BackYard Chickens › BYC Forum › Raising BackYard Chickens › Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures › Chicken lethargic, twitching, seizures - HELP PLEASE
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Chicken lethargic, twitching, seizures - HELP PLEASE

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 



We found Henny Penny laying in the coop yesterday evening, looking dead.  She was breathing, but totally floppy when I took her into the house.  We gave her some water with antibiotics with a turkey baster, and she perked up slightly - she had her head lifted.  She mostly sits around with her eyes closed, randomly twitching (do they normally twitch slightly in their sleep?).  This morning, she stood up and was alert for a few seconds when I put her in the car to take her to work with me.  I didn't want to leave her all day.  She spent most of the ride laying down with her eyes closed, until she started arching her neck back and swinging her head back and forth with her eyes closed (kinda like Stevie Wonder).  She settled down for a minute and then started kicking her legs and flapping her wings for about ten looooong seconds.  Then she stayed on her side, her head flopped down, and she again looks dead, minus that she is breathing.


Does anyone know what could be wrong and what I can do to try to help her?


Here are questions I've seen asked before:

1) What type of bird, age and weight? Americana hen, medium size, 2 years old.
2) What is the behavior, exactly? Can't/won't stand, eyes closed, opens eyes when startled, neck/head swaying, major seizures.  No eye, nasal, or cloacal discharge.  No coughing or sneezing.  No lesions or anything abnormal in appearance.
3) How long has the bird been exhibiting symptoms? Since 1800 EST yesterday (15 hours), potentially longer, as I let the chickens out in the morning without checking inside the coop, and when picking eggs in the evening, found her.
4) Are other birds exhibiting the same symptoms? No birds, out of the ducks, turkeys, and chickens that we have, are acting out of the ordinary at all.
5) Is there any bleeding, injury, broken bones or other sign of trauma? No, just the usual partial baldness from being one of the roosters' favorite..."friends".
6) What happened, if anything that you know of, that may have caused the situation? No idea
7) What has the bird been eating and drinking, if at all?  I have "forcefed" her water w antibiotics via baster and by dipping her beak into a dish.  About 12 "sips" total since last night.
8) How does the poop look? Normal? Bloody? Runny? etc. Normal.  Vent not clogged.  No poop since we took her inside.
9) What has been the treatment you have administered so far? Water, quiet, dark.
10 ) What is your intent as far as treatment? For example, do you want to treat completely yourself, or do you need help in stabilizing the bird til you can get to a vet? Treat by myself.
11) If you have a picture of the wound or condition, please post it: nothing
12) Describe the housing/bedding in use:  Same coop we've had for 2 years, pine shavings, straw in nesting boxes.  Shavings and straw are same batches used in communal area, duck house, and turkey house.

post #2 of 9
Thread Starter 

Well, she's not dead.  She's gotten to the point where she is standing around instead of laying around.  However, I am still force feeding her because she won't eat or drink.  She is not getting a ton of calories in - I can get mash in, but only water and the fine bits.  I've tried tomatoes, apple pieces, cabbage, takers.  Any ideas how to entice her to eat and drink on her own, or should her appetite come back in time?

post #3 of 9

sounds like it could be Marke's disease, her symptoms could be neurological. Try giving her some B12 vitamins in her water, they help with neurologic problems. good luck

post #4 of 9

Not sure what's wrong. Hopefully someone on here knows.

Here are a few things to do-

Feel her crop to see if it feels normal.

How's her stool and how often is she going?

Put your hand underneath her and feel her abdominal is it hard,soft? does it feel like something is stuck like an egg.

Make sure that she continues to get enough water, a hen without water won't last long. Trying putting electrolytes in her water or organic ACV. She needs some protein in her. Protein will prevent loss in muscle mass, help her build and repair cells, maintain fluid balance and improve her ability to heal. Try giving her some scrambled eggs or any animal protein. Put it in your hand instead of a bowl and try to coax her to eat it. Those are just a few things to do, make sure to report back on her stool and crop. And hopefully someone here will be able to help.

post #5 of 9

Just found this page, try reading this-


It could be a number of things. But you can rule out any infectious disease since she is the only one having this problem. Maybe she eat something toxic.

post #6 of 9
Originally Posted by tammye View Post

sounds like it could be Marke's disease, her symptoms could be neurological. Try giving her some B12 vitamins in her water, they help with neurologic problems. good luck


I don't think its Marek's disease. Marek's is a highly contagious viral neoplastic disease in chickens.


YaySarahC said this was the only chicken having these symptoms.

post #7 of 9

all have been exposed if that is the case, but not all have to show symptoms. Some hens live forever with Marke's, others die upon infection, it all depends on the hen and strain. I have had three of my eight die form marke's the other so far are fine. One has had neurologic issues before but is better now

post #8 of 9

I realize your post is an older one, but did you ever find out what was wrong with your chicken? I raise 60 chickens on my property and all but 2 are great. Two weeks ago one of my hens started doing the same thing yours did. She won't eat or drink on her own. She was just laying there and kept her eyes closed. The next day she would stand briefly but then slowly lay back down. When we talk to her she shakes her head but stops shaking it when we stop talking. Her eyes are twitching a lot while they are open. We have her in a kennel in my living room to keep her away from the other chickens until we can figure this out. Three days after she started this my son brought another hen down to the house because she was laying on her side and wouldn't move. This 2nd hen had a very bad smell and I knew she was dying and within 5 minutes she had taken her last breath. All of our other chickens seem to be in very good health and are behaving normal. I don't know if the 2 hens conditions were connected or not. I'm trying to figure out if she's going to get past this or not. Any information you could give me would be very much appreciated.

post #9 of 9
I know this post is old ... I have a hen with similar symptoms. She has seizure-like episodes with her head rolled back and twitches and floods around on her side or back.

Incase anyone else finds this post, I believe the issue is called Wry Neck or Stargazer's syndrome.

It is not contagious. It can be caused by genetics or head injury, but is most often caused by nutritional deficiency.

Supplementing with vitamin E and selenium should help, but may take a few weeks of treatment to recover.
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