Chick can't stand up, can't hold head up, can't really move....happened quickly, what could it be? H


5 Years
Sep 15, 2015
East Texas
Yesterday morning my bf let the chickens out, which is something that I usually do. When I got home yesterday afternoon, I had a chick that was laying on the ground unable to get up. I asked him if she was like that when he let them out in the morning, but he said he did not see any of them having a problem. Monday night when I tucked everyone in for bed, she was just fine. So sometime during the day yesterday, something happened to her. I have no idea what. She is about 7 weeks old. I had put this group of 15 chicks out in the chicken house a couple weeks ago, with a safe hiding place for them not accessible by the older chickens. They can come and go with the rest of the flock as they want, but can always return to the safety of their corner if there is trouble. I don't know if maybe she got attacked by a larger chicken, or if it is something like mareks, but she went from being fine and perfectly healthy, to laying on her side unable to even hold her head up within a 12 hour period.

At first I thought maybe her neck was broken because she was as limp as a noodle. I tube fed her some kaytee exact with nutri-drench in it, when I tubed her she didn't even flinch. A couple hours later she had perked up a little bit and was pushing herself with her legs, but still unable to stand or hold her head up. Her neck seems to want to curl around to her back and under her. I thought maybe wry neck, but does any of this stuff like wry neck and mareks just happen super fast or could it possibly be an injury? She has had a few poops that looked really nasty, but I did not get any pics (I knew I should take one but I didn't, sorry :( )

I did not expect her to make it through the night. I tubed her again before bed last night and she cheeped while I tried to do so, which I thought was a good sign. This morning, I tubed her again and she fought me and did a lot of cheeping. She is still unable to hold her head up tho. Last night when I went to bed, I used a rolled up papertowel to make her a "pillow" to keep her head from curling around. This morning, she was all contorted with one of her legs out very far in front of her, the other curled under her, and her head and neck all twisted around behind her. But she did seem slightly less lethargic, in that she could fight me when I tried to tube her.

Also, I'm not really sure since she is not eating and drinking at ALL, how often and how much should I tube her so that she does not get dehydrated? She weighs about 8 ounces, but I do not have a very good scale. I am not really sure what is wrong with her or what to expect, so I am just going to try to keep her alive to see if she improves. Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!

Oh poor baby!!!
I am not really sure what the issue might be. If she was not attacked, which she could have been, this could be something genetic or some sort of vitamin deficiency. However with vitamin deficiencies, usually the weakness comes on a bit slower. So I would say either she was attacked and maybe has some sort of internal injuries or something genetic is going on and something internally is going on.

If she were my bird I would put her under a heat lamp, if you can, tube feed her some food and water. Even if you don't know the exact amounts, just get something into her and then hope for the best.

Keep us posted and I hope she makes it!!!!
I have such a heat lamp shortage :( :( I have her on the kitchen table, did have some hand warmers in her box too.... going to walmart now, I will see what they have in the way of something that can be used as a heat lamp! I was a little hesitant to put too much heat on her, since she cannot move.

Her poop last night was very runny and didn't look bloody, but had a darker orange-ish red look to it. Any intestinal problems that cause these symptoms? If she poops like that again I will get a good pic.
Injured birds go into shock very easily. Shock kills them faster than injury. The first symptom of shock is the bird gets really cold. So I would get some heat on her. about 80 degrees.

I would bet she somehow got pounced on or something, even if by accident, and she has some sort of internal injuries.
Poor bird. Definitely raise the temp so that she'll have better chance to heal. I found 85F to be ideal for sick birds.
I've used something as cheap as a small ceramic fan heater and kept my injured bird in a small bathroom when necessary.
Give her some probiotics (human stuff's fine), as it tends to perk up birds.

Here's what I used, if you can't find something more ideal such as a radiant heater at Walmart
I did not have much luck at walmart as far as a light goes, but I did get a good scale so I can weigh her properly.

I had my bf put her box on top of my heating pad until I can get home in a couple hours, that will at least give her a little heat. There are several layers of bedding and dish rags between her and the heating pad so hopefully she will not get too hot. I can put her in my son's bathroom with a space heater if need be.

I can't tell if her cheeping was because she was hurting, or just because she was scared, or both, but it did sort of sound like she was in pain. I could not see any bruising or red marks on her anywhere, however I really hope its just an injury and not something contagious. The fact that it came on so fast leads me to believe injury. She most likely got trampled by the other chicks while she was laying on the ground out there, so that probably did not help.

I am always reading stories on here about people who have chickens knocking on deaths door one day, then up and running around chasing bugs the next. I'm not expecting anything that miraculous, but I do hope she recovers.

I am really wondering how to know if I am keeping her hydrated enough, if she needs more or less liquid. I mixed the formula at 1 part formula, 1.5 parts water, then added some nutri-drench. I am tube feeding her kaytee exact baby bird handfeeding formula. I gave her 6ml this morning, I can just barely feel it in her crop, I feel like I need to give her more but don't want to over-do it.

Thankfully, with all the illness I've had going around, I was prepared for something like this with all the tubes and such. I feel like if I can tube her enough nutrients maybe she can gain her strength back and make a recovery. I really can't believe she made it thru the night, was almost sure she was not going to make it. The fact that she had a little fight in her this morning gave me a glimmer of hope!
I gave my sick birds their favorite treats while recovering. Blueberries were always their favorite, along with mealworms. Wishing for the best, and please keep us posted!
I have tons of mealworms, but unfortunately she is not even opening her eyes so I am afraid it would not interest her at the moment. With any luck, maybe here in the next few days she will perk up enough, I would gladly make her a mealworm, kale, and carrot salad!! That is a favorite of a few of my other patients lol! I will definitely have to add some blueberries to the shopping list for my spoiled babies.

Anyone have any suggestions for keeping her from getting covered in poop? I keep having to spray it off of her rear end in the sink because it just cakes all over her. I thought about making her a sling to keep her somewhat upright, she keeps trying to flip over it seems like. But she is just so lethargic, she is like a limp noodle. I feel so bad for her!! I am at work for about another hour and a half, I feel so helpless sitting up here knowing she is at home needing TLC!

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