1. I’ve had six hens for about one month, two Rhode/rocks, two Columbian Blacktails and two French Marans. They seem to have been doing very well up to now and I am getting two or three eggs each day. They are usually waiting impatiently for their afternoon mixed seed treat and go mad for it when I broadcast it. However for the past couple of days I have been a bit concerned about one of the Blacktails. She definitely seems to be off her food and when I walk up behind her she squats down as if wanting to be picked up and is very docile if I do. This afternoon when I fed them she was nowhere to be seen and I found her roosted in the hen house. She came out but showed very little interest in the seeds and went back inside after a few minutes. She has a bit of a messy bum, so could worms be the problem?

    • They crouch down like that when a male bird approaches and will sometimes do that when you go to pick them up too.
      It could be worms, a good starting point is to treat them with Flubenvet but there are many other possibilities so I would keep a close eye on her and if she doesn’t improve, take her to the vet.
      Good luck John.

  2. Thank you for your good advice. I’m treating them with Flubenvet this week. The Blacktail seems to have recovered her composure and is back to rude health but one of the Marans is looking peaky now. She is usually the one at the bottom of the pecking order. Both Marans tend to get some aggro from the Rhodies. The stronger one is a fine bird with a statuesque bearing who gives back as good as she gets but the peaky one tends to cower, often alone, in a separate part of the run. One of the hens, I don’t know which, has produced two very large eggs with double yolks in the past week. For such young hens, I imagine that this could be difficult and possibly painful. Is there any particular reason for this and are some breeds prone to it more than others?

    • Double yolks are technically a ‘fault’ and normally only occur in high producing hybrids when they are young, often at the beginning of the laying cycle. As they mature they should go back to laying single yolk eggs.

  3. Recently had one of our hens attacked by the others, to the point where they had cornered her and pecked her rear end until her insides were coming out. very distressing for the hen and us. I did put her out of her misery (bravely). why did they do this? we have only had the hens for two weeks, purchased from a free range farm where 6000 hens kept in a huge barn with free access to outside. all hens were in good condition. we had kept them in a small enclosure to start with, to get them used to their new home, we have today enlarged their outside enclosure and this seems to have calmed them down. was it something to do with the pecking order, we have two hens who seem very dominant. or did we keep them to closely confined?

    • Hens are attracted to the colour red. If a hen has a prolapse, part of her oviduct hangs out and this attracts others that will peck at it. It can be nasty.

      High egg production hens are more likely to have a prolapse than pure breeds.

      • Thanks for that, nice to know that it was just natural behaviour. They do all seem to have settled in really well, and we are averaging around 10 – 12 eggs a day now. We sell them in our village and they are most appreciated. We love watching the chickens chasing the grasshoppers, too funny, they go wild for them. Like your site very much, lots of useful information, thank you.

    • I’m sorry I haven’t tried this before.

      You could try Beryl’s friendly bacteria from Chickenvet maybe?

  4. Hi can you help I have 5 hens just over a year old, I had 3 more 5 weeks ago and they are 21 weeks old, a ranger, black tail and a coral the coral was pecked by her eye a few weeks ago and bled bad, I put purple spray on and it got better, but yesterday, the older one picked on her again and she bled really bad, more spray, 2 hours later they did it agin and she bled bad, it’s by her eye which is swollen and closed, a vet wanted £99 just to see her, she has opened her today but it seems sore, and they are still pecking at her, I have put some ani peck spray on her, but don’t seem to work, is there anything I can do, she is such a lovely girl. The one that most pecked her used to be the lower hen, but they all peck her.

    • It’s a sad thing to watch and unfortunately, chickens will sometimes be very cruel.

      More space is the first thing so that she can get away more easily. She must be getting pecked in a corner as they won’t usually stand there and let it happen, they will move away on other visual cues. Modern chicken houses and runs are all well and good but are hopeless when there are problems like this.

      The other thing that might help is to keep her separate until she has completely recovered and there is no sign of injury near the eye. Chickens will usually peck at blood and go for the comb area. If there is an existing injury, she will be disadvantaged. When re-introducing her, I would take out the hen that is top of the pecking order so she can sort out the differences with the other hens first.

      If all else fails I would rehome her, maybe try a different hen. It is not fair to her if there is not the space for her to exist in relative normality.

      • My run is 18ft by 18ft a large house which can take 12 hens but I only have 8, I have 2 feeders 2 drinkers,things for them to jump up on,the worse time seems to be when they are feeding, and other times they are all right, may be when she is a little older things will be better.thanks.

  5. Hi, I have 3 hens, a Black Rock, Barred Rock and Light Sussex which I bought at point of lay in August last year. For the last couple of months we have noticed the occasional soft shelled egg but recently this has increased along with one very small misshapen egg with a hard shell and some shelless altogether. I’m pretty sure it’s the Barred Rock. She also has a “mucky bum” and I’ve noticed some diahorrea last week. In all other respects she seems fine, eating drinking, scratching round the garden, not “unwell”. I wormed them with Flubenvet about a month ago and they have monthly Verm- X and ACV. From What I’ve read I guess she might have Infective Bronchitis, but she has no respiratory symptoms. The other two are fine. Should I isolate her maybe? I realise that euthanasia might be the only sensible choice.

  6. Two of my chickens have dirty bottoms they otherwise appear healthy behaving normally, eating and drinking well what can I wash them with?

    • Warm water and baby shampoo is fine to use. Fill a sink or bowl and stand the chicken in it. They normally enjoy it.

      Check they are wormed with Flubenvet and check under the vent for lice eggs (stuck on at the base of feather shafts). Diet can also cause a runny bottom.

  7. Hi, we have a white star who’s just over 2 years old. My husband noticed that she wasn’t eating & seemed subdued and that when she bent her head to try & eat a bit of sweetcorn she was leaking fluid from her mouth. We did a bit of research & thought it might be sour crop, the hens are normally kept in a largish enclosure in the garden which is now mainly soil/shrub/woodchip but we do let them out into garden fairly often & thought she may have eaten long grass. My husband tried holding her with her head down to drain the fluid from her crop & she did seem a bit better though initially she was wheezing a bit. We’ve tried to give her natural yoghurt & have put ACV in the water but she’s resisting attempts to feed her & is sounding generally wheezy now. We have some Tylenol powder left from the vet & wondered if we should try dosing her with antibiotics? Any suggestions on what we could do or what we need to look out for would be welcome. I also noticed this morning that there was some greenish, thin looking poo in the hen house & am assuming that’s from her as the other 4 hens all seem fine & perky.

    • The symptoms are too general and I’m afraid I can’t really make any suggestions from this.

      I would separate her from the others for a start and if she doesn’t perk up soon, take her to a poultry vet. Respiratory problems are quite common in chickens but that could simply be secondary infection that has struck her because of an underlying problem.

  8. Hi my Sussex has gone broody, 4. Days staying in coop pushing eggs under her, grunting when I take them away, I have put her in a smaller fun in the main run, the floor is dirt and concreat she has food and water how long should I keep her in there and should I put her back at night, thanks

    • I assume you are trying to break her broodiness. I use a dog crate on a concrete floor in my garage where it is cool. They get food and water but no nesting material. In 3 or 3 days they tend to break out of it, which although it sounds harsh is kinder in the long run than letting them sit for weeks to get run down.

      • Sorry it’s me again,I have just brought a dog crate to put my broody sussex in, it’s 24’x 18 x 20 inch is this bigger enough, also should I put her back into the coop at night or leave her in crate a few days.

        • Hello Helen (also noticed on the Keeping Chickens Google+ group!)
          Sounds fine. Although it seems cruel, as long as she has food and water, (she is only there for a few days) she should eventually stop her broodiness.
          In my opinion, although some disagree, it’s cruel to be kind – 40 or so days sat on a nest getting run down or 4 days in a cage to stop her broodiness…. then she can go back to being a chicken (and laying!)

          • Sorry about this this is the 4th day my chicken has been in the the crate and no sign she is stopping being broody, I let her out just befor they go to roost at night she runs into coop, is this where I am going wrong, I have the cage in the run with the others, should she be somewhere else, I don’t have a garage

          • Good news my sussex has stopped being broody I hope at last,she has been in the run with the others scratching about and not going into coop, glad I kept her in the cage, I felt bad about doing it as she kept on screeching , but it seems to have worked, thanks lot for the advice.

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