Lethargic Chicken With Closed Eyes – Why?

Most chickens stay healthy and live a long life without any diseases if you perform good husbandry.

A healthy chicken will be roaming around, searching everywhere for food.

Besides, a healthy chicken will have bright clear eyes, properly groomed feathers, and bright red combs.

Lethargic Chicken

Hence, if your chicken is lethargic with closed eyes, this means that it has a problem.

Apart from being lethargic, sick chickens can also settle flat on the floor and stay away from other birds.

There are several things that you can point out if your chicken is feeling such symptoms.

These are as follows:


The main disease that can weaken your chicken is anemia.

Anemia is not only fatal to chickens but as well as very painful.

This disease is common in young chicks that are between 12 and 28 days old.

Besides, this disease is contagious as its spreads both horizontally and vertically.

Apart from your chicken being lethargic with closed eyes, you may also notice pale birds, weight depression, and poor growth in your chicken.

You can find out if your chicken has anemia by running white tissue below its perch and around the edges of its nest.

If you come across any red smears, then you should see the vet right away.

Anemia can also make your chicken chook with cloudy eyes and miss food while trying to eat.

What To Do

If you discover that your chicken has anemia, you should conduct a diagnosis.

Besides, you should also maintain excellent hygiene and management and control of other ailments.

To prevent this disease from affecting your chicken, you should vaccinate your chicken since there is no specific treatment for chicken anemia virus infection.  

Antibiotics can be used to treat secondary bacterial infections.

Marek’s Disease

If your chicken is feeling lethargic with closed eyes, it may be suffering from Marek’s disease.

This is a common disease in chickens. Marek’s disease is a herpes virus infection of chickens that causes a tumor to develop in one or more areas.

Note that there are different variants of Marek’s disease.

The first Marek’s disease strain affects the chicken’s central nervous system, leading to paralysis in places like the legs and wings.

Furthermore, this strain makes the chicken’s comb collapse.

The second Marek’s disease strain causes tumors in key organs of the body, such as the lungs, heart, and muscles.

Besides, tumors may also develop in the follicles of the feathers.

Last but not least, the last Marek’s disease strain can cause blindness in their eyes.

Other signs of this strain include turning your chicken’s eyes grey or making their pupils have an irregular shape.

Note that chickens that have Marek’s disease are also vulnerable to other sicknesses.

This is because Marek’s disease damages a chicken’s immune system.

As a result, chickens are more in danger of contracting infections, diarrhea, and other issues.

So, if your chicken is lethargic with closed eyes, you should consider testing this disease.

Note that chickens suffering from Marek’s disease can still eat even if they are not strong enough.

Also, tumors caused by Marek’s disease can lead to blindness and lameness.

What To Do

If your chicken is having Marek’s symptoms, get in touch with your vet right away.

He/she will diagnose the bird and let you know if it has this contagious disease.

Unluckily, there’s no cure for Marek’s disease.

That’s why it’s crucial to isolate the infected chicken so that it does not pass on the disease to healthy chickens.

Respiratory Infection

If your chicken is not only feeling lethargic with closed eyes but also coughs and sneezes, this is a sign of respiratory infection. And in case of a severe respiratory infection, the chicken may have trouble breathing. Other symptoms include ruffled feathers, head shaking, or discharge around the nostrils and eyes.

Some of the leading causes of respiratory infections include infectious bronchitis, mycoplasma, dust, and grape worm.

Note that most respiratory diseases are highly contagious, meaning that they may spread to the flock if the infected chicken is not isolated.

What To Do

If only one chicken has a respiratory infection, you should separate it from the flock.

Next, you should keep it warm and give it electrolytes or vitamin supplements.

Besides, you should also check out other chickens with similar signs and separate them.

Treating a chicken with respiratory illness can be very challenging.

That’s why you need to get advice from experts to help you easily determine what causes the condition, your chickens are suffering from. 

The best thing to do is to visit a chicken veterinarian and carry out laboratory tests.

Never use antibiotics to treat respiratory illness as they do not cure it.

Antibiotics only decrease symptoms but do not cure respiratory infections.

Stress level management mong infected flocks are essential also when controlling the disease, and this aids in faster recovery. 

Extreme Temperatures

Another reason why you’re chicken may be lethargic with closed eyes is because of extreme temperatures.

As a result, cooling or warming them will help them be back to normal.

Like other poultry, chickens are constant-temperature animals.

Their body temperature is usually between 40 degrees C and 44 degrees C.

However, they need an appropriate temperature of 13 degrees to 25 degrees C.

What To Do

Therefore, if the temperature is high or low, this will affect the well-being of your chicken.

Make sure to cool or warm them to prevent them from being inactive.

If the climate is hot, give the chicken some shade where they can relax.

Additionally, you should provide them with cold freshwater.

Besides, you should keep the coop clean.


Like any other poultry, chickens also fall sick and require treatment.

If your chicken is weak and inactive with closed eyes, this is a sign that it’s suffering from some kind of disease.

Some of the diseases that your chicken may be suffering from include anemia, Marek’s disease, or respiratory infection.

Apart from diseases, extreme temperatures like extreme hotness or cold can also make your chicken become lethargic.

In such a case, you should ensure to cool or warm the chicken.

But if one of the above diseases is ailing your chicken, you should treat it as soon as possible to avoid spreading it to the flock.