Long story short, we inherited a bunch of laying hens. They were in varying degrees of health - we’ve lost a couple but they were older and no longer laying. We lost one younger one to what I have to assume was a cardiac event.
They were laying well in the summer and fall. There’s been a drop this winter which I expect to a certain degree but in the past month or so we’re getting may 2-3 eggs a week (from a dozen hens, only one of which is old and no longer lays but is super sweet and friendly so we keep her around).
We’ve had issues with the black Australorps - the newest additions to the group - losing feathers, lots of bald spots, really raw and red bottoms and breasts, just looking awful. They came from a farm up the road that has a large egg operation so I figured they were just getting beat up in the large flock/didn’t have particularly clean living conditions, but the feather loss and raw spots has just gotten worse or remained the same. They look underweight to me - they are small birds but when I’ve picked them up to examine them they feel pretty slight.
Within the last two weeks, we had one Rhode Island Red that was isolating and looking depressed. I didn’t find evidence of coccidiosis in the manure (no bloody diarrhea, haven’t formally tested) but started treating the whole flock for it anyway. I was getting medicated water into her 3x a day with a syringe to make sure she got it because I wasn’t convinced she was eating or drinking much. It’s been about ten days, she’s no longer isolating and I’ve witnessed her eating and drinking on her own but she still seems a bit depressed. No one else in the flock is showing any similar signs, but none of them are really laying.
I’m a bit baffled by how fragile chickens are health-wise! So far we’ve stripped the coop, scrubbed the nesting boxes, feed pans and water containers and put in fresh bedding. Everyone is still getting treated for coccidiosis. The whole flock is seeming a little quiet - roosting a lot during the day, very few eggs, etc. It’s still quite cold here and I wonder if they’re all just tired of the below-average temps. The Australorps with the bald spots are isolated in the quarantine stall until I can figure out what to do with them.
I’m finding a LOT of mixed messages about deworming chickens on the internet (everything from “you never have to deworm chickens!” to “you can deworm but only with this product and you have to chuck the eggs forever”, but that was going to be my first go-to. I’ve inspected the whole flock including the Australorps, no one has any mites or lice that I can see. There poo all looks pretty normal although I’ve witnessed two instances of green, watery “diarrhea”. They are otherwise eating, drinking and very active but not laying.
We’ve also had issues with someone - not sure which one - laying eggs with either no shells or crappy shells this summer. They all have free access to oyster shell, so Ca shouldn’t be an issue but it appears it still it. Diet is free access cracked corn and a 15% protein layer crumble. In the summer they have a large run to forage in, in the winter I usually dump a bucket of 2nd cut hay chaff in there for them to scrounge around in every couple days or so.
Basically lots of weird health issues that I can’t pinpoint exactly what’s going on. Chicken peeps, what do I do?