Buff Orpington Leg Injury or Illness?


Aug 19, 2019
Hello All,
My beloved 3.5 yr old Orpington has gone lame this week. My husband noticed she was walking slower on Sunday of last week and by Thursday evening she was lame and laying down. Her left leg works fine and she will try to get up, however she doesn't stay up due to the balance issue. Her right leg and foot look completely normal other than it appears to be paralyzed (No swelling or discoloration). She doesn't act like shes in pain when we evaluate it and it just appears limp. The leg feels warm to the touch but nothing abnormal. She is eating when I hand feed her (tomatoes/watermelon/eggs) but is refusing her layer feed. We haven't seen her drinking as much. She seems mostly normal (alert, grooming her feathers, etc.) and tried to stand several times yesterday. She is also having fairly regular bowel movements so I've ruled out being egg bound. We have her separated from the rest of the flock. I am evaluating an avian vet but I know there are significant costs associated (First Baby due in October financially complicates things). Any advice provided would be extremely appreciated. The last few days with her like this have been an emotional roller coaster.
Lameness issues are the most difficult to diagnose. The causes are varied, and there is no good way to verify them with a living chicken. What you can do is try to figure out if there is some obvious cause and try to treat the issue with vitamins.

Causes of lameness can be Marek's, synovitis from MG respiratory illness, and neuro toxin poisoning from petroleum distillates or molds. Give vitamin E 400iu plus selenium plus B-complex. You can use ordinary human vitamins.
Have you added any new birds recently? Having a limp leg could be from an injury to a nerve, but Mareks disease should be considered. Mareks normally strikes younger chickens, but can happen at any time when exposed to a carrier.

It is possible to have infection or something internally putting pressure on the sciatic nerve in a leg. I would keep trying to see if she will move toes or use the leg.

Sometimes a chicken sling or chair can help to get them upright and in front of food and water, and make keep them cleaner. Some may try to wiggle out of them. If you use one, let her out often to move arond, stretch, and to sleep. Make sure that she can reach food and water. I recently took care of a hen for 5 weeks who could use her legs to stand, but had no balance to walk. She did recover. Here is a link for chicken slings and some reading about Mareks:

https://extension.umd.edu/sites/extension.umd.edu/files/_docs/programs/poultry/FS-1007 Recognizing and Preventing Mareks Disease in Small Flocks.pdf

No new additions to the flock and I had then vaccinated for Mareks when they were chicks. Not sure how long it lasts. I have been looking at a sling, will stop by this afternoon for materials. Thanks so much.
Let us know how she gets along. Hopefully she will recover use of her leg. Using some human vitamin B complex tablets 1/4 tablet daily would give some riboflavin, and that sometimes can cause a deficiency.
I will! Thanks!


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