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Help! Pullet not moving - Stiff legs and weak behavior

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Illia, Dec 2, 2009.

  1. Illia

    Illia Crazy for Colors

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    Oct 19, 2009
    Forks, WA
    Hello, it just got down to 33 degrees last night - and the last time it did that, one of our Silver Laced Polish died due to an overnight disability of walking or having the appetite to eat or drink. Now, it is one of our last four New Hampshire reds. She's a pullet, exactly 5 months old now, and normally lives in a large shed filled with white pine shavings, but she sleeps in a box-like structure that has hay for a bedding. During her day, she spends most of her time with the other reds, loose in a 5 acre yard of clearcut, lawn, dirt roads, whatever she finds.

    This morning, I had to tend to all the chickens, break their icy water, check the temperature in the shed (surprisingly about 40 degrees) and then found her, laying in her personal coop of hay, not moving at all. When I picked her up, she felt stiff like a dead bird in rigor mortis - But she was alive. Her head moved, her eyes moved, her tail adjusted to balance, and her wings were rather limp. When I put her inside for warmth and examination, she got a little more lively (tried flying) but she still cannot move her legs. They are stiff and hardly moveable manually, and she is constantly trying to fall asleep, as if to her death. She won't eat or drink unless I pour water down her mouth, and then once that went - She willingly ate whatever there was in her face.

    What is wrong with her? I have a feeling she has whatever the polish had, which in that case - The polish died within, maximum, about two hours after I found her in this state. The polish did indeed have the same symptoms - both are/were also puffy as if cold, and found laying in the hay, not on a perch.
     
  2. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Where are you?

    Are you assuming the problem is your pullet getting too cold?

    Is the coop draft-free but with ventilation overhead for expelling moisture?

    If she is responding to heat it is a good sign, but since you had another hen die, you must keep this one segregated so you can find out if you have something contagious in your flock.

    Is she eating and drinking now?
    Any sign of external parasites in her or others?

    Have you had any trauma in the coop due to predation?

    Check her crop and vent as part of a routine examination.


    Sudden paralysis can be a sign of poisoning or Newcastle Disease.

    Some reading for you

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/se...ardchickens.com/forum/edit.php?id=3264432#773
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2009
  3. Illia

    Illia Crazy for Colors

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    Oct 19, 2009
    Forks, WA
    I live in Forks, Washington ( so, it could really be a fungal thing, but I'm not sure. The rain here is, on average, 130 inches per year, and it is constantly very humid, and never really gets all that warm. Today was one of our two only freezes yet. The last one is when our polish died )

    There is plenty ventilation in their coop (one door is open at night, another closed) so it gets cold, but not too cold, because of the fact that there are about 24 chickens in the building, and a heat lamp that serves to the lower perching birds (my new hampshire girls, turken, and two cockerels)

    The building/coop has been leaky before, since its roof isn't the best, and its ceiling is wooden, so there may possibly be a mold going around. (all I see is a slight dark discoloring where there was once a leak or three)

    The pullet has no other signs - no neck problems, no respiratory problems, no parasite problems, she hasn't had any fecal matter at all come out (same with the polish when it had this issue) so I don't know about that. I don't entirely think it is the cold that is the problem, but I do notice that this is the second freeze, and the second sudden illness with the same symptoms. Her vent is fine, though, and her crop is fine. She's mainly just puffy, constantly tries to nod off to sleep (the only way to wake her is to move her body to a completely new angle) won't move her legs, and kind of lets her wings droop.

    This problem, I don't think, is a contagious thing to the rest of the birds. I have had many birds die, all with only a couple symptoms that relate, but each one is long after the other incident, and with each case, I always isolate the sick, and clean up the coop. The only pattern with how the birds get sick, really, is by breed and age. They were all bought from Murray McMurray, who I hear has epidemics of diseases go through their stock all the time, and had chicks die on customers all the time (over 50% of our day olds passed away, too) but now the surviveos are 5 months old, and the polish was about 9 months old. The passed birds all had symptoms of not getting up or walking, a lack of motivation to eat or drink at first, and a puffy look. For all of them, heat helped - But for some, the heat helped, then killed them.

    Also, about the breed thing - All of our birds have died from something except our Wyandottes, and our white crested black polish seem pretty immune to it, heck, two of my girls have survived being lost for weeks. The turkens are the worst - with only one out of 10 being alive. She also had an odd case of weakness a while ago, but is fine now - And, if she is a carrier, the polish who died has never really been in contact with her. It was a rather isolated type of bird who liked being seperate from the clans due to "chickhood" beatings (she was small and at the bottom of the pole)
     
  4. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm leaning to toxin, to be honest, and you live in a very wet climate. Any reason to believe there is a damp spot in the bedding or under it- you mentioned fungus.
    Any plant in the yard that only a few eat (berries?) but the others avoid? Any wheezing or even a slight nasal discharge?
    Any access to a vet?
    I know you are distraught, understandably.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2009
  5. Illia

    Illia Crazy for Colors

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    Oct 19, 2009
    Forks, WA
    The only vet I have out here is one who is known to be bad enough to accidentally kill animals - otherwise the nearest good one is 70 miles away. She eats anything the Wyandottes eat - The hampshires and wyandottes will go anywhere and everywhere and eat whatever, unlike the others - but I haven't had any Wyandottes die or go sick.

    There are LOADS of mushrooms and fungi around the yard, only ONE do I absolutely know is poisonous, but I never never seen them eat the mushrooms (thankfully) And the last polish who died never goes out to those areas anyway - Most of her day she spends sitting around inside the coop or just outside the entrance, eating bugs and seeds.

    There is no nasal discharge, no wheezing - She's very quiet. All she does is nod off to sleep unless you try and wake her.It looks like she tried to poop recently, but it is normal looking. I could take some photos of her, but its kind of straight forward as to how she is.

    As for the bedding - There are no damp spots that I have known of or checked. About a week ago, their entire place was a mucky mess due to a horrible set of storms that caused immense leaking and rain, but I clean it up and sealed the roofing since then - So, their bedding is pretty dry.

    Also as a note, I had another pullet of the same breed and same "group" (each breed hangs around in groups) die weeks ago of a mystery, she was just plain dead one morning, rigbht below her perch - And our rooster was trying to mate with her, so I isolated him due to his contact with her, but he's just fine. Perhaps it may be something noncontagious, but. . what? In a few weeks I will have them permanently closed in a very large chicken run to avoid any more problems of losing them from getting literally lost or eating the wrong thing. (or predators, which we have not encountered yet)
     
  6. Illia

    Illia Crazy for Colors

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    Oct 19, 2009
    Forks, WA
    Well, she's gone now. Still wondering though, if it wasn't from a toxin - what is something that isn't incredibly contagious that causes a bird to go weak in the legs, puffy looking feather display, and a constant need to just. . . fall asleep? (until death)
     
  7. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Wow, I'm so sorry. Any chance of getting some flock dropping tested- flotation, so that you can see if any disease is present? It sure sounds like something that needs to be identified. You've been through a very rough time. I'm stymied, my experience with poultry disease is nil, though I know of others rt who have lost birds. I'm so paranoid about disease that no one other than hubby has been with the birds. Your climate is so wet that cocci is a possibility and certainly Marek's is widespread. Does your state provide necropsy services? If so, I'd save the body in a plastic bag in a cool place.
     
  8. BayCityBabe

    BayCityBabe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It sounds like Mareks to me. I would second the recommendation for necropsy. If your flock has it, you will need to close your flock.
     
  9. wahinime

    wahinime New Egg

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    I have a chicken with stiff legs also but it has been going on for a couple weeks. Some days she seems to be getting well. Today, however, I entered the coop to find her hunkered down in a corner under the perches. Her legs were stiff and she was lethargic. I brought her in and cleaned her up ( her feces, green and stringy as if she had been eating grass), gave her heat, food and water. She is still laying down with stiff legs. She ate some but hasn't been drinking. I don't know if someone has been beating her up or what. She's about 3 yrs old, silver laced wyandott. I hope someone can answer our worriess.
     
  10. wahinime

    wahinime New Egg

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    I had to put her down, she was just too miserable...none of my other chickens show any signs of illness.
     

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