First one, now two (within several months) chickens having leg problems. What is wrong?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by BantamLover21, Nov 22, 2013.

  1. BantamLover21

    BantamLover21 Overrun With Chickens

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    In early October, one of my birds, an 8 month old Dutch Bantam cockerel, turned up with a bad leg. Instead of walking flat, the toes on one foot were curled so that he walked on top of the toes. It didn't seem to hurt him; at first, the toes seemed kind of paralyzed. Suspecting Marek's Disease (he was not vaccinated), I treated him with St. Johns Wort for about a week. He regained feeling in the foot/could move the toes and clench properly, and still acted happy and otherwise normal, but did not walk properly on the foot. I kept him isolated from the other birds (besides a few occasional visits with the hens) in a pen without a roost for several weeks. His behavior ranged from him seeming in pain, to acting fine, from day to day. After about three weeks, one morning, he suddenly was walking correctly! A bit unsteady, but with his foot flat and strides confident. By now, I suspected that he had injured the leg by banging into something (he had always been an avid flyer that jumped vigorously around on roosts a lot), and it had finally healed. Unfortunately, he was thrilled about this newfound mobility, and exerted himself by jumping down from a ledge and mating a hen. Within two days, he was walking worse than ever--limping badly, walking on his hock/side of leg, and looking rather miserable. That was about two weeks ago. As of today, he isn't much better. When walking, he puts his foot down correctly, but the leg appears weak, and it collapses once he puts weight on it. This is not to say that he doesn't still enjoy himself--he roosts one-legged at night, and tries to mate hens when given the chance. I really don't want to cull him, but if he doesn't get better soon, I probably will.

    But that cockerel is not the extent of my problem. Just today, another Dutch Bantam cockerel, about 11 months old, is walking strangely. He's always been a bit on the small size, with shorter-than-usual legs and a somewhat clumsy nature. Today, though, he's walking worse than usual. His legs seem stiff, especially near the hock. When he walks, he steps on his right foot, and has some trouble keeping himself from falling backwards. He prefers to lay down instead of standing, but can roost. His legs are not splayed out, and show no signs of injury. But there is something wrong with them, and, as he is the underdog of the rooster flock, it is certainly possible that he was injured somehow. The little cockerel is trying to get around, but is having to be content with crouching and gobbling down feed and water. He is vaccinated for Marek's Disease. None of the other birds currently in his rooster group are showing similar symptoms, yet. No hens, which live right next to the roosters, have ever showed any leg problems (knock on wood).


    Similarities between the two affected cockerels: Both...

    Have been eating medicated 24% protein Game Bird Grower feed for basically their entire life
    Are cockerels around 10 months of age
    Are/were underdogs in the flock
    Have been drinking water with a very low concentration of Oxine in it (to prevent algae growth)
    3-6 days before showing symptoms had Frontline applied to them due to mites
    Were living in the same compartment with about 5 other males
    Act fine besides their leg problems
    Have good appetites and drink plenty
    Are bedded with pine shavings
    Have no other symptoms of disease, besides the leg problems.

    Differences:

    The first cockerel was not vaccinated for Marek's Disease, but the second cockerel was.
    The first cockerel had recently been to a show before showing symptoms
    The second cockerel is smaller/slightly weaker than the first one
    The first one is about one month younger than the second one.
    The first cockerel has only one bad leg; both legs seem to be becoming affected in the second cockerel (though one more so than the other)

    The possible problems that I can think of include a vitamin deficiency due to a) the medicated feed or b) the Oxine, injury to the leg, and a neurological problem because of the Frontline. I plan tomorrow to give them both layer feed, get rid of the Oxine water, and put vitamins in their water.

    Any other suggestions would be appreciated.
     
  2. BantamLover21

    BantamLover21 Overrun With Chickens

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    Anyone? Please help!
     
  3. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict

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    I would definitely do the vitamins, especially multi-B vitamins. Hopefully your first rooster didn't pick up Mareks at the show. He sounds as though he has a vitamin problem or a recurring injury. I have too many juvenile roosters now, and they can get injured so easily because of their antics right now. I hope it's nothing serious.
     
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  4. BantamLover21

    BantamLover21 Overrun With Chickens

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    Update:

    Well, the first cockerel with the injured leg isn't doing too well. He's been growing weaker and weaker because he isn't able to walk much to get feed and water. He also had mites, which I treated. Today, he could barely stand, so I brought him inside. He is now in a small cage, with a heat lamp above and feed and water within easy reach. I managed to give him some vitamin water with an eyedropper, and he has eaten a few mouthfuls of feed. He acts tired/weak, but has perked up since getting inside and drinking/eating some. The chances of him recovering don't look all that great, but I am not going to give up. He is eating a chick starter feed (easier to eat due to smaller pieces), with vitamins in the water.

    The other cockerel hasn't changed much. He's a bit unsteady/stiff, but is he managing to eat and drink fine. Still acting cheerful and interested in the nearby hens.
     
  5. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict

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    Since you brought the little rooster inside, does he need the heat lamp? Sorry he hasn't gotten better. Does he have the green droppings that are common with Mareks? Have you seen any symptoms in any of the other chickens besides the other rooster? Have they mostly all been vaccinated except the first rooster?
     
  6. BantamLover21

    BantamLover21 Overrun With Chickens

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    The temperature is about 70-75 degrees inside, so no, he doesn't really need the heat lamp. He seemed cold though, so I kept the lamp on him until tonight, when I turned it off. He's acting a little better, eating, drinking, and standing up. Seems happier too. His droppings seem normal, other than there being fewer of them because he hasn't been eating much. No other chickens (besides this rooster and the one that recently began walking strange) are showing symptoms of disease. Only one other bird in the current flock, a 1 year, 1 month old hen is unvaccinated for Marek's.
     
  7. SpeckledHills

    SpeckledHills Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would check to see if either roo has had one of their Achilles tendons slip out of place in the hock joint. There is info on this & other leg problems on the Poultry Podiatry page on the site linked in my sig. I hope you can find the right treatments. [​IMG]
     
  8. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

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    When my Marek's birds wasted, before I knew Marek's, I thought all kinds of things, no appetite, bullied out of eating,etc. Then to find out it's called wasting. They can eat and still waste. 2 with leg problems does sound like Marek's. Could have been exposed at a show or with a new bird in your flock. You may want to read some of my links below.
     
  9. BantamLover21

    BantamLover21 Overrun With Chickens

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    Update:

    Well, I think that confinement to a small area and extra care is doing cockerel #1 good. He's perked up almost completely, and is walking better and better. His bad leg is now strong enough for him to stand on it while scratching his head with the other foot, and he isn't very clumsy when walking anymore. He still isn't putting as much weight on the injured foot as he does on the good foot, but both legs are gradually getting stronger as the days go by. I'm still putting vitamins in his water, providing him with layer feed, and making sure he eats plenty each day.

    As for the other cockerel, I'm beginning to think he has Marek's, despite being vaccinated. Both legs are affected, and he can't really stand. Its mainly the feet that are paralyzed/stiff, though, as he can still move the legs (at the hock joint and thigh) back and forth and struggle while being held. He spends most of his time sitting on his hocks, occasionally shuffling across the floor using his wings to balance/pull himself. He still eats well enough when I put feed in front of him, and seems relatively happy. I'm going to give him about 1 to 1 1/2 weeks more, continuing with vitamins and St. Johns Wort, before culling him. Unless he gets worse, in which case I will end his misery.
     
  10. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

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    I'm glad to hear at least one turned around.Sorry about the other one. I've just had 2 vaccinated hens go.
     

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