Keeping backyard chickens is on the rise again due to the chickens providing an excellent source of cheap, free range, organic eggs while also being excellent at pest control for your vegetable patch too.
Although chickens are usually easy to care for, there are some problems that stand out and are not obvious.
We have seen a number of people asking about why their chicken is walking with its tail down and waddling like a penguin recently so we have decided to publish this article.
Our hope is that we will l be able to help as many of our readers as possible understand the cause of the behavior in their chickens as well as how to treat it.
Unfortunately though, as with most things, it’s not that simple as there are actually three different causes of a chicken walking with its tail down while waddling like a penguin.
There is also peritonitis that is inflammation of the peritoneum often causes due to a bacterial infection that can sometimes cause this type of walking in chickens too but it is rare.
Due to peritonitis being a rare cause of this strange walking in chickens, we won’t be covering it in any more detail in this article.
Why Is My Chicken Waddling Like A Penguin?
The three most common reasons that a chicken will waddle like a penguin with its tail down are due to the chicken being eggbound, the chicken being an internal layer or the chicken being injured.
Many people think that an eggbound chicken and an internal laying chicken are the same thing and although the symptoms are similar the cause is actually different.
Being eggbound and an internal layer is a potentially fatal problem so it may require the assistance of a veterinarian to save the chicken.
You can book a video call with a vet to have them assess your chicken if you like but many people who keep backyard chickens may choose to humanely end the chicken’s life and just eat the chicken as the vet’s prices to fix the issues can be high in some areas.
There are a range of injuries that can cause your chicken to walk with its tail down and waddle around like a penguin with some being serious while others can often heal on their own.
Without seeing photographs of the injury, it can be difficult to confirm exactly whats going on though.
Dealing With An Eggbound Chicken!
An eggbound chicken is a chicken that has a problem passing an egg. The chicken will often walk with its tail down and waddle like a penguin as it is in pain. If you have an eggbound chicken, you will need to take it to a veterinarian as it is a potentially life-threatening condition.
The condition is due to the chicken struggling to pass the egg and lay it naturally. Unfortunately, the rest of the chicken’s body is not aware of this blockage and she will keep producing eggs and trying to lay them even though the new eggs can’t get by the stuck egg.
As you can probably guess, being eggbound puts a chicken under considerable stress and if left untreated, it will eventually die.
If you think your chicken is eggbound, the best thing to do is take her to see a vet as they will be able to give her something to help relieve the pain and may also be able to help her pass the egg too.
Dealing With An Internal Laying Chicken!
An internal laying chicken is a chicken that has problems correctly forming her eggs inside of her prior to laying them. This is usually due to the yolk of the egg not being taken by the oviduct as normal and ending up in the abdomen of the chicken.
This causes a number of problems with the chicken with the consistency of her eggs usually changing and being brittle. She will walk around with her tail down and waddle like a penguin and will usually be in obvious pain.
Many people misidentify this problem as being egg bound but the two are different conditions. Unfortunately, an internal laying chicken can rarely be saved even if you do see the assistance of a vet, especially if the condition has been left to develop.
If you do have a bond with your chicken then the contraceptive injection can stop her producing new eggs. This can help to relieve some of the pain that she is in as she won’t be constantly trying to lay eggs.
This can extend her lifespan but other issues usually follow with chickens that are internal layers that will end her life prematurely anyway.
If your chicken is an internal layer, the best thing to do is probably put her down and eat her as she will eventually die from the condition and it isn’t something that can be cured.
Dealing With An Injured Chicken!
There are a number of injuries that can cause a chicken to walk with its tail down and waddle like a penguin. These injuries can be serious or not so serious and without seeing the injury, it is difficult to say how bad it actually is.
Some common injuries that can cause these symptoms are:
- Soft tissue damage.
These injuries can be caused by a number of things such as falling out of a nest box, being stepped on by another chicken or even just tripping over something. If the injury is serious, you may need to take your chicken to see a veterinarian but if it is a minor injury, it will usually heal on its own given some time.
You can help to speed up the healing process by giving your chicken some supplements such as vitamins and minerals which can be found in most chicken feeds. You should also make sure that she is getting plenty of rest and isn’t being bullied by the other chickens.
If the injury is more serious, you may need to give your chicken some pain relief and help her to rest. She may need to be separated from the other chickens so that she can heal in peace.
Once your chicken has recovered from her injury, she should be back to normal and won’t be walking with her tail down or waddling like a penguin anymore.
The Possibility Of Infection
There is a very small chance that your chicken may be walking with her tail down due to being in pain from an internal infection.
This infection may be viral, bacterial or parasitic and it is often difficult to check exactly what’s wrong and although it is very rare that this is why your chicken is walking like this, this particular cause is usually very easy to treat.e
The best way to find out if your chicken has an infection is by taking her temperature. A chicken’s normal body temperature should be around 106 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees Celsius).
If your chicken’s temperature is higher than this, she may have an infection and you should take her to see a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Viral infections can’t be treated with medication but they will often heal on their own in time. Bacterial and parasitic infections in chickens can be treated with medication which can be prescribed by a veterinarian.
Depending on your area, it may be illegal for the vet to give a chicken antibiotics so this rules out treating a bacterial infection.
If your chicken does have an infection, she will usually start to feel better within a few days of starting treatment and will be back to normal in no time. Keep an eye out for signs of infection such as:
- Discharge from the eyes or nose.
- Decreased appetite.
These are just a few of the signs that your chicken may have an infection. If you do notice these symptoms in your other chickens then there is a chance that they may also be infected and you should take them to see a veterinarian as well.
A chicken walking with its tail down is not necessarily a cause for alarm but it can be a sign of something serious as we covered in the earlier sections of the article.
That brings our article going over why your chicken is walking with its tail down to an end. Unfortunately, the odds of survival are definitely stacked against your chicken if this is the case. However, with the right care and attention, your chicken stands a chance at making a full recovery if the issue is due to being injured or having an infection but these are rarer than being egg bound or an internal layer.