adult chicken weak and partially paralyzed, suggestions welcome


9 Years
Oct 20, 2010
I have a rhode Island red chicken that is at least 3 years old. She is our only chicken. She was purchased by my inlaws as an adult from a local chicken guy but it seems as though all of the adult chickens we purchased from him are rather old (most not laying anymore). Our chicken, Gertrude, was looking sick about 6 months ago, she had little ballance and appeared very weak. My husband and I took her home so that she would not be picked to death by the other hens. After a short period, it appeared that she had poor eyesight. Her eyes are not cloudy, her pupils/iris are clearly defined (no diffusion of color) and appear normal (no bluish grey like with Marek's). After hand feeding her for a few days, she recovered and started to fully adjust to her "impairment". during the summer she lived outside in a small pen with an enclosure, but free ranged most days. She would not however ever perch and although we put a "floor" in her pen, she prefered the ground. As the weather got colder, we decided to move her into a childrens playhouse. Put in fresh straw, kept clean, etc. About 4 days ago, we noticed that she did not get up when we came in. instead, she hoisted herself over with beak and wings. Her right leg seems limp and with no control, her left, while she can move it, seems very weak, as do her wings. She now is in the sunroom in a box where it is warm. Her appetite has been decreasing. Her normal diet is organic life layer pellets with some crushed oysters plus chick feed and lots of tomatoes and cucumbers (which she loves). today, all she will eat is a little tomato. We have tried giving her a mixture of feed, oats yogurt honey, egg yolk and apple but she will only peck at it. We have also tried electrolytes/poultry vitamins in the water, but she will not drink much. She lays with her eyes closed much of the time, but occassionally tries to drag herself around to a new position. She looks uncomfortable and tired. Her feet show no sores, bumps, lesions or scaliness. Her crop is normal feeling, but again she doesn't eat much. Her feathers are in tightly, her food is dry and mold free, and she rarely pecks much from the ground since shes practically blind, so i don't suspect botulism. Her stool is somewhat too green, there are urates visible throughout and it seems rather chunky rather than smooth. There is however, no blood, or visible worms or eggs (although she has not been wormed). We also notice a gurgling from her stomach/intestines. It sounds like a hungry stomach gurgle but I can't tell and it isn't normal. It is not however, respitory. I am really at a loss for diagnosis. If anyone has anything that could help, it would be appreciated. If there is something we can do for her and recovery is possible that would be great to know, otherwise i think we may have to put her out of her discomfort. Either way, I would like to know soon. Thank you all, this site is an excellent resource and we have read a lot of posts.
Hello, I wish I could help you, but maybe with the age of you hen you might want to google search Lymphoid Leukosis, There was a poster on recently that had older hens that had problems simular to yours and had a necropsy done and it was LL. just might be worth checking out for you. Hope you find some answers to help your girl.
thanks, yeah that was one possibility that we haven't ruled out. I was actually just reading about that when i noticed your post.
If she has not been wormed that might not be a bad idea even if it is not the problem it may take some stress off her system. I have not had sucess myself with it but many others have fixed up lethargic movement problems with Vitamine B. (edit iI missed you already tried the vitamines)

From a realistic prespective though it is a little tough to justify putting too much into a layer that is past prime. Maybe try to cover a few of the basics you can try yourself but if things don't improve rapidly best to cull and enjoy a new chick.
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Unfortunately, it could still be Marek's, although is usually occurs in younger birds. It could also be botulism...caused by moldy feed. I had one young bird with probable botulism and she got over it and is fine now. The one difference is that she continued to eat and drink well.

When a chicken stops eating and drinking, it is a bad omen.

Here is a link:

So sorry
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Despite the age, Marek's is still my number 1 guess, though I read that most older birds don't come down with it. I agree on the not eating as a bad sign, I did just get her to eat a piece of bread which was promising. Any thoughts on the gurgling stomach?
gurgling stomach in a human, means that food is moving along in the intestines. With diareah, it means more gurgling and gas?. Do chickens have stomachs? I suppose we are talking about intestines, and crop. Anything else come after that.....? Just thinking outloud, in case it could help.
Thanks all, she remains pretty unchanged, I just administered piperazine in case of any worms. She didn't enjoy that.
I have a 1year old Porcelain D'uccle rooster that has been limping for about 3weeks and yesterday when we went out to feed he wouldn't walk (couldn't walk) up until now he has been eating and drinking just fine but now he refuses. The only external thing I can see is a few broken foot feathers. Other than that his feet look very healthy. I am at a loss. Any ideas? We brought him in and isolated him in a very small area yesterday.

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