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Wobbly Sick Chicken - Not sure what it is?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Day 1 - I brought four chickens from a breeder. A friend that came with me, brought three. I brought 2x Chinese silkies and 2x mixed breed silkies. After putting them in the cage and in the car, I noticed one of or both of the Chinese silkies, were making coughing/sneezing sounds once in awhile, but not often. This was my first time getting Chinese silkies, so I wasn't sure of the sounds they make. My friend who came with me, had some already, and they make quite different sounds to my chickens. I brushed it off thinking it was nothing to worry about. I didn't notice the sounds much after that.


Day 17 (Wednesday) - Coming home from work one afternoon, I noticed one of the Chinese silkies (named "Fanta") was walking with a limp. She kept falling over. My partner and I put it down to that she might of fallen off the perch in the hen house or the Rooster might of been a bit rough with her. So assumed it was likely a sprain (as we had seen this happen before with a couple of our other chickens and they got over it pretty quickly).


Day 18 (Thursday) - After coming home from work - my friend came over to visit, and noticed the limp straight away. It didn't look like it had improved at all. So that night, we took her from the hen house and put her in a hutch, which we set it up inside to keep an eye on her (and which we could put outside during the day so she got fresh air). This also kept the Rooster and other chickens at bay. This was the last day she laid an egg.


Day 19 (Friday) - Now that we were able to keep an eye on her, we noticed that she was sneezing quite a bit. Sometimes she sounded phlegmy and her breathing was rather strong. At this point, she could hardly stand. This didn't stop her from trying. She would sometimes try to use her wings to balance, but it doesn't really work. The only time she will scuttle is when she gets spooked by something. Otherwise she sits in one place. We were keeping her food and water in front of her so she was still able to reach it. She had lost her appetite a little but was still fond of bread. Unfortunately because we got home late, we were unable to take her to the Vet till Monday (Vet is closed on the weekend).


Day 22 (Monday) - Nothing had changed. She was still the same. She was suffering from bad diarrhea too now. We haven't taken a chicken to the Vet before but because we were so stumped on what it was, we had no choice, plus I wanted to know that she wasn't in pain. The Vet wasn't too sure what it was - but was able to rule out she hadn't broken her leg/s or sprained anything. She was also weak and thin. She brought up Newcastle Disease but with us being in New Zealand, that's highly unlikely. She thinks it could be an infection. She gave us some antibiotics to give the chicken (which we've been doing everyday). The Vet asked for us to contact the Breeder and ask if she might know anything. We did - and the Breeder said she had never heard or seen anything like it. She also pointed out "chickens don't sneeze". So in saying that if that's true, she was definitely making sneezing sounds (you could call it coughing too I guess).


Day 27 (Friday - Today) - Nothing has changed except she doesn't have diarrhea now - though she doesn't poop much because she doesn't eat/drink much. Shes still interested in some food/water if we help her. We are going to have to take her back to the Vet as her antibiotics are almost finished.


Just a few notes:

* None of these symptoms are showing in any of our other chickens, new ones and old. We have nine all together including one rooster. My friends chickens are all fine too.

* She would be about 5-months-old. Give or take. She was laying until Day 18.

* Some people are throwing out opinions about what it could be:

> Stroke - Looking on the net, and what people have described about this - doesn't sound like what she has.

> Shes eaten something poison - I can't think of anything that would be here - we've had chickens for years and they haven't found anything before.

> Marek's disease - I'm still looking into this.


What do you guys think?

post #2 of 4

Sneezing (and yes chickens do sneeze) can be a sign of viruses like infectious bronchitis or a bacteria-like disease called mycoplasma (MG.) The antibiotics won't cure the virus, but may help to prevent a secondary infection. She may have injured her leg, but with her symptoms, I would be a bit suspicious of Mareks disease. She is around the age that Mareks can strike.  Is there any place that you can get a necropsy done on her if she dies, or blood test her for Mareks? Make sure that she is close to her food and water, add some chopped egg or tuna to her diet, and I would put some poultry vitamins in her water in case of a vitamin deficiency causing leg problems. B Complex vitamins (the human kind) may be substituted. Here are a few good link s to read about Mareks disease:'s_Disease

post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 

Thank you Eggcessive for the response. After looking at your links, it does sound like Mareks disease. But I can't be 100% sure. Will discuss it next time with the Vet and may have to do a blood test as you said. Thanks again. Will keep up with my research.

post #4 of 4

Here is a link from Texas A&M that lists the blood test, and I have heard of other poultry centers in other parts of the country that also perform this:


Of course with a necropsy done after the death or culling of a chicken, the state vet can examine organs for tumors which are the signs of Mareks. Here is a link for the state vets in the US:

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