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New to chickens, chicks not doing well!

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

So I'm very new to chickens. This morning I went to go check on my flock (2 hens, 8 chicks who are about 9 weeks old). One chick was dead, one was lying on the ground and seemed to be paralyzed (when I picked him up he pooed on me and it was liquid), and one now seems to be losing control of his neck (it's tilted to the side).

 

I really need help figuring out what this might be. I'm terrified that I'm going to lose everyone. They all seemed fine yesterday! They seemed to be eating and drinking fine

 

I did some research and I feel like Marek's might be the cause but I really am not sure.


Edited by RiotRoo - 1/27/16 at 8:28am
post #2 of 6

I'm so sorry to hear that. I've lost chicks to paralysis as well.

 

First, get the chicks calm, warm, and separated from any flock members (besides their mother) who may not have been exposed yet. Offer them vitamins and electrolytes in their water in case this is the issue. Poisoning can cause similar symptoms, including neck issues, so if you remove them from the source perhaps it will not get any worse. If you can, sending the dead chick to a place that can test it for marek's will help you know if this is the cause or not.

Any chicks showing signs of paralysis should be put somewhere secure, soft, and where they can easily get a grip with their feet or else they are likely to flop around while trying to move. Offering vitamins can also help paralysis (as some paralysis is caused by vitamin issues).

 

What food are they eating?

Could their food be moldy?

How many do you have in your flock?

Are any others showing abnormal behavior or droppings?

Where did you get them from?

 

I hope the others heal and remain healthy.

post #3 of 6

Hi. Sorry to hear about your loss and sickly chicks.

 

It does sound like it could be Marek's Disease which is very common and widespread and they are about the right age to get it, but it is worth giving them a vitamin supplement in case it is a vitamin deficiency. Certainly no harm in trying that.

 

I have a mild strain of Marek's in my flock and I find it affects less than 10% of young birds and some that do get it will recover from it, so my experience of it is that it's not as bad as everything I read about it. Sadly I also read posts from people on this forum who lose large numbers of birds to it, which is why I know my strain is mild. I give supportive care within the flock as long as they will eat and drink and I treat them to high quality food like scrambled eggs and meat and fish and mixed corn, I don't worry too much about them getting a balanced diet as such, as long as they will eat. I've had to cull a couple that declined to the point where they had no quality of life but I've also had others that have made miraculous recoveries, so there is hope. I think having it diagnosed helps because it takes the pressure off you as regards worrying about treatment (there is no recognised treatment) and you can then just concentrate on making them as comfortable and happy as possible whilst they have quality of life. It's therefore a good idea to have a necropsy done if it's viable.

 

The thing with Marek's is that it affects the immune system so that they may die of something other than the actual disease itself, which is probably why there are so many different symptoms.

 

Anyway, I hope that it is something less virulent and treatable.

 

Good luck

 

Barbara

post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 

They're eating crumbles, and fruit and veggie scraps. Nothing is moldy, the crumbles are kept dry and refilled often and we make sure the scraps they get are in decent shape.

 

I have two hens, and now seven 9 week old chicks.

 

The one that is paralyzed has liquid droppings, and I noticed some runny yellow droppings today in the coop. They are acting completely normal, other than the physical symptoms.

 

My two hens came from a poultry show last fall and my chicks were ordered as eggs, I incubated them myself.

 

I assume the physical symptoms can't be reversed. I just feel so terrible for these little ones. What kind of vitamins should I be getting them, and where can I get them from?

 

Thank you so much for your replies.

post #5 of 6

Sudden onset of symptoms and death seemingly overnight in this age group, combined with the fact that you are seeing runny stools, would have me treating with a round of Corid to at least rule out coccidiosis.  Though usually you will see birds sitting around, puffed up and lethargic with coccidiosis it's certainly worth it to rule it out as a possibility.   It could be as simple as that or it could be something else.  Marek's will often cause paralysis of a leg and/or wing resulting from swelling of the sciatic nerve.  You commonly see the one leg forward/one leg back stance as well.  If you loose another one it would be well worth it to get a necropsy done by your states poultry pathology lab.  Some states do them for free.

wife to long suffering husband who has built more miles of fence, barns, coops and enclosures then one man should have to, two teenage boys, current flock of 13 assorted hens, 1 big red roo and a list of other assorted farm animals. 
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wife to long suffering husband who has built more miles of fence, barns, coops and enclosures then one man should have to, two teenage boys, current flock of 13 assorted hens, 1 big red roo and a list of other assorted farm animals. 
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post #6 of 6

I have had birds fully recover from paralysis almost as quickly as it came on. However, the longer the paralysis the less likely it is to completely go away, but I've had some birds that have made significant progress over a period of months and gone from being nest bound to being able to free range, albeit with a bit of a hobble and help from a wing on occasion. Sadly some just get progressively worse and often get neck paralysis towards the end or waste away. The runny poop may be the digestive system shutting down.... the disease can cause visceral tumours as well as the paralysis. It may be that the ones that die suddenly have tumours on vital organs.

 

It is definitely worth treating them with Corid though for coccidiosis, just in case. You would need to hold off on the vitamins until after treating with Corid. I think in the US there are brands called Rooster Booster or poultry Nutri drops for vitamins... someone will hopefully correct me if I'm wrong.

 

Good luck with your little ones. My guess would be that the adult birds you got at the poultry show may be carriers of the disease. 

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