Hen with Marek's disease


Aug 14, 2018
My Coop
My Coop
My mixbreed hen (pet chicken- around 2 years old) has been looking awful for days, not eating, not drinking, and not moving much. Today she could hardly move at all and I found her at the back of the coop with her legs splayed in the typical position of those affected with Marek's disease. None of ym flock was vaccinated as chicks. What would be the most humane way to dispatch her without going to the vet?
My mixbreed hen (pet chicken- around 2 years old) has been looking awful for days, not eating, not drinking, and not moving much.
That does not sound like Marek's... with the splay leg being the only symptom that matches.

Not eating and drinking is more likely crop issues like slow or sour crop. And not eating and dehydration can cause weakness and loss of balance type stuff.

Do you want to see about helping her if possible instead of culling?

If you decide to cull there are many methods including broomstick, neck wringing, and oxygen displacement using starter fluid. Some folks use a garden lopper to take the head off. I use a cone and cut the throat arteries. Most methods take some practice to get exactly right and will cause a flopping for a couple minutes that is an automated nerve response and not the bird suffering. You might google humane chicken euthanasia or hopefully some more peeps will share with you how they perform this awful but sometimes necessary task.

If you want to confirm or eliminate Marek's as a possibility in this bird and maybe your flock (unless you have a previous laboratory diagnosis) here are some links to help with sending the bird in for necropsy... Many states perform testing on backyard poultry for cheep or free..
How to Send a Bird for a Necropsy

State poultry labs

Sorry your hen isn't well. :(

Other possibilities from your description might be salpingitis, internal laying, or other reproductive or possible organ issues. Did you check for any swelling of the abdomen or under the vent? When was her last egg and was it normal?

For what it's worth... Marek's vaccinated chicks or birds are NOT welcome at my house to HIDE the disease if they do contract it... since the vaccine JUST reduces symptoms and doesn't actually prevent it.

Hope she recovers or this resolves quickly for you both. :fl :hugs
I don't have more to add to the above post with suggestions of what the illness might be. This is how I cull, it is relatively error proof, make sure your loppers are sharp. I use an empty bleach bottle or vinegar jug for a killing cone -bottom cut out, neck cut off to the appropriate size, ropes hang it from a rafter in my barn.:

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