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Chicken walk very difficult

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hi there,


about a week ago, our chicken (around 8-10 months old) began limping slightly. It gotten worse to the point that she basically just stand wherever she is. If I try to catch her or move her, she will stumble around, flapping her wings, rolling a bit. Her leg seems to be able to move a little bit though. She will not go up in the pen unless I put her in at night (she will stay on the ground). She obviously won't perch. She do not appear to have swelling or other apparent injuries


She have (and always had a poopy behind), her droppings being very liquid and greenish (also, always been that way). Our chickens are free range.


I read on Marek's disease and other diseases like that but we are not sure so we seek your help before going to the vet (we do not have a vet specialized in poultry around here so....)


I put a video to show you. (Is it working?)


Thanks a lot

post #2 of 8
Odd; she looks alert and has good color, I don't think she would if it was a disease issue. If it were me, I'd wait it out if she is eating/drinking okay and not suffering; otherwise maybe a vet visit if that's an option. Check/feel her underside as well as her legs for anywhere that looks off.
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thank you for your answer. We are worrying because it's been a little over than a week now and it has gotten worse, not better... We are not letting her out of the coop so she can rest... :\

post #4 of 8

As someone who has Marek's in their flock I can say that unfortunately that does look like it could be. She is at an age when she is quite susceptible and it is a very widespread and easily contracted virus. I've certainly had birds with nice red combs that were bright eyed and voracious eaters that had it. Some deteriorate rapidly. some get worse slowly and some get better and then have another attack a few weeks/months later. I've also had some that completely recovered after floundering around like that for a couple of days and one that went lame suddenly and after a couple of weeks she learned to pull her bad foot up out of the way and hop everywhere and she became extremely agile with it, but she was a very petite bird and therefore there wasn't too much strain on the one leg.


Personally I think there are more knowledgeable and experienced people on the subject of chickens on this website than the average vet, so unless you have a local avian vet, my view is that you may be wasting your money, especially if it is Marek's as there is currently no recognised treatment. There are people on here trying human anti viral drugs on their Marek's chickens... Marek's is caused by a form of the herpes virus. I find keeping them happy and as stress free as possible and well fed is the best therapy. You can also try vitamins and I believe selenium may be beneficial, so treat your poorly chuck to some scrambled eggs or sardines and natural yoghurt mixed into her pellets may help with the poopy bot. .


I wish you luck with her and hope that it is something other than Marek's..... might be worth checking that she is not egg bound but that looks neurological to me.

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

This is exactly why we wanted to come here first: the experienced people!

Thank's a lot for your answer. The selenium you are talking about, is it regular selenium vitamins for human?
I'm also concerned about her spreading it to our other 4 chickens... We have one the same age (ameraucana) and 3 bovan who are a little bit over a year old but who are vaccinated...

post #6 of 8



No I was suggesting foods high in selenium rather than giving it as a supplement. Seafood, fish, wholemeal bread, sunflower seeds and eggs... these all contain above average levels of it I believe and are things that a chicken will probably enjoy eating.


I tried turmeric and black pepper mixed into scrambled egg but after a week they got sick of the turmeric and I decided it was better that they eat and enoy their food than that I try to get something into them that they didn't like. I also ferment feed which I think benefits birds which may have digestive problems and Marek's can cause this.


My view is that the flock has already been exposed and the sick bird will be happier and therefore have a better chance of fighting the disease by remaining with the flock but in a safe and supported environment. I have an old sideboard that I converted into a brooder/infirmary and I have that inside the hen house. I had a bird (Hope) so badly lame last winter that she had to be propped up in a nest in there as she was no longer able to stand or go out with the flock. I had given her till the weekend and then I had decided to cull her as she had been like this for several weeks and had started to lose her appetite and the will to live. In between times another lame one (Hoppity) started to struggle within the flock and I put her into the infirmary too. I was horrified to see them fight despite their disabilities. There were a couple of horrible dust ups but after that they became firm friends and encouraged each other. The really bad one, Hope, started to show slight signs of improvement and I kept postponing the moment of truth. We got some fine weather in early spring and I was able to put them out in the sunshine on the grass in a cage and scatter scratch about for them and the rest of the flock. Hoppity didn't get any better physically but gained confidence and strength. She was already quite agile though and able to support her slight weight quite easily on just one leg as she was very petite and just hopped about everywhere. Hope became able to waddle using her wings and then limp and eventually half run/half fly. After several months, I was able to let them loose to free range with the flock (I have a large mixed flock) and they even started laying eggs and could get up onto the roosts at night with the others.


I can't tell you how much pleasure I got from those two birds. We became so close during those months of caring.. Sadly I had a fox attack a few months ago and was devastated that they were amongst the six victims.


Other people will have different views and some strains of Marek's are milder than others, so I am only able to give advice based on my own experience. Thankfully I have a mild strain, so I have found that supportive care and diet can help  I was lucky with these two birds that they were sick at the same time and I am certain that having companionship in the infirmary was what turned the tide for the really sick one. Unfortunately that is not something that you can arrange but just a fortuitous occurrence for these birds but it made me realise that completely isolating the bird from the flock is detrimental to it with this disease and even if it makes a recovery, the stress of reuniting it with the flock is likely to trigger another attack. I would rather keep the sick bird in contact with the flock as much as possible and of course, risk increased exposure than isolate the bird.


As I said before, it may not be Marek's but all of the dietary suggestions above will not harm it to try. Marek's is a very serious and often fatal disease though, so if the worst happens it is beneficial to have it confirmed by sending the bird off for necropsy or at least doing a post mortem examination on it yourself if you feel able.


There are several very informative threads on this site regarding Marek's and peoples' experiences with it and I would recommend you read some of those as I have only been dealing with it for a year and gained a lot of my info from reading them.


Good luck with it and I'm here if you have any other questions or need support.


Best wishes



Edited by rebrascora - 11/15/15 at 2:08am
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hi Barbara,


thank you very much for sharing your story with us. You seem to be very compassionate with your chickens, we like that :)


Since the beginning of our pullet being sick, we did not separate her from the other 4. We also think that she benefits more being with them. One in particular is always nearby, like she is checking on her.


We will give them the best food we can along with some treats to ensure that they have all the vitamins they need and hope that she will be getting better. Winter is coming so I wish all of the flock will make it through.


Thanks again for your advice and kind words,


Stephanie & Sebastien

post #8 of 8

I've been struggling wit my 4 months old rooster as well..Went to the vet who jumped to the conclusion it was mareks even before he saw he bird. He gave me some anti-inflammatory. Vet was of no help at all. He just wanted to put him down and have him autopsied.. Know that there is plenty of diseases that have the same symptoms that mareks. ( heavy metal poisoning is one of them and it's completely reversible). We did a blood test on mine, and I know it's not that. 

Vit B deficiency can be one of them. There is a very good article in the learning center about mareks disease.

In the case of mine, I know that the Xrays showed that the knee joint is hyper it could be why he can't even stand up....I wish we could have a test for mareks disease!



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