Help please, 2nd posting 1st got no response. Sick bird

Advertisement Purina Flock Layer


In the Brooder
Jul 28, 2016
Hi everyone, just joined & happy to be here! Hoping someone can offer some input on my beloved bird.. she is 2 years old, a rescue, and has stopped laying recently. She has lost weight, has a pale-ish comb some days, has a small (about marble size) lump in her neck/throat, is a little lethargic and has a droopy tail. She has her days where she doesn't eat but most days she does. I give cottage cheese & eggs, other stuff she likes to keep her eating. They're on organic layer feed with chicken conditioners added (1 that is extra protein & 1 that is for show birds with vitamins) which seems to help but some days she is just sick. Most she is okay...Also, when she leans over goo comes out of her mouth and when she's looking real bad she'll breathe weird like her neck is inflating. I have checked for sour crop (it's always empty and flat), she's been wormed, and they get fresh food, produce, & electrolyte water everyday. Run is clean but I do live where there are A LOT of wild birds. My other bird is fine. Vet said they thought Merricks but this has been going on for a while, same symptoms (no change except for some days she is real sick with pale comb droopy tail) & other bird is fine. So pretty sure not merricks. He also thought cancer. Any thoughts guys? Sorry this is so long just trying to be thorough. Thank you
Just give her anything she will eat (nothing that is bad for chickens though, obviously). Cancer is a possibility. If the bump isn't causing a blockage in her trachea or esophagus, then living out her days with lots of treats and sunshine is a solution. But if you think it is a quality of life problem, putting her down might be the best answer. Wish you the best of luck!
Marek's is a cancer causing virus and sometimes they deteriorate very quickly with it and sometimes they appear to get completely better but often suffer a second or even third attack weeks/months, even a year later. Some slowly waste away with it and others suffer organ failure and die suddenly. There really are no hard and fast rules with it.
If this is a rescue bird and you haven't had her from being a chick, then she may have had a previous attack when she was younger. Of course it may not be Marek's or a tumour/cancer but if you have already sought a vet's advice I see nothing to suggest their diagnosis was incorrect.
I agree with the previous poster. Make her as comfortable as possible and treat her to whatever she will eat but be prepared to euthanize her if her quality of life deteriorates. I have found that my Marek's birds do best with sunshine and grass and the company of other chickens. I tried various supplements but in the end, they got sick of them and refused to eat them, so I just fed whatever they enjoyed eating. Wet food is good because it is easier to swallow and helps to prevent them getting dehydrated. Bread soaked in milk or water, pellets soaked in water and mixed with yoghurt to a soft mush, meat scraps or fish and of course scrambled eggs, meal worms and soaked mixed corn (I soak it for several days so that it starts to ferment and the grains can be squashed between your fingers) and scatter them around so that they have to forage for them.. if she is still capable of getting about.

Sorry I can't offer you any other diagnosis. Unfortunately most chickens are intensively bred for production and many don't live long as a result.
Good luck with your girl.

Best wishes

Thanks guys!! Great advice both of you. Barbara that's great insight I had no idea.. the few articles I read about Merricks it sounded so fast so I just ruled it out but from what you described that's probably what she has. It DOES come as flare ups almost, then she's better. I spoil the bejesus out of her, got her from horrible conditions when she was about 6 months old to be a friend to my last remaining bird from my flock that was wiped out by coyotes one day. Ive been watching her close and when it looks to be time I will help her move on. My concern however is my other bird... she's been fine so far and is very healthy, no sign of transmittal. Think I should leave them as is? She's been sick for about 3-4 months slowly getting worse but other bird is fine.
It's lovely that you care so much about her and were able to give her a loving home, especially after such a bad start in life.

If it is Marek's then the other one has already been exposed and separating them would just stress them both and make the healthy one more likely to have an outbreak....although they are most susceptible to being infected as juveniles... as well as cause the sick one to get worse. I don't isolate birds suffering an outbreak in my flock and in fact they do better if you can pal them up with another hen as long as they don't get picked on.

As and when you do get new chickens, particularly if you get young ones, it will be quite important to ensure they were vaccinated for Marek's at hatch, as the virus can remain live for months if not years on the land and coop even with thorough cleaning.

Good luck with both of them.

Best wishes

Advertisement Purina Flock Layer

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom