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Poultry and Livestock: Sick (Weak) Chicken

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porkpal
Richmond, TX

April 6, 2009
9:00 PM

Post #6373726



I'm new here and I have a young Jersey Giant hen that is ill. She is not paralyzed but is weaker on her right side. She walks with a limp on the right and holds her right eye closed. Most of the time she just sits on her chest and sort of whines. No coughing or sneezing or wheezing.


She is still eating but not a lot, crop never full. She has been about the same for three days. What could it be and what can I do to help her?

Any help would be appreciated.
grownut
Clarkson, KY

April 6, 2009
9:04 PM

Post #6373737

I'm not very good at diagnosis, but there is a reference link thread at the top of the forum. The first post, I believe, has a link for diagnosis by symptom. If you can find no sore spots, hot spots, or pock or black marks inside or out, I might guess Marek's. Check that link first though...it was very good for telling you what to look for.

And please check back in and tell us how it's going...G'luck!!
porkpal
Richmond, TX

April 6, 2009
9:26 PM

Post #6373836

Thanks grownut, I had looked at those links, and my hen doesn't seem to quite match the symptoms for Marek's. She was also supposed to have been vaccinated...? Hope that's not it.
grownut
Clarkson, KY

April 6, 2009
11:14 PM

Post #6374350

I'm glad of that. Hopefully a few of those with more experience will be on later. Have you handled her enough to know whether she has any sore spots? I have seen that sort of onesided-ness in birds when they have puncture wounds, once with a rooster who got metal in his foot and a hen who damaged the inside of her mouth somehow. There was some sort of asymptomatic respiratory thing, but I cannot recall the thread...

Meanwhile at least bumping this up!!
Catscan
Lodi
United States

April 7, 2009
12:15 AM

Post #6374691

Marek's came to mind with me too...the symptoms can be variable depending on what organ system or nerves are involved. I'm not sure the vaccine is 100%--but if she was vaccinated that makes it less likely.

Is she losing weight rapidly?


DrDoolotz
Oxford, NS
(Zone 5b)

April 7, 2009
1:13 AM

Post #6375019

Is her poop normal? I'm having trouble on this one because I've gone through the Chicken Health Handbook by Damerow looking at the chart for diseases affecting movement and nothing really fits. Even Marek's doesn't quite seem to fit. Is she drinking? I would get her on an antibiotic personally. I am not big on antibiotic use, but when you can't find other symptoms, it could be an infection that could get worse and at least it would be preventive. I would get her away from your other birds and give a nice high protein treat like cottage cheese, mixed with minced garlic and some olive oil for energy.
porkpal
Richmond, TX

April 7, 2009
2:06 AM

Post #6375350

Thanks all, I have not checked her over thoroughly for sore spots, I'll do that tomorrow. She does not object to being handled. She has lost weight but not rapidly. I know she isn't eating as much as usual but I don't know how much she is drinking. How can you tell if a chicken is dehydrated? Her mouth is moist... Her poop also looks okay.
I have Tetracycline soluble powder, is that an appropriate antibiotic? Also is there any way to take a chicken's temperature and what is normal?
I guess that's enough questions for one post. Thanks again!
DrDoolotz
Oxford, NS
(Zone 5b)

April 7, 2009
2:10 AM

Post #6375375

Yes on the tetracycline, one teaspoon per gallon. Obviously you probably don't want to make a gallon, so reduce appropriately. If her poop looks OK she probably isn't dehydrated. That also says her digestive system is working well, which is positive.

I don't know how to take their temperature?! Anyone?
grownut
Clarkson, KY

April 7, 2009
2:38 AM

Post #6375558

I can only think of one orifice...

I would hold the chicken with it's feet on my palm. A healthy bird usually feels very hot to the touch -unless they've been standing in snow or something. Googled temps but the answers were wild -between 102 and 107 or 39 and 42
ZZsBabiez
Lodi, CA
(Zone 9b)

April 7, 2009
3:27 AM

Post #6375812

I'm curious about that closed eye. I am curious if it is the right color. Have you seen it when it was open? Did you notice if it was a different color than the other one? How old is she? Point of lay???
porkpal
Richmond, TX

April 7, 2009
4:01 AM

Post #6375939

She is about nine months old and has been laying for a couple of months. In fact she has layed an egg as recently as yesterday. Her eyes both look normal; she just holds the right shut most of the time. I asked about the temperature because I thought her feet felt quite hot, but that too is normal? She is alert and active with her neck (grooming herself) she just has trouble moving about - sort of staggers and catches her balance with a wing. And she "whines".
ZZsBabiez
Lodi, CA
(Zone 9b)

April 7, 2009
4:20 AM

Post #6375998

What about her comb? Does it look okay?

Haystack
Ferndale, WA

April 7, 2009
4:25 AM

Post #6376014

Hi Porkpal, I have two young pullets that have exactly the same symptoms. They are both eating and drinking, when not doing so they just stand in one spot, and wobble slightly. When they start to walk its as though one leg is injured or shorter than the other. I have them both on antibiotics. They have been like this for going on five days now. Neither appear to be getting better, but, neither appear to be getting worse. It's a waiting game! And yes mine were vaccinated for Merek's and coccidiosis. I removed them from all the rest and all others seem to be fine. They are two months old and have no spunk at all. Haystack
sewincircle
Elbridge, NY
(Zone 5a)

April 7, 2009
10:46 AM

Post #6376432

Oh you guys. I sure hope the best for your chickens. I also had a hen weak on one side. However, I found a wound behind her wing that may have been sending pain down her side and affecting her walking. She was limping and not walking much at all. Both eyes open though. So really it does not sound the same thing. Please keep us updated.
Jayryunen
Sapello, NM
(Zone 5b)

April 7, 2009
1:19 PM

Post #6376854

If I recall my vet tech training correctly, birds temps vary widely because they are essentially feathered reptiles and environmental temps have a greater effect on them than on mammals. Their homeostatic temp system is not as well developed as mammals. Temps are not routinely taken in vet practice because it is an unreliable indicator.

Usually the first order of business with a sick bird in a vet clinic is to provide warmth... a heat lamp in a corner that the bird can choose to sit under if it needs to warm up or avoid if it feels too warm.

Hope she gets better soon...
Jay
porkpal
Richmond, TX

April 7, 2009
2:23 PM

Post #6377109

Well, I looked her over pretty thoroughly this morning and I can find no injuries, but it would be easy to miss something as she is very heavily feathered. Her skin looks good, her comb is red, her eyes are clear (Just keeps one shut - can open it though). There is a little poop in her rear feathers - possibly from pooping sitting down, but she keeps the rest of her feathers groomed. She moves her neck and wings normally but the right leg is very weak. If I pull on the left she resists strongly, much less so with the right; and the toes knuckle under. I have not been able to tempt her to eat the cottage cheese treat; l'll try a few other hi pro goodies. I will need to move her to a bigger crate to offer her the choice of a heat lamp, it has been cold her recently. Thanks for all your advice.
ZZsBabiez
Lodi, CA
(Zone 9b)

April 7, 2009
3:05 PM

Post #6377323

I wish you luck with her. It is so hard to see our birds suffer, even slightly!

Sure seems she has Merek's symptoms, I hope not.

I read that the vaccine is only 90%
Not all birds that get it die from Merek's.
porkpal
Richmond, TX

April 7, 2009
11:34 PM

Post #6379566

Okay, I think that I have her problem narrowed down to some sort of injury to the leg. She is eating catfood (ycck!) and is on Tetracycline (just in case) and is now keeping her eye open more. Although she shows no sign of pain her leg must be sprained or dislocated or something. I can feel all the bones intact. I can't find any wounds. A month ago or more someone here described treating a chicken with a broken leg. Does anyone remember that topic?
beadmom
Bend, OR
(Zone 5a)

April 7, 2009
11:44 PM

Post #6379611

Dry cat food won't hurt her... ours lay better when we treat them to it sometimes...

Ginger
ZZsBabiez
Lodi, CA
(Zone 9b)

April 8, 2009
1:21 AM

Post #6379967

That broken leg chicken was probably me.. I dropped a bale of hay on one of my hens. She didn't limp, she was totally lame.. I taped it back together with Popsicle sticks..
sewincircle
Elbridge, NY
(Zone 5a)

April 8, 2009
1:25 AM

Post #6379986

Ouch! wow! You are like McGyver!
beadmom
Bend, OR
(Zone 5a)

April 8, 2009
3:46 AM

Post #6380685

Yep.. we use toilet paper rolls for chickens/ducks and PVC for goats...(who just love to fling themselves off of spools and break things)...like legs.

Ginger
ZZsBabiez
Lodi, CA
(Zone 9b)

April 8, 2009
2:07 PM

Post #6381756

How is that hen doing Porkpal? Hope she is on the mend.
porkpal
Richmond, TX

April 8, 2009
3:37 PM

Post #6382102

Well she is definitely holding her own. She is eating and drinking ok and in fact now seems almost normal except that the right leg is almost useless. I can't splint it as I don't know where the problem is. I don't see any wounds, the bones feel whole,and she can move it but very weakly. I'm keeping her separate from the rest, have antibiotics in her water and am offering her high protein treats - so far her favorite is cat food. I guess I need to just watch her and see what develops, unless anyone has any other ideas. Thanks for your concern.
sewincircle
Elbridge, NY
(Zone 5a)

April 8, 2009
4:10 PM

Post #6382229

Well, that is good news, I hope! Holding her own will do for now. I wish I could help more. Just know you and your hen are in my thoughts. ;)
DrDoolotz
Oxford, NS
(Zone 5b)

April 8, 2009
4:58 PM

Post #6382419

I wonder if it is actually a hip problem more than a leg problem?
sewincircle
Elbridge, NY
(Zone 5a)

April 8, 2009
6:00 PM

Post #6382662

Like out of joint? ouch!
porkpal
Richmond, TX

April 8, 2009
7:12 PM

Post #6382918

How could I tell if it is out of joint? I can feel the "ankle" and the "knee" - whatever they ought to be called - and they're ok . Out of joint might be the answer. So it must be the hip. When I pull the other leg, she resists strongly. The injured one offers very little resistance. I'll try feeling higher up.
porkpal
Richmond, TX

April 8, 2009
8:03 PM

Post #6383081

I just checked her out, and her hips feel the same to me. She also offers stronger resistance to my moving the hip than the other joints - on both legs. The lame leg just seems to get weaker the farther down it goes. The toes are practically limp. I really don't know that my manipulations actually cause her any pain. She reacted much more when I tried to open her beak! Oh well, tincture of time...
DrDoolotz
Oxford, NS
(Zone 5b)

April 8, 2009
8:20 PM

Post #6383137

Oh yes, the beak reaction is a good one! I had a silkie with wry neck whom I had to feed vitamin E + selenium capsules. She did NOT like having her beak opened for that. Thank goodness it eventually did the trick and I could stop torturing her!!

I wondered if the hip joint was showing degeneration or something (like arthritis in humans) and thus it was painful for her to put any pressure on the leg because it caused pressure in the hip. But that doesn't seem to fit with the symptoms. Gosh, I just don't know. I'm so glad she's eating and drinking though. If the hip still has strength, but the knee not so much, I might try splinting across the knee and see if she will put pressure on the leg that would go up into the hip and bypass pressure on the knee.
Haystack
Ferndale, WA

April 10, 2009
5:02 AM

Post #6390098

I am very happy to say that both of my very young pullets are doing much better and pretty much walking normal. It took about eight days for them to come out of it, I put them on terramycin (light dose) and for a while was not sure they would make it. Thanks to all for their thought and concern. Haystack
beadmom
Bend, OR
(Zone 5a)

April 10, 2009
5:58 AM

Post #6390182

I love a happy ending

Ginger
sewincircle
Elbridge, NY
(Zone 5a)

April 10, 2009
1:24 PM

Post #6390728

That is very good news Haystack! I love happy endings too Ginger! :D
porkpal
Richmond, TX

April 10, 2009
6:43 PM

Post #6391997

My lame chicken also seems to be improving a little. She moves around a bit more - perhaps she is just hungrier. I tried splinting her knee as CMoxon suggested; and I'm not good at splints, I guess. She just stood/sat there looking like a broken sawhorse. Such a tolerant hen! So, anyway, I took it off and she sort of flops around on one leg and one wing. But she has both eyes open and isn't whining anymore (or is it any more?) So she seems better to me. Maybe after 8 days...

grownut
Clarkson, KY

April 10, 2009
6:48 PM

Post #6392023

Glad to hear she seems on the mend, porkpal! Please keep us posted.
DrDoolotz
Oxford, NS
(Zone 5b)

April 10, 2009
6:57 PM

Post #6392064

Poor girl, sorry that my suggestion flummoxed her! It's like when my parents put a coat on their dog - she refuses to walk - just stands there looking confused. :-(

Sounds like she's getting better though!
sewincircle
Elbridge, NY
(Zone 5a)

April 10, 2009
7:57 PM

Post #6392292

Well, both eyes open is a step. I am glad she is not whinning anymore too! Sounds like progress!
ZZsBabiez
Lodi, CA
(Zone 9b)

April 11, 2009
12:00 AM

Post #6393251

Check this out.. I knew it was common with chicks, but mature birds? Weird!

http://www.thepoultrysite.com/diseaseinfo/168/vitamin-e-deficiency-encephalomalacia-exudative-diathesis-muscular-dystrophy
Catscan
Lodi
United States

April 11, 2009
12:09 AM

Post #6393283

Wow! That is interesting. The husband of the vet who wants to try to decrow my roos (yes!) was telling me about a well known problem with choline deficiency in some strains or breeds of chickens. The chicks develope a particular form of lamenesss and deformity. If their diets were supplemented early enough they recovered:

http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/index.jsp?cfile=htm/bc/206927.htm
porkpal
Richmond, TX

April 11, 2009
1:32 AM

Post #6393621

Those are a couple of scary deficiency diseases! I don't think either is likely in my hen's case. I've always trusted Purina feeds and she is eating "Layena" (plus all sorts of treats recently to tempt her to eat better). Vitamin E is also plentiful in green grass and mine are pastured hens. I'm also quite certain their feed is not rancid so hopefully this is just an orthopedic problem. That choline deficiency sounds gross! I certainly am learning a lot here!
Catscan
Lodi
United States

April 11, 2009
1:39 AM

Post #6393646

The link I found didn't discuss it, but from what I've learned, some lines of chickens have an inability to either synthesize or efficiently use dietary choline, so that they need exceptionally high levels in their food. It sounds like chicks cannot synthesize it, but older chickens can..perhaps some strains never develop the ability. I don't think it would suddenly show up in an older chicken.
ZZsBabiez
Lodi, CA
(Zone 9b)

April 11, 2009
1:42 AM

Post #6393659

Yeah, that's the beauty of these kinds of threads.. sparks one's curiosity and the search is on.. :)
I think it's mind boggling how many diseases chickens can get! So many with symptoms that are just general decline.. (ruffled feathers, weakness, etc.)
Interesting reading none the less.. :)
InnBetween
Newton, AL

April 11, 2009
3:16 AM

Post #6394064

I had a hen like this about 2 months ago. She was fine, eating drinking active from the neck up, but both of her legs did not work. the right was worse than the left. I gave her about 3 weeks on antibiotics, (penacilin injections) and did physical therapy with her every day. She is fine now. It jus took some doing. Never really figured out what happened. Maybe a spider bite or something that caused the nevervous system to react that way. Not sure.
porkpal
Richmond, TX

April 11, 2009
3:50 AM

Post #6394176

InnBetween, what sort of physical therapy did you do?
sewincircle
Elbridge, NY
(Zone 5a)

April 11, 2009
2:41 PM

Post #6395323

WOW, great info here everyone! Its like an episode of Chicken ER. There is truely so many things to look for and many symptoms that over lap. I have heard of the vitamin E deficiency and I hope what my feed contains is enough. Anyone add vitamin E and how often?
grownut
Clarkson, KY

April 11, 2009
5:17 PM

Post #6395887

Hey All! I've put this in the stickie...(fair warning;-)
porkpal
Richmond, TX

April 15, 2009
2:17 PM

Post #6413321

Alas, my ailing Jersey Giant hen died this morning. She had been weaker the last couple of days though still eating well, and I had been thinking it might be best to put her down. I guess I'll never know what was really wrong. Thanks again for all your advice.
grownut
Clarkson, KY

April 15, 2009
2:25 PM

Post #6413359

I believe it's possible to take it to the extension office or some sub-branch of your local ag agency and get it checked for contagion. I know that's no consolation, but it may be good to find out what you were dealing with...
sewincircle
Elbridge, NY
(Zone 5a)

April 15, 2009
5:00 PM

Post #6414195

I am very sorry about the little girl. It is so sad when you try so hard to save them and it ends badly. Grow is right. She can be checked for disease at a place like that. Ours is in Courtland. Please know I am thinking of you. {{HUGS}}
Jeanmarie
DrDoolotz
Oxford, NS
(Zone 5b)

April 15, 2009
5:04 PM

Post #6414216

sorry to hear that she didn't make it. It is always difficult to lose a hen, especially when you have put extra effort into helping her.
beadmom
Bend, OR
(Zone 5a)

April 15, 2009
5:45 PM

Post #6414417

"I believe it's possible to take it to the extension office or some sub-branch of your local ag agency and get it checked for contagion. I know that's no consolation, but it may be good to find out what you were dealing with..."


I have a VERY funny story about that but I'll save if for next week.

So sorry...Hard to lose a critter.

Ginger
ZZsBabiez
Lodi, CA
(Zone 9b)

April 15, 2009
5:51 PM

Post #6414443

I'm sorry for your loss Porkpal.. I know the heartache.. and appreciate your efforts to save her.
porkpal
Richmond, TX

April 15, 2009
8:04 PM

Post #6415004

Well, I already buried the hen, but I'm pretty sure she didn't have anything infectious. All the others are fine, including those that formerly shared her coop. Thanks for the support.
Catscan
Lodi
United States

April 15, 2009
8:43 PM

Post #6415178

I do think there is a chance that she had Marek's...it doesn't mean any or the others would necessarily come down with it. But the symptoms of partial paralysis with continued appetite and wasting does sound like some forms of Marek's.

I am so sorry you lost her, but I think animals know and appreciate whenever you do your best for them.
ZZsBabiez
Lodi, CA
(Zone 9b)

April 15, 2009
9:12 PM

Post #6415289

That's what I thought too Catscan.. but there is always hope.

Since I read that "if you have chickens, and they are breathing, you have Marek's" Now I see how common it is.. and how it can strike some and not others.. kill some and not others..
InnBetween
Newton, AL

April 15, 2009
9:52 PM

Post #6415472

sorry it took me so long to get back to ya. The physical therepy I did with my hen was hold her up and make her put weight on her legs every day for a few minutes in the morning and in the evening.
After a couple weeks she was able to hold her own weight if I braced her against my legs, and then I helped her keep her balance and take a few steps. After 4 weeks she was a little wobbly, but could motovate on her own. She is fine now.
I too am very sorry for your loss.

This message was edited Apr 15, 2009 4:55 PM
CajuninKy
Biggs, KY
(Zone 6a)

April 15, 2009
10:18 PM

Post #6415555

We got a young white leghorn rooster from a friend. Named him Spike The rooster could no longer stand and was going to be trampled in the coop by all the others so he was given to us. We put him in a 20 gallon plastic tub and put a big bread tray over the top. We put sawdust in the tub and fed him good. He had chick crumbles, horse mix, alfalfa cubes and the water off soaked beet pulp. He slowly improved and we put him in a horse stall so he could get plenty of exercise. He made a complete recovery in about 6 weeks time. He grew to be a big, pretty roo. Unfortunately he was killed by a predator outside the barn. DGS thinks he left to find himself some hens. And I ain't tellin' him any different.

Sorry about your hen. I cried like a baby when Charlie died. They are easy to get attached to.

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