Ataxic hen, need advice **First post edited for additional information**

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Hopalong, Nov 11, 2013.

  1. Hopalong

    Hopalong Out Of The Brooder

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    I have a 1.5 year old red star (red sex-link) hen that needs some help.
    She is from a flock of about 25 hens, we raised her from a day old. She was purchased via mail order from a large hatchery, and was vaccinated for Marek's.
    She is very unsteady on her feet and uses her wings to help balance herself, but she can walk and will stand for long periods of time. She does sometimes just fall over. She is sternal or recumbent "sometimes", but actually stands more often than not. She's very alert and has an excellent appetite. She has eaten both a wet mash of layer crumbles, dry crumbles, moistened bread, and a whole pear (today!!).
    I think the whole episode began about a week ago when she didn't return to the coop in the evening and got locked out. We found her later that night in the pouring rain and put her inside. The next day she was horribly bedraggled. Her feathers looked like they never dried. I kept waiting for her to preen herself out but she never did. She began lying around the run, but she left the coop every day and returned to the roost at night. I gave her a chance to come around, but finally decided intervention was necessary. I brought her inside yesterday and gave her a bath first off. She was much dirtier than I expected, and had apparently been lying in her own waste [​IMG]. Once bathed and dried, I offered moistened bread and warm water, which she gobbled. Her poops are completely normal - mostly firm but a few sloppy (and really foul!) ones. Yesterday I gave a few drops of infant vitamins, and continued with them today. She's still eating really well and drinking well, too. She even gave me an egg today. She is in a laundry basket in the utility room. She doesn't seem stressed, is talkative and very bright - clear eyes, bright red comb, no nasal discharge.
    Since she's (supposedly) been vaccinated, I have sort of ruled out Marek's, but it's still on my mind. None of the others are exhibiting any symptoms whatsoever. I am wondering about the possibility of an ear infection, and so I started her on tetracycline today. Otherwise, I am out of ideas. Sorry about the length of the post, but I wanted to cover all the bases.
    I'd really appreciate any ideas.


    Is it possible that she is not ill, but rather has a neurological "condition" of some sort? I mean, something like a bonk on the head? I have put her back with the flock at this point. The roosters still court her, she eats well, the other hens don't pay her any attention at all. Other than being unsteady on her feet, she acts perfectly normal. Still looking for some sort of answer. Thanks!!
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2013
  2. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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  3. Hopalong

    Hopalong Out Of The Brooder

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    May 6, 2011
    Thank you so much for the information. I have been searching and reading as much as possible, but I'm still stumped.
    She is much the same today. She chatters in response to my voice, and although she hasn't previously been handled very much at all, doesn't seem perturbed with all of my fussing over her. She's not at all stressed with the new housing arrangements -she's bright, interested and very alert. Her comb is bright red, and as I mentioned, she laid an egg yesterday. Her skin color is good, feathers are tight and clean with no visible signs of parasites. She is in a laundry basket with no top on it. She looks over the side, and eats from the feeder I set on the adjoining windowsill. She makes no attempt to leave her little home.
    I suppose I will complete the course of tetracycline and hope for the best. I will probably cull her if she doesn't improve markedly - her quality of life would be horrid in the coop population and my husband would balk at the prospect of a permanent house- chicken.
    Still hoping for more input.....
     
  4. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    Thanks for the update. Tetracycline is used for a lot of ailments in chickens, so it may do her some good. I'm not sure what your coop set-up is, but if you can place her in a dog crate where she can see the others, she may enjoy being with the flock. Also if she got out to exercise with them just before dark, she would come in on her own. I found a couple of my favorite references for Mareks disease, but am hoping she doesn't have that.
    http://extension.unh.edu/resources/files/Resource000791_Rep813.pdf
    http://partnersah.vet.cornell.edu/avian-atlas/search/disease/502
     
  5. Hopalong

    Hopalong Out Of The Brooder

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    Wow, the Cornell site looks like a great resource, I must bookmark it!

    The good news, she doesn't really match any of those signs/symptoms, or perhaps just hasn't progressed to that point :/.

    She is still standing for long periods of time - standing to drink from nipple waterer, standing to eat, or just to kill time. She can walk around pretty well, but will lose balance if you try to interfere with her ambulation in any way.

    It is still pretty striking to me that she offers no resistance to handling. Most of my red stars are not given to hysterics @ handling like some of my other birds, but will still flap around and try to evade or escape. She chats with me when I am attending to her, is interested in whatever I have to offer and really seems to be trying to be a good patient. It also seems odd that she hasn't once tried to jump out of her topless laundry basket. She just stands there and watches the goings-on.

    I appreciate the advice of trying to let her visit with the flock, but we (southeast Missouri) just got a sudden cold snap -15* F last night, and only about 25* today. I'll have a little mercy and let her enjoy the tropics in the laundry room for a few more days.

    As always, hoping for more advice or other ideas.
     
  6. Hopalong

    Hopalong Out Of The Brooder

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    I just re-read my post, and wanted to say...was not -15*, but +15*. Still freakin' cold :p
     

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