A rocky start with Autumn

Autumn came to us on Thursday morning. I kept a close watch on her and started worrying that she wasn’t going to the food or water. I knew she wasn’t having any when I wasn’t watching her because there was no poop in her part of the run.

As the day went on I was most concerned about her not having any water. I had put in a water bottle as well as a dish of water and had scattered some pellets on the ground in case that was what she was used to.

I decided to give Autumn water to her beak from a syringe. I gave her to my husband to hold while I put drips of water in the side of her beak while letting her swallow in between. When I have done this before the girl has taken the water readily but she didn’t seem to want to take any and it was a slow process.

I put Autumn in the little coop at bedtime and hoped that in the morning she would go to the food and water. She didn’t. There was just one small bit of poop in her coop. I put lots of dishes all around her space so that she couldn’t miss them, some with pellets, some with mash and some with water.

I was certain that Autumn was pining as she was on her own. I put Sugar in with her to see if that would help. Sugar went straight to the water bottle as if she remembered it from the past. Sugar then started to chase Autumn so I took her out again.

Later I decided to try putting Mango in as she was also a newer girl. That didn’t work either. Mango had a few pecks of mash then started ruff raising at Autumn. She started to get a bit more agressive towards Autumn so I took her out too.

Later as Autumn was pacing the wire and looking like she wanted to get out, in desperation, I decided to let her out and see what happened. That was awful. All the girls attacked her and luckily she ran round to the hatch on her part of the run and I was able to let her back in.

During this time we had given Autumn water to her beak twice more and she seemed to be taking it better. She still hadn’t gone to food or water herself and there was still no poop.

I tried ringing the breeder for advice but it was on answer phone. I then sent her an e-mail explaining the problem. I got an automatic reply saying they were closed for a week and any problems should be taken to a local vet.

My husband suggested that we set Autumn up in the dog crate so that she was away from the distraction of the other girls. I put her in with a dish of mash, a dish of pellets and a dish of water plus some scattered pellets.

I then googled the problem. I found suggestions to feed by syringe egg yolk, runny honey and mash with plenty of water to make it liquid. I made up the mixture and because of the egg yolk decided to keep it in the fridge in between giving it to Autumn.

Twice we gave Autumn this mixture to her beak and she seemed to be taking it a bit better. I decided to leave her in the crate overnight and keep her there until she starts eating herself. It makes it much easier to pick her up and less stressful for her than chasing her round her part of the run.

At bedtime my husband suggested that I try her on the perch and to my surprise she seemed quite happy to perch.

Autumn in the crate
She is so beautiful

This is really stressful and I am afraid that if we can’t get her eating and drinking we will lose her. I am going to try putting mash in her beak next as well as giving her her mixture. It was another google suggestion.

I went out early this morning and was pleased to see that there was some poop under Autumn’s perch. I will keep up the regime of hand feeding her and if she doesn’t start eating by herself soon I will contact the vet.


We syringed the mixture to Autumn’s beak again this morning. A bit later my husband saw her drinking from the water dish so I decided to return her to the run. A little later I checked and she had found the water bottle. After that she was going to the water bottle all day. She was eating the pellets I had sprinkled around although not from the dish and she was pecking at the apple.

I was so happy that we had turned a corner. Autumn also looks much better in herself. She now looks happier and at home.

While researching what to do to help her it said that a sign of a hen being dehydrated, ironically, is refusal to drink water. I now think she probably got dehydrated on her journey to us and that was why she wouldn’t eat or drink. During delivery they have water melon to keep them hydrated but when I gave her melon she wouldn’t peck at it. Maybe being a bit younger she wasn’t having any melon.

Once we had got water and liquid into her it seemed to kick start her taking the water herself. I am just so happy that we have managed to turn this around.

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12 Responses to A rocky start with Autumn

  1. DAVID says:

    Nightmare! You’ve had such easy integrations in the past, even of a single bird, but she’s obviously of nervous disposition and still quite young. Murphy’s law that the breeder is closed – it’d be good to know what she was used to. Maybe try her with one of your usual treats? Leave a piece of melon in the crate with her? You’d easily spot if she had tried any. Another possible solution might be, when the breeder’s back, to buy another of her age and breed and see if that lifts her spirits. So sorry to hear about this, but crossing fingers that you’ll sort it.

    • Carol says:

      I have already tried a bit of melon and chopped tomato but no response. I also asked in my e-mail to the breeder if I could have another young bird to put with her but it’s tricky as they are away for a week. I think had the three girls come together as they should have done it would have been okay. I would never choose to have just one young one. I just have to hope that we can get her through this.

  2. marion.pharo says:

    Sorry to hear this awful problem, must be a real worry, Let me know how she is today.

  3. DAVID says:

    Great to hear.

  4. Sophie says:

    Just read this – so pleased she’s eating and drinking now xx

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