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Ameraucana Hen “Tulip” is Sick

11 June 2011

This is what a hen looks like when she's sick.

Our gentle Tulip, the Ameraucana hen, is sick. Several days ago, I noticed that some of the feathers on her back had been picked off. Those of you who have chickens know that once they start picking on a hen, they don’t stop. They can be downright cannibals!

Tulip's wound.

The second day I noticed Tulip sitting in the corner of the coop, head down, tail down and the picking had continued. I know better than to let this go. I applied a think dark paste called Rooster Booster (made to discourage picking) and within an hour, the three other hens (Daisy is too busy being broody) had picked the pasty goo off. So much for Rooster Booster! I put in a temporary fenced area inside the chicken run (see picture) to keep the other hens away and when I went out a little later she had climbed, or flown, over the top and was hiding in the nest boxes.

I’ve prepared a little cage in the garden shed next to the window for Tulip to recuperate and grow her feathers back. She is in the cage now but seems very lethargic. She has all she needs; food, water with electrolytes, and I’ve given her yogurt (her favorite food).

Tulip's home until she heals.

Chickens are strange animals. They will suddenly die without warning. They will die from fright if chased or manhandled. They will die of loneliness. They will sometimes just lay down and die. I’ll give her some poultry antibiotic just to make sure she doesn’t have an infection, then time will tell.

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11 Comments to “Ameraucana Hen “Tulip” is Sick”

  1. Poor Tulip. Rooster Booster didn’t work for our RIR, Ruby, when she molted very hard and the others started to pick the feathers off her throat. I did the same, putting her in a wire dog kennel next to the run during the day. At night I put her on the roost with the others because I thought she might be happier than being alone but I had to get up before it was light to separate her each morning.

    One thing my vet mentioned to me is that the sulfur-containing amino acid methionine is very important for birds. A lack of it can cause picking and feather eating as well as poor feather growth. So you might try supplementing foods high in methionine both to the flock in hopes of stopping the picking and to Tulip to help with feather regrowth.

    I fed Ruby TJ’s canned tuna and black oil sunflower seeds (BOSS); in fact, these were the only things she would eat. She refused her regular crumble, yogurt and crushed cat kibble. She was depressed and would stand hanging her head — so sad, but these two foods really turned her around. I also gave plenty of BOSS and some tuna to the rest of the girls. Ruby recovered slowly and is back to normal. I still give BOSS regularly and tuna occasionally to the girls — they love it!

    Hope Tulip is soon on the mend.

    Some links:
    Foods Highest in methionine

    Clip of Ruby walking backwards, which she did for weeks during this molt. My vet had never heard of this but I found a few others on BYC whose chickens did the same:

  2. Thanks Christina. Lots of information here. It really sounds like you saved your Ruby’s life! Does TJ have black oil sunflower (Boss) too? I just observed Tulip eating but I gave her water with a dropper because I haven’t seen her drink. Thanks for the references and vet recommendation. I’ll look at your video next!

  3. Poor tulip:( Could she be egg bound?? Sometimes the others can seem so mean. I hope feels better soon. Thinking of you and your flock!

  4. I buy BOSS at the feed store, in 25# or 50# bags, not sure of the size.

    Ruby didn’t want to drink either. I realized I always add ACV to the girls’ water and hadn’t been doing that for her in the dog crate. She did drink then, but very little until I found some foods that she liked and she started to rebound.

    And might she be egg bound? That was a good suggeston, I hadn’t thought of that.

  5. […] I had to remove her from the flock for two weeks, keeping her in a cage in the garden shed. See “Tulip is Ill”. Now she again has a problem in her “egg maker”. Her eggs not only have a soft shell, they […]

  6. What I have tried is called a chicken saddle or chicken apron, they sell them on line and they really work. I made mine myself, they are very easy to make. You have to leave the saddle on for a few weeks but the feathers do grow back and you do not have to seperate the bird from the flock.

  7. My Ameracauna is not eating and stays in the coop and sits there. She is really inactive. Suggestions?

  8. I’ve not been tending to my website due to my broken hip. So sorry I’ve not been of help. Hopefully your hen has recovered. You can alway ask for help on Backyard Chickens. There are lots of experts (or not so expert) people that are able to give advice. They’ve been of help to me when my hens have been sick. Good luck.

  9. Aw poor Tulip. She looks almost the same as my hen, Zesty.

  10. So sorry for Tulip…I hope she gets better soon!

  11. […] I had to remove her from the flock for two weeks, keeping her in a cage in the garden shed. See “Tulip is Ill”. Now she again has a problem in her “egg maker”. Her eggs not only have a soft shell, they […]

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