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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 29746
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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We have 2 chickens currently - black sex links hens, about 6

Customer Question

We have 2 chickens currently - black sex links hens, about 6 months old. One of them starting laying eggs on July 4th. She laid 2 eggs then stopped. She has stopped eating and is slowing losing weight and energy. No other visible signs of a problem. We also lost 2 chickens in this same manner about 3 months ago. We can't figure out what is happening. The chickens have a nice coop that is cleaned weekly. Fresh water and grains, and fruit daily. We also give them corn meal mash and worms occasionally. Is there any way to save this hen? I recently bought probiotic egg boost, which I dissolve in their water. Please help.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Bird Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

I understand your frustration at this time. These hens can be a challenge to diagnose properly. Unfortunately, stoppage of egg laying, anorexia, weight loss, and malaise 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 and necropsy should be a serious consideration when more than one hen has been lost in such a short period of time. An infectious and contagious disease should be suspected and Marek's disease (herpesvirus) is the most common of these diseases at their age. With this in mind, your best course of action is to reach out to your county-extension poultry personnel or avian-oriented veterinarian (please see here: for help.

You might be missing subtle symptoms of Marek's and so please review this link and let me know if you had seen or are currently seeing its symptoms:!mareks-disease/c1qzk

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi -- I really don't think it is marek's. The chicken has none of the symptoms. I have realized that the chicken is having very watery stools. She is drinking lots of water and is soaking her environment. I haven't seen her make a solid dropping since I have put her in a separate container and brought her inside. When I inspected the chicken coop, the nest area was soaked and the roosting area was soaked. Today, she has been eating (Modesto Mills Organic Layer feed, cantelope, corn meal mash, and dried meal worms) and continues to drink a lot of water. She especially likes the dried meal worms but I don't give her too many because I have been told that they are for treats only. We are trying to give her as much supportive care as we can in the hope that she will recover. Is there anything we can do to help her get back to normal droppings?
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for the additional information. Yes, it would be reasonable to presumptively treat for the most common gastrointestinal parasites plus administer a broad spectrum antibiotic. Piperazine (Wazine, e.g.) will address roundworms and amprolium (Corid) will address coccidia. Tylosin (Tylan-50) dosed at 20-30 mg/lb once daily intramuscularly or the injectable solution can be given orally for 5-7 days is available in your local feed store as are the other drugs. It's best to bring her inside as shown here:

Don't worry about the dried meal worms. I allow an ill hen to eat anything and everything she want to eat just as a free-range hen will do. Please continue our conversation if you wish.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Dr. Salkin,I have been able to locate the piperazine and the corid -- both in a soluable form. How much and how often would I give these meds to the chicken?Also, Tylan is no longer available in a soluable form. The feed store just has it as an injectible. Would I be able to administer the medication in that manner? Is it safe for me to do without being a vet?Thanks,
CIndy White
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
By the way, Wiggins, our chicken, has continued to have watery stools with no form at all. Today, she is eating and drinking very little. We have been giving her support in the house and have been able to give her some food and water with a feeding syringe.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

You'll need to follow the instructions on the label of your particular piperazine and amprolium products because these medications come in different concentrations. Please see my post time-stamped 12 Jul 2016, 12:36 PM (my time) for instructions about tylosin. Piperazine is dosed at 45 - 115 mg/lb once or 450 - 900 mg/L of water for 3 days. Amprolium is dosed at 7 - 15 mg/lb daily for 5 days or 23 - 46 mg/L of water for 5 days. Keep up the force-feeding. These drugs won't help if she becomes dehydrated and calorie deficient.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for your help. Wiggins passed away during the night last night. Now I need to figure out exactly what killed him so I can prevent the same thing from happening to our remaining chicken.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

My condolences for your loss of Wiggins. If at all possible, have Wiggins necropsied. Your vet can arrange it or your county animal disease diagnostic laboratory can do it for you if you're fortunate enough to have such a laboratory where you live. Remains should be refrigerated - not frozen.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.
Hi Cindy,

I'm just following up on our conversation about Wiggins. How is everything going?

Dr. Michael Salkin