Now, chickens have almost similar characteristics to humans. They free range during the day and sleep at night. However, when they get tired, chickens find a cool place to lie down and rest. While this is considered normal, what isn’t normal is when your chicken goes from being too active to lying down abruptly. If this is what you’re seeing, then you should ask yourself why is my chicken laying down all the time?
You see, chickens are excellent foragers that enjoy free ranging in search of fruits, seeds, insects, and vegetation. This foraging instinct is what makes their meat and eggs healthy and nutritious. That’s why you need a large backyard space for your chickens to free range.
But, while some chicken breeds are active, others are lazy and mostly enjoy lying down for a large portion of the day. While it’s hard to tell whether the condition is normal or health-related, this short guide will cover some of the common signs that might indicate your chicken or chickens are unwell.
Check the Comb of Chicken First
The first organ that speaks volumes about a chicken’s general health is the color and nature of the comb. So, if your chickens are lying down, then the area you should examine first is the comb. Now, in a normal chicken, the color of the comb should be a vibrant red. However, if your chickens are ill, the color could change to pink, purple, black, or pale red.
If the color of the comb is pale, then three factors are to blame. The first one is heat exhaustion, which can be solved by dipping your chicken’s feet in a shallow bowl of cold water. The second factor is internal parasites (worms), which also cause watery droppings. Here, you should deworm the entire flock, and don’t forget to disinfect the coop. The last one is a parasitic infestation caused by lice and mites.
Next, there’s the issue of dehydration, which causes the comb to flop other than stay erect. Here, you should provide the affected chickens with plenty of cold water, and if possible, chilled watermelon. Lastly, you should check for brown or black spots on the wattles, combs, and the skin of the chicken. If you detect them, then there’s a possibility of a fowl pox outbreak in your flock.
Examine Their Eyes and Nostrils Carefully
Another place you can consider checking is the eyes and nostrils. Remember, chickens don’t have hands to wipe off any fluids in their eyes or nostrils. Therefore, if you detect any form of discharge in the eyes or nostrils, or even if you notice the eyes are swollen, then you should investigate the issue further.
Look at the Chicken’s Vent Is Clean and Normal
Another place to check if your chicken is lying down a lot is the vent. Now, the vent is the opening at the rear of the chicken where poop and eggs exit. Sometimes, the vent can develop some complications, especially if you have young pullets that have started laying eggs just recently.
One of the health issues that affect pullets is egg binding. If this happens, you’ll notice that your hen will look lethargic with its tail down, appearing as if it’s under a lot of pain and strain. In worst cases, your hen might lose appetite, have a pale comb, or release loose stool.
This condition is serious because if your hen doesn’t lay an egg in two days, then she might die. Otherwise, if the egg breaks while in the oviduct, then she might develop a fatal infection.
So, to solve this problem, you can consider dipping the hen in warm salty water for about 20 minutes. You can also apply some Vaseline around the vent and then massage her abdomen to make the egg-laying process easier. Now, when examining the vent, always ensure that it’s clean and looks normal.
Chicken’s Crop Area’s Issue
The next area you must check when you notice your chicken is lying down is the crop. In chickens, the crop is the pouch on the front of their chests where food is stored. So, after free ranging throughout the day, all the food eaten is collected in the crop waiting to be digested later in the night.
Now, although it sounds like an obvious process, sometimes the crop can get blocked. Two conditions are responsible for crop blockage, which are sour and impacted crops.
Impacted crop occurs when large or stringy foods fail to pass from the crop to the stomach. On the other hand, a sour crop occurs when food is blocked on its way to the gizzard. A sour crop is considered fatal as bacteria might start to multiply in the crop.
Now, both of these conditions are serious and can cause a threat to your chicken’s health. Therefore, it’s recommended that you seek immediate medical help from a vet to prevent further complications.
Feel the Breathing of Your Chicken
Inspecting your chicken’s breathing is one way of confirming whether they have worms or respiratory problems. Here, you can consider holding the affected chicken with both hands and listening to the sound of her breathing.
If it’s loud and gurgly, then there’s a possibility she has gape worms. These types of worms recede in the chicken’s trachea and are accompanied by symptoms such as coughing and constant shaking of the head. If this is what you’re seeing, then you should administer the appropriate wormer to your flock.
Other than worms, raspy breathing accompanied by sneezing, runny nostrils and foamy eyes can be a sign of respiratory illness. So, to cure this cold, you should isolate the affected chickens and give them vitamins and electrolytes to boost their immune system.
Lastly, a gurgly sound can mean that something is stuck in your chicken’s throat. Here, you’ll need to open her throat to check whether there’s something.
Look at Their Droppings for Anything Abnormal
Another area you need to check if you notice your chicken is lying down is the nature of the droppings. Now, it’s quite hard to know which chicken is leaving the offensive droppings if you have a large flock. However, since the droppings are likely to be watery, you can detect the offender by checking for dirt on their rear feathers.
So, here you’ll be looking for diarrhea or droppings with signs of blood, mucus, foul smell, strange colors (green and yellow), or worms wriggling around. In case you notice any of these signs, plus you detect the offender, then you can take a sample to the vet. From there, your vet will give the right prescription.
Check the Feathers and Plumage of Your Chicken
Just like most other animals, chickens love to groom themselves by dust bathing and molting during the winter season. By shedding off old feathers, they develop new ones that have vibrant colors. Since molting consumes a lot of energy, a struggling chicken might fail to grow new feathers leaving it with bald patches.
If you’re not careful, you might think the affected chicken is being picked by others. Although that’s a possibility, there are chances that your chicken is infested with lice or it has a form of a mineral deficiency. To solve the problem, isolate the chicken and feed it with plenty of nutrition.
Check the Rate of Chicken Laying Eggs
Lastly, you should check your hen’s consistency when laying eggs. You see, if your hen is ill, then she’ll automatically lower her egg production. That’s because a lot of energy is needed during the egg laying process. Therefore, if she lays eggs less often, lays deformed eggs, or lays eggs with wrinkled shells, then this is an obvious sign that she’s unwell.
So, there you have it. As you can see, there are many signs that signal an ill chicken. Since your chickens will never speak out about their problem, it’s good that you check out for some of these common symptoms.
However, you should note that lying down isn’t always a sign of a sick chicken. Sometimes, your chicken might be full and only want to lie down all day. Therefore, it’s good that you do your due diligence to ensure that your chickens are happy and healthy.
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Hello, I am John Reid. I have been raising chickens for the last 15 years. I have got my experience from my father. My father is the owner of a large chicken farm. This is our family business that has been continuing for over 35 years. I am very interested in backyard chickens and I know how to take care of them. You can learn more About Us here. Happy Reading!!