Cochin Can't Walk


In the Brooder
8 Years
Aug 25, 2011
I have a four month-old cochin who just stopped walking on Friday. Found her under the coop, she couldn't come out. I pulled her out with a rake and isolated her for the night. Since then I've discovered that she can't walk or stand. Her legs don't seem to work. So now I have a lovely slacker who sits in a wooden soda case tray watching and chattering all day. She eats, poops, doesn't seem to drink, and has deep conversations with the cat. What's going on here?
Not walking like that sounds like Marek's. Was she with other chickens? I could say maybe botulism, but she would not be eating and happy with that. She would not look too good if it was an injury. Keep her isolated until you know.
I agree with the other person that posted.Mareks is a very common poultry disease
Synonyms: acute leukosis, neural leukosis, range paralysis, gray eye (when eye affected)

Species affected: Chickens between 12 to 25 weeks of age are most commonly clinically affected. Occasionally pheasants, quail, game fowl and turkeys can be infected.

Clinical signs: Marek's disease is a type of avian cancer. Tumors in nerves cause lameness and paralysis. Tumors can occur in the eyes and cause irregularly shaped pupils and blindness. Tumors of the liver, kidney, spleen, gonads, pancreas, proventriculus, lungs, muscles, and skin can cause incoordination, unthriftiness, paleness, weak labored breathing, and enlarged feather follicles. In terminal stages, the birds are emaciated with pale, scaly combs and greenish diarrhea (see Table 2 ).

Marek's disease is very similar to Lymphoid Leukosis, but Marek's usually occurs in chickens 12 to 25 weeks of age and Lymphoid Leukosis usually starts at 16 weeks of age.

Transmission: The Marek's virus is transmitted by air within the poultry house. It is in the feather dander, chicken house dust, feces and saliva. Infected birds carry the virus in their blood for life and are a source of infection for susceptible birds.

Treatment: none

Prevention: Chicks can be vaccinated at the hatchery. While the vaccination prevents tumor formation, it does not prevent infection by the virus.

If the bird does not show signs of improvement within the next three or four days I would start thinking about culling it. Good Luck.​
Yup; the literature makes it look like it might be Marek's disease. Interestingly, I had a meat bird display similar symptoms in June. I nursed her back to what I then thought was full health and she ended up eventually fulfilling her duty to reside in my freezer. I'm also thinking that if it was/is Marek's disease, wouldn't I have more birds down?
With the paralysis, sometimes they do recover-only to get it again . My roo went 2 weeks before he got it again.
It's still going thru my flock, but sporadically now. I had 10 chicks a few months ago, they died one every week or two until there was none left, happy as clams, just wasting away.
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Are some of your birds vaccinated? Do you also own turkeys?

I'm not sure which, if any, were vaccinated. I've learned that some hatcheries vaccinate at one day old, and all but two of my birds came from the "feed store guy". This means that some came from his neighbors, some from hatcheries, and some I just adopted from a friend who was moving to the suburbs. And no, no turkeys.

This silly bird is chatting up a storm, eating and drinking like it's her job, too. She doesn't seem at all sick. She does list over to her left side a bit now and then.​
Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and information on this. In an effort to try to protect the rest of my flock, I decided to cull the chicken, and after reading everything I could find on humane chicken slaughter and worrying over it all night, I did it this morning. I've got a pounding sympathy headache, but feel like I took a step toward being a good chicken mom.

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