Originally Posted by jak2002003
The ones with leg paralysis.... why did they die... was is because they could not get to food and water? I have a rooster with leg paralysis.. but its been over one month and he is still a good weight and crowing etc. I keep thinking I will cull him when he gets worse.. but he seems to be doing really well.... what do you think will happen to him in the end?
In my experience, and I think a lot of others will agree, Marek's disease has many layers of illness and ways it affects the chickens. The paralysis and limping is just one sign you will see but it does not give the whole picture of what is going on inside the chicken.
My original Marek's hen was slightly lethargic and limping for 4 - 6 weeks before I brought her in the house. She was eating and her weight was fine. As the use of her legs continued to deteriorate over the next 2 months, she would still eat when I brought food to her. The problem was that tumors were taking over her internal organs. She had a mass in her pectoral (chest) muscle that was huge. I could easily palpate it when I held her. She had hepatitis and tumors all over her digestive organs. In the end she was unable to digest much food. Her little pullet friend started limping/hopping on one leg. She still got around quite well and was eating great, but I had her necropsied and she was also full of internal tumors. I believe her spleen and ovary and intestines were covered in tumors. It was just a matter of time before the tumors consumed all the nutrition she was eating. In my opinion, this will probably be what happens to your rooster in the end. I have had some roosters that died from Marek's. They seem to die rather quickly (in 1 - 2 days), whereas the pullets will slowly decline over several weeks.
More recently, my birds have come down with tumors that affect their heart and lungs. This is usually what takes the roosters. They will show breathing problems and dark or purple combs. I had one that had a seizure before dying, and a year old rooster that was totally normal one night and i found him dead in the coop the next day.
I won't go on with more details. When a bird gets sick at my house now, I will cull it within a week. I can't stand to see them deteriorate to the point where they are falling over or the other chickens start to pick on them. It is also so hard to treat a bird day in and day out since you get even more attached to them. Some of the birds I've had did respond well to treatment and recovered, but they all relapsed within 6 weeks and died anyway. Kettle Corn was one such case, but after she died I vowed not to let more birds suffer. I assure you no one loves and spoils their birds more than I do, but at the end of the road you have to put on your "farmer" hat and do what needs to be done.
Fortunately not everyone has a super virulent strain of Marek's like I do. I've heard of some birds living for more than 6 months and doing fine. I have also read studies about people using anti-virals to treat Marek's. That is a route you could explore if you have medications available to you.