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23 August 2011

Giving Pills to Chickens

From time to time, chickens can and do get ill, just as humans do. This can range from something as simple as eating something that disagrees with her, right up to life threatening illnesses such as cancer or a form of paralysis called Marek's disease.

Sometimes it is easy to diagnose the problem, and other times, it is really just guesswork and or acting on a hunch.

I have been watching Rosie (pictured) my little ISA Brown for about a week now, not entirely happy with her state of health, but unable to decide if she had anything really ailing her or not.

She's been just... different. Not her usual self. She's lost a little weight, has had some diarrheoa, and keeps shaking her head, all of which can be signs of a respiratory illness in chickens, and yet, otherwise she's been well. No sneezing, no sniffles, no wheezing, no signs of lice or intestinal worms. I'd been treating her symptoms by feeding her a little extra protein, and just making sure there was plenty of fresh, clean water available, and monitoring her condition for any deterioration.

Today, deciding it won't kill her, even if it doesn't cure her, I decided to give her a dose of tissue salts combination 12. This is a homeopathic remedy which I take when I feel the onset of a cold and find that it helps to fight off the virus/infection before it takes hold, so I figured it might be worth a try for Rosie. It is a general tonic which is useful in the treatment of overall fatigue and exhaustion.

Given the tiny trace amount of active ingredients in these pills, I decided to dose her with a whole pill and see how she goes.

I was a bit nervous going up to the pen to get her, having never done this before. I caught her and took her into the coop, away from the others and got her settled on my lap. I then calmly got hold of her head and opened her beak, to which she objected a little bit, but not strenuously. I looked down her throat and then tossed in the pill and closed her beak again. I felt her swallow as soon as her beak was closed. She sat on my lap and turned her head to look me right in the eye as much as to say "Hey, if you wanted to give me a treat, you could just give it to me." :lol:

She sat and cuddled a little while and I gently scratched her belly under the feathers which always makes her close her eyes and drift off for a short nap. After a while she lightly hopped down from my lap and went off to eat some greens, neither of us the worse for wear.

The other hens crowded around her, asking "What did you get? Is there any for us?" Rosie seemed a little bit smug about getting something that the others hadn't been given. (Typical chook politics!)

I got several 'no fair!' glares from the other hens as I left the coop. hehehe

Wow! I wish it was that simple to worm my cat!!


  1. Lovely post. I had to dose my old fave chook on meds twice a day down the beak and then nose and eyedrops too! She forgave me though. Then got eaten by a fox months later :( I really miss her.
    My young chooks are so thin. Maybe that's just how they are but after my heavy plump old girls they feel light and dcrawny to me! Any tips?
    Looking for 2 more hens. Do yours ruin your garden if you let them out? I'm thinking of getting bigger chooks!

  2. Hi Mrs Bok,

    I haven't had young chickens like yours yet, but I do remember when my dad used to raise his own chickens from hatching, right through, that the youngsters always seemed really skinny and scrawny compared to the adult chooks. Dad never seemed to worry too much about it. He made sure they had the correct type of food, and plenty of water and left them to it as long as they looked well otherwise.

    I've been following your posts on the BYP forum (I am Magz) and I think that you're doing the right things for your little girls. I do understand how worrying it can be when there is something not quite right, but you can't put your finger on what it is. It would be especially so after the catastrophic loss you've suffered.

    Also, getting an older, gentle hen might help your little ones as they would have a 'mentor' then, to help them learn about the world.

    Best of luck!

  3. Oh also, in answer to your question about the garden, I don't have much of a garden at all, here. I live on a 1 acre block and have a small vesge patch. I keep the chooks off that, but they have the run of the rest of the back yard. They dig holes behind the chook shed, but that's out of sight, and they love to scratch and play under our big mango trees, and no one else goes there, so for us, it's not really an issue.

  4. Hullo! Thank you :) An older chook might be good! Good idea hey! Felt sooooooo silly posting about teaching them how to eat...but they really weren't eating anything!! Really glad they are eating now. My last flock were so easy to care for and ate everything. These babies are so fussy!

  5. I don't think it was silly to post about the chickens being skinny and not eating. It would be very worrying to not know why they wouldn't eat. Glad you've found something that they seem to like now!