We have a small flock of 9 chickens, 6 different breeds... they have all grown up together since the spring. We thought we had all hens, but the one silkie turned out to be a rooster, so we changed his name to Sam - lol! Back in the late summer, Sam had a seizure. We brought him into the house and kept him overnight and he seemed just fine so we returned him to the flock the next afternoon where he was welcomed back and business as usual. The flock quickly outgrew their starter coop so we built a temoprary winter coop for everyone right outside the window of our house so we could keep an eye on them... the temperatures have dropped here in the Ohio valley and we got our first major snow - I was curious as to what the chickens would do since this is their first real expierence with it - turns out they enjoy eating it! LOL! :D The run has a roof and their house inside is insulated and ventolated and positioned in the part of the run that has 3 wood sides and makes a buffer agianst the northern winds... I also have a DIY cinderblock/lightbulb warmer for the water so it doesn't freeze so they have access to that no matter temperature. Sam, however has been acting very strangely for a few days now and it doesn't appear to be getting better. He's extremely off balance and acts almost as though he has had another seizure and has not bounced back from it... even just standing there he almost falls over... it's heartbreaking. He is still eating and scratching around and he is still crowing when he usually does, but he is just so very off balance... he still lets me pick him up and he is still chasing my feet when I am in there, but I am very worried about him... I know silkies aren't like other chickens especially dealing with the weather... if the wind blows the girls seem to be around him to block it... I thought about bringing him inside for a night, but then how would I get him reacclimated to the cold? I know that if you heat your coop and the electric goes out that it can be fatal to your flock because the birds will not have acclimated themselves to the cold... wouldn't bringing him inside be the same thing? And if he is going about business as usual do I interrupt that? :( We are obviously first time chicken keepers here! I am unaware of any vet in our area that treats chickens... Our Amazing vet that we use for our dogs and had for our cat when he was still with us does not specialize in chickens... the "farm" vet in our area only deals with horses and cattle... so I am hoping someone here may have some advice.... Thanks for reading this - Janelle
Worried about our Silkie, Sam...
Featured Stories on BackYard Chickens
I am also in the Ohio Valley, close to Proctorville, OH and Huntington, WV. Sam is a good looking silkie cockerel. How old is he? Do you know if he was vaccinated against Mareks disease? Chickens can suffer from seizures, and silkies can suffer from head injuries if they have a vaulted skull. Do you have an unheated basement where you could keep him tonight? Or could you place a red heat lamp in their coop for him? Sick chickens usually need to be brought inside to be kept warm, and that way you can monitor what he is eating drinking, along with his droppings. Put some electrolytes and vitamins in his water, and offer him some chopped egg, tuna, or liver in addition to his normal feed. You can add water to it also to make him get more fluids. Dehydration can cause neurological conditions. Many conditions can look like Mareks, so I would really wait to observe him for a few days or weeks. Here are some links to read about Mareks, and the first one has a section on diseases that can look like Mareks:
Thank you so much for this information... We do not have any sort of basement and live in a small 6 room home with a Beagle and a Black Lab... We usually keep the dogs away from the flock... that being said, we did bring Sam inside and put him in a shallow box in the back room with the door closed... he is under the window where we watch the girls. Our Beagle is having a fit.... My husband is disabled so I am currently waiting for a friend to come over to help me get the old coop into the kitchen. Looks like we're going to have to keep him in the house for quite a while since I have no alternatives.... I thought about the "garage" which is mostly just a small enclosed detached pole barn sort of thing, but there are no windows and would be too difficult to monitor him in there.... soooooo.... we are hoping that the Beagle will calm the heck down once Sam is in the old coop that is preadator proof... sigh... Sam didn't seem interested in eating or drinking water, but I am sure that is mostly due to the fact that I just plopped him in a box in a strange place... I am hoping once he gets in the old coop he will be much more comfortable and feel more like chickening. He is warm and dry now though and isn't being run over by the girls lol! Plus, all the chickens are in bed now so he is resting. I have high hopes for tomorrow... I read the information on Mareks and he certianly doesn't seem to be displaying any of those symptoms... I wonder if it is more of the dehydration and lack of vitamin issue since he has always been so much slower than the girls... He has never been able to see as well as they have with all that fluff in his face... I usually had to pick him up and hand feed him treats to make sure he got some! I understand silkies don't do as well in the cold so maybe it is just a combination of all these things? I guess we will see. Where does one get vitamins and electrolites for a chicken? We are in the Northern Cincinnati area. Thanks again!!!! - Me