Help! Hen not able to walk/stand up???

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by 77horses, May 31, 2011.

  1. 77horses

    77horses ◊The Spontaneous Pullet!◊

    Aug 19, 2008
    I have an Ameraucana/Cochin mix hen, named May, that can't walk or even stand up, and she seems to not be able to lift her wings very well either. About a couple weeks ago I noticed that she had a slight limp on her right leg when she walked (and when she ran, it was obvious that she favored the right leg because she kind of hopped on it so her stride seemed very unsteady/wobbly). She was acting perfectly fine and foraging with the two other hens (her two sisters, Hope and Jasmine) and my rooster, Ivory. She ate/drank perfectly fine, in fact she was usually the first to get to the food and water. I looked at both legs and couldn't see anything that could possibly be wrong with them (especially the right one, the one she's been limping on). She was the top hen in the pecking order, until the limp appeared and Hope recently went broody (and still is right now). After that, I noticed that Jasmine, the youngest of the group (and previously in the bottom of the pecking order) began picking on May and Hope, but especially May. Also, May is going through a molt right now and I also noticed that she stopped laying (probably from the molt, right?).
    Right now, she doesn't appear to be watery eyes, she eats/drinks perfectly fine, etc...I haven't had a chance to check her droppings, but the last time I checked they looked normal. But she can't stand, and when she tries to (or when I tried to help her up a couple times), she will spread her left wing out to try and balance herself while lifting up the right leg higher than the left one, and she ends up making a distressed clucking sound (like when you pick them up and they cluck in surprise) and loses her balance. She has tried to stand up, but she just can't seem to. None of the other chickens are having any problems whatsoever.
    This problem was really started a couple days ago, when I was watching them all (except for Hope, who was sitting on her eggs in the coop) foraging in the yard. I saw Ivory mount May, like he usually does (she seems to be his 'favorite' [​IMG]), but when he got off, she just laid there for a few minutes and it really worried me. She eventually stood up and hobbled away (again, favoring the right leg) and stayed under the back porch for the rest of the day while the others foraged. I waited for a little while, but she stayed under the porch until I went out to check on her. She wouldn't stand up so I brought her to the coop and she stayed in it with Hope for the rest of the day. By night time, the others were roosting and when I went to close up the coop, I saw that May was the only one not roosting. She still hadn't stood up and since a couple days ago, she's still unable to stand or walk properly. (btw, Ivory really isn't that rough with any of the hens, so I know he's not the cause of her limping, although he definitely doesn't help it at all.)

    May is about one year old now, just like Hope and Jasmine. I feed all of them laying pellets and any other table scraps, plus they free range around the yard. They always have water available to them and are locked up in their coop every night.
    As of right now, I'm not sure what to do with May but currently she's still resting in the coop on a soft foam-like mat on the coop floor. I placed the food and water nearby her so she can reach it without having to stand, and I've been trying to keep her as comfortable as possible. Hope, the broody one, has been keeping her company (even though she's broody, she doesn't seem to mind having May nearby her nest). Also, I've been making sure that both Jasmine and Ivory don't bother her at all.
    Is there anything else I can do for her? What could possibly be wrong with her? Let me know if you need any more information and I'll try my best to give it to you if it helps with figuring out what could be wrong with her.
    Thank you!
  2. tammye

    tammye Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 22, 2010
    if all else seems to be normal with her, no mites, lice worms, respiratory issues, I would try a vitamin treatment on her. either get some poultry vitamins from the feed store and electrolyte solution too into her water and make sure she drinks it or you can get some vitamin B complex human vitamins and open up the pill tab and sprinkle the powder onto her food/favorite treat. this will take about two weeks for her to get back to walking if her sudden onset of leg paralysis is due to a vitamin deficiency. I also had a 1 year old hen suddenly be unable to walk but otherwise seemed fine. looked it up her in the search and tried this vitamin treatment and it worked she has been fine now for over a year. give her vitamin E also just not everyday since it gets stored in the aft and stays in the body longer. good luck
  3. 77horses

    77horses ◊The Spontaneous Pullet!◊

    Aug 19, 2008
    Quote:Thank you!
    I've also been considering putting sugar in her water (since I've heard it can be used as an I right?) Could this possibly help her? If so, for how long should I give it to her, and how much?
    Last edited: May 31, 2011
  4. ReikiStar

    ReikiStar Chillin' With My Peeps

    If it's not a vitamin deficiency, since we had the exact same thing happen with a rescue hen, I'm going to say Mary contracted the neural form of Marek's. I hope I'm wrong but that's just how it hits. The bird looks mostly normal but they will have a wing droop and are eventually unable to walk and stand. Do the research. Some have been able to pull their chickens back "from the brink" but usually with lasting issues...otherwise, I'm really sorry to say this is a long and sad road Mary has decided to drag you down.

    (Marek's is caused by a herpes virus that is so prevalent, event if chickens have never been on a property, it is said to assume its in the environment. Herpes viruses are opportunistic, an even that causes a drop in your birds immune system is all it needs to activate).

    Fingers crossed I'm wrong, but if I'm not feel free to PM on our experience with it.
    Last edited: May 31, 2011
  5. 77horses

    77horses ◊The Spontaneous Pullet!◊

    Aug 19, 2008
    Quote:That's what I feared. [​IMG] I really hope it isn't though, because I read that it's highly contagious. Now I'm paranoid about the others getting it, too...[​IMG] [​IMG]
    If it is Marek's I have no idea what I'm going to do. There's no treatment for it and once a chicken gets it, they'll carry it with them forever and pass it on to other birds very easily. The only way to stop it is to remove the bird and put it down, which I could never EVER do (mostly because I've raised these chickens since they were chicks, and I'm a vegetarian).

    But I really hope it's not Marek's!!! [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  6. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

    Nov 27, 2008
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Check the bottom of her feet for a dark in color round scab, if you see one, it could be bumblefoot and will require minor surgery to remove it.
    Also, it could be that she has somehow sprained or pulled a tendon or ligament, possibly from jumping down from a high place. She will need plenty of rest and relaxation for it to heal, she must not try walking on it, it will only aggravate the injury, possibly making it worse. Vitamin B complex tablets purchased at a pharmacy might help speed up recovery. Crush a couple of them and sprinkle the powder into her feed to eat. After a week of this, try to see if she can walk. If not, try one more week of vitamin B complex in her feed, then stop.
    These types of injuries can take one week to heal, several weeks or months to heal depending how severe it is. In some cases, they never heal. I had a Black Star hen that never healed but was able to hobble on one leg just fine and continued to lay eggs. She had to be seperated from the others because she always got picked on. Good luck.
    Last edited: May 31, 2011
  7. ReikiStar

    ReikiStar Chillin' With My Peeps

    Same here...sappy vegetarians that loves animals more than people and will do whatever is possible to save/give them the best, etc. I'm right there with you.

    Here is the "good" thing about Marek's? If you're not selling your birds don't worry about the "carrier". Birds CAN develop an immunity to Mareks. Your biggest problem is your chicks. In accordance with our vet, she's advised us to raise any chicks to the age of 5-6 months old away from our older chickens (the ones who were rescued with and lived with Liz, our Mareks bird), that's the age when chickens can get what is called age developed immunity to Marek's. While it's tough to keep the chicks completely sterile, I believe (no science to back it) that its actually useful for them to encounter whatever small amount they will find in just being on the same property. How can they develop immunity unless their system meets this bug? They say raising chicks with turkey poults help develop immunity in chicks because the turkeys carry a different type of Mareks not fatal to chickens. But now their systems have encountered it and can develop antibodies.

    So what I'm saying is...there isn't a lot that can be done for Mary (our vet recommends a course of steroids to get the inflammation down on the Sciatic nerve and an antibiotic for any secondary infections. She's had 75% success with it says, since it's a herpes it could flare up again and again in the infected bird) but for your other chickens, if they look good, then they are strong enough and probably have an immunity to it.

    I thought...that's it, my birds are doomed. Nope. Plenty of flocks live well after an outbreak. Stress is always the enemy with chicken health.

    We ended up hand feeding Liz for 3 weeks until it started to affect her lungs. We had her put to sleep. [​IMG]
  8. 77horses

    77horses ◊The Spontaneous Pullet!◊

    Aug 19, 2008
    Thanks everyone for the info...I checked the bottom of both of her feet and found nothing out of the usual. They look completely normal. I also looked over both legs and felt them over, including on the 'elbow' part and her hips, but they seem to be fine except she obviously favors the right leg. She keeps it lifted/curled up more than the left leg and she puts little to no pressure on it.
    I very gently took her out of the coop just now, since it's really nice and sunny out and she usually loves foraging and taking dust baths in the sun, but right now she can't. So I took her out, very carefully, and let her get some fresh air by placing her on a foam mat on the ground in the shade nearby the coop. I sat right next to her and she laid their for a little while, and for a while I kept my hands under her to help her stand, which actually seemed to help a little. Though as soon as I took away the support of my hands a little, she would lose her balance. So for most of the time, as carefully as possible, I held her up with my hands underneath her but also let her stand a little to let her stretch her legs. It also helped because while I was helping her stand, she passed two droppings, which is a good sign, especially because I don't want her to get a poopy butt while she's just laying in the coop all day. I looked at her droppings and they looked completely normal...slightly watery, but there was no blood/worms that I could see. At least that's a good sign.
    I didn't want to stress her out too much or cause further injury, so she only stayed out for a few minutes before I put her back in the coop. Then I decided to collect a bunch of fresh, green grass for her. As soon as she saw the handful of grass that I gathered for her, she eagerly tried to stand up and come running over to get it, which proves that she is still eager to eat and still has a good appetite. I fed her the handful of grass and she seemed to really enjoy it, especially because she hasn't been able to free range for a little while.

    I'll keep you all updated on everything.
  9. 77horses

    77horses ◊The Spontaneous Pullet!◊

    Aug 19, 2008
    Quote:Thanks! And sorry for the loss of Liz. [​IMG] [​IMG]
  10. ReikiStar

    ReikiStar Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks. (I miss her -- we only had her for 6 weeks but we got so close to her caring for her the way we did. Eventually she ended up in a large dog crate in the kitchen so we could hand feed her several times a day, surrounded by 3/4 quarters of a box to keep give her something to lean against (the corner) and rolled up towels to help keep her propped up (both her front legs would push straight out and she'd go up and over or fall over), she even tolerated the occasional test sling. She developed a hankering for the baby food version of mixed berries. [​IMG]

    I SO want to be wrong on what Mary has going! Praying you find a swelling, or a thorn or something you can remove and make her all better. Will be looking for the updates. [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

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