Each week I field numerous private queries about ill hens. It’s nigh on impossible to come to a conclusive diagnosis in person, let alone via back and forth emails, but it’s always helpful because using clues from comb color to behavior I can help decide on a course of action. Sometimes it becomes a question of whether the animal is suffering. Chickens don’t express pain the way that we do. A listless hen that doesn’t eat can starve to death before you realize that she is that far gone. Deciding when to euthanize is very difficult.
A useful diagnostic tool is the simple scale. A hen that doesn’t eat will quickly lose weight. Conversely, a hen that has fatty liver disease, tumors, or internal laying, will collect weighty masses in her abdomen. Over the course of a couple of days, if there is a weight change, it will give you insight into what is going on inside of your chicken.
Or, you might just want to weigh your rooster for the bragging rights!