Baby chicks with curled toes, walking on hocks. Spreading Fast.

merry hens

In the Brooder
11 Years
Jan 18, 2009
I have 25 chicks from the hatchery (laying breeds, pullets) that are about 3 weeks old now. I also have four other chicks with their mother in a seperate pen in the same room. They are about 5 weeks old.

Two days ago I noticed a chick was walking funny. I thought it was wierd that there was no sign of injury but I thought maybe she had twisted her foot and I would give it a day and see if she got better. The next day, one of the older chicks came up with the same symptoms. The day after that, another. And today, two more are walking the same way. They are all isolated now.

Their toes are weak are curled in and they are sitting on and walking on their hocks (this affects both legs). They don't appear to be listless despite not really wanting to run around. Their crops are all full of food, they are eating and drinking. There are no other visible symptoms such as labored breathing, runny nose, diarhea, etc.

So what could this be and what should I do in the meantime? I'm thinking it's either something very infectious or something in their food (since they are all eating the same food). Could it be Marek's disease? We didn't get them vaccinated this time.
this is what my guess would be it is. what hatchery did they come from? there is a hatchery last year i think it was had many babies hatched out with AE and they shipped them every where. i hope mabe this info can help ya.

Avian Encephalomyelitis
Synonyms: epidemic tremor, AE

Species affected: The disease is most prevalent in chickens less than 6 weeks of age. Pheasants, corturnix quail, and turkeys are natural hosts as well, but less susceptible than chickens. Ducklings, young pigeons, and guinea fowl can be experimentally infected.

Clinical signs: Signs commonly appear during the first week of life and between the second and third weeks. Affected chicks may first show a dull expression of the eyes, followed by progressive incoordination, sitting on hocks, tremors of the head and neck, and finally paralysis or prostration. Affected chicks are inactive. Some may refuse to walk or will walk on their hocks. In advanced cases, many chicks will lie with both feet out to one side (prostrate) and die. All stages (dullness, tremors, prostration) can usually be seen in an affected flock. Feed and water consumption decreases and the birds lose weight. In adult birds, a transitory drop (5-20 percent) in egg production may be the only clinical sign present. However, in breeding flocks, a corresponding decrease in hatchability is also noted as the virus is egg- transmitted until hens develop immunity. Chickens which survive the clinical disease may develop cataracts later in life (see Table 2 ).

Transmission: The virus can be transmitted through the egg from infected hen to chick, accounting for disease during the first week of life. The disease can also be spread through a flock by direct contact of susceptible hatchlings with infected birds, accounting for the disease at 2-3 weeks of age. Indirect spread can occur through fecal contamination of feed and water. Recovered birds are immune and do not spread the virus.

Treatment: There is no treatment for outbreaks. Infected birds should be removed, killed and incinerated. Recovered chicks are unthrifty.

Prevention: A vaccine is available.
They came from Ideal Poultry Hatchery. If this is what they have, would it be too late to vaccinate those who arent showing any symptoms yet?
i have never heard of this disease. This is bad, there seems to be more diseases coming from hatcheries now then anywhere else, i will never order again.
I had a similar issue last year with my BR bantams from a hatchery. I looked up the same info (a bit too late) and that's my best guess as to what happened. I found someone here who lost all 10 of hers from the same hatchery with the same symptoms just 1 week after I got mine. I recommend separating them now and being prepared to put any down if it looks like they are suffering. Do be sure to burn the bodies instead of burying them. If you want to keep any survivors, that's your call. Mine is a precious pet so...

I have always wondered what "unthrifty" meant in this context. Poor feed/egg conversion?

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