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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 29711
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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9 month old hen that is not walking around just laying in

Customer Question

9 month old hen that is not walking around just laying in the coop. Offered her to drink and eat, did so but just a little. I've brought her into an enclosed area of our home and put her in a box with some heat and light. I have tetracycline can I give it to her? What do you think is going on. This is the first time I've seen this with my chicks in past ten years.
JA: I'll do all I can to help. Could be a lot of things that cause lethargy. The Veterinarian will know how to help your bird. What is the bird's name?
Customer: Goldie.
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Goldie?
Customer: I've recently adopted a rooster and 2 hens her age. Other than that nothing really new. All were getting along for the past three weeks.
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Bird
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 8 months ago.

You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin. Welcome to JustAnswer. I'm currently typing up my reply. Please be patient. This may take a few minutes.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 8 months ago.

I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. We don't have many avian vets on this site. Unfortunately, Goldie's lethargy and inappetence 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. In large flocks, necropsy of a newly dead or a sacrificed severely ill bird then refrigerated (not frozen) can be an important diagnostic but I understand that that isn't appropriate in small backyard pet flocks.

It's best to approach the diagnostic process with a clear sense of Goldie'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.

Providing tetracycline (usually in the form of Duramycin-10) is reasonable but if she's not drinking, she's not likely to imbibe enough tetracycline to be of value even when addressing a tetracycline-responsive bacterial infection and, of course, we don't know if such an infection is present in Goldie. Presumptive antibiotic therapy is best given by injection such as with over the counter Tylan-50 (tylosin) dosed in the wide range of 5-20 mg/lb intramuscularly into her breast muscle once daily for 5-7 days. I like the idea of bringing her inside as can be reviewed here:

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.