Why Are My Chicken’s Wings Drooping?

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You may have noticed your chicken exhibiting abnormal behavior such as drooping wings, tripping over its wings, or lethargy, which can be genuinely concerning to a loving chicken owner such as yourself.

There are a few explanations for why your chickens’ wings may be drooping. Heat stress, an injury, parasites, or disease are the four major causes of drooping wings.

Suppose you think your chicken may be suffering from the extreme heat of the summer or notice other symptoms that could go along with these other diagnoses. In that case, it may be an innovative idea to seek an opinion from a veterinarian. 

Continue reading for more information on the symptoms of each of these causes, viable solutions, and preventative measures.


What causes droopy wings in chickens?

What causes droopy wings in chickens

There are three main causes of droopy-winged chickens.

  1. Heat stress: A condition that affects chickens during the summer and fall months, when humidity and temperatures are exceptionally high. 
  2. Injury: Can be caused by several different things, from predator attacks to getting caught in debris or a fence, to jumping from a high-up perch.
  3. Sickness: The two major ailments that can cause chickens to exhibit droopy wings are parasites and diseases.

Heat stress

Heat stress affects breeds of chickens differently. Heavily feathered and heavy-weight chicken breeds are more susceptible. 

Older chickens are also more likely affected by rising heat indexes. Heat stress can be deadly; therefore, it is essential for your chickens to have the proper habitat to endure such conditions.

If you notice your chickens panting or drooping their wings out, away from their body, they may be suffering from heat stress and in danger of a heat stroke. Other signs include:

  • Labored breathing and panting
  • Pale Combs/Wattles
  • Lifting Wings away from their body
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures or Convulsions
  • Reduced growth rates 
  • Lower egg production
  • Change in egg quality (smaller eggs, thinner shells, poor internal egg quality)

Injury

Drooping wings can also be a sign of a wing injury. It is possible that your chicken may have sprained or injured her wing or even her leg. 

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Sometimes, when chickens jump from perches, they injure their leg. What you see is them using their wing to help them balance and take the full weight of their leg.

Sickness

Besides being overheated, there are a few other potential causes for drooping wings in chickens, such as a parasite infestation or disease.

Tapeworms or other parasites can also cause your chickens to lose a lot of weight and become malnourished. 

They will lose weight and often become lethargic even if you take great care of them and feed them well.

Another possibility could be Marek’s disease, caused by Herpes Virus, which is a pretty common disease among chickens. 

It can cause poor egg production, nervous system issues, which could be why their wings are drooping, and it can also cause loss of appetite and white due to tumors growing in your chickens’ organs. This is a fatal disease and should be monitored closely.

Malnutrition could also be a cause for drooping wings. If the chicken has lost a significant amount of weight, they will often use their wings to help balance themselves.


How to treat an overheated chicken with droopy wings?

How to treat an overheated chicken with droopy wings

In the chart below, you will find treatment steps, descriptions, and tips on treating an overheated chicken with droopy wings.

Treatment Steps Description Tips 
1. Bring your chicken inside If your chicken is suffering from heatstroke or heat stress, bring them inside either to a barn where you can begin cooling them off or inside your home. The bathroom or laundry room are good rooms to keep them. 
2. Ice bath Bathing them in cool water for about 5 minutes You can also put ice packs or ice cubes into the water to ensure it is cool enough. You can towel dry them or place them in front of a fan on a low setting. 
3. Supplements Electrolyte supplements and water additives can also help them recover faster. This can be store-bought in packets, or you can make it homemade with a mix of raw honey, water, a pinch of baking soda, or sea salt. It may also need to be administered through a syringe if your chicken is too ill to drink on its own. 
4. Habitat Prepare your chicken with comfortable bedding, snacks, and easy access to water, for its overnight stay. Keep your chicken inside until you start seeing its normal behavior coming back. When it starts running around and trying to get out of its seclusion, that is a good sign it’s ready to return to the flock. 

How to treat an injured chicken with droopy wings?

Treating an injured chicken can be tricky, depending on the ailment. 

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Drooping wings can mean that your chicken has injured its leg or is having trouble walking, and it is trying to stabilize itself by using its wings as a crutch. 

Your chicken may not heal properly if certain measures are not taken to ensure it has time to heal without causing more stress on its body. 

In the chart below, you will find treatment steps, descriptions, and tips on treating an injured chicken with droopy wings.

Treatment Description Tips
1. See a veterinarian Suppose you notice your chicken is limping, struggling to walk, or is using its wings to hold itself up to enjoy normal daily chicken activities. In that case, you may want to seek out a veterinarian if you cannot identify the source of injury. Veterinarians will have access to more tools to determine your chicken’s injury. They may also be able to help you find the source from which the injury came. If its injury is severe enough, this can cause future problems or even further injury if you allow your chicken to maintain its daily activities.
2. Isolation and restThe best way to treat any injured chicken is to isolate it with its own food and water for a period to allow it to feel like it can relax.Without your chicken having to fight for food, water, they can feel safe and able to rest.

How to treat a sick chicken with droopy wings?

How to treat a sick chicken with droopy wings

When a chicken is sick due to any type of illness, it is vital that they receive proper nutrients and fluids.

Treatment Description Tips
1. See a veterinarianIf you identify that your chicken is drooping its wings due to an illness such as parasites or disease, you must first isolate the affected chickens.Seeking guidance from a veterinarian will help you find the proper medications and methods for treating your chickens.
2. Hydration is keyThe important thing is to make sure they are staying hydrated. By providing electrolyte supplements, you can ensure they stay hydrated throughout their recovery time.
3. Treating ParasitesParasites can be treated with a clean dust bath, and an insecticide called Ivermectin. If your flock is infected with parasites, ensure that you treat their living area and even the chickens that are completely healthy.
4. Treating DiseaseQuarantine your diseased chickens and keep a close eye on the asymptomatic chickens to ensure any spread of disease is contained.Diseases that cause drooping wings are best treated with isolation, plenty of food and water, and veterinarian assistance.

Four Tips to prevent droopy wings in chickens

There are many proactive things you can do to ensure that your chickens are less likely to become droopy-winged.

Shelter

Ensure your flock has a clean place to find shelter from the hot sun, proper ventilation and airflow in your chicken coop, and proper shade outside their coop. 

Their bedding can also add to the heat, like insulation. Make sure they have proper bedding for the summer months. 

Environment

Ensure that your coop is clean from debris and things that could hurt chickens if they jumped from their roost. 

Making sure that your coop is cleaned regularly will also prevent bumblefoot, which is a type of staff infection that could cause your chicken to limp, therefore using its wings to stabilize itself. 

Ensure their coop is engineered well enough to keep them safe from lurking predators.

Proper Nutrition

Clean and cool water located out of the sun is vital to your chicken’s survival. There are electrolyte supplements available to purchase for chickens. 

The electrolyte powder can be added to their water or frozen into ice cubes, which can be added to your flock’s water to help keep them hydrated. Frozen fruit and veggies are great treats for them during the summer.

Keep your flock calm and ensure they have enough room in their run/coop. When chickens are crowded, this can add to their stress. It can also increase blood pressure and the hot temperatures they are enduring.

Feeding your chickens in the early morning or at dusk is a suitable alternative to help keep them out of the direct heat of the summer sun.

Preventing infestations and disease

This can be done with proper dust bathes, a clean coop, fresh food, water, and bedding. Spray insecticides in and around your coop. 

To prevent disease, chickens can also be vaccinated against most viral infections.


Final Thoughts

Although there are many conditions that can cause a chicken to develop droopy wings, there are also several preventative measures you can take to help ensure your chickens do not fall victim to these ailments. 

Always remember that the key to a successful flock is nutrition, habitat, and a caring, thorough farmer.