Crazy narcoleptic welsummer - UPDATE: She didn't have to be culled!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by HHandbasket, Jul 11, 2010.

  1. HHandbasket

    HHandbasket The Chickeneer

    I have a welsummer pullet who is about 3-1/2 months old. A couple of weeks ago, I noticed she just kinda closes her eyes a lot. I attributed it to her being sensitive to the wind, maybe, I dunno.

    Anyway, about a week ago, I noticed she is "narcoleptic". I don't know if there's a different word for it... but narcolepsy in humans is a neurological disorder wherein a person just falls asleep in the middle of normal activities. Martha has gone from just closing her eyes to falling out fully asleep (sometimes standing up) when she's in the middle of foraging or doing some other social activity with the other chickens, etc. They'll move together in a group around the yard as they hunt for bugs, but poor Martha gets left behind all the time because she just falls out asleep. I have had to pick her up more than once and put her back in the pen when it was time to go in because she fell asleep in the middle of her little chicken activities & didn't follow the rest of the flock back into the run. She doesn't care for being picked up, and she was a little startled when she realized what happened.

    Has anyone else had a chicken that does this? She is the smallest of the flock, obviously at the very bottom of the pecking order (though not abused by her larger pen-mates, just at the bottom of the order is all). She is eating and drinking perfectly fine, comes for treats, is eager to leave the pen and run with her "sisters" when it's free-range time. She's just... narcoleptic.

    Thoughts, ideas, please?
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2010
  2. cptkracker

    cptkracker Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 11, 2010
    If she lays fine keep her! I personally think thats cool!
  3. crazy chook

    crazy chook Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 8, 2010
    Langwarrin, Victoria
    I have never herd of a chicken like that?

    If she is happy & healthy and the others don't pick on her very much, I think she will be fine.

    Post a pic for us of her. [​IMG]
  4. Show Me Chick

    Show Me Chick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 10, 2010
    She sounds sick to me. How do her droppings look? Is she starting to hang her wings in a downwards postion? I just recently had a young pullet that was acting sleepy all the time and she died a few days later. I think she had a bad case of coccidiosis which I should have treated sooner.
  5. HHandbasket

    HHandbasket The Chickeneer

    She has always been kinda the runt of the flock from day 1, and this actually started maybe 3 weeks ago and doesn't seem to be getting any worse. No one else is picking on her, and she otherwise seems fine. Everybody's droppings look good & they all look the same (brown, formed, a little soft when it first comes out but not runny or diarrhea-like or anything like that, though sometimes everybody's poops are a little green if they've been eating spinach and grass and stuff, but the stools are still well-formed and normal-looking). That's why I think it's a neurological condition. She does not show any other signs of being sick whatsoever. Her eyes are bright and clear, and she has a voracious appetite and is drinking lots of fluid. She came and stole a cherry tomato off my chair this morning when we were out in the garden & ran like crazy with it! Her feathers and skin look good, she doesn't appear to have any respiratory difficulties, isn't dropping feathers, and otherwise is exactly like the rest of the flock with appetite, health, and behavior. She just ... goes to sleep. She's not sleepy all the time... she can be active out in the yard and just stops mid-step and stands still, closes her eyes, and within about 30 seconds, she's smooth out. Darnedest thing I've ever seen.

    I had an aunt that had narcolepsy which is why I first thought of that. She'd just fall out asleep mid-sentence when you were having a conversation with her. It's a good thing she and my uncle owned their own business because she would have had a hard time keeping a job. She had a number of car accidents in her 40s and 50s because of it & they finally stopped letting her drive when she was around 60 (she never told DMV she had problems staying awake). She was otherwise a very healthy, normal woman (well, as normal as anyone in my family CAN be LOL) and lived a full life well into her late 70s.

    We have yet to see if this wellie lays eggs ok. She's not old enough yet. Being the youngest of the flock, she's a good 6-8 weeks away from laying. She is smaller than the other birds but has had good growth in the 7 weeks she's been here with us and has been the smallest from day 1.

    You mentioned coccidiosis... is there something I should be giving her/them just in case that's what it is? Although I see no other signs of illness, I am inclined to think it's not that--but it doesn't hurt to know what the treatments are just in case.
  6. HHandbasket

    HHandbasket The Chickeneer

    Well, you were right. She is very sick. Over the past 3 days, while she has continued to eat and drink, her activity has decreased. Today, I picked her up & she has very, very little meat on her bones (last time I held her, which was maybe Friday/Saturday, she felt much more robust... she wasted very quickly). She is not even standing up now. I am going to sit with her in my lap this evening, and we are going to cull her later tonight. She is obviously in a lot of pain and is suffering and did not come out of the pen with the rest of the flock for free-range time this evening.

    I also did catch her pecking some shards of glass a few days ago that I didn't even know were in the yard... they were in a far corner, from a previous resident that lived here. I do not know if her present bad condition is just a worsening of whatever was happening before, or if it is a result of glass ingestion.

    The rest of the glass shards have been taken up. They are only like a few millimeters each, looks like pieces of a previous broken vase or window or something.

    This is the first time I've lost a chicken. She has the PRETTIEST feather pattern, too.

    I will post again when the cull is done and she is in Chicken Heaven, eating fresh mealworms and melon and grapes (her favorite things) and chasing bugs.
  7. hudsonhousechicks

    hudsonhousechicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 2, 2010
    Oh, this makes me sad. I am so sorry to hear about your little hen. We have an Orpy that we always joke has chronic fatigue syndrome because when I sit in the yard she runs to my lap, gets comfy and falls asleep but your situation is much different. I wonder if it was the little glass shard. I wonder about them eating things like that because they will eat just about anything. My thoughts are with you.
  8. HHandbasket

    HHandbasket The Chickeneer

    I need some advice/help.

    We need to put this poor bird out of her misery. I have heard the quickest, most painless way is to behead her. What if we miss? What if we have to hit her twice? I am so scared of making this worse than it needs to be.

    My husband is doing to be doing it, and I cannot participate. I am so upset. I thought I would be able to do it, and now that it's time, I can't. He is hesitant, as well. He is worried about not getting a clean cut on the first drop of the axe, like what if she twitches or moves (which I doubt cuz she's barely moving now).

    When we do finally get it done, what do we do with the carcass? We were thinking about burying her, but I am worried Ginger (chocolate lab/mutt mix) will dig her up. I think I'm going to bury her and cover the spot with bricks so Ginger can't dig her up. I don't know what else to do.
  9. Dora'smom

    Dora'smom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 14, 2009
    I always hear that the quickest way to cull is to use the axe, or there is a way to snap their neck, though I don't recall how that is done well enough to tell you. The details of several methods of culling are listed here---you could search them.
    As far as your idea of burying, and placing a number of bricks on top of the grave, that is what has worked for us with our beloved kitties. We have two large Goldens, and they love to dig, but have never attempted where the bricks are. Good luck, I am sorry that you are having to do this, and wish you peace in your decision, and that this goes quickly for everyone involved.
  10. HHandbasket

    HHandbasket The Chickeneer

    Well, we went out the next morning to cull her, and she was peppy and fired up and was the first one out of the run in the morning when we opened the door to let the girls out. So, hubby and I took a li'l drive and went out to talk to a real chicken breeder here in the county. She hooked us up with treatments and antibiotics and vitamin supplements for the birds & she is already showing signs of improvement after only 1 treatment. I hate having to inject her, but it is better than snappin' her neck.

    I'll keep you posted and we'll see how she does. Already her eyes are clearer! She was out free-ranging with the rest of her sisters again this morning & was happy to let me catch her and set her in my lap for a little while. One of the other chickens got jealous (the barred rock) and jumped up in my lap right along with her!

    More news as it happens....

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