How to Heal a Sick Chicken?

While chickens are hardy and resilient, they usually contract many diseases. Some of these fatal diseases can kill your birds when you don’t expect them to die. The good news is that you can treat your sick chickens without calling an avian pet or purchasing costly medications.

For instance, giving your sick bird an Epsom salt bath can help it recover from even the most severe diseases.

Signs of a Sick Chicken

Chickens can be somewhat sneaky, so knowing when your birds need medical assistance can be tricky. Before considering how you can treat your sick chickens, it’s paramount to know whether the bird is ailing. That calls on you to comprehend the signs of a sick chicken. These are some of the symptoms of a sick chicken.

– Lethargy

Lethargy is the first sign of an ailing chicken. Lethargic chickens lack energy, and they sleep more than other healthy chickens. Sicknesses make chickens lethargic, and they may spend less time with the flock. Chickens can be listless, especially in cold months.

Nonetheless, you can tell when your chicken is lethargic because of illness. For instance, due to sickness, lethargic chickens rarely forage, unlike their healthy counterparts.

They also struggle walking and won’t strut or flap their wings. Sick chickens are pretty lethargic and have problems keeping balance. Most lethargic chickens, because of sickness, sleep when dropping their heads or tucking their heads under their wings. Lethargic chickens can’t lift their heads like healthy chickens.

Chickens always stick together in flocks. That way, they feel safer when they are together in large numbers. Nonetheless, due to sickness, lethargic chickens prefer to live in solitude. A lethargic chicken won’t join the other chickens at all. It may join its mates to eat, but it will remain solitary most of the time.

– Lack of Activity

Extremely sick chickens exhibit a lack of activity. Lack of activity is one sign to tell you a chicken is ill and needs medical intervention. Sick chickens limit their energy use, so such birds opt to be inactive. They will barely jump out of the coop in the morning, whereas the eager chickens are eager to go outdoors.

Neither will sick chickens be keen to forage. Sick chickens are inactive because they may feel pain or have no energy to move around. Ideally, your healthy chickens should be active all along, and any lack of activity can indicate that your chickens could be sick.

– Lack of Appetite

Chickens are voracious feeders. They spend more time eating than resting. Chickens will only stop to eat at night because they can’t see anything. A lack of appetite can indicate that your chickens could be unwell. Some illnesses like Salmonella will make your chickens lose their appetite.

If your chickens show no interest in food or water, they could be sick. Sick chickens also eat very little food. They won’t be excited to have food around. Instead, they will ignore the food and go back to rest while their healthy counterparts are busy eating the food.

– Sleepiness

Sleepiness is a sign of chronic illness in chickens. Chickens strictly sleep at night, and you will barely see healthy chickens sleeping during the day. If your chickens appear sleepy all the time, they could be having a health problem. For instance, sleepiness is a common sign of coccidiosis.

Unlike the healthy chickens that rest comfortably on perches, sick chickens rest as if huddling on the perches because they look sleepy throughout. Besides looking sleepy, sick chickens will rest away from the other chickens.

Instead, sick chickens will sleep in a corner away from the other chickens. Your chickens might be sick if they exhibit sleepiness accompanied by other signs, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, and lack of activity.

Treating a Weak and Sick Chicken

Although requesting a vet to come and check on your sick chickens is the ultimate way to help your sick chickens recover, you can treat your ailing birds without any intervention by a vet. Epsom salt offers an excellent natural method for treating sick chickens. Epsom salt is a naturally occurring salt mineral from sulfate and magnesium.

The compound has relaxing effects, so it can help sick chickens get back on their legs and heal some severe chicken diseases that are even challenging to treat using medications. Kindly follow these steps when treating your weak and sick chickens with Epsom salt.

– Prepare the Epsom Salt Bath

Giving your weak and sick chickens a warm Epsom salt bath can help them relax and recover from multiple health problems. An Epsom salt bath, for example, can help egg-bound hens recover because it helps their vent muscles relax and prompts the eggs to slide out easily without the birds going through pain.

An Epsom salt bath can also help your chickens combat skin problems because it will soften and soothe the skin beneath their feathers.

Preparing an Epsom salt bath for your weak and sick chickens is easy. First, fill your washtub with some warm water. The water shouldn’t be too cold, nor should it be too hot. Instead, it should be lukewarm or slightly warm. The water level should reach your chicken’s chest as it rests in the tub.

It shouldn’t go above the head because you might suffocate the sick and weak chicken you are trying to help recover. Dissolve at least a quarter-cup of pure Epsom salt in warm water. Stir the salt until it dissolves completely in the water.

– Bath the Chicken

Allow your sick and weak chicken to rest in the washtub with Epsom salt. Bath the bird gently for a couple of minutes. Wash the chicken thoroughly and ensure the water gets to all its body parts.

Your chicken will feel comfortable bathing because the water will be warm. Refrain from using other cleaning detergents while giving your chicken an Epsom water bath because other detergents can neutralize the relaxing elements in the warm Epsom salt water.

– Dry the Chicken

Get the chicken out of the washtub after giving it the Epsom salt water bath. Use a towel to dry the wet bird. Wipe the chicken thoroughly with a towel until the bird is completely dry.

The steaming, relaxing effects of the bath will help the chicken relax and feel comfortable. Let the chicken free after the Epsom salt water bath.

– Monitor Your Chicken

Monitor the chicken as it walks away after getting a bath. You will notice some positive changes in your bird. First, the bird will be energetic and will start walking right away. Second, the sick bird will regain its appetite and surprisingly join the other chickens at the feeding corner to eat.

Keep monitoring the chicken and give it another bath if the first one doesn’t work perfectly. Ideally, the weak and sick chicken should recover immediately after getting the first bath.

Benefits of Epsom Salt Bath for Chickens

The benefits of Epsom salt baths are well-documented for animals and humans. Your sick and weak chickens stand to gain from getting Epsom salt baths. These are among the benefits of Epsom salt baths for ill and weak chickens.

  • Helps relieve pain –Most chicken diseases can be painful, and your birds may not stand the pain. Giving your chickens a thorough Epsom salt bath can help ease pain and relieve inflammation. An Epsom salt bath relieves painful chicken conditions such as sore muscles, Salmonella, and coccidiosis.
  • Helps eliminate toxins from a chicken body-Epsom salt is high in natural sulfates, which can help flush out toxins from a chicken’s body. Although chickens have feathers, the skin under their feathers is highly porous. Submerging your chicken into Epsom salt water can help trigger a vital process known as reverse osmosis. This process will help pull out toxins from a chicken’s body. Such toxins are responsible for the myriads of chicken conditions.
  • Helps boost cardiovascular health– Chickens also suffer from cardiovascular problems, such as blood clots and the hardening of blood vessels. Most inactive chickens have cardiovascular problems because of poor blood flow, so they remain dormant. An Epsom salt bath can help improve your chicken’s cardiovascular health. It softens the blood vessels, ultimately enhancing blood circulation. An Epsom salt bath has potent soothing effects, which means giving your ailing chickens an Epsom water bath will help soothe their blood vessels, making them elastic and thus preventing blood clots.
  • Improves nerve and muscle function in chickens– Research shows that Epsom salt can regulate electrolytes in human and animal bodies, ensuring proper nerve and muscle function. Chickens suffering from inflammatory conditions will benefit from reduced pain and swelling after taking an Epsom salt water bath.


Seeing your chicken sick and at risk of dying can be pretty frustrating, especially when you don’t know how to help your bird recover. As fatal as some chicken diseases can be, you can treat them at home without taking the ailing bird to a vet.

Epsom salt, for instance, works as a panacea for many chicken ailments. Giving your sick chickens a relaxing Epsom salt bath will help them recover fast, especially if the birds suffer from painful conditions.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *