The Spa Treatment for Sick Hens

It’s just about impossible to accurately diagnose why a hen is sick. Many ailments present the same symptoms. The hen stands hunched and wings down.

When she does walk, she looks more like a penguin than a chicken. She’s off her feed. Her eyes are half-shut. She might have stopped laying, or looks strained when trying to lay. She might have diarrhea, or produce no manure at all.

Her comb might be pale, or dark, or shriveled.

Sadly, all too often, these are signs of terminal illnesses. Cancer. Peritonitis. Organ failure. But, sometimes there IS a cure, and it’s simple. I call it The Spa Treatment, and it’s a combination of an epsom salt soak, a dose of olive oil and TLC.

These hens have all been on the brink of death. They’ve shown a myriad of symptoms, and The Spa Treatment has cured them, or at least provided some relief. The hens are old and they’re crotchety, but they’re still here.

I’ve written a FAQ detailing how to give the Spa Treatment. Let me know if it helps your hens.


  1. I have a difficult question, how or when do you know this is only working for the short term. I would hate to really be prolonging something that is painful.

    • Good question, Robert. It’s very hard to tell if a hen is in pain, as they don’t like to show weakness. I’ve even had a hen fake eating with the group just to still fit in. If you’ve been following Agnes’ case, then you’ve seen her improve and then slide back to looking uncomfortable. I think that the treatment gave her true relief. However, I won’t keep repeating it with her as I do think it will prolong her terminal illness. In Buffy’s case (eating toxic greens) I saw a continual, gradual improvement with no backsliding, so I knew to keep treating. When a hen no longer roosts, even if she is eating and drinking, I know that she’s done. That’s my cut-off and when I’ll euthanize the hen.

  2. I recently lost one of my Barred Rocks. I knew she wasn’t going to have a long life because she’d had respiratory trouble off and on. I tried the spa treatment with her but knew she wasn’t going to survive when I put them to bed one night. The next morning, I picked her up with a towel around her and she died in my arms. It felt so right to be holding her like that. She was a good hen and I really enjoyed having her in my flock. I’ve had two others in separate quarters this past month, one healing from a donkey stepping on her and another suffering from extreme feather loss. Both have rallied and are back out with the flock. Having a second small coop and even large dog crates to keep chickens separate and quiet can make a HUGE difference in getting them back to full health. Thanks for the reminder about the spa treatment.

  3. Thank you for this. After reading about Agnes, I started giving my ailing, aged mini-dachshund Epsom salt baths and she actually improved a little. I’ll keep it in mind for when I have geriatric hens, too.