HELP! Suddenly Sick Rooster - Stumbling, Twisting Head

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Sarah3, Jan 19, 2015.

  1. Sarah3

    Sarah3 Out Of The Brooder

    If anyone can point me in the right direction to understanding what is wrong with our rooster, it would be greatly appreciated.

    -He is ~8 months old Barnevelder; was acting perfectly normal yesterday.

    -This morning, when I let the chickens out of the coop, he was stumbling somewhat. The other rooster started chasing and attacking him, so I finally got him away from the rest of the chickens.

    -He can behave normal, but then if I approach him when I get near he will start rapidly twisting/jerking his head convulsively up at an angle, flapping his wings some and looking like he is stumbling.

    -There are no signs of respiratory issues or distress.

    -His comb may be a little paler than usual; it is a little grayish towards the top, but I'm not sure if it was already like that.

    -He seems to be eating and drinking just as usual.

    -The only thing out of the ordinary in the last week is that a friend delivered some fresh horse manure a couple days ago (to use as compost/fertilizer in the garden) and the chickens have been picking through that.

    Does anyone have any idea what this illness could be?
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2015
  2. Outpost JWB

    Outpost JWB Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Never had to deal with this personally, but a few questions for you.

    Does you flock have access to water 24/7? Did they run out at anytime just prior to these symptoms?

    Have you done a head to toe check for any injuries to this rooster?

    Did you check him for mites-lice?

    Do his eyes look normal?

    My guess with what information given is something neurological, Giardia, or worst case, Marek's.
     
  3. Sarah3

    Sarah3 Out Of The Brooder

    Thanks for your response. Here are answers to your questions:

    The chickens have access to water from 6:30am until 8pm (but not overnight while they are in the coop). They have not run out of water at any time in the recent past.

    His eyes do look normal. I cannot see any injuries anywhere on him.

    When he is left alone, he is essentially behaving normally [pecking, crowing, calling the hens (who cannot get to where he is)].

    I have not checked him for mites as he is rather hard to catch and has never liked being handled. I just tried to catch him and he was behaving normally at first. Once he started trying to run away from me, he exhibited the same neck turning/jerking, stumbling, flapping behavior that I observed earlier today.
     
  4. Outpost JWB

    Outpost JWB Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would check him thoroughly for mites when they go up on the roost tonight. Maybe easier that way. Some mites only come out at night like the Red Mites & Northern Fowl Mites.

    I have heard of chickens having seizures due to lack of water-this is why I mentioned it.

    Other things to check out that may fit symptoms are wry neck, and brain or ear infections.

    As a side note, I would definitely separate him from the others by putting him in a cage or crate. Just in case it is contagious. Let me know how he is doing.
     
  5. MrsBrooke

    MrsBrooke Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I feel like this could be something like some kind of ear infection, a neurological disease (Newcastle's or the like) developing, or he ingested a toxin. I have very little experience with Newcastles, but it can cause chickens to exhibit these jerky-type symptoms.

    I would bring him inside. Even if catching him causes him stress and makes him flop (EDIT: Outpost JBW is right - handling and moving chickens at night is MUCH less stressful... The go into the Chicken Trance and put up zero fights). Dog crate in the garage with a heat lamp nearby if it's cold. Keep him warm and calm. A towel in the bottom makes for easy clean up and you can monitor his poops for any changes.

    Inspect him for ear mites. You'll see little creepers crawling around his ear area... If he has an ear infection, you'll see a brown discharge, and he won't want you to mess with it. If you see evidence of an infection, I would start immediately with tetracycline in the water. I'm not sure which would be best - Neomycin or Duramycin (you can get it at Tractor Supply or your local feed store). If you see any evidence of sneezing, nasal discharge, wheezing, swollen wattles, or bubbly eyes, I would get him on some Tylan 50 (also available at TS).

    Other than that, make sure he is eating and drinking normally. If he goes off his water, you'll have to tube feed/water him until he gets better.

    Please keep us updated on any new symptoms.

    MrsB
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2015
  6. Sarah3

    Sarah3 Out Of The Brooder

    Thank you both for your replies! He is currently separated from the flock; I put him out of the large chicken yard this morning. He is wandering around nearby the yard since he doesn't want to get too far from his ladies.

    I'll see about getting a dog kennel set up for him to sleep in tonight. Any more tips for checking for mites tonight? Where should I look and what exactly am I looking for? Would they only be in the ear area? Sorry, I am totally inexperienced with this...

    Thanks again!
     
  7. Sarah3

    Sarah3 Out Of The Brooder

    Also, would it help if I took a video of the behavior so you could see what it looks like?
     
  8. MrsBrooke

    MrsBrooke Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Check his vent, under his wings, and right behind his ears.

    You may want to check the SHAFT of the feather at several different places on his body to see if there are any eggs attached at the base of the shaft. I believe that indicates lice.

    If you check his vent and see little reddish, brown specks scurry for cover, those are mites.

    These pests are *relatively harmless* and will not bother you, dogs, cats, etc. but they CAN kill a chicken given enough time. Their immune system gets so bogged down with fighting a billion bug bites that it makes them more suscetpable to disease, illness, infection... It just complicates things.

    A good idea is to offer a little yoghurt mixed with fresh minced garlic on a plate along with his regular ration of food and antibiotic-water. It can't hurt to balance his pH and make him less tasty to the bugs in addition to a dusting of Sevin (available at Tractor Supply, Lowe's, and Home Depot - $7 for a 3 pack - super economical, and you only use a tad!)

    If he "tests positive" for creepies, I would dust your whole flock... Concentrate on getting the dust UNDER their feathers, especially around the vent and under the wings. The easiest time to do this is after the sun goes down and they roost. Two person job: Scoop them up, hold by feet and dangle, dust vent, dust under wings, use your fingers (gloves!) to make sure they're well dusted UNDER their feathers as well, and pop them gently back down on the coop. They should settle back down in a few minutes. :) You will have a CLOUD of Sevin dust, so I would advise getting a little mask as well.

    Repeat this again in another SEVEN days and again after another SEVEN. Three times in three weeks.

    In addition to your chickens, I'd dust the coop and put down a pile where they dust bathe.

    Then again, if they don't have buggies, ignore all of the above. :p

    MrsB
     
  9. Sarah3

    Sarah3 Out Of The Brooder

    Thank you so much. I will look and see what I can observe later on.

    I do regularly give the whole flock milk kefir (which is similar to yogurt but has stronger probiotics); but it is possible that he doesn't get much since he always wants the hens to get the good stuff. I'll have to wait until I get him in a crate away from the hens to give him any, as giving him any treats or special foods just results in him calling the hens and becoming very distressed that they won't come over. He won't eat the treats, just keep calling them. He is such a gentleman compared to our other roo.
     
  10. Sarah3

    Sarah3 Out Of The Brooder

    Okay, my 7-year-old daughter helped me catch him and inspect him. What we found is very small whitish colored bugs living at the base of his feathers. I did not see any eggs; his ears look fine. I couldn't find anything at the vent.

    What are the very small bugs at the base of the feathers? Could those be causing the problem? There weren't tons of them, but we did see a few the more we dug around looking at his feathers.
     

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