Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hen-keepers' advice needed, please!

Still too busy to post properly, but I am in need of advice from my various blogging friends who keep hens. You might know we have three happy hens, who arrived over the summer. We've just adopted two others from a lovely American lady who is going 'back home' - we've separated them from our existing flock for now with a wire fence to stop bullying. The little fluffy bantam is cheery and at home already (they arrived on Sunday) but the larger hen (aged about 2) is depressed and hardly eating or drinking. She stands still, often with her eyes closed, and avoids contact with her fluffy bantam playmate and with the rest of us. She will let me pick her up with complete indifference - she is worryingly passive. She was pecked a bit through the fence by our three until I made the fence stronger, but otherwise I can't account for the depression. I'm concerned that she will not eat or drink enough to survive this depression - any advice would be much appreciated. Thank you!

THURSDAY MORNING UPDATE: Valkyrie the hen (teenaged sons get to decide on names...) is no worse, and possibly a little better? She took a little water when I dropped it on her beak, and has at least one eye open, most of the time. I've felt for an egg but found no direct evidence that she is egg bound (not swollen, not fluffed up, no egg to be felt just inside the vent). Son 2 points out an important fact: she stands even at night time in the coop - she won't lie down. Current situation: Ben has suggested that she could stay alone in her coop today, with food and water. She won't be able to see our three bullies hens and, if the problem is stress, this could help her to calm down. I am immensely grateful for all your advice and support, and if you have anything to add, especially given the info that she stands up all night, I'd be really glad to have the benefit of your experience. Thank you.


Sherri B. said...

This sounds odd to long have you had her? I don't know that chickens get depressed, at least not for long. She may be ill. My sister knows more so I will see if she is home to read this. I will check back in later...Hopefully you will have someone who is more helpful. xo

fee @ chipper nelly said...

Do you know how old she is? Our oldest hen did the same thing recently (no apparent reason) and we really thought she was on her last legs. Then after a good few days she perked up and is back to her normal self. Cleggy did carry her to the water though - and she always took a drink...just couldn't find the energy to get there herself.
My hen obsessed OH is back tomorrow - I'll ask him too
fee x

Floss said...

Very kind of you, ladies - thanks.

Sherri B. said...

I got a hold of my sis. I emailed you what she said..xoxo

Pearly Queen said...

Ahhhhh - poor chicken! Hope she is a bit more clucky soon!


Lola Nova said...

Our one hen gets a bit like that when she goes broody...
I see Sherri and her sister are on the case, capable hands indeed.
All the best to your hens.

Lola Nova said...

Just thought I'd pop back in. Sherri emailed me just as I was leaving my comment, asking if I had any advice. I love this blogging community!

So my other thoughts would be to take her to water and if she wont drink herself, put large drops of water on her beak (if you are really concerned about her not drinking) same with food, though you might try holding some in your hand of course.
It may just take her a bit longer to adjust to the change. And yes, she could be ill. Keep an eye on her for a few days. You could also hold her and stroke her while you are sitting and offer her a treat like dandelion greens or soft fruit to see if she will take them.

Hoping she comes around soon.

Alix said...

Wish I could help but I know nothing about hens. Hope she's soon better - isn't blog-land wonderful for the possibility of help?

Floss said...

You lovely people! Thanks for the advice and well-wishes. Any further advice most welcome - I'll be back in the hen run with her tomorrow morning trying everything out...

Jane and Chris said...

Pop over to my blog and find the link to Sue at 'Our New Life in the Country'..she knows all about chickens.
Jane x

Sue said...

Hi Floss,

She sounds like she has simply decided to sulk after the move. Her normal routine is completely her anyway!

Read this post of mine to see how deeply chickens can feel - it was not exagerated in any way

A chicken if it wants to CAN decide that it's time is up and will simply sit and wait out the end, this can be brought on by genuine illness or depression, yes chickens, really DO get depressed.

Of course we don't always see the need for this, so really all you can do is to take her to water (as you have been doing) offer her such tasty treats that she really can't say no, she might while you are looking but check back in 10 mins and they probably will be gone.

Some good things to try are cooked rice, cooked pasta, a little bit of moist dog or cat food, (it gives chickens a huge protein boost), or some spinach leaves, or dried meal worms. All will do her good and are super tasty to chickens.

If you think there might be something wrong with her tummy try a few spoonfuls of natural yogurt, it helps chicken tummies just the way it helps ours.

Keep her apart from the others but within sight of them like you are doing, but when you put down treats put them either side of the wire fence so they can all be close while they are eating and distracted. Eventually when she is stronger you should be able to integrate them, there WILL be a touch of nastiness as they all find their place in the pecking order, as long as she has a good friend, possibly the little Bantam she should survive it and live happily in her own way.

Hope this helps in some way, email me direct if you need any more advice, my email is on my Blog.

I must point out that I am not a chicken expert, just someone who seems to have been through all the ailments with my chickens and most of us have lived to tell the tale :-)

Sue xx
Our New Life in the Country

Fat Dormouse said...

I hope your chicken feels perkier soon.

Pomona said...

I would second the above - make sure that you talk to her lots and give her plenty of attention and treats. Poultry Spice is a good pick me up to give under-the- weather hens. They do sometimes get illnesses and stand around for a bit looking sad, then after a while cheer up again.

If she is feeling low make sure that she doesn't get cold or wet if the weather turns nasty. Some shelter in her run to stand under to keep dry, and a sideways shelter to protect from the wind. Don't try to integrate her with the others until she is looking chirpy enough to fend for herself - just run them along side each other as long as possible.

Hope she perks up soon.

Pomona x