I have a black australorp pullet that is having crazy symptoms. Yesterday I found her upside down, wedged in behind the feed bin, no idea how she got there. I picked up her and placed her near the water dish and she had very bad balance. I assumed this was from spending time upside down and left her alone after a few minutes of her acting normal again. When I went back to the coop to check on her she again had wedged herself in the same manner. I noticed she keeps her head downward and walks backward with her neck twisted down and around and shakes. After about 10-30 seconds this stops and she heads for the food or water. Sometimes her backwards walking and shaking leads to her doing a somersault. This repeats every few minutes. I got out a 30 x30 rabbit cage I use for isolation of chicks and placed her in there to avoid her wedging herself in odd places again. She is eating and drinking but looks so pathetic with her neck twisting spazes. Any idea on what the cause could be or treatments for this? All other birds are acting normal. I will try to upload a video of this behavior soon.
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This sounds like a siezure.
I just started keeping chickens and last week found one of my hens with similar symptoms. She will occasionally start curling her neck beneath her body while shaking and then usually topples over. It seems to happen especially when she is standing up picking at something on the ground. She also doesn't go on her roost anymore, and barely walks around. I have separated her and she slowly seems to make progress, but after 5 days she is still having these seizures. Anyone who has seen these symptoms and successfully treated them? Please let me know, I have not been able to find a clear answer online yet. Thank you so much for your help. Here is a video of one of the seizures:
There's always a chance it could be an ear or brain infection like menningitis in humans. A good antibiotic would be a good start since it's difficult to always know for sure and time is of the essence. Someone here posted a video in the past year or two of their hen walking backwards. I can't remember the result, whether it was a vitamin deficiency or what. Wry neck and stargazer's comes to mind too which is basically a vitamin deficiency (vitamin A and E I believe). We often recommend the Poly Vi Sol drops for children here, the one without the Iron. So supplements and antibiotics are the way to start. You can always check their temperature which might give you an idea what you're dealing with although with an ear infection, I don't think they'd have a temperature. Let us know how it goes and what you find out.
I have an interesting story (and sad actually). My bro and his wife had a dog with a real aggressive terminal cancer. The dog started having seizures and stumbling around. They assumed it was a brain tumor from the cancer. I thought maybe it was a stroke (very uncommon in dogs though it turns out). They put her down which was okay because she didn't have long anyway (of course they were devasted). The next thing you know their other dog was having the same symptoms. It turned out it was an EAR infection (here it was in the dead of winter but there's snow and rain and cold). They were so upset that they might have put down their other dog too soon. I did my best to comfort them but the reality was is that this dog had sores opening up and bleeding everywhere and so she wouldn't have lasted long. So, ear infections really do some strange things to equilibrium PLUS it's not good to have an infection near the brain because it can spread to the brain and that's harder to treat (plus the prognosis goes way down right?)
Edited by chkn - 1/20/12 at 9:13pm
quick update on the hen: I haven't been able to get vitamins or antibiotics for her yet, but I have been keeping her indoors with treats every day for her (veggies, oatmeal, yoghurt, corn). She is still not recovered 100%, but the seizures are nearly gone, and when they do occur she seems to be able to snap herself out before tripping over. I will probably move her back with the other chickens this weekend. She is able to eat and drink ok, and is moving around more than before. She also is more alert now, so those are all good signs. However, she still does not roost, so she must not be completely better yet. I will keep you posted on progress.
Last update on the hen.Moving her back with the others turned out to be a bad idea. Last Sunday I decided she was well enough to go back to the coop, even if her neck was still a bit curled and she was not moving around as much as a healthy hen should. As soon as I introduced her to the others, our rooster attacked her viciously and so did the other hens! I quickly rescued her, but the damage was already done. She was unconscious from the attacks, and even though she came back, she never recuperated afterwards. After a week of seeing her barely eat and drink I decided to end her suffering. Here I was thinking having chickens was only fun...I feel like such a newbee :(
After some reading on BYC, I now understand the rooster and hen attack was just a normal reaction. Being too weak to run away properly, it hurt her more than it should have.