Baby picking chest feathers! is in pain! HELP!!!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by funlvr, Apr 12, 2009.

  1. funlvr

    funlvr New Egg

    Mar 21, 2009
    San Francisco
    last night, one of my baby chicks (2 weeks old???) couldn't look up. it kept looking in between its legs and ended up flipping. i also noticed that it seemed to hurt if i turned its head. it seems to be picking its feathers, but is it a disease??? it has been vaccinated against mareks.

    what do i do???? i fed it food and water. but does it have a vitamin deficiency?but this is the only chick that has it. the rest of them are fine. what do i do?


    i tried to get it to drink, and when i picked it up, i realized that it's WHOLE neck/chest area, the feathers are all mangled!!! It seems that it IS picking its chest feathers! I touched the chest/neck area, and it seemed that it hurt it. The few feathers there are also dry and crinkly feeling. What disease is this??? What can I do to help?

    I also found that 2 other chicks have developed curled feet! They were all fine yesterday! What is happening to my babies???
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2009
  2. BFeathered

    BFeathered Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 29, 2008
    North Texas
    Don't know what to tell you, sorry.. I wouldn't be too reliant on any vaccines though, simply cuz. I hope your baby pulls through.
  3. cluckychick

    cluckychick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 29, 2008
    South of KCMO
  4. Glenda L Heywood

    Glenda L Heywood Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 11, 2009
    I will be honest with you
    I feel it is mareks
    and in my humble opinion I would discard it as if it is mareks it will shed dander and the other chicks will get it/
    most times as all chicks carry mareks but under heavy stress of too hot or too cold it will come down with it
    Glenda L Heywood
    Well, my experience with Mareks is that it is spread
    by the infected dander of the infected bird. The only
    experience I ever had was once when a man brought some
    8 month old Cochin Cockerels over to be butchered.
    Well, I did not take them into my chicken buildings
    but did store them in rabbit hutches for two days
    while butchering them. They all had been vaccinated
    for mareks when babies. As I felt the dander flying
    off the birds got into my pens as some of my old birds
    soon afterwards got the paralysis of the wings, legs
    and neck. But as each one became infected and signs
    became evident I killed them. Also it was at time in
    August when Iowa weather is very hot. That added to
    the stress of Mareks. I had no need to try and save
    them as to my thinking there is no cure but death for
    mareks infected birds. Most birds of this type become
    paralized and lay on their side and cannot eat or
    drink without you putting them up to the water or
    feed. So not much need to infect the rest of the
    This type of Mareks is a neutral type, loss of body
    weight, anemia, labored resporation and diarrhea are
    all common symtoms. Many birds that are pre laying age
    will come down with it.
    Mareks is a virus belonging to the Herpes virus
    The virus is concentrated on the feather folicles and
    shed in dander, being sloughed from skin and feather
    The virus has a long survival time in dander and can
    be found in chicken houses that have been isolated for
    long periods of time.
    Young birds are the most suseptible as the virus has a
    short period of incubation time.
    Mareks also has a visceral type,with lesions seen in
    the gonads, liver, spleen, kidney,and heart, lungs and
    muscles. Most birds dying rapidly with massive tumors
    inside the body.
    Then there is the Leukosis type Mareks disease,
    usually called gray eye. Which mortality is not as
    fast, but the blinding of the eye and gray iris in the
    eye. Then the emaciation diarrhea and death will
    The skin leukosis is in the feather folicles and
    causes skin lesions, this being the most infectious as
    it is in the dander and feathers.
    Most all hatcheries today vaccinate day old chicks for
    mareks and will only sell chicks non vaccinated if you
    order plenty ahead of time.It is a subcutaneous
    injection in a sterile environment. 90% effective
    vaccine.My reference material is from a Texas A&M Vet
    book on diseases. Also you can catch information at
    the web site of Mississippi University at
    Also my web site at
    has articles one of which is Mareks.
    If one does get this disease I would suggest burning
    the bodies as the feather dander would then be
    Also may I suggest that you feed your birds
    electrolytes and vitamins and good mash with fresh
    oyster shell and grit either boughten or can obtain
    river sand, most birds do not succumb to this disease.
    Feeding greens such as swiss chard, kale, turnip
    greens, mustard greens, chick weed, lambs quarters,
    and the like. Now regular head lettuce is a waste of
    time and energy as it is mostly water and no food
    value to the birds. Makes such a mess in the bird pen
    or house. I always raked up the greens if they were
    old and tossed them out, so as not to have spoiled
    feed for the birds.
    The vitamins and minerals from the greens is great for
    the birds.
    Also another item that can be fed to the birds is
    soaked whole oats with buttermilk and yoguart
    Take a gallon of whole dry oats and in a stainless
    steel or crock container put the oats and use a 1/2
    gallon of buttermilk and a quart of yoguart, any
    flavor, and soak over night and then stir and feed the
    birds in a clean trough. When they have eaten them
    wash the trough and dry for another days usage. This
    gives the birds a good source of stomach lactobicilus
    and stablizes the birds to not take on sickness so
    As you know clean water daily is very important to
    your birds health. Sanitize the waterers every week
    with a solution of 1 cup clorox in a 5 gallon bucket
    of water, let the wateres sit submerged in the water
    for at least three hours and then scrub with a bottle
    brush in clean water.
    As to the mareks situation I would take one of the
    birds perferably a live sick bird to a diagnostic
    laboratory and see what they say. If you have a
    agricultural lab around this is great. Call a Vet and
    ask where in your area there is one.
    Also if you start to vaccinate you will have to
    continue to vaccinate all hatches of birds.
  5. Mary Of Exeter

    Mary Of Exeter Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 10, 2009
    Rowan County, NC
    Sounds a lot like Paratyphoid. Probably best to get rid of it before it spreads to the other chicks. If it can't eat or drink, then it can't get the medicine in it, therefore it will die anyways [​IMG]
    An antibiotic would fix Paratyphoid, if you can get some in the poor little thing.

    Paratyphoid is more common in younger birds, and is often the culprit that causes a lot of deaths in chicks and baby turkey. It's caused by the Salmonella bacteria. There are vaccines for prevention.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2009
  6. LadyShred

    LadyShred Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 24, 2009
    Don't cull just yet!!! Separate it and read on:

    Does it still eat and drink? What breed is it? (very important)

    It may have a wryneck (spell check). Crest breeds are prone to getting this quite commonly. I had a little silkie that got this and he couldn't lift his head and he would run backwards with his head under him and flip on his back.

    Purchase some poly-vi-sol (baby vitamins) and drip a few drops in a shallow pan of water. Make the chick drink it. Also, buy some vitamin-E capsules and cut a hole in the side and squeeze the goo out for it to eat. I got the best results doing this by holding the chick in one hand and sticking the cut-off end of the capsule on it's beak and force-feeding it. Do it slowly though and make sure it doesn't get in the chick's nose.

    Things will get worse before it gets better. It took about a week for my silkie to start acting normal again. In all truth, it looks worse than it really is. Poor thing's just seeing the world in spirals. Please update and let me know how things are going with your baby.

    Good luck!
  7. funlvr

    funlvr New Egg

    Mar 21, 2009
    San Francisco

    It is a Rhode island red baby chicken. Right now, it's getting worse. We seperated it from the others, and now, it can't lift up it's head at all! I tried to feed it and give it water, but it won't accept it.

    It keeps trying to get its chest feathers but ends up flipping. Recently, it started wagging its head back and forth and keeps moving backwards, and then flips. If I hold it, it will calm down and sleep. I tried lifting up its head, but then i can feel it tremble as if it hurts. I noticed from an angle that I can see the neck and it's skin/meat. But it is growing and is getting it's feathers in, so I don't think it's too big of a problem.

    I think it might be crooked neck/wryneck, but it seems too.....crazy for the symptoms. Could it be a vitamin deficiency?? I have gatorade, so would that work if i dilute it? But it doesn't really make sense because this chick is the only one that has this sickness.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2009
  8. Matt A NC

    Matt A NC Overrun With Chickens

    Feb 22, 2007
    Morganton, NC
    Twisted neck can also be caused by improper injection of the Marek's vaccine.
  9. LadyShred

    LadyShred Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 24, 2009
    My baby silkie was going insane. They will go crazy if they have a wryneck because they're panicing. And a wryneck IS a result of a vitamin deficiency - lack of proper nutrients causes the neck to grow crooked, but it will straighten back out over time. Getting it the poly-vi-col and vitamin E capsules will cure that problem.

    I had 2 silkies and one was fine but the other developed this problem. It is rare for RIR to get it, but it is possible. It sounds like you're going to have to force feed the chick. Drip the poly-vi water on it's beak and tilt it's head to make it swallow. Same for the capsules. You can give a little to the rest of the chicks to make sure they don't start with the symptoms.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2009
  10. lilfarmgirl

    lilfarmgirl Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 15, 2009
    Central Ohio
    I had a silkie do the same, it had wryneck. I felt so bad for her. I heard it was vitamin deficiency, I also heard it could be from getting pecked on the top of the head. I finally culled her, she could not go out into the general population and we gave her vitamins, but they say if you don't catch it early enough, there is nothing you can do.

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