Chicken's head and feet trembling

sarahbobo

Chirping
Nov 12, 2021
63
99
63
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Hi, I have a 7 year old Polish hen, Vera, whose head is trembling this morning. It's not the shaking that they do to communicate or when they eat, it's more like a pronounced shiver. She's walking around, eating and talking normally otherwise. I've noticed that during the colder months, her feet tremble as she steps, which they're still doing this morning. She does have scaly leg mites, which the flock is in the middle of an Ivermectin treatment for. The cold seems to bother her, even though we're not regularly below freezing yet. She often stays in the coop for around an hour after dawn. She puffs her feathers more than the others do. I didn't find anything like her particular situation on the forums. Does anyone have any idea what could be causing this? I just lost 3 chickens in 3 weeks and really, really don't want to lose another of my babies.

Edit: I somehow forgot to mention that she does occasionally put her head to the ground and walk backwards. I've been giving her vitamin E and a B complex daily for that.
 

Wyorp Rock

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Premium Feather Member
6 Years
Sep 20, 2015
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I'm sorry that you lost 3 chickens in a short period of time, did they die from illness or?

I was going to suggest that you give her Vitamin E (400IU) and B-Complex (1/4 tablet) daily along with some egg for Selenium, but since you are already giving her vitamin therapy, I'm not sure what else you can try.

Does she have any lice/mites on her body too? The Ivermectin should take care of those, but it would be worth checking her over for any bugs crawling.

Possible that it's age and breed related too.
 

sarahbobo

Chirping
Nov 12, 2021
63
99
63
Albuquerque, New Mexico
I'm sorry that you lost 3 chickens in a short period of time, did they die from illness or?

I was going to suggest that you give her Vitamin E (400IU) and B-Complex (1/4 tablet) daily along with some egg for Selenium, but since you are already giving her vitamin therapy, I'm not sure what else you can try.

Does she have any lice/mites on her body too? The Ivermectin should take care of those, but it would be worth checking her over for any bugs crawling.

Possible that it's age and breed related too.
Yes, they each had a different illness. I'm guessing it's due to their age plus it turning cold. One, I found dead in the coop one morning - she'd had metal poisoning for a couple years, and we'd been giving her a chelation medication for it. She also had a pendulous crop that I ordered a crop bra for, but she died before I could start using it. The second, Fleur, was one I posted about on here, who had gout and terrible bumblefoot. The third, Neo, was one I also posted about - I meant to update that thread. Her name was Neo, and she was also doing the walking backwards thing. She got very skinny and seemed weak and off balance, but was overall still living normally. Eventually I noticed in her poop that her food wasn't getting digested. She declined quickly, and before we euthanized her she'd been staying in the coop all day for 2 days and wouldn't eat even her favorite treats.

Edit: I forgot again (it's too early) to mention that Neo was also developing what looked like abscesses all over her feet and legs. I do wonder about the connection between that and her digestive issue, and the fact that Fleur also had abscesses all over her feet. I don't think Neo had gout because she wasn't having diarrhea or drinking a lot, plus I didn't see signs of articular gout on her feet. But it seems awfully strange that two ended up with terrible foot abscesses in such a short time. Maybe it's a result of the scaly leg mites? They both had visible cases of that.

I was planning to give Vera Brazil nuts for selenium, hopefully that's enough. Checking for other mites is a good idea, I'll do that today. Thank you.

I suppose it could be simple coldness, but I would expect her to be sitting fluffed up in the sun if that were the case, not walking around in the shade and not fluffed up.
 

sarahbobo

Chirping
Nov 12, 2021
63
99
63
Albuquerque, New Mexico
So, I haven't seen head trembling since the day I made this post, but her feet continue to tremble. She's now started to have loose poops too, which are beginning to look like she may not be digesting her food. She now has most of the symptoms Neo (edit: Neo is one of my girls who just died, referenced in my previous post in this thread) had before she died, except I don't think she's lost weight (she's always been skinny and still is). I haven't noticed blood in either of their poop and Vera is behaving normally. Could this be a result of prolonged vitamin E deficiency for both of them? I'm not sure why they would have this since they've always had adequate access to properly balanced feed, but then, I do give them treats daily. For a long time it was a substantial amount of sunflower seeds every day, but now it's usually a fruit or veggie and just sometimes sunflower seeds. Maybe it's coccidiosis, but it seems they get lethargic and less interested in food when they have that, and Vera is neither. Neo was weak but not exactly lethargic - she still ran for treats, but would spend most of the day sitting down and was wobbly when she walked. Should I try the medication (Am....y....something.......) for coccidiosis and see if it helps? Given how quickly Neo declined, I'm very anxious to do whatever I can to try to slow or stop Vera's decline, since I suspect they have the same thing.

It probably is just the vitamin E deficiency...for so long I had no idea what it was, and my vet said it looked behavioral, not like a neurological problem like I'd thought.....but I'm confused because loose poops don't seem to be a part of that. Plus, Neo had all those awful foot abscesses. Vera thankfully doesn't seem to have those yet, but Neo's took a while to show up too.
 

sarahbobo

Chirping
Nov 12, 2021
63
99
63
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Can you get a video of her actions?
Upload video to youtube and provide a link.
Okay, I got several videos of her but was unable to catch the foot trembling - which surprised me, because I thought she always trembled when she stepped. I don't know if I wasn't watching closely enough or if she's improving - hopefully it's the latter. I'm linking a video anyway, so you can see how she picks her feet up very far. I examined them for abscesses or bumblefoot - both fine. I wonder if it's the scaly leg mites, but my other girl who's equally symptomatic doesn't walk like that. Oh, and I also checked her for other mites - all looked good to me.

There's also one point where she shakes her head a bit oddly, at around 0:48. It's not as severe as when I saw her head shake the other day, which makes it hard to gauge whether it's neurological or behavioral. Not sure how informative this video is but thought I'd share it!

 

Wyorp Rock

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Premium Feather Member
6 Years
Sep 20, 2015
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Southern N.C. Mountains
That's interesting.
Does she seem to be able to see ok? She has no mites or debris in the ears right?

SLM might cause some odd stepping. You've treated with Ivermectin right? Have you considered also applying vaseline or oil to the legs to help them heal up? If the legs are really crusty from SLM mite debris, then washing them and applying oil may be soothing to her.
 

sarahbobo

Chirping
Nov 12, 2021
63
99
63
Albuquerque, New Mexico
That's interesting.
Does she seem to be able to see ok? She has no mites or debris in the ears right?

SLM might cause some odd stepping. You've treated with Ivermectin right? Have you considered also applying vaseline or oil to the legs to help them heal up? If the legs are really crusty from SLM mite debris, then washing them and applying oil may be soothing to her.
I haven't noticed her having trouble seeing, but I'll be on the lookout for that. You're right, I probably should soak her and apply oil - I'll do that and see if it helps. I should probably do it on my other girl with a relatively severe case, to help her heal better.
 

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