5 mo cockerel unable to stand

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We have a 22 week old East Frisian Gull cockerel that suddenly can’t stand. He can move his legs. I can’t find an injury. He isn’t paralyzed but is paretic. Anything we should be thinking of besides Marek’s disease (not vaccinated)? Euthanize or try to nurse him through it?
 

azygous

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Can he still wrap his talons around the roosting perch? Or are his feet curled up and immobile? When you try to have him stand, do his legs seem weak, or is the problem with balance?

In trying to diagnose leg problems, it's important to break the components down into working and non-working parts to try and get at the cause.

If it's not Marek's, it can be some other avian virus. It could also be some sort of neuro toxin that he's ingested. Could his feed be moldy? How about insect pesticides? Are there any machinery sitting in the yard leaking fluids onto the soil? These all can cause legs to stop functioning.
 

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Can he still wrap his talons around the roosting perch? Or are his feet curled up and immobile? When you try to have him stand, do his legs seem weak, or is the problem with balance?

In trying to diagnose leg problems, it's important to break the components down into working and non-working parts to try and get at the cause.

If it's not Marek's, it can be some other avian virus. It could also be some sort of neuro toxin that he's ingested. Could his feed be moldy? How about insect pesticides? Are there any machinery sitting in the yard leaking fluids onto the soil? These all can cause legs to stop functioning.
Ok a little more history: Housed in a 4x8 ft tractor with coop area, with another cockerel, who seems fine. No free ranging. Fed chick starter grower 17% protein, local mill. Cleaned out feeder tonight and there was some mold, but had just dumped and replaced yesterday. One or both has been tossing all feed out of feeder, where it can mold on the ground. Weather has been cold and rainy. He is mostly holding feet in normal position in the sling, but is not gripping my hand and right foot may be a little curled (see picture). He can stand briefly without the sling but then collapses. Offered him water, feed with dried mealworms, brewers yeast, grit and he seems quite hungry. He drank only a little water. Found in a pile of poop (washed in tub), and now poop seems a little loose but mostly normal.
 

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azygous

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I believe you have just made a pretty decent case for moldy feed and moldy soil where chickens pick up grit as a possible cause of your rooster's lameness.

What I recommend is to go buy some activated charcoal from the pharmacy on the vitamin aisle. Do this ASAP. For his initial dose, I would just pop a whole capsule into his beak, far enough back on the tongue for him to automatically swallow.

Charcoal binds with toxins rendering them able for the digestive system to pass out in his stools. Mycotoxin from molds are one of these toxins charcoal can bind with.

I would then sprinkle about a quarter teaspoon or half a capsule each day over his food, doing it for at least a week. It's completely safe and he can't overdose on it. At the same time, I'd give him B-complex vitamins to strengthen his legs, along with a capsule of vitamin E-oil and a sliver of selenium to fight any nervous system damage.

This may or may not work. But it's safe, and can't hurt to try it. I would also sprinkle some charcoal over the food of any other chicken that has come into contact with the mold, and continue to do so for a few weeks to be sure it's all out of their systems.
 

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Update: Lemonhead was maintained in a sling for a day; he appeared to eat and drink and feel better. I did administer vitamins and charcoal. The following day, he was very weak, and his neck twisted to the right. He was euthanized and necropsied by our state diagnostic lab. Marek’s was diagnosed. In retrospect, we missed a lot of signs that he was ill. He had stopped crowing and was dragging his tail the week before. I blamed that on depression about being locked in the tractor. Also, one of the two cockerels has tossed the feed out of the feeder. In retrospect, I suspect that Lemonhead couldn’t grab his food properly due to Marek’s, so was scattering it in his frustrated attempts to eat.
 

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