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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 28486
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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My chicken is not eating and is very thin

Customer Question

My chicken is not eating and is very thin
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Bird
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I am extremely worried his head is down and his wings are down he came to me in the chicken yard yesterday asking for help I did not notice before- how skinny he was. I have kept him in the house since I picked him up. He ate a little last night and just a sip of water. And he has not eaten at all today. I have given him some vitamins mixed with water. I do not feel a lump in his neck so I'm sure he's not impacted. This morning he had a very large solid stool that looked good to me according to what I have read about chicken poop. He does have a slight odor to his beak.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 11 months ago.

Debra, I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. We don't have many avian vets on this site. Unfortunately, weight loss, inappetence, 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. 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.

It's best to approach the diagnostic process with a clear sense of his 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 just one rooster. It frustrates me that I can't be more specific for you but such is the dilemma of poultry owners and vets alike.

I need you to perform a thorough physical exam for me. Please check for eye changes such as conjunctivitis or a color change of the irises, nasal discharge, sneezing, pale or floppy comb/wattles, regurgitation/vomiting, increased respiratory rate, swollen coelom (abdomen), or lameness. Please let me know what you find.