Hen Healthcare

Crop problems: crop stasis and sour or impacted crops:

Impacted crop

Symptoms: Hard immovable lump of compacted food.

Treatment: Administer 2ml of olive oil into the mouth and massage the crop for about 15-20 minutes. Repeat as necessary.  You can give un-dyed Maggots, they will help to eat through the contents of the crop. It is worth withdrawing water for 12 hours and food for 24 hours.  After 24 hours re-introduce easily digestible food such as egg yolk, wet mash. Add probiotics to the feed or water. Do this for a few days, monitoring the crop carefully.

Sour crop

Symptoms: Strong smell from the mouth.

Treatment: As with impacted crop. If the fluid does not move then the chicken may need tipping upside down to empty the fluid. This should only be done in extreme cases as choking can occur. Abstain from giving food or water for an hour, give Critical Care Formula and treat with Nystatin – Please only use if from a vet and on vets advice – for 7 days.

Crop stasis

Symptoms: As with sour crop, only with increased body temperature.

Treatment: Do not empty the crop as antibiotics will be required to treat the infection present.

Respiratory illnesses:

There several respiratory ailments Aspergillosis, Coryza, Gapeworm, Infectious bronchitis, Mycoplasmosis, Newcastle Disease.

Symptoms: Similar for all of them. A combination of the following point to a respiratory illness that requires veterinary treatment. Eyes bubble with mucus, gasping or struggling to breathe, hunched up, lethargic and weak, discharge from the sinuses sometimes accompanied by swelling.

Treatment: In any case of respiratory illness, it is important to know if you are dealing with a viral, bacterial, fungal or parasitic disease. The treatment for one disease may be ineffective or even harmful for others.

Vent and laying issues:


Symptoms: Visiting the nest repeatedly but no egg laid, vent pulsing, hen lethargic and off food. You may be able to feel the egg, but handle her gently so not to break the egg

Treatment: Olive oil smeared around the vent, syringed orally, hot water bottle wrapped in a towel, warm bath, 2ml of liquid paraffin and 2ml of Zocal D in water

Soft Shell Eggs

Symptoms: Very lethargic/fluffed up, off food. Once egg passed, will perk up

Treatment: Smearing olive oil round the vent, Warm bath, 1ml of Zocal D added to water for 5 days, or Limestone Flour in the feed


Symptoms: Insides protruding out of vent

Treatment: Clean the prolapse and smear Manuka Honey applied to the prolapse, and gently push back in. Severe cases may require a stitch but the hen needs to stop laying. Superlorin implant can stop laying for up to three months

Moniliasis/Vent Gleet/Thrush:

Symptoms: diarrhoea, red, blood or discharge from vent, loss of vent or pasted feathers, white sores around vent and/or in the throat, soft and swollen abdomen, sour crop, weight loss/decreased appetite, lethargy, drop in egg production

Treatment: Bathe affected hen to clean the vent area.

Give a solution consisting of ½ cup molasses: gallon of water as the only fluid source for 4/6 hours then replace with plain water.

Add apple cider vinegar (with ‘mother) to drinking water and give 1 Tablespoon of plain natural yoghurt per day. Feed only pellet feed and continue this regime for a week even if the symptoms appear to have passed.

EGG Yolk Peritonitis:

Symptoms: Swollen, and excessively hot abdomen, tail down, may become slower, possibly not laying, advanced EYP appearance is the penguin stance with tail to the floor, hen upright and walking with a waddle

Treatment: This is not curable, but can be managed with antibiotics


Symptoms: Fluid filled abdomen, similar to a water filled balloon.

Treatment: This is not curable, but can be managed with Frusemide tablets on vets advice and prescription, and/or fluid drained off

Tumours usually vet diagnosis when investigating other abdominal problems

Neurological and nervous system disorders.

Wry neck/Stargazers:

Symptoms: neck bent or twisted, head twisted to such a degree that they are looking upwards, inability to remain standing. This could be a result of vitamin imbalance, genetic predisposition or injury.

Treatment: Vitamin B 12 and vitamin E supplements added to the diet to correct any nutritional deficiencies and help speed the recovery from injury. You may have to hand feed for a week or so to ensure enough is eaten.

Marek’s disease:

Symptoms: The neural type of Marek’s may present like the above, but accompanied by progressive paralysis of the wings, legs and neck. Loss of body weight, anaemia, laboured respiration and diarrhoea.

Treatment: Marek’s disease is caused by a virus belonging to the Herpes virus group. There is no known treatment for the disease but with care victims can survive but will remain carriers of the disease for life.

Accidents and Injuries:

Leg/wing trauma/breaks/sprains

Treatment: Seek a vet immediately.

Cuts and bruises

Treatment: For cuts, dab flour over the bleeding area to help stem the flow. Bruises, Arnica cream applied will help speed up the healing process

These ailments are a guide only and if you are ever unsure please seek veterinary advice.


You will need to worm your hens at least twice a year, and some people opt to have worm egg counts done. You may need a redmite product to clear up redmite in the warmer months, this parasite doesn’t live on your hens, but lives in the woodwork of the hen coop and climbs onto hens when they are roosting to feast on blood and then return to the woodwork where they live. Lice do live on your hens and need treating with Louse powder.

Hopefully none of this will have put you off keeping hens – the main purpose of this is just to ask yourself if you are cut out for keeping hens.

We are great believers in research, research, research. Go to the library, get some poultry keeping books and have a read of them. Join forums and Facebook groups too. The more research you do prior to getting your hens the better.


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