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Chicken laying on side

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

So found a chicken doing this today. My deicer in my waterer was unplugged so I figured maybe it was just dehydrated. I had to go to thanksgiving, but before I did brought it inside, gave it water, and some bread (all I had laying around). It did drink some and I figured it would be fine when I got home. So I get home and it is still laying on its side. It won't stand up. It looks a little more lively but it's legs just don't work. It doesn't seem to be one or the other. Neither work. So I don't think it's an injury. My wife said it had some watery diarrhea before I got home. Any ideas? My mind goes right to mareks but I don't know.
post #2 of 15

How old is she? I would get some vitamins with electrolytes to give her by dipping her beak into water, offering her a small cup, or giving a few drops at a time with a dropper. Dehydration could definitely be a problem, but it could be other problems such as Mareks, or another disease. Has she been eating at all? Coccidiosis would be something to think about, and it's symptoms include diarrhea or blood in droppings, weakness, sleepiness, not eating, and hunching, puffing up, or lying down. When you get some fluids into her (and I would do this right away using Gatorade, Pedialyte, or some homemade electrolytes if you don't have poultry vitamins and electrolytes,) she may perk up. Mareks can have a lot of different symptoms with each bird, and it might take some time to figure out what is wrong. Check her crop to see if it is empty or full, look her over for any signs of lice or mites, and watch her droppings. If she wakes up and drinks, then offer her some chopped egg and moistened chicken feed.

post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
I didn't have any electrolyte drink, human or chicken. When offered it drank and ate. Plan on making an egg tomorrow but all I had was time today was to toss it that bread. Crop seems fine. I've never had crop problems but I've seen/felt them full. This one didn't seem full. This is a buff orp that was born in May. No coughing at all. No bloody emetics or stool. I will have to see how things look in the am but I also have to work tomorrow.
post #4 of 15

Mareks disease may be a possibility if she is eating and drinking. The food and water need to be placed near her. Maybe the other family members can check on her often while you are working. There are vitamin deficiencies that can also cause problems. There is a disease called botulism that can cause paralysis of the legs that spreads to the wings and lastly to the neck, and comes from eating a toxin in dead animals. Mareks can cause paralysis of one or both legs or wings, and sometimes will cause the neck to twist or hang down. It is important to know what disease it is, since it can affect your other chickens. I would think about sending the chicken's remains off to the state vet for a necropsy if she dies. The remains need to be refrigerated. Hopefully this is just something short-lived, but I hope it isn't Mareks. Coccidiosis can be common in newer chickens. Also consider checking her for being egg bound. It involves poking a finger inside the vent only about an inch or so to check for a stuck egg. Here are a couple of links to read when you have the time:

post #5 of 15

In a quart of water you can add a pinch of salt, and almost a teaspoonful of sugar to make some homemade electrolytes.  Here is a recipe below for a complete mix:


HOMEMADE ELECTROLYTE SOLUTION   divide this by 4 to make a quart of solution

1/2 teaspoon salt substitute (this is potassium)

1 teaspoon baking soda 

1 teaspoon table salt  

1 tablespoon sugar 

1 gallon water

Edited by Eggcessive - 11/28/15 at 7:30pm
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Update on this. Bird still alive. Not eating and drinking on its own. Hard to force feed a chicken but you can force it to drink. After work yesterday the fleet stores were closed so I bought some Powerade at a gas station. I have been using a syringe to administer that. I'm still not sure what this is. It's still on its side. When I propit up on its feet in a corner its feet just slide forward which is odd. The bird then flops right back on its side. It also will kick while on its side. The bird stinks and had had some slimy and foul stool, but no blood. My wife picked up some corid on her break. I figure it's either marek or coccidiosis. Will mix that in with the Powerade and see how things go.

Anybody here have personal experience with mareks? How fast does this come on? Will a bird do this in a couple of days or is it slow onset? The videos I have seen of mareks neuro changes are all minor compared to this. A chicken that limps or uses one leg and wings to get around. This bird seemingly went from fine to this in a couple of days.

Edit-I swear I saw blood today. Dosing corid at about .5 ml per day after reading a topic on here saying it can be dosed at .2 ml per 2.5 pounds I believe. I'm assuming it's over 5 lbs.
Edited by Bush84 - 11/30/15 at 4:49pm
post #7 of 15

Mareks can come on suddenly my hen that had it started one leg was affected first then in 3 days her wing was paralyzed. With her leg I could not get a pain response out of her and her toes were curled up. I see you are from Minnesota Dr. Porter at the U of M is the poultry vet that does necropsy's. I would give him a call and tell him the symptoms he may have a better idea of whats going on. 612-624-7400 is the number ask to speak with Dr. Porter about a sick chicken. The only other thing I can think of is a vitamin deficiency that is causing the leg problems. Usually its a Vitamin B deficiency. If you have a vitamin b complex tablet I would crush it up and mix with her water. Vitamin B is water soluble so you don't have to worry about giving her too much it wont hurt her. Best of luck with her!

post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
How much does that cost? I'd be interested if it's reasonable. If not I'd be more inclined to continue with the treatment and see how it goes.

I'll be honest that I hadn't been out to check on them for a few days. I work long hours and multiple days in a row. I make sure they have food and water and the kids let them out and lock them up, but I am not able to lay eyes on them every day. I am certain however that this chicken went from ambulatory to unable to stand in about a day. There was no limp or anything. Then Saturday its unable to walk. I guess if it dies it dies. I won't get emotional and I'd be more worried about the other chickens. I have more than I need as it is and want to get crested legbars in the spring lol.
post #9 of 15

To send a chicken in it's $85.00 but to call and talk with him is free. I too was most concerened about the rest of the flock and figuring out what I was dealing with.

post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the help. I'll have to look into it but $85 is more than I spent on my entire flock. Either way talking to him about symptoms may not be a bad idea. I've often thought about buying a microscope but never have. I should just invest in one and be done with it. That way I could diagnose my own bee/chicken diseases.

Also what does everybody here so with dead chickens in the winter? Do you attempt to dig a hole or toss them in the woods? Mine isn't dead but I've never had to think about that scenario.
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