Chicken spreading legs while roosting

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by typayne, Aug 26, 2016.

  1. typayne

    typayne New Egg

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    Aug 26, 2016
    Hi everyone! I am new to raising backyard chickens and have raised my hens from chicks and they are now about 20 weeks old. I discovered one of my hens passed away this morning - I have no clue of the cause. Tonight another one of my hens is having a hard time balancing on her roost and has her legs spread on either side as if she was doing the splits. I noticed her butt was a bit dirty so my husband and I cleaned her up. When I sat her back down in the coop she seemed to have a hard time walking. She finally hopped up to a roost and had a hard time balancing and her legs immediately spread to either side again. I am worried...and not sure what I should do. Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    If you lose another quickly, be ready to send it for necropsy so you know what you are dealing with. Best bet is your state vet school or poultry lab. What state/country are you in?
     
  3. rebrascora

    rebrascora Overrun With Chickens

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    Doing the splits is a classic symptom of Marek's disease. They are also of an age that it is likely to hit them. Sometimes they die suddenly with it but others show neurological problems like lameness or wry neck or a dropped wing. Paralysis can be minor or sever. Some recover quite quickly and others deteriorate. Those that recover may have secondary attacks weeks or months later. There are mild strains of Marek's and very virulent ones. I know quite a bit about it because I have had it in my flock for 2 years now and I had to cull a young pullet a few days ago that was suffering badly with it. I had tried to support her for a couple of weeks but her quality of life had deteriorated too far. You may find a chicken sling (they can be made from a cardboard box and an old vest or t shirt is helpful in supporting her if she becomes unable to stand or support herself in an upright position.

    Of course, your birds may not have Marek's but it is an extremely widespread, common and easily contracted virus, so worth reading up on and as ChickenCanoe suggested, get a necropsy done if you lose another. Keeping sick birds stress free and well fed.... vitamins supplements can help with neurological problems, but there is no recognised treatment for Marek's at present. There are however several really good threads on the subject here on BYC where people are trying anti viral drugs as well as homeopathic remedies. It's a very unpredictable disease where birds are susceptible and develop symptoms in different ways.

    It is more prevalent at this time of year which may be because most chicks are reaching the vulnerable age (adolescence) now. I find it coincides with my cockerels reaching sexual maturity and starting to harass the pullets and in fact stress is known to be a key trigger. Of course the change in hormones at POL itself causes stress even without the agro from rampant males.

    Anyway, just some things for you to think about and perhaps research.
    Good luck with your sick bird.... I hope I am wrong and it is not Marek's.

    Best wishes

    Barbara.
     
  4. typayne

    typayne New Egg

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    Aug 26, 2016
    Thank you so much, Barbara. I was afraid it might be Mareks....she is hanging in there today, I still see her having a hard time walking
    but she is able to get to her food and water and up the ladder to the roost. I will try the sling and search for some homeopathic or antiviral remedies on the forum.
     
  5. typayne

    typayne New Egg

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    I am in California, I need to find a avian vet near me to do a necropsy if I lose my hen that's doing the splits.
    Thank you for your feedback, it is truly appreciated!
     
  6. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    A better bet rather than a vet is a poultry lab. Necropsies are free in CA.

    California Animal Health & Food Safety Laboratory
    University of California, School of Veterinary Med
    620 West Health Science Drive
    Davis, California 95616
    Phone: 530-752-8709
    IAV-A, ASF, CSF, CWD*, FMD, ISA*, ND, PRV*, SCRAPIE, IAV-S*, VHS*
     
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