Chicken Ruby is sick; seeking advice

April 15, 2010 | By | Comments (8)


Hi everyone–our chicken Ruby isn’t doing so well.

She’s my favorite chicken, so I’m worried. Since yesterday morning, she’s been creeping around the cage as though her body hurts, stepping tentatively and slowly. She doesn’t make her characteristic mad dash for the sunflower seeds when I sprinkle them in the coop in the evenings as a treat. Instead of greeting me with her husky croaks whenever I come in the cage or leave it, she’s noiseless. She frequently tilts her head from side to side, as though she’s not able to see very well.

And her neck is all puffed up.


Compare Ruby’s neck to the slender, smooth neck of her breed-mate, Carmelita:


Ruby’s neck looks swollen to me. Also, she’s just started to pluck out her leg feathers–is this a expression of frustration?


Oh, and the last thing: Her vent is, how shall I say, dribbly. (The bald spot has been with her for ages–I don’t think it’s the cause of her current troubles.)



We sure would appreciate your advice–if you have any ideas about what’s troubling Ruby and how to help her, please let us know.




  1. Michelle Tullis

    I didn’t catch this in time-but if it happens again…
    I’ve learned these techniques from a wildlife biologist friends-who studies rare -treasure birds. I also had an internally-laying hen a few months ago and what I did was..
    put her in a warm bath in the sink-with a hand on her-she laid there for about 10 min. next-with a gloved hand and a little mineral oil… (sorry-but this is animal care) probe her vent… the infected egg stuff will come out, do that a few times. next, get CrannAssure Gel Caps… stuffing down her gullet 1 each morning and night WITH 1 chewable Vit. C-you might have to break it, raw ginger chunks, raw garlic-with the skin… if she’s not eating: brazil nuts-stuffed into her and grapes for hydration.
    four days of that, separated from the flock and she was up and at’em!
    Use antibiotics as a last resort.

    May 13, 2011 at 7:25 pm
  2. Margo True

    Amy, thanks so much–great advice. When I went out yesterday evening, it almost looked as though she was having trouble seeing.

    I’ll be at work shortly and will check out the situation.

    April 16, 2010 at 3:16 pm
  3. Amy

    I don’t currently have chickens, but I used to help take care of my Grandma’s chickens. I have parrots, and have dealt with some issues like this before with them.

    It might be a good idea to isolate her from the other chickens (a big pet carrier in the coop would be fine) with food and water available. That way you can see how much (and if) she’s drinking or eating. If she’s able to drink or eat, the crop is most likely not the issue.

    Have you felt her neck? She might just be puffed up from stress rather than actually swollen up. The swelling at her vent looks like she might have something stuck—could be an egg with an unusually soft shell that she isn’t able to push out. Had she been laying successfully before this?

    The other thing is that she might have gotten constipated and have a plug of poop stuck in there. If you don’t think it will stress her too much, you might try examining her and finding out more about the situation—soaking off any dried on poop with warm cloths because it can cause skin irritation if left on the skin.

    Above all, when you see signs that birds are ill, they are VERY ILL and need urgent veterinary attention. A “wait and see” approach for a visibly sick bird is almost always a death sentence.

    April 16, 2010 at 6:41 am
  4. Margo True

    Thanks, Fern! I’ll post an update tomorrow.

    April 16, 2010 at 5:58 am
  5. Fern @ Life on the Balcony

    Oh no! I loved seeing the chickens when I visited Sunset’s garden. I hope Ruby gets better!

    April 16, 2010 at 4:13 am
  6. Margo True

    Thanks, Michael and AO.

    Eeeesh about the infection. I sure don’t want her to suffer.

    I’m going to call the bird vet in the morning, too, in case there’s something we can try. She had “pasty butt” as a chick–and I wonder if this is related at all; she looks pretty clogged. Maybe a nice warm sitz bath?

    AO, I have indeed posted on–I’ll be checking it regularly.

    Our chicken Ophelia had an impacted crop, and our vet successfully treated her by slicing open her crop, removing a sizeable wad of hay (which is why it’s not on the floor of the coop any more), and stitching her back up. Ophelia never had a swollen neck, though, just a swollen crop.

    I hope Ruby hangs in there until tomorrow!

    April 16, 2010 at 2:02 am
  7. AO

    I’d post on backyardchickens, there are lots of people who know what they are doing.
    If her neck is swollen it might be an impacted crop, which might require surgery, or you might be able to message it out.

    April 16, 2010 at 1:37 am
  8. Michael

    I had an araucana with the exact same symptoms. The best advice I could come up with was to put her down (that, or spent hundreds of dollars for a vet to diagnose what may not even be treatable). I waited about three weeks and she never got better. I did an amateur autopsy at slaughter and found a lot of stinky, yellow liquid in her abdomen – some type of infection. Wish I had put her down sooner to minimize her suffering and risk to the flock.

    April 16, 2010 at 12:13 am

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