It was a rainy, wet Thursday here in Georgetown, Texas. We’d just found our chicken, Goldie, laying outside on her side and not getting up to eat, drink, or do the usual: pecking at and chasing all the other chickens. My husband brought her inside and our little one cuddled her with a blanket while I frantically searched Google: my chicken is lethargic and not eating, my chicken is sick, my chicken is lethargic and sleepy.
I read forum thread after forum thread, article after article. She didn’t have egg binding, and she didn’t have bloody diarrhea. The response for how to heal a lethargic, sick chicken was similar across all sources: isolate her inside, feed her sugar water for energy, hope she gets better. But they all said afterwards, “my sick chicken died and yours likely will, too.” The next day, I even texted a local farmer, and heard the same thing.
Ugh! We’re clean eaters and believe in a holistic lifestyle. I refused to believe my chicken would just “die,” and I also refused to treat her with “sugar” water. As a clean eater, I know that sugar is one of the worst things you can ingest when fighting a disease. It literally feeds bacteria. So, here’s what I did to help my lethargic chicken get back to health and eat again. Three days later, Goldie was back to chasing all the other chickens and ruling the roost in true form to the awesome hen she is, her only side effect minimal diarrhea that passed in a few more days.
4 Steps to Get Your Lethargic Chicken to Be Completely Healthy Again
I wanted to write what I did in a blog and share it with you so you, too, can nurse your sick chickens back to health instead of just following bad advice and watching them die.
View this post on Instagram
This chicken scared us and almost died over the holiday weekend! ? Last Thursday after a series of suddenly cold & rainy days, we found Goldie sitting outside, laying over, not responding, not eating or making a sound. Barely able to keep her eyes open. ? Here’s what we did to nurse Goldie back to health. She’s back to 100% health after not moving, eating, drinking for three days! ??❤️ *Immediately isolated her inside under a heat lamp, which she crawled under and immediately fell asleep *Fed her organic coconut water every few hours with an eyedropper. *Additionally, fed her water mixed with apple cider vinegar, and another batch of water mixed work colloidal silver (a natural antiobiotic) multiple times a day *Fed her an eyedropper full of organic olive oil (this is a natural antiviral). I kept this up for the three days she was sick, and added high protein organic feed soaked in coconut oil and offered it to her a few times a day. She turned a corner on day three and ate a lot! We learned hydration is SUPER important in the first day when chickens are sick. Most farmer forums recommended sugar water but then admitted to the chicken dying the next day. I avoided that! As a clean eater, I know sugar feeds bacteria. I’m amazed and thankful that even through a local farmer told us expect her to die, we were able to nurse her back to health. ❤️ We love our chickens! Also— Jaina prayed over her. The power of prayer must not be discounted! Our Heavenly Father is listening ?? ❤️ #cleaneating #onlychickenlovers? #chickenkeeping #chickenofig #chickensofinstagram #raisingchickens #chickenkeeper #backyardchickens #chickens #fresheggs #chooks #hens #backyardpoultrymag #backyardpoultry #freerange #freerangechickens #urbanchickens #hen #poultry #petchickens #homestead #homesteading #eggstraordinary #weirdthingschickenpeopledo #chooksofinstagram #ilovemychickens #backyardflock #chickenmom #crazychickenlady #happychickens
I did not find any of this online. I used what I already knew about holistic, pure, raw food ingredients and applied it to the chicken to help heal her—and it worked!
1. Isolate the sick chicken inside in a cage or roomy, open-air box with a heat lamp.
This is step #1. Immediately get your lethargic chicken inside. We set up an old dog cage for our sick hen. You must get the sick chicken inside and away from all the other noisy hens and chickens. Put some soft blankets in the cage. Our little girl put a soft stuffed animal in the cage, which our hen loved. She went and laid down right next to it. I don’t recommend a perch, because our hen was so weak that when she perched, she kept falling off. Make sure they have flat, comfortable, clean surface to lay on. The heat lamp is also very important. Heat helps chickens grow, recuperate, and heal.
2. Feed your lethargic chicken with an eyedropper every few hours.
You’ll need to pick the chicken up in your arms, put the eyedropper by her beak, and literally let out liquid onto her beak, if she’s as weak as Goldie was. Once she senses and feels the liquid on her beak, she should start to drink. Feed your chicken these holistically healing ingredients. Introduce them carefully, and don’t overdose. The key is being constant with it. They only need a bit every few hours.
- Organic coconut water
- Organic chicken feed soaked in the same organic coconut water
- Water and apple cider vinegar
- Olive oil (only needed once a day)
This is what we fed our hen, and she revived in three days and was eating again by day three. Give the top two ingredients without moderation rules; the last two, carefully. Apple cider vinegar should be offered when they are really bad off. Taper off it when they feel better. Offer your chicken one eyedropper full of organic olive oil one time a day.
Go and prepare this right now for your sick hen: One small bowl of pure water mixed with apple cider vinegar (preferably, organic with the mother); one small bowl of organic coconut water, to replenish your chicken since they probably aren’t eating; and a small container of olive oil. Have on hand with an eyedropper by their indoor habitat and offer frequently, at least once every few hours. Lastly, a bowl of chicken feed, preferably organic and high in protein, soaked in coconut water.
3. Hydration is more important for a sick chicken than filling up with food.
Make your chicken drink, while making food optional. This is very important. The right hydration is far more important than forcing your chicken to eat. Offer her food, and eventually when she is feeling better she’ll start eating again. But you MUST offer your hen nourishment. When hens get like this, they will not eat by themselves. And not eating or drinking means they will die. Along with the apple cider vinegar mix (which will help to kill viruses and bugs they might be fighting).
Sick chickens won’t eat until they begin to feel better, and hydration is far more important, so that’s okay. But you want to offer it so when they’re feeling better, they can immediately start boosting energy levels again.
We found the coconut water restored Goldie back to health fairly quickly. I didn’t even try it till day 2, and immediately after we fed her several dropperfuls, she began to revive. We left a container of coconut water in her cage overnight, and in the morning found she’d drank all of it.
4. Keep offering your sick chicken hydration and nourishment, and be there for her.
This one’s simple. Don’t let your chicken rot in her cage or get forgotten about! As simple as it is, it’s easy to go about our lives and forget about our dear little animals. So, don’t. Nurture your chicken and repeat the three steps above, and there is no reason she should die on you. Chickens have a full life to live and many eggs to give, so take some time out of your busy life to love on her, nurture her, and help her heal.
Hope this helped! Follow us on Instagram @mccoyslittlefarm for more life and chicken stories.