Help with Diagnosis - Sleepy, loss of balance - One bird died last month - Contagious??


10 Years
May 21, 2013
Southern Ontario, Canada

I have an ill chicken and I’m having trouble diagnosing her. The symptoms have been rather mild and slow progressing so it has been non-conclusive searching online and in books. Thoughts and opinions please!

I first noticed she was sleeping all day, slightly puffed up, under the “jungle gym” outside about a week ago. She looked peaceful (not painful) but it was abnormal behaviour as she is typically very active. I put her in quarantine last Sunday. After a few sleepy days with a bit of diarrhea, she was looking really good and active during the week. I had planned on putting her back out soon but this morning she was sleepy again with a loss of coordination/balance. She is able to walk but is a bit klutzy and wobbly.


1. Eyes clear and pupils normal

2. No runny nose

3. No coughing or difficulty breathing

4. The odd sneeze but I’m not sure if that’s a symptom or just dust (as it’s not frequent)

5. Very alert at times but then hours and days of real sleepiness. Slightly puffed and hunched at times.

6. Crop does appear to be emptying properly by each morning. Nothing to indicate sour or impacted crop (no experience with this though).

7.Not laying – was laying last week. Felt abdomen – I don’t think there is any bloating or hardness there. (When I pressed this morning she did seem annoyed or uncomfortable).

8. Eating and drinking normally the entire time. Excited for food.

9. Poop is abnormal - watery… dark green clumps, sometimes yellowish and light green liquid. Was looking closer to normal during the week but seems to have gotten worse again.

10. It does look like she has a moderate case of scaly leg mite (I wouldn’t expect this to cause the other symptoms though).

11.**As of this morning – loss of coordination. Toppling over sometimes. Still able to walk and still moves around especially when food is involved. ** She falls asleep easily and lets her wings and tail drop. However, when I put her on the floor with grapes far away she was able to walk to them, her head and tail held high.

**The last symptom is what I’m most concerned about. I had a chicken suddenly become very tired and unable to keep her balance back in March (the 13th to be exact). I found her in the coop hunched up fast asleep and unable/uninterested in coming out for food. When she tried to move she kept falling over. I hadn’t noticed any symptoms leading up to that day but she has always been a strange bird and potentially old so I may have missed the symptoms. I brought her in the house immediately. She seemed much better after a day or two but by day 4 I found her dead. When none of the other birds became ill I thought it was her age or a bug she had kept to herself. But now that this new bird is showing some symptoms, I’m worried it’s a contagious disease.


- soaked her feet and treated for leg mites (Vaseline and oil)
- Her poop was a bit foamy yesterday so I treated her with Ivermectin in case there are worms
- I put antibiotics and stress-aid in her drinking water for the last 5 days… hoping it was a bacterial infection that I could cure.

I’m extremely concerned about my other 6 birds. They are my pets and I’m so worried this disease or whatever it is will spread.

Any suggestions??

Thank you
I should have also mentioned the current ill bird is about 1.5 years old, Belgian D'uccle. Weighs ~700grams. We had a really harsh winter this year and she did have a tougher time in the cold than the others.

The first bird that died last month was a Silkie. Unknown age. I was told he was only a year old (when I got her last year) but I honestly think she was quite a bit older. (She was a rescue).

They were the two bantams of my flock. The other 6 are a varity of standard breeds.
Sorry for the gross factor.... Adding photos of fecal samples - abnormal?


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It's possible that your hen may have Mareks disease, but don't take this as a diagnosis. The green diarrhea is common when there is a lot of bile in the droppings, and can mean she is not eating enough. Other things causing green diarrhea are worms, Blackhead disease, Mareks, and others. Ivermectin has lost it's effectiveness as a wormer. I would recommend fenbendazole (brand names SafeGuard Liquid goat wormer, and SafeGuard or Panacur horse paste, or Valbazen (albendazole) sheep and cattle wormer. Here is a good link about Mareks:
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Great thanks for the information! Yeah mareks was on my short list for the possible illnesses

I will look into the wormers you mention, thanks.

What part of southern Ontario are you in? I live in WNY and in this area, and up north along the lake, we are seeing a lot more cases of Marek's disease lately according to my avian vet and a few farms and a hatchery in the area.
Again this isn't a diagnosis, just something to be aware of.

Does ON have any sort of testing they can do as part of a livestock/poultry/agricultural department? It might be worth asking. If testing is free or inexpensive it sure can save a lot of anguish and give some more solid answers.

I'm sorry that your hen seems unwell. :(

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