Hen Gone Nuts - Flailing, Disoriented, etc.

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by hookshot, Nov 12, 2010.

  1. hookshot

    hookshot In the Brooder

    Nov 12, 2010

    I'm wondering if someone can help me with my poor chicken, who's had a string of bad luck lately.

    To start:

    1) What type of bird , age and weight.
    I THINK Light Sussex. They're technically my in-laws birds, we've only been around for about 3 months and the chickens were there before. Age - I don't know, but they are fully grown. I would say at least 6 months, PROBABLY over a year but I'm not 100% sure on that part.

    2) What is the behavior, exactly.
    Described below in more detail, but flailing, falling, disorientation, but only for about 30 seconds at a time. Then after the main episode, she was more lethargic than usual but still able to walk normally.

    3) How long has the bird been exhibiting symptoms?
    Today, and something similar yesterday

    4) Are other birds exhibiting the same symptoms?
    No, all the other birds are fine.

    5) Is there any bleeding, injury, broken bones or other sign of trauma.
    None, chicken looks completely healthy from the outside.

    6) What happened, if anything that you know of, that may have caused the situation.
    I don't have a clue.

    7) What has the bird been eating and drinking, if at all.
    Pellets, grass, whatever they peck at in the ground - they don't have access to plastic, glass or anything like that in the area where they roam. They also get scraps from fruits and vegetables. I should also add that this hen is basically the middle of the pecking order, and gets the good food when we give it. I make sure all the chickens get enough.

    8) How does the poop look? Normal? Bloody? Runny? etc.
    Not sure - haven't noticed her poop since and there's five of them so I can't tell the difference, but no obviously different poop that I noticed.

    9) What has been the treatment you have administered so far?
    Nothing really, I just don't know what to do

    10 ) What is your intent as far as treatment? For example, do you want to treat completely yourself, or do you need help in stabilizing the bird til you can get to a vet?
    Treat her myself, ideally.

    11) If you have a picture of the wound or condition, please post it. It may help.
    I don't have a video, and there are no external wounds, so no photo!

    12) Describe the housing/bedding in use
    Pretty big coop for 5 chickens with hay and dried grass covering soil. Also, they were allowed to roam free range yesterday and today.

    Here's the long version:

    About 2-3 weeks ago, we found her collapsed in the coop, just barely alive, it was the first hot day we've had here in Australia this year, and I managed to bring her back to life with a cool bath and taking care of her overnight in a big plastic storage box with towels under her. The next morning, my husband and I took her out of the box to see how she was doing, and she stumbled on one of her legs and couldn't really walk. We took a look and couldn't see anything wrong, we thought maybe she had injured it while in the box at some point or something. We left her with the other chickens to lower her stress level, and made sure none of them picked on her (they didn't). She seemed to get better, for about a day and a half she just sat wherever we put her (which was always in the shaded area) then started stumbling around a little bit and after 3 or 4 days she seemed completely fine again, without any intervention on our part. We figured it must have just been a light superficial injury, but I'm still adding this story in case it does have some relevance.

    She's been acting completely normally since. Now fast forward to yesterday. We will generally let the chickens out quite a few times a week to roam around, and we can see them from the window of our office if we look outside. We saw Strokey (named after her heat stroke incident) take a bit of a stumble. She sort of fell over, but then got back up after a little bit and kept acting normally, if not a little bit more lethargic than usual.

    Then today we were fixing up a fence, and all of a sudden noticed Strokey, who was about 2 metres away, suddenly start to go nuts. She was flapping her wings and running about with her head turning all over the place. She didn't run far because she was so disorientated that she would just faceplant into the ground, roll onto her back, flap her wings until she managed to roll back onto her front, then keep flailing again and again. One of the roosters and one of the hens immediately ran towards her to watch, as did we, and she continued to do this for about 30 seconds.

    Then when she stopped moving she just sat down, so we moved her to some shade. She was definitely more lethargic than usual, but then when I came out again the three chickens were together (there are five in total... one is brooding and one apparently didn't care) and they all ran off, and Strokey ran fine. It was as if it had never happened.

    Then tonight we decided to make sure she got into the roost ok. When she had the injured leg after heat stroke, we would go in at night and put her in the nesting box then come back in the morning and take her out so she didn't have to sleep on the ground. We do know that after a few days she started sleeping normally again and getting up on her own, but she was on the ground again tonight.

    So my husband went in to put her in the nesting box for the night, and when she got in she started doing the flailing again, to the point where she fell out of the nesting box, landed on the ground and kept flailing again.

    We left her on the ground thinking it was the safer thing to do, but we're really at a loss as to what it could be. I've read about 50 threads in here, but none of the symptoms sound really exactly the same. If anyone can tell me what they think I would really appreciate it. Really hope Strokey doesn't die on me!

    Last edited: Nov 12, 2010
  2. peep this

    peep this In the Brooder

    Mar 13, 2010
    I wish I could help. Sounds like chicken epilepsy....
  3. Clay Valley Farmer

    Clay Valley Farmer Songster

    Sep 7, 2010
    You posted she had heat stroke? If so could that have casused brain injury leading to the problems.

    I'd worry about her doing too much of the funky chicken and the others turning on her. Might be good to isolate her until you can get a handle on what is going on.
  4. hookshot

    hookshot In the Brooder

    Nov 12, 2010
    Ok, thanks... I'm leaving her with the others as they're actually quite nice to each other and none of them are picking on her at all, they all have so much room and I'm watching during the day to make sure it's all ok and I don't want to stress her out more by isolating her.

    She hasn't seemed to do it again today yet, but I also am not watching her 100% of the time.

    Also I saw a video of a chicken with epilepsy, and what she did with her head looked similar, but she flapped her wings a lot and looked "off-balance" as well, whereas the epileptic birds don't. Could this still be epilepsy?
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2010
  5. Yay Chicks!

    Yay Chicks! Songster

    Apr 15, 2010
    Forest Grove, OR
    It does sound like some kind of seizure disorder, especially with the lethargy immediately afterward and normal behavior the rest of the time. And, I'm totally no expert.
  6. hookshot

    hookshot In the Brooder

    Nov 12, 2010
    Been keeping an eye on her today, she's definitely lethargic basically always, and seems to have more consistent trouble walking. She just stumbles a little bit when she walks now, and its worse when she tries to run.

    I'm feeding her yogurt hoping that will help and don't really know what else to do for the poor thing.
  7. hookshot

    hookshot In the Brooder

    Nov 12, 2010
    Well, Strokey's taken a turn for the worse and I'm hoping someone can help.

    She still hasn't been going into the perch or nesting box at night, she's been sleeping on the ground.

    Yesterday and today she's been SUPER lethargic. Yesterday we had her just outside our door and let her be alone in the grass out there for a while.

    Today she spent the entire day in the coop. We brought her out in the afternoon and she's completely lethargic. She closes her eyes and her head falls forward onto the grass.

    Is it possible that she could have mites or fleas?

    If anyone can shed any light on this I'd be very appreciative.

    Thanks! [​IMG]

    edit: also, her comb is bright red, but floppy. I've checked for eggs in case she is egg-bound, but can't feel any.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2010
  8. Rozzie

    Rozzie Songster

    Jul 14, 2010
    Have you tried giving her electrolytes? If she had heat stroke her body may need the salts, etc. from an electrolyte solution. You can give the type made for babies/young children. It tastes pretty good so they'll drink it. I'd add bird vitamins (or baby vitamins WITHOUT iron, too.)

    You might also feed some boiled mashed eggs, just to help keep some high quality food going down her. I'd house her in a big dog cage or kennel or some other confined area so she can't fall off anything til she's better.
  9. hookshot

    hookshot In the Brooder

    Nov 12, 2010
    Quote:I haven't given electrolytes, no, just some yogurt with sugar added. I'll go get some electrolytes and vitamins, thanks.

    And yes, she's being housed in a big tupperware container right now, she more or less stays in it and when she does leave she stays within about 10 feet of it and there isn't anywhere where she can fall off anyways. [​IMG]
  10. hookshot

    hookshot In the Brooder

    Nov 12, 2010
    I'm giving her 1/2 childrens vitamin every day (couldn't find baby vitamins) with no iron.

    About an hour after I gave her the first vitamin yesterday she stood up for a little bit, didn't move around, but it was still an improvement.

    This morning I gave her the vitamin, which she likes (it's raspberry flavoured!) and so she gobbled it up pretty quick. Then I was feeding her some scrambled egg, and she seemed to try to get up, but had trouble doing so, fell over and in panic started flapping. I grabbed her, kept her still for a bit, calmed her down, and now her head's fallen over to the side and she's closed her eyes.

    She's still alive, but I don't like not knowing what's wrong with her.

    Also, she has diarhea, but it's not bloody. Just a runny, brown poo.

    edit: also, her feathers are falling out. If I pet her, she loses 2-3 each time.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2010

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