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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 23815
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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TI have a 2 yr old warren hen ex large free range unit

Customer Question

TI have a 2 yr old warren hen ex large free range unit rehomed last August. She laid well until Dec then nothing. Seemd very healthy until 10 days ago when started drinking a lot and eating less and less. Still pecking about but has lots of sleeps during day and started sleeping in nest box rather than perch at night. She has taken aloe vera juice and also chopped pasta with organic yogurt, cucumber and melon but only has tiny amounts. Seems she wants to eat but can't. Droppings are very runny and watery. Could see a couple of mites around vent. Her comb is going purply on edges. Her counterpart is still very perky although from Feb her eggs are very thin shelled almost papery and she eats them. The other hen a Brahma, 4 yrs old came from a different source and has never laid but is very healthy although her counterpart a 4yr old warren was humanely killed in July after a week of going off both food and water. I clean their wooden coop every day - no sign of red mite. I also poo pick their large grassy orchard daily. I worm them monthly with the organic Verm-ex liquid. They have layers pellets plus Henergize mixed corn.
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Bird
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 months ago.

Karen, I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. We don't have many avian vets on this site. Unfortunately, there's quite a problem list - stopping of laying, polydipsia (increased thirst), inappetence, somnolence (sleepiness), diarrhea, and cyanosis of her comb (lack of oxygen to her tissues) and mites which can indicate any number of illnesses or health issues in chickens. In avian medicine, there's rarely one cause of such a presentation, so we usually begin with a list of differential diagnoses and use lab tests, X-rays, and physical exams to differentiate one from another. Necropsy of a newly dead or a sacrificed severely ill bird then refrigerated (not frozen) can be an important diagnostic particularly in large flocks. With this in mind, your best course of action is to reach out to your county-extension poultry personnel or avian-oriented veterinarian for help. Please see here:

It's best to approach the diagnostic process with a clear sense of Mary's financial value to your operation. Although some services such as your county animal disease diagnostic laboratory might be available free of charge through a county agency or land-grant extension office, the expense of some diagnostic tests and treatments can add up quickly. While it’s always worth your time and money to identify a bacterial or viral infection that could potentially impact more than one member of the flock, this might not be the case with a condition that only affects one hen. It frustrates me that I can't be more specific for you but such is the dilemma of poultry owners and vets alike.

What's particullarly frustrating is that in the UK you're no longer able to purchase drugs in order to medicate your own chickens. A vet has to prescribe these drugs. I might presumptively worm to remove roundworms and treat for coccidiosis considering her diarrhea and I would initiate a broad spectrum antibiotic for what is likely to be widespread bacterial infection in Mary.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

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