, perhaps? I have no clue, never had this situation before...and is there a problem with her having that food? She is eating other stuff, that's not her exclusive diet...any thoughts would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

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#17605 - 08/05/02 09:36 AM Re: Anorexic hen?
Susie Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 1902
Loc: Arkansas
Are you saying that you were offering her pellets and that she was refusing them but is willing to eat the mash or crumble style feed? If that's what you're saying, I have seen this before. Some birds just won't take to pellets. Even with more waste, I keep mine on layer crumble because I have had birds that didn't take to pellets in the past. I have no idea why the preference but it does seem to exist!

I wouldn't worry about her being on starter feed for a while. Make sure you are supplementing her calcium with egg shells or oyster shell and since starter is higher protein, you could tone that down by giving her a little more scratch or some other low-protein treats that she enjoys -- which will also help her to gain some weight quicker.

Susie

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#17606 - 08/05/02 10:19 AM Re: Anorexic hen?
Anonymous
Unregistered


Thanks, Susie. Actually, she wasn't really too enthusiastic about scratch or layer crumbles, which is what seems odd. Haven't seen too many chickens who don't want scratch. She'll eat it, but just kind of pick at it. With the chick mash, she just eats and eats. Maybe once her weight is up and strength is back, she'll eat other stuff with more gusto. She's got all the oyster shells and other treats she could possibly want, my chickens certainly never suffer for lack of treats. wink So we'll see. Glad to hear you've seen this before and that there isn't anything I should be worried about...thanks again.

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#17607 - 08/05/02 10:34 AM Re: Anorexic hen?
Aram Seattle Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 547
Loc: Washington
We got so many Seattlites here, it is perfect. smile

If I may add something, my birds are so finniky about food, they only eat oil bound crubles. I tried to give them oil pellets, or clay crumble, and they just do not care for any of it as much. They'd probably rather eat dirt then pellets. wink So maybe mash is what your bird is used to and that's what it will eat.

As much as I hate to admit it, but I have never been able to get my birds to switch food, except one time, when I switched my broilers from crumble to pellets. But in that situation, it was "eat or I'll eat it for you" flock mentality. With Cornish X appetite, being fussy is not an option. Layers, on the other hand... smile

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#17608 - 08/05/02 10:41 AM Re: Anorexic hen?
Anonymous
Unregistered


Hi Susan,
I recently had a hen with what sounds like the same symptoms. Examine this bird completely. Is her crop emptying? I had my hen for 3 years before her condition surfaced. The vet said that it was kidney or liver failure. I tried everything. She began eating and I thought we were over the rough part, but she began to get worse. I ended-up putting her down.
If you're able to feed her the mash, do it. She probably needs the protein desperately. I would also give her a small dose of general antibiotic to help fend off any illnesses. Vitamins will help, too.
I hope it's just a case of the new coop blues.
Carolyn

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