Blind chicken

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by dragontattooist, Jan 30, 2017.

  1. dragontattooist

    dragontattooist Hatching

    Sep 23, 2010
    Hi guys, I have two hens at the moment. One is an ex battery hen, we've had her for about a year and a half - I'm guessing she is about 3 years old. The other is a light sussex and we've had her for.....well, a long time. At least 5 years so she is probably about 6-7 years old.

    One evening a few months ago, I found the sussex outside at dusk sat by herself. She didn't seem to want to move, even though the other hen was inside so I picked her up and put her in the house. In all honesty, I didn't expect her to make it through the night as I thought she had gone off her legs or perhaps had some kind of stroke. The next day however, she was totally fine so I was really pleased about that. I noticed over the next few weeks though that she seemed off. Her behaviour changed just slightly. She got a lot calmer (she didn't used to like being picked up but now doesn't mind) but she also did some weird things. I threw some corn down for them and instead of pecking at the ground, she just kinda wandered in circles over and over again. This sorta backed up my stroke theory - I thought maybe she had a period of restricted blood flow to her brain and it just made her go a bit....strange.
    Now we have been keeping them inside the coop what with the bird flu thing and I noticed her behaviour got worse. She is still eating and drinking but she seems to peck the air a lot just above her food bowl. She does this with the water dish as well so I just nudge her head down and she eats/drinks. The other day I was cleaning them out and she walked into my leg twice.

    I checked her eyes and they are clouded over. The pupils seem a weird shape - they are not round anymore. She has no discharge from them, no scabby bits, her weight is good and she can find her food/water and is eating/drinking as long as I leave the dispensers in the same place each day. She can see sudden or fast movement as far as I can tell - I dropped something in front of her and she jumped/backed away from it. She poops fine and her comb is a nice pinkish red colour.

    I can only really think this could be ocular mareks disease but I dont know how likely this is what with her age. The other hen is not affected in anyway at all. I am not able to go to a chicken vet as there are none around here - my local vet knows nothing about chickens. I'm a bit stumped really. I thought if it was mareks and it had started that night a few months ago when she was sat outside, she would have died by now or at least the other hen would be showing the same symptoms?

    I do not want to cull any of my chickens if possible. I don't mind looking after a blind chicken at all. My main concern is that I am moving house in a few months time and there will be at least a one month period where my chickens are going to live at someone elses house for a while (I will have no where to keep them while I am waiting to move). They already have chickens so I can't send them to someone else if they have a disease. I really don't want to put them to sleep on the off chance one has mareks as I know there isn't a test for it until post the same time, I cant risk someone elses hens. I'm very confused/upset about this.

    Any advice?
  2. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Free Ranging Premium Member

    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    I am not a vet, so I cannot say for sure why the pupils are odd shaped, except for possible Mareks. Cloudy pupils can be a sign of cataracts. There are quite a few eye disorders in chickens. I would not risk your friend's flock by bringing any of your birds with you. If the one has Mareks, the rest will have been exposed and should be considered carriers. The problem with rescuing hens is that you don't know what diseases may have present at their last home. Many diseases can be transmitted by non-symptomatic carriers. I would not someone bringing rescued chickens into my flock, even if they were family members. It might help if you post pictures of her eyes. You may want to consider getting a necropsy by your state vet to look for Mareks. That way you would know if the others could be carriers. Here are some articles about eye disorders:

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