Chickens are resilient creatures, especially when they are looked after properly. One minute they are running around the yard, hunting every bug they can find, and the next, they are refusing to leave their coop.
As a chicken owner, it can be very nerve-wracking to see your favorite chicken cooped up, refusing to eat or drink. You find yourself worrying: “Are they sick or injured? What can I do to help them? Should I contact a vet?”
There are five main reasons why your chicken may be lying down all the time: illness, poor diet, lack of energy, parasite infestation, or simply because the hen is feeling broody.
Luckily, these reasons can also be improved by changes you make to help your chickens’ lifestyle. In this article, we will discuss why your chicken is laying around all the time, how to diagnose the issue, how to treat it, and what to do when your chicken is not getting better.
Why is My Chicken Laying Down All the Time?
There are five main reasons your chicken could be refusing to move. Below are the ailments and their symptoms.
- Bumblefoot – is a common infection that affects a chicken’s foot that may have accidentally gotten cut. This could cause your chicken to lay around, making it quite painful to walk due to an infected cut and swollen foot.
- Newcastle Disease – is a contagious disease that can cause breathing problems, discharge from the nose, followed by paralysis. Before this disease becomes too severe, you may notice your chicken not eating or drinking and laying around feeling extremely lethargic.
- Impacted Crop – Sometimes food will not completely digest, and it will get lodged in their throat, also known as an impacted crop.
Deficiencies in essential nutrients:
These deficits will cause a chicken to become lazy and sleepy, just like it would a human. Mineral deficiency, dehydration, and calcium and protein deficits also significantly affect the mobility of chickens.
It is also important to note that chickens can become lethargic without the necessary vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
Lack of Energy
After laying an egg, a hen may lay down for an extended period.
Egg production causes a lot of stress on a chicken’s body, as it takes a lot of vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, to create the egg itself, and then the body must lay the egg.
This can cause a lack of energy leading to the chicken laying down.
Older chickens can just be lazy old hens. Their egg-laying will slow and may even stop altogether due to old age. Naps in chickens are common. It is essential to determine whether your chicken is resting or ill.
- External parasites attack your chicken’s body from the skin and feathers. External parasites can cause feather loss, blood loss, over-preening, and pecking from other chickens. They can cause your chicken to become lethargic or cause them to lay around often.
- Internal parasites attack your chicken’s bloodstream and organs, causing disease or infection to spread throughout the body. They can cause your chicken to become sick and weak, refusing to eat, drink, or move around.
When a hen becomes broody, its chicken instincts and hormone balance change. This causes the hen to want to make her eggs hatch. Broodiness can happen even without a rooster fertilizing her eggs.
A broody hen will often refuse to leave her nest for an extended period. She may even refuse to eat or drink, or she will wait until the coast is clear to quickly get up, take care of her business, and return to her eggs.
Broodiness is a common occurrence and is not a major cause for concern.
How to check my chicken for issues?
Diagnosing your chicken’s ailment is your first step to finding a solution or at least a way to stabilize them until a veterinarian can arrive.
It is essential to determine if your chicken is experiencing a common ailment such as a nutrients deficiency or a molt.
Suppose you determine your chicken has a severe illness or injury, such as a parasite infestation, a disease, or a serious infection. In that case, the chart below provides the steps to check your chicken for a more thorough diagnosis.
|Check your chicken’s comb||Chicken combs should remain bright red and smooth, indicating a healthy chicken.If you notice it becoming dry, scaley, or changing colors, this is a sign your chicken may be ill.||Dehydration causes lethargy and lack of energy in chickens. You can identify dehydration if a chicken’s comb is flopping over instead of standing up.Pale comb can also be a sign of an egg-bound chicken.|
|Check their vent||Egg-bound chickens will become lethargic, with their tail pointed to the ground, and may appear to be straining.||You can also identify if there are any parasites or discharge by checking a chicken’s vent.There are also several chicken diseases that cause lethargy and can be identified by discharge from the vent.|
|Check their breathing||If a chicken is gurgling or struggling to breathe, this may be a sign they have food impacted in their crop. You may notice your chicken is refusing to move around, eat, or drink.||You can also check a chicken for gapeworm. Gapeworm can cause a chicken to lay around. It can also cause breathing problems, discharge from the eyes and nose, and respiratory problems.|
|Check their crop pouch (throat)||Sour crop and impacted crop can cause a chicken to become unresponsive. By checking their crop pouch, you can determine whether they have undigested food lodged in their throat.||Sour crop causes bacteria to grow in your chicken’s throat. This can result in your chicken becoming extremely ill, laying around, and refusing to eat or drink.|
|Check their chicken droppings.||If you notice your chicken becoming uncharacteristically lazy or unresponsive to food, water, treats, or other chickens, you will also want to check their droppings||Mucus or blood in chicken droppings is a sign your chicken is ill.Worms or parasite infestations can also often be identified by checking your chickens droppings.|
|Check their feathers||Loss of feathers could mean molting, which occurs twice a year. It is normal for chickens to lay around more than normal during molt||Bald patches, combined with laying down for lengthy periods at a time, could also mean your chickens lack essential nutrients, or they could be infested with parasites.|
|Check their feet||Look for any cuts or infections on your chickens’ feet. They rely on their feet to accomplish basic daily activities, such as foraging, dust bathing, eating, and drinking.||Untreated wounds can lead to bumble-foot: A severe infection that causes a chicken’s foot to swell with infection inhibiting them from being able to walk.|
Treat your chicken and encourage it to move
Once you have determined the cause, treated your chicken for their ailment, or given them proper time to rest, you can start encouraging them to begin acting normal again.
If an injury or illness has occurred:
Clean and bandage the injury, depending on the severity. If they are suffering from a significant injury, seek assistance from a veterinarian in case antibiotics or further treatment is required.
While your chicken is recovering, keep them hydrated with electrolyte water, which will help them with regular movements. Proper diet and food will also help give them the energy to move around more.
Once they are about ready to be reintroduced to the flock, you may try giving your chicken their favorite treat to help with motivation.
Snacks, such as mealworms, and toys, such as chicken swings, roosts, and shiny toys are great motivators to help keep your chickens actively engaged and clucking around.
Changing your chicken’s diet may be just what they needed to get that boost of energy you wished to see in your flock.
Ensure all their nutritional needs are met if you want your chickens to remain active, healthy layers.
Allowing your lazy or newly recovered chicken to roam free is a fantastic way to encourage them to become more curious and forage more if you have a safe area to free-range in.
What to do if my chicken still is not moving or improving?
After doing everything you know how to do, you may realize that your chicken is seriously ill or injured. The next steps are listed below:
Notify a veterinarian
Before administering any drugs for an illness, seek a professional’s advice. In case of an injury, do your best to stop any active bleeding and see a veterinarian immediately.
If they are not receiving proper nutrition or vitamins from their diet, the veterinarian can help get them back on track and suggest a better diet plan for the rest of your flock.
Quarantine and treat as needed
If you determine that your chicken is ill, it is best to quarantine it until it has fully recovered and is ready to return to the flock.
Temperature regulation is vital to your chicken’s recovery. Provide your chicken with its own fresh food and water bowl, as well as a warm, quiet place to rest.
Depending on the ailment, the veterinarian may prescribe medication. You can also add electrolytes to your chicken’s water to help with hydration.
In the article above, you read about why your chicken is laying around all the time, how to diagnose, how to treat, and what to do in the instance your chicken is not getting better.
The best advice I can give to avoid any unneeded stress on your chickens is to maintain a clean habitat and a healthy, balanced diet.
Ensure your flock is up to date on vaccines to help prevent any unwanted viral infections. If you are unsure, reach out to your local veterinarian.