Chick with leg injury? - Chick died, UPDATE post 3, PHOTOS post 6

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by dancewithleela, May 18, 2010.

  1. dancewithleela

    dancewithleela Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 1, 2010
    Cheshire, Oregon
    Hi all,
    I registered a little while ago, but this is my first post. I have a small flock of bantam chickens, all free range. One hen has a batch of 7 three-week-old chicks, that have been free-ranging with her for one week (before that, mama and babies were in their own special section of the coop, with their own separate run). All chickens are closed up in the coop at roosting time, and let out again first thing in the morning. Mama and babies are closed back in their own section of the coop at night, so that there's less chance of chicks getting trampled or picked on while they're all confined.

    This morning when I opened the coop, only 6 chicks came out with the mama hen. I could hear the other one crying inside. Mama went back in and looked at it, then left with the other chicks. I found it in the coop unable to walk very well. It appears that she's having problems with only one of her legs, but I can't be certain that it's not both. I couldn't find any obvious fractures or dislocations, but when I pick her up it almost seems like that leg is non-functional - it just hangs there. She moves about by "scuttling" on her hocks, and when she sits her toes curl.

    I did look at curled toe paralysis as a possibility, but I think is seems unlikely. It really seems like the one leg is painful - I saw her try to stand up at one point and she cried out and tipped over on that side.

    Right now, she's in the house with me in a small aquarium, so she'll stay warm and safe. I've lined the bottom with a thick towel to give her some support and traction, and covered that with wood shavings. She's eating and drinking well.

    I'm looking for help in a) making a reasonable diagnosis - leg sprained or broken? how to tell the difference? curled to paralysis?, and b) possible home treatments.

    1) What type of bird , age and weight.
    Three-week-old bantam chick - mixed breed, from a Sebright hen by one of our unknown breed bantam roosters. I don't know her weight, but she's the same size as her six siblings (so I believe she's growing normally).

    2) What is the behavior, exactly.
    Unable to walk or stand, as described above. Appears to be a problem with only one leg, but I can't be certain.

    3) How long has the bird been exhibiting symptoms?
    I found her this way when I opened the coop this morning. She was fine when mama hen took them inside last night.

    4) Is there any bleeding, injury, broken bones or other sign of trauma.
    I can't find any obvious injury, but trying to stand up did appear to hurt her (she cried out and toppled toward the affected side).

    5) What happened, if anything that you know of, that may have caused the situation.
    I don't know. My guess (if the consensus seems to be sprain or dislocation) would be that mama hen stepped on her leg sometime between lock-down last night and the opening of the coop this morning.

    6) What has the bird been eating and drinking, if at all.
    Before this happened, she was free-ranging with mama and her siblings - so lots of bugs and grubs and greens. Plus organic chick starter available 24/7. I alternate plain water with water/ACV/garlic on each refill. Now she's in the house with chick starter and plain water.

    7) How does the poop look? Normal? Bloody? Runny? etc.
    Normal.

    8) What has been the treatment you have administered so far?
    Nothing so far besides bringing her in the house and examining her, and making sure she got some food and water. I do have some Poly-Vi-Sol on hand, so may give her a drop of that as a booster.

    9 ) What is your intent as far as treatment? For example, do you want to treat completely yourself, or do you need help in stabilizing the bird til you can get to a vet?
    Ideally, I'd like to treat it myself and get her back out to mama as soon as possible. Our mama hens reliably quit mothering around the 5 week mark, so I'm hoping to re-introduce this one before that to ensure she's accepted back with her siblings and the rest of the flock...

    10) If you have a picture of the wound or condition, please post it. It may help.
    I don't know if a picture would show much - as far as I can tell, the affected leg looks just like its partner. She just stopped crying and calmed down enough to go to sleep, so when she's next awake I'll try taking one and posting it.

    11) Describe the housing/bedding in use
    As of a couple of hours ago, in an aquarium in the house with a towel laid down for traction and wood shavings on top. Prior to this morning, she was in the special broody area of our coop with straw bedding overnight and free-ranging with mama and siblings during the day.

    I'm sorry this is so long, but I wanted to be as complete as possible. Thank you all in advance for any assistance you can offer!
    Teri

    Edited title 5/20 to include updates.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2010
  2. HorseFeatherz NV

    HorseFeatherz NV Eggink Chickens

    Oh I am sorry for your poor little chick [​IMG] how is it doing?



    I am hoping it was just a sprain - maybe momma step on her accidentally - or she was jumping around and landed awkwardly. I am no help, but will give you a bump.


    And [​IMG]
     
  3. dancewithleela

    dancewithleela Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 1, 2010
    Cheshire, Oregon
    Genny, thank you so much for your reply!

    The little chick died yesterday morning, just 24 hours after I found her with her apparent leg injury. By late that first day, it was clear that her other leg was also affected, but she was still alert and still eating and drinking, and her poop looked normal. By morning she had lost most of the function in one of her wings, and it was clear that she wasn't going to make it. Shortly before she died she started holding her head back in a "stargazing" position, and she died in that position.

    My first thought was Marek's, but further research makes it appear that Marek's takes at least a couple or more weeks to travel through the body and start showing these symptoms - could it have worked its way through this chick that quickly? It's possible that it is in my flock and she, for whatever reason, did not have the immune system to deal with it. But the rest of my flock appear to be healthy, including her clutchmates, the 6-week-old clutch, and the 12-week-old clutch (yes, my girls go broody quite frequently), as well as the adults.

    I'm working on getting some photos downloaded and posted - I'd still love any help/thoughts/ideas on a possible diagnosis. I've been watching the rest of the flock like a hawk for any signs of problems; I'd love to figure if this is something random like poisoning or maybe she picked up something bacterial that she couldn't shake, or if this is something in my flock that I need to watch out for. Her body is currently wrapped in several layers of plastic and in my fridge, in case it seems I need to perform a necropsy or send her somewhere for testing.

    Thanks in advance Genny or others for any insight you might be able to offer!
    Teri
     
  4. HorseFeatherz NV

    HorseFeatherz NV Eggink Chickens

    Oh Teri, I am so sorry [​IMG]


    Wow, I have no idea - I have not had to deal with Marek's, so only know what I have read and like you think it does take weeks not days/hours to show and finally kill - but [​IMG] . Maybe something toxic - would not take much at all for a chick, and may show no signs in an adult? Or the other I thought, could maybe her back have been broken some how or nerve damaged? I am just guessing, which is not much help.


    Really hoping it is nothing that will spread thru your flock [​IMG]
     
  5. dancewithleela

    dancewithleela Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 1, 2010
    Cheshire, Oregon
    Thank you, Genny. And thanks for your guesses - all I've got to go on right now are guesses... and more guesses give me more ideas to consider...

    Yes, maybe nerve damage - though I wonder if that could've killed her so fast. She was getting around really well at first, just by scuttling around on her hocks - I wonder if she would've been able to do that with a broken back, but yes I'm sure that's also a possibility. And, yes, also possible that she found a toxic plant.

    I'm glad to hear someone else concur with my findings on Marek's - I'm not totally ruling it out yet, but at least it seems unlikely that it would've moved through her that quickly. And really, she was (at least outwardly) totally fine at "bedtime" the night before. I happened to be near the coop when mama Shygirl took all seven chicks into the coop. All were running about and playing and eating and chirping like normal.

    I've got some photos of the progression which I'm uploading now, though at the end I was mostly holding her and not taking photos.
     
  6. dancewithleela

    dancewithleela Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 1, 2010
    Cheshire, Oregon
    Okay, here are some photos of the chick. All except the last one are from early on in the progression, maybe several hours tops after I brought her into the house. The last one is from just before she died. (This is my first time trying to post photos, so I hope it works...)

    This is her position when she was resting or sleeping. At this point only the one leg was affected, leading me to think it was a leg injury. At first she was able to sit up on both hocks and scuttle around that way. By the time I took this photo, she was scuttling around on one hock and dragging the other leg behind her.
    [​IMG]

    This was her "alert" position for most of the day. Her left leg is useless and stretched out behind; at this time her right leg was still functional.
    [​IMG]

    The "useless" leg was moveable - if I tucked both legs under her and let her rest against my hand she could sit up.
    [​IMG]

    But she had no control over the "useless" leg - as soon as she tried to look at something on my leg, her left leg slipped out from underneath her - she couldn't keep it under her.
    [​IMG]

    Here, you can kind of see that her right leg was functional; she had just propelled herself to her food dish.
    [​IMG]

    And she clearly still alert and eating/drinking:
    [​IMG]

    By later that evening, it began to appear that her right leg was also affected. She could no longer use it to move herself around. She tried to use her wings to flop herself around but mostly just ended up stuck in weird positions. She was still eating and drinking, but I had to pick her up and place her in front of her food and water, and hold her in a "sitting" position. I didn't take any photos of this part. In addition to helping her eat and drink when she no longer could get there on her own, I also used a small tincture dropper to give her a tiny drop of Poly-Vi-Sol in the side of her beak 2 or 3 times, several hours apart.

    For overnight I made her a little "nest" out of a washcloth, folded over in such a way that it gave her some support. In the morning, I found her flopped out on her side in the middle of the aquarium, clearly unable to move or right herself, with the wing underneath her at a weird angle above her head (I didn't take a photo of that). When I lifted her up, I could tell she had lost function in that wing as well. I managed to get her to drink a little bit of water by putting some in a bottle lid and holding it to her beak. She did take a few swallows, but then her neck started moving back to a "stargazing" position and staying there. I gently place her back in her washcloth "nest" and went outside to tend the other chickens (after washing my hands well and changing clothes). I got back inside just in time to see her take her last couple of breaths.

    This last photo is was taken not too long before she died, and shows the "stargazing" position of her head.
    [​IMG]

    Does this look or sound familiar to anyone? I mostly am just hoping to make an educated guess as to whether I need to worry about the rest of my (currently seemingly healthy) flock, or if it's likely that this was just one of those things - some sort of toxicity or poisoning, nerve damage, broken back, possible nutritional deficiency, or...?

    Thanks again in advance for any thoughts!
    Teri
     
  7. SeaHen

    SeaHen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 14, 2009
    Springfield, OR
    This will not be helpful and is only a guess, but your description of your little chick reminds me of botulism. My Rouen drake was diagnosed with it last year and had the same progressive neurological symptoms as your little one, beginning with loss of function in one leg, then the other, and finally developing full-body paralysis and wry neck. I'm not familiar with it in chickens, especially one so young, but it supposedly is one of the most common diseases in poultry. I consulted Dave Holderread, who is considered one of THE authorities on waterfowl, and he told me that in his entire life and career he has only seen ONE case of it personally. I think Marek's disease would be more likely, but the fact that it happened so quickly and that none of your other chicks is affected doesn't sound right. It appears to be a neurotoxic course of some type though - bacterial, viral or chemical. I'm so sorry!
     
  8. HorseFeatherz NV

    HorseFeatherz NV Eggink Chickens

    [​IMG]


    It sure progressed fast - hoping the pictures help and others have ideas [​IMG]
     
  9. dancewithleela

    dancewithleela Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 1, 2010
    Cheshire, Oregon
    Genny, thank you so much for your well wishes.

    And SeaHen - Thank you! To the contrary, I think your suggestion was very helpful.

    [​IMG]s forehead:

    I know about botulism, and for some reason it never occurred to me. Sounds awfully similar to what happened with your drake (so sorry about him, by the way). I also thought Marek's to be the most likely culprit, but my research has led me to believe otherwise.

    This is from an article on Marek's Disease on the First State Vet Supply website:

    Approximately five weeks after infection takes place the Mareks Virus has sufficiently infiltrated vital organs and nerves that paralysis soon occurs.

    (Here is the link to that article: http://www.firststatevetsupply.com/poultry-health/mareks-disease.html)

    It
    just seems like the virus doesn't get to the paralysis and death stages as quickly as what happened with my chick (plus, she was only three weeks old).

    Anyway, I think botulism is a really good suggestion and I'm off to research it!

    Thanks again SeaHen and Genny!
    Teri​
     

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