Chick sometimes droops a wing-- am worried


8 Years
May 23, 2011
Creedmoor, NC
I have 4 chicks now, all a little over a week old. A few days ago, I was holding my RIR for quality petting time. Nothing of note happened--she sat quietly and calmly in my hand, no injuries, no flapping of wings, etc.

But when I put her back in the brooder, she hopped up on the perch near the heat light and immediately her right wing drooped and she leaned over to that side. It seemed like her leg couldn't support her. Looked a little like what I would imagine a stroke would look like.

I thought she may be too hot (the perch is quite close to the light unless she moves over to the other end of the perch) so I removed the light. She still listed to one side. I kept watching though and after a few minutes she was fine--wings normal, walking normally.

So I thought everything was fine--until today. This time it happened when I was holding her. Same thing happened, looked like she just lost control of that side of her body. She was trying to stand but just couldn't. And as before it went away after a few minutes.

Now I'm pretty worried and don't know what to do or what it could be. She's my favorite of the chicks and I'll be really sad to lose her. I'd appreciate any advice you guys have to offer.

Some other info that may be helpful for you all to know:

- I have all the chicks on medicated chick starter with a small amount of grit sprinkled throughout (But didn't have grit the first time it happened)
- The first time it happened, I had only paper towels as bedding, but now have pine shavings.
- I clean out their food completely every few days or when one of them messes in it.
- I clean the water out daily or more often if they poop in it or it gets nasty sooner
- I have noticed that they are acting like older chickens in that they scratch and dig thru the bedding. I've seen them eat a few tiny pine threads a couple times and I know they shred the paper towels. (and do so even more often now that they have pine on top.)
- They dump out what I think is a lot of food onto the ground and it sometimes gets buried under the shavings so they scratch to get it out. I clean it as best I can but they just keep doing it.

That's all I can think of that may be relevent. I really hope you all can help me, even if its just to tell me I'm being an overprotective mama.
My silkies started like that and then couldnt even sit up or stand up, I gave them polyvisol baby vitamins and after just one dose they were much better and by the next day they were fine. I have No idea why they were like this, the only thing I have done diff with these babies that I never did before was feed medicated food, it makes me wonder so I stopped the med and got the food I have used in the past.
So it could be a vitamin deficiency? Any side effects from using the vitamins I should know about? And how would I give them the vitamins?

Also, anyone else have any ideas as to what it could be?
This can also be signs of Marek's

Reminding you , I am not saying it is. but from experience, that is how I have seen it start out. The have what is called Drop wing, where one drops down, and they act like their Leg is paralyzed. It can fool people cause they may act like this for a short time or for 1 day and then IT GOES AWAY. This is a VERY CONTAGIOUS Illness that really is not treatable.
Here is a small amount of into on it:

Now, with Mareks, most birds (if they are to get it ) will catch it between 5-25 weeks of age. The most common type are eye, visceral (tumor producing), and nerve.
The nerve version is known by some Fanciers as 'down in the leg', and symptoms range from slight to severe paralysis in the wings, legs, or neck, and usually results in death from trampling by other chickens, and/or the inability to get to food and water. There can be 'transient' paralysis that disappears after a few days, such as a dropped wing that suddenly corrects itself. In the eye version, you'll detect an irregularly shaped pupil, cloudy eye ('gray eye'), or sensitivity to light. It can result in blindness. The visceral version should be considered when a bird is just generally 'wasting'.
Mareks is extremely contagious but does not spread vertically (to the egg). Youngsters should develop a natural immunity (called 'age resistance'), by the time they're five months old. This is one of the reasons it is important to raise your youngsters separately from your oldsters. The older birds that have encountered Mareks and have managed to survive are carriers. New birds coming in from other flocks are always potential carriers.
Cutaneous form: Enlarged reddened feather follicles and white bumps on the skin that form
brown crusty scabs.
Neural form: Characterized by one, all, or none of the following symptoms -
• Progressive paralysis, usually of the leg or wing, a typical leg-paralysis victim will
have one leg extended forward and one leg extended back. A swelling of the sciatic
nerve is the cause.
• Weight loss
• Labored breathing
• Diarrhea
• Starvation and death due to an inability to reach feed and water and to trampling by pen mates.
• Cutaneous (skin form)
• Neural (nerve form)
• Ocular (eye form)
• Visceral (internal-organ form)
Ocular form:
• Gray eye color
• Misshapen iris
• Weight loss
• Blindness
• Death
Visceral Form: Tumors on internal organs including heart, ovary, liver and lung.
I'll try the vitamins first and see how it goes.
ill keep my eye out for those other symptoms tho.

Some follow up questions: my chicks are only about a week and a half old. Can they catch Marek's that young?
I give them a squirt of vitamins right into their mouth, I use a tiny syringe and give it that way and after they are walking fine I don't give them any more, just a few days worth, it helps Right away, the next morning they are fine. I had one so bad he couldnt even sit up or use his legs, I was sure he was dying, after 2 doses of vitamins he was acting totally normal
My week olds started doing this when they were beginning to learn to dust bathe. Looks like they were crippled or something!
Running around just fine, then start the wing drop and rolling to the side. I took them outside for a little r&r and they found a cool spot in the dirt and for about 15 minutes chirped, rolled, was hilarious! I read somewhere on BYC about the dust baths, so I wasn't too freaked out...but it was concerning to see!

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