Hen with crooked neck and ataxia (Updated...necropsy says Marek's)

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by babsbag, Jan 12, 2010.

  1. babsbag

    babsbag Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 12, 2010
    Anderson, CA
    Hi, this is my first post to this forum, but not my last. I have read many a post and gleaned a ton of useful information and I thank all of you for your willingness to share and educate.

    I have had chickens for about 5 months so I am really new to this. What I have learned during that time could fill a book, but I still need to know more. I have 7 bantams, and 1 Barred Rock. Last week I lost one of my hens. One night she chose to roost in a dog crate instead of their pen (there is a roost in the crate and she was on it, not huddled in a corner), I thought that was a little different, but in the dark she looked ok. The next morning she didn't want to come out so of course I pciked her up and started looking her over. She was missing an eye. It was gone, not just shut or swollen, but gone. There was dried blood on her face. I cleaned her up, gave her some water, and let her go back in the dog crate. My thought was that my over zealous roosters had been too rough on her. I can't say for sure, but I know that no other animal could have injured her. That night another hen joined in in the dog crate and I just let them stay, I figured warmth and company couldn't hurt. By the 3rd night there were 3 in the crate.

    Day 3, the injured hen was out and about, eating, scratching, drinking, and actin "chicken like". I figured all was well.
    Day 4, I noticed a hen ( one of the three roosting in the crate) had a crooked neck, not really upside down or backwards, like severe wry neck, but holding it cocked to one side. She was getting along ok, but not ver fond of the roosters approaching her. I put her in the dog crate with food and water to keep her safe.
    Day 5, the hen with the bad eye didn't want to come out of the crate in the morning. I had to go to work. When I got home she was dead. The hen with the bad neck now had problems walking as well. Not paralyzed, but walked and would fall over. I put her in the crate, alone. That night I brought her into my house. The other chickens are all back to roosting in their pen.

    Hen is about 7 months old, other hens have just started laying
    Droppings are running, green and white, no blood
    Eyes look clear
    Beak is sometimes open when she breathes, sometimes not.
    Food she was eating: scratch, and layer food, also free range so they eat some grain that is for my goats. I do sometimes give them kitchen and gardenscraps, the last being a few weeks ago. Corn on the cob, and winter squash from the garden, the corn was still on the stalk, and it had been frozen in the garden. No obvious mold on it though.
    Fresh water is available in both the coop and the water that the goats have access to.
    Dry coop available at all times with box that they all crowd into and huddle at night. I am sure they are warm enough and draft free.

    Day 6. Hen is still not doing well. Force fed her cooked egg yolk, apple, rolled oats, yogurt, and bird vitamins. Also water, as much as I could without drowning her. I worry about that when force feeding.
    Day 7. Same as before, but I gave her Tylan50 .5cc x 2. I gave it to her by mouth as I had no needle and I am really nervous about injecting a chicken. I have done goats and dogs and cats, but no birds. I also gave her more of the egg/apple/oats/yogurt/vitamins. Also added some poultry nutri-drench and crumbles that are for game and show birds. She will not eat on her own, or drink.
    Day 8. Same. I was surprised that she was still alive this morning. I have her in a cat carrier with towels propping her up so she doesn't lay on her side.

    Could this be Marek's disease? She is not vaccinated. Got her and the others from a local breeder at the end of last summer. Is she too old for Marek's (about 7 months)?

    Could the problem my other hen had with her eye been the result of a disease that I missed or was it most likely an injury? She died so fast that I had no time to nurse her or observe her. When I fisrt noticed the eye was missing I thought that she was just hiding because she was in pain. When she acted fine in a few days time I thought that was the case for sure, now in hind site I am not so sure.

    This little feathered creatures can sure be confusing. Thanks for any and all suggiestions or ideas. I am starting her on vitamin b and e as soon as I get some at the store on the way home from work. I sure wish i could stay home and nursemaid her all day.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2010
  2. Paganbird

    Paganbird CrescentWood Farm

    Apr 25, 2009
    Western Pa
    I don't have any experience with Marek's, but from the 2 symptoms you mentioned (eye problems & weakness/paralysis) that's what it sounds like.
    Do you still have the body of the chicken that didn't make it? If so, you may want to get a necropsy. Make sure any chickens that show symptoms are segregated from the rest of the flock.
    Hopefully someone with more expierence on this will post.
    Good Luck.
     
  3. babsbag

    babsbag Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 12, 2010
    Anderson, CA
    I do have the body. This may sound terrible, but it has been in a plastic bag in the trash can outside. It is really hard to bury them in the mud. It has been about 5 days so I don't know if it would be any good for a necropsy, but it has been fairly cold. I think it is about a 2 hour drive to take it to a lab that can test. I can ask my goat vet and see what she thinks.

    What are the eye symptoms with Marek's? It really looked like the eye was gone. There was no little bulge where the eyeball should have been. The hen had not acted sick prior to that, but Marek's has been on my mind.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Paganbird

    Paganbird CrescentWood Farm

    Apr 25, 2009
    Western Pa
    Clinical signs: MD commonly affects pullets between 12-24 weeks of age, but can infect broilers as early as 6 weeks of age. The incubation period ranges from 3-4 weeks to several months. Signs may vary according to the nerve or nerves affected. Asymmetric progressive paralysis of one or more of the extremities can be seen. Wing involvement is characterized by drooping of the limb. Torticollis of nerves controlling the neck are affected. Vagal involvement will lead to dilatation of the crop and/or gasping. If the iris is involved, eyes will lose their ability to accommodate light intensity and blindness may occur (once called "grey eye"). Many birds die suddenly without symptoms. There are nonspecific signs such as weight loss, paleness, anorexia, and diarrhea.

    (Taken from: http://www.addl.purdue.edu/newsletters/2005/Spring/mareks.htm )
    It could be assumed that if the chicken's eyesight were inhibited... an eye injury would be more likely to occur.
    I really don't know much about Mareks, except what I've read. Check out that website & it will give you more info.​
     
  5. babsbag

    babsbag Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 12, 2010
    Anderson, CA
    Well Chicky is still with me tonight. She seems to want to eat, just seems to not be sure how to get to the food. Her balance seems a little better, but she still holds her head over to one side. She lets me feed her and swallows readily. She likes applesauce, yogurt, and sweet potatoes quite a bit. Also eating wet crumbles, pieces of tomatos, and egg yolk. I have given her vitamin E and B12, and the homeopathic treatment that I read about for Marek's. As well as another dose of Tylan. Obviously time will tell. If she doesn't make it I will try and get a necropsy done. They are really cheap (maybe free) in California if I can get the body to the lab that does them. I hope it doesn't come to that.

    Is it true that all chickens are exposed to Marek's? Is it really that prevalent? The breeder that I got my chicks from said that she didn't vaccinate, but also never had any cases of it. She has quite a few birds and was VERY picky about how the chicks were going to be raised. I am going to try and find her and ask her some more questions. She seemed very responsible and taking good care of them.

    Thank you for all the links to the information.
     
  6. kathyinmo

    kathyinmo Nothing In Moderation

  7. babsbag

    babsbag Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 12, 2010
    Anderson, CA
    After reading the post you gave me the link to (thank you) I am going to try the molasses flush. I certainly have nothing to lose at this point. I have a poultry nutri-drench. Is that the same as the electrolytes?

    When I look at where my chickens free range during the day I have to think that botulism.is a possibility; I had no idea. They run in the same pasture as my goats, so there are surely maggots under that straw, even if it is winter. Is it all maggots, or only ones that are in rotting flesh? There are also puddles right now in the area where the goats are penned at night, and when it is really wet the puddles are pretty stinky. They do have fresh water to drink, but puddles are certainly a possibility (and closer). There is no compost pile, but I do give them kitchen scraps, some of which they eat and some they leave. I will have to be more careful about cleaning up ones that don't eat in a timely matter. I don't think there is any moldy food as they have a dirt floor in their run where the feeder is and there are no crevices or cracks for food to stick in. Also, I am very careful about moldy food because of the goats. The hay and grain is always kept dry.

    I will keep you posted.
     
  8. babsbag

    babsbag Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 12, 2010
    Anderson, CA
    Not really any change this morning with Chicky. I am still hand feeding her. She swallows readily, but won't pick the food out of the feeder, or waterer. When she struggles to get away from me she seems quite strong. Likes to grab onto my hand and use me for a perch, but she can't walk without falling over, her legs don't seem to be paralyzed, but she sometimes keeps her toes clenched.

    Her poo is runny, dark green and white, but since she is eating a liquid, mushy diet I thought that was probaly pretty normal, but maybe not???

    Eyes are clear, no sneezing, no coughing. Still holds head to the side, but she can move it and hold it up at times, so not paralyzed.

    I have given her Epson salt in water in case it is botulism or some other toxic. She had quite a bit of runny poo in her cage this morning. Still giving her vitamins, applesauce, sweet potatos, Vit E and B12, and mushy chicken feed.

    I have nursed other birds before and have not had much luck. I am surprised that she is still alive, she is certainly a little fighter. Hopefully she will be no worse when I get home from work tonight, maybe even better.

    Other chickens still look and act ok.
     
  9. Sunflower

    Sunflower Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 10, 2007
    Berryton, KS
    Good luck with your chickens. I can't advise you in any way, but hang in there, you're doing all you can it sounds like.
     
  10. babsbag

    babsbag Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 12, 2010
    Anderson, CA
    Thank you.

    Tonight she was eating wet crumbles and tomatos on her own, but I have to show her where the food is and kind of steady her as she pecks at it. Still won't drink on her own, so I just give her little drops, probably not near enough but I am afarid of drowning her. Her coordination is just off. She startles easily, and keeps her head to one side or down in her chest; she looks like she has no neck. I just don't know how this will end.

    I had a pet dove that acted like this a few years ago. After feeding her by hand for well over a month, and 2 vet visits, I had her put down and a necropsy was done. There were no definitive findings. Very frustrating, but this all seems so very familar. The head tilt, the lack of balance, the inability to find the food bowl, all the same as this hen. My dove was an indoor cage bird, so I know there is no connection between them. I just wish I knew what was causing this. I have certainly been giving her the royal treatment, so if she recovers it could be from any number of treatments
     

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