Dementia in Chickens?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by BearBee21, Oct 16, 2017.

  1. BearBee21

    BearBee21 In the Brooder

    Jun 18, 2014
    Staunton, VA
    I have a dozen chickens between 3 & 4 years old. I have noticed one always lags behind the others especially when I toss out treats. She seems kind of lost and wandering about. Does anyone know if chickens get dementia? I don't see why they wouldn't. Thoughts?
  2. SueT

    SueT Crowing

    May 27, 2015
    SW MO
    I have a D'Uccle pullet that acts that way. All the others are quick to figure out what's what, where, who, when,how, and why.But she turns around in circles, confused, and thus misses out on a lot.
    I think you are right, they probably do get dementia, but this pullet is young. I think she's just not very smart.
  3. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    I'd sooner think vision problems or neurologic issues.
    aart, rebrascora and microchick like this.
  4. microchick

    microchick Crossing the Road

    Dementia in humans is something that you generally see in geriatric medicine or as a secondary condition following a major health problem, stroke, heart attack, Parkinson's disease, etc. In the case of vascular dementia, brain tissue suffers death from lack of blood flow. Think of the brain as taking on the appearance of a Swiss Cheese.

    All kidding aside, a chicken's brain is so small that I cannot imagine it 'swiss cheesing' and the chicken have any function at all. That doesn't preclude them having neurological problems that can affect their brains. I've seen several of my birds develop neurological problems due to Marek's disease. One cockerel would turn in tight circles as if he couldn't make up his mind which way to go. Towards the end he had declined to the point where he would spin on a shoulder like a break dancer. Another would suffer blind panics for no reason and once again, spin in circles.

    So while yes, chickens can suffer neurological problems I have read nothing that supports the possibility of dementia.

    Gotta agree with @ Lazy Gardener. You bird more than likely has a neurological problem of some sort, a vision deficit or......she just isn't the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree. I have several like that. Toss them treats and they are inevitably looking in the wrong direction. I call them my special needs birds and I generally make sure they get a bite or two of whatever treat I'm offering them.
    azygous, aart and SueT like this.
  5. chickens really

    chickens really Crazy Call Duck Momma

    I have a Hen that's not really interested in any types of snacks, plus she can't be bothered with the squabbles over snacks...She likes free ranging....I really don't toss out much for my Birds so she prefers things she knows...
  6. Fairview01

    Fairview01 Songster

    Jan 26, 2017
    Dallas, TX
    Had a white Plymouth rock that would do a St. Vitus dance whenever she got excited. She'd dance like that when I opened the run for free range, when I threw them table scraps and I guess when the hawk took her out I suppose she was dancing in the run while the rest of the flock was hiding under the coop. Crazy chicken.
  7. HattieScratchy

    HattieScratchy Chirping

    Oct 14, 2017
    Bottom of the pecking order.. she knows the higher ups het their share first.
    microchick likes this.
  8. microchick

    microchick Crossing the Road

    That's why I always bring extra 'nummies' and hand them out to the low ranking birds when i give out treats. No body goes without in my flock.
  9. Iluvskunks

    Iluvskunks Hatching

    Sep 18, 2018
    I've changed my opinion about the possible dementia in chickens. My fat hen just died today. She displayed what appeared to be dementia for 3 days. I'm wondering if the dementia is a sign of cancer or some other internal problem. :(

    Previous Post
    I have had hundreds of chickens and my experience is that YES they do get some sort of dementia. The vet said that chickens can live to be 25 years old but that most females will die before the age of 5 due to illnesses (mostly cancer and female problems).

    Right now I have a fat hen that just started what appears to be dementia. My experience, is that they will have good days but ultimately they will starve to death.

    Either they have cancer of some kind or they are getting dementia. Yet, I'd like to euthanize her now but the Humane Society stopped the public service of euthanasia. Yet, the only vet in town that will work on chickens, refuses to euthanize them without an extensive work up of why they are failing. I'm not going to spend $500 on my hen when I have 25 of them at the moment.
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2018 at 12:33 AM
    microchick likes this.
  10. microchick

    microchick Crossing the Road

    Welcome to BACK YARD CHICKENS! @Iluvskunks. So glad you could join the flock!

    Very informative post. Shocking that the vet would want 500$ to basically euthanize a chicken.

    Man he could make a killing at Tysons!:gig
    Brahma Chicken5000 likes this.

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