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Dr. Dan
Dr. Dan, Bird Veterinarian
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 8964
Experience:  12 years of pet, wildlife, and zoo avian experience, PLEASE rate my service when satisfied.
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Our 4 hens are approx. 18mths old. One is behaving oddly and

Customer Question

Our 4 hens are approx. 18mths old. One is behaving oddly and I'm not sure if she is ill or broody - I think ill. She is remaining in the nesting box even when there are no eggs in there, she is fluffing herself out and allowing us to handle her more than usual. When we remove her from there and take her to the others (free range in half acre garden), she keeps shaking herself and is also wiping her beak on the floor. She also has a sore looking red bald spot on her breastbone/tummy. Not noticed any breathing problems, can't see any mites, leg scales look ok, other hens appear healthy. We usually get 3-4 eggs most days but none today or yesterday - the others may be laying elsewhere in the garden because she is in the nesting box but we have been unable to locate them yet. We first noticed her behaviour two days ago but she laid an egg that day so we thought it was broodiness. She is eating and drinking. Her clucking is lower and deeper than usual. She is usually the "leader of the pack", the favourite of the grandchildren and a real character - we are so worried about her!
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Bird
Expert:  Dr. Dan replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your question, I'm Dr. Dan and I'll try to help you.

I agree with you that she is ill. The shaking and beak wiping indicate a sinus problem. When chicken's sinuses are bothering them they will be lethargic, they will shake and try to get clear their stuffy sinuses by wiping their beak. Sinus problems will not always lead to deep breathing or coughing/sneezing associated with respiratory disease. The first thing you must do is isolate her from the other birds and give her supplemental heat. At this point you need to decide what you desire for her if you wish her to continue laying and eating the eggs then there are no meds we can give her legally, so she's on her own to recover if she can. If you are ok with not ever eating her or her eggs again then you can take her to the vet for a diagnosis and likely antibacterial treatment.

The important thing to being with though is to get Agnes away from the other birds as soon as possible to contain the spread of the problem. Then you'll have to decide if you want to medicate her or allow her to recover on her own to preserve her eggs.

Dr. Dan