When hens stop eating it is not always easy to pin down an obvious cause without a fair amount of detective work. A head to toe examination will rule out problems and help you to decide if your hen is just having an off day or needs to go to see a vet.
It may seem obvious but the first thing to do is open your hen’s beak. If you are seeing raised yellow cheesy plaques on the roof of the mouth or at the corners of the beak then your hen has probably got oral canker. This is caused by a parasite called Trichomonas gallinae which is more often seen in pigeons but can affect any bird. The parasite caused lesions in the mouth pharynx oesophagus and even the digestive tract. The only treatment for Trichomonas is a drug called Metronidazole. This is only available by prescription from your vet – it is not licensed for use in hens, but can be prescribed off licence. You will need to discard eggs from hens with this condition.
Apple cider vinegar in drinking water can be helpful and has a proven effect on Trichomonas, but may be difficult to use if your hen is not eating and drinking.
If you would like to ask Gaynor a hen health question please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Hen Central on 01884 860084. To support our Advice Line we ask for a nominal donation to help fund this service, so that we can continue to help your hens.
An example of an Oral Canker.