Have Bird Questions? Ask a Bird Specialist.
Hello, I'm Dr. Bob. I'm very sorry to read of your hen's condition.
Has she been laying eggs regularly in the past few weeks?
Okay, I understand. How long has it been since you first noticed something wrong?
Okay, thank you. Chickens, like other birds, have an instinct that causes them to hide the symptoms of illness. This is a protective behavior that helps them avoid attracting the attention of predators and bullies in their own flocks. Because of this instinctive behavior, disease processes are often quite advanced by the time they're noticed by caretakers.
Have you noticed any change in the color, consistency or volume of her droppings?
Thank you. This is almost certainly a very serious condition, most likely life-threatening. I suspect the loss of feathers around her vent is due to feather picking by the other birds in the little flock. Birds frequently peck at this area on debilitated flockmates.
The blue color of the comb indicates a lack of oxygen in the blood. There are a number of conditions that may cause the symptoms you've described in a chicken of her age, the most common of which is one called lymphoid leucosis. Other diseases that may cause the same and similar symptoms include chronic respiratory disease, parathyphoid, pullorum (rare), chronic aspergillosis (rare), and tuberculosis. You can read detailed descriptions each disease by Googling the name of the disease and adding "in chickens". You can try to nurse her along by keeping her warm in a towel-lined cardboard box, feeding warm nutritious foods like pancakes, cooked oatmeal and cornbread, and offering clean water often. The outlook is not good for her, however, and if she survives three or more days without signs of improvement, she should be put out of her misery. I apologize for the delay in getting back to you, but I'm actually working at my clinic on a busy Monday morning, and have to reply as time permits, between seeing patients. If I can be of any further help, please let me know. Kind regards, *****
I just noticed your question about antibiotics. Yes, you can try using an antibiotic, but none of the conditions I've listed respond very well to antibiotic therapy. Still, something like erythromycin or (Gallimycin) or tylosin (Tylan) might be helpful in saving or prolonging her life. Let me know should you have any further questions. Best regards, *****