ASK the Editor: “Sleepy Hen”


I have a RIR that is 18 weeks old. We have 5 total hens. We got our first eggs last week. Not sure if she is laying yet. She stands by herself and then sits down and appeared to go to sleep. Her poop was white creamy color with clear mucous. Your help would be greatly appreciated.

I’m so sorry about your hen’s troubles. She does sound like she needs some help to get through whatever might be bothering her. My first thought was that she has parasites — intestinal worms — probably round worms. It might sound like an odd diagnosis, but your Rhode Island Red seems like she is behaving exactly like my hen did when she was battling an overload of worms. My 4 year old Ameraucana Hen acted extremely lethargic and was so “sleepy” she couldn’t keep her eyes open. Even when we tried to feed her, she would act interested in what we were offering then promptly fall beak-first into the food and simply sit there without eating anything — as if it was too much effort to even consume the food. Turns out she had an overload of parasites (despite our best preventative practices) even though most of her symptoms didn’t match the book. But like I often say: “chickens don’t read the manual!”

I would de-worm your hen right away using the conventional chemical stuff. If she’s that bad off, then waiting for the more natural herbal solutions might take a little too long. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge “anti-chemical” person but sometimes we do what needs to be done to save our animals. You need to have a long term routine / regimen of natural herbal stuff for it to be best effective. See if you can find Wazine at your local feed shop and follow the directions on the bottle (including the discarding of eggs for the recommended time). I would supplement with natural solutions as well. Give her plenty of probiotics and put apple cider vinegar in her water (1 part ACV to 3 parts water). In addition, she needs to rebuild her strength. If you don’t have “Nutri-Drench” (the best stuff on the planet for sick poultry) then see if you can entice your hen to eat with some earthworms, a hardboiled egg, or some grated cheddar cheese.

My second thought of what might be wrong with your chicken is that she might be “Egg Bound.” This might be more likely since she could be laying her first egg and having difficulty with it. I truly hope she isn’t as this is much harder and scarier to deal with. There are a few definite signs of an egg-bound hen: she may be panting, have her feathers fluffed up, look exhausted and may sit with her wings drooping and tail bobbing. Her abdomen may look distended or be dragging on the ground. She may also strain from time to time. For an egg-bound hen, the best resource I have found is this website:

Although these are my initial thoughts, it doesn’t mean that my diagnoses are correct. Without physical examination, it’s almost impossible to tell what is wrong with your hen. I can only offer my thoughts and feelings on the matter and hope they are of some use to you. Please feel free to comment and let us know how things are progressing with your hen.


Previous articleChicken Love
Our staff is on hand to answer your questions regarding all animals. To ask a question, visit the easy to use submission form. This knowledge comes from many years of experience. If this post helped you or you derived some benefit from this site's information, please consider donating a little something to show your gratitude and support this freely given information. Thank you so very much!


  1. It has been extremely hot this week but she appears like she is doing alittle better. She still will not peck at the grass that i try to feed her but she is not sitting around all day either. I will try the ACV tomorrow and see how that does since it does not look like she is getting worse. Do you think that i have time to try the natural method instead of the chemicals? When should i see a difference in her after trying the ACV?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here