2 week old suddenly can't walk

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In the Brooder
11 Years
Mar 16, 2008
Could someone please offer some advice on this problem? We have 30, two-week old baby chicks of a variety of breeds. About four days ago, we noticed that one of the female Light Brahmas was acting lethargic and was very wobbly on her feet. This progressed for another day until she was unable to stand up and just fell over when she tried to walk. We moved her to a separate little brooder box and are maintaining the temperature as it was in the main brooder. She has food and water available within a few steps, but she doesn't seem able to get to them. My husband hand feeds and hand waters her every two hours.

We have a little bit of sugar and the correct dosage of terramycin in her water. She is eating Purina Mills Start and Grow Medicated feed.

Her legs don't seem paralyzed, as she is able to move them. I can't find any external damage to her legs, no sign of mites, and joints and leg size seem same as the other Brahmas. There are no broken bones and both legs are behaving the same way.

Other symptoms that have come and gone:

1. She started out four days ago with very runny, dark brown, diarrhea. This changed to soft, green poo yesterday. Today, poo is almost normal looking/solid, but still with a bit of a greenish hue.

2. Her eyes seem watery and her voice is a bit hoarse.

3. No discharge from nose. No sneezing.

4. Very lethargic, sleeps almost constantly. Falls asleep during feedings but wakes up to take a bite here and there.

5. Two other chicks in the main brooder are acting funny, huddling and scurrying on their haunches, rather than standing upright fully. When startled, they will stand up and appear to run normally. But when they're calm and just moving around scratching to eat, they stay huddled low on their haunches. As mentioned, this is only occuring with two other chicks (an Araucana and a Speckled Sussex). One other chick in the main brooder has diarrhea, but I can't tell who.

6. The sick Brahma does not have Spraddle Leg, as she is able to hold her legs underneath of her, they do not splay out to each side. They just seem incredibly weak!

I have tried to give as many details as I can think of, please ask if more info would be useful. I sure hope someone can offer some help, we are just heartsick that little "Carrot" is suffering and unable to walk. Thanks in advance for your help.
Give her some Poly-Vi-Sol drops (liquid baby vitamins/supplement) directly in her beak and add some to the water of all. You can also feed her some scrambled egg for added protein and vitamins. If you have resorted to having to hand feed her with a dropper you will have to keep it up all night till she is able to eat/drink on her own. Like a baby bird, feed her a little food/water every hour.
Where did you get them from?? There is another link on here that McMurray chicks have some weird disease, that starts at about 2 weeks that sounds alot like what your babies are experiencing.
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I'm seeing problems on another site with MM chicks.
weak legs..becoming lethargic, etc..
one poster's chicks did get cocci and mereks vaccines.

I'd go with Ruth's suggestions.
Thanks for the bump, I was worried that I might not get any answers. The vitamin suggestion was helpful. Is it possible that a baby chick could get rickets while on starter feed?? The symptoms I've read online seem to fit pretty well, but that seems strange to me. Isn't the chick starter feed supposed to have all vitamins neccessary? Is Vitamin D only available from sunlight? I'm confused....

Has anyone experienced vitamin deficiencies in chicks who were raised indoors and on a chick starter?

Steffpeck and Sammi,

Thank you for pointing out the other posts about chicks with leg problems. YES, MINE CAME FROM MCMURRAY TOO!! This is eye-opening and also very disturbing. Seems that there is a common thread of McMurray chicks having this problem, but we're all describing it in different breeds. Hmmm... that seems to possibly point to a disease or an incubation issue perhaps?

I just don't know what to do for this poor bird. I'm really worried about the other ones that are starting to exhibit similar symptoms. None of them have progressed downward as quickly as my little Light Brahma though.

I might add that the first 30 chicks I bought from McMurray this year all arrived dead. It was awful. I know it was a postal service issue to a large degree, but there was no insulation on the sides of the box. When I called to tell them about the arrival of the dead chicks, I begged them to put some kind of insulation in the box, or to overnight them. The second box of replacement chicks had insulating cardboard inserts which I'm sure helped them survive the trip. *I learned from this also and will never order in the winter again!* Anyway, the replacement chicks all arrived alive, but two of them died in the first day. And the clencher - one of the chicks they sent had NO EYES and was deformed in other ways too! I have not had a happy experience with McMurray, that's for sure.
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