Hen with no balance - trouble standing

basicliving

Keepin' the sunny side up
11 Years
Mar 20, 2008
938
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Shenandoah Valley, VA
I've spent the past two hours going through the search function, looking for answers, but haven't found any.

I have an older flock with 19 chickens - all from the hatchery and all vaccinated. I also have 17 baby chicks that hens from this flock hatched out - varying in age from 1 week to around 4 months old. The babies have not been vaccinated. They all free range and are fed good quality layer feed and flock raiser (I *try* to feed the babies flock raiser, and adults layer, but they all eat each others' food). They get oyster shell free choice and I feed them back their egg shells after we eat the eggs. I scatter a little BOSS mixed with grain scratch each evening in the run.

The issue is with a 1 1/2 year old hen (White Faced Black Spanish - from original flock) that I just noticed acting very oddly yesterday. I initially noticed yesterday around noon that when she ran towards me, she ran with her wings kinda ruffled out, and her head bent way forward. But she was still able to run, so I didn't give it too much thought at the time. They ALL run toward me when I go outside because they think they may get a treat. I went out a couple of hours later and she ran towards me the same way, and when I put some egg shells down for them, she gobbled them up like everyone else.

A couple of hours later, I noticed her laying, kinda on her side, just outside the chicken run. I went outside to check on her and she struggled, but eventually got up and tried to run towards me. But this time she kept losing her balance and fell on her side several times. I tried to pick her up, but she managed to get inside the coop - and actually made it to a roost. But she had a hard time balancing and when another chicken got up beside her, she fell off.

ETA: She's the only one in the flock exhibiting any symptoms like this. Everyone else currently seems very healthy.

I brought her inside and am keeping her in a cage. She was VERY unhappy last night and wouldn't eat/drink and kept flinging herself about the cage trying to escape. She had a fair amount of energy, even if she couldn't balance herself. I turned off the light and made the room very dark, and she settled down.

This morning I checked her and she wouldn't even try to stand up. She was on her side and when I righted her, she would fall over. I took her out and hand fed her yogurt and got some water with electrolites in her. I was able to balance her in the upright position when I put her back in her cage (laying down, not on her feet)

I fed her yogurt mixed with scrambled eggs and a little cheese and she ate like she was starving. I put some water w/ electrolites in her cage, and she's drinking just fine. She now seems to be able to stay in the upright position while laying down with out falling over on her side, but she's not trying to use her legs at all and if I move her, she falls over. I kind of have to balance her upright and then she can stay that way. She pooped 4 times since last night, and they all looked normal. She's eating/drinking just fine and other than the imbalance issue, seems to feel ok.

Her comb and wattle were hot last night - wattle is cool today, but comb still feels pretty warm.

She laid an egg this AM, but it was a soft shelled egg. Not sure if this is an ongoing issue for her - some one does routinely leave me a soft shelled egg but I thought it was a Leghorn. So I don't know if she has been laying soft shells for a while, or if this was the first time.

Her vent was moist on the outside when I checked last night - haven't checked yet this AM because I hate disturbing her right now. But I will check. I could see no sign of mites/lice - I looked very carefully around the vent area and all over her, but I've never personally seen mites/lice so I hope I looked good enough.

I've seen other posts about chickens with imbalance issues, but I can not seem to find anyone that ever resolves what the issue was. Either they stop posting or post that the chicken is fine now. Other than isolating, feeding yogurt/eggs/etc. and electrolites/vitamins in the water, I can't find any other specific treatment that was used.

Has anyone experienced these symptoms within their flock and determined what the issue was or a specific treatment?

I'm sorry for the long post, but I am trying to provide as much info as possible.

Thanks for any help,
Penny
 
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meriruka

Songster
12 Years
Oct 18, 2007
1,388
8
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Gosh, I wish I could think of something helpful. Sounds like you're doing everything you can. It's frustrating when you don't know what's wrong. Hopefully someone who can help will see your post.............
 

aggieterpkatie

Songster
10 Years
Apr 26, 2009
733
7
141
Maryland
Sounds similar to what my 8 week old banam pullet is doing. I think she's got curly-toe paralysis which is caused by a riboflavin deficiency. I got some baby vitamins today, so i'll give them to her tonight and hopefully she'll come out of it.

Good luck with yours!
 

Wynette

Crowing
Premium member
12 Years
Sep 25, 2007
25,574
169
421
Michigan
I'm wondering if it's Marek's? You mention she was vaccinated, but you did not state for what...I'm going to assume Marek's. While I think it's an excellent idea to do so, you need to know it's only about 90% effective. Just a guess on my part...

Also, I wanted to mention that it's EXTREMELY harmful to feed chicks layer feed...it's detrimental to internal organs, and you will have issues later as a result. You really should separate those less than 18 weeks old so they do not have access to layer feed and oyster shell.

BEST of luck - I hope what your girl has quickly resolves itself!!
 

ChooksChick

BeakHouse's Mad Chicken Scientist
11 Years
Aug 17, 2008
7,738
153
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Larry, KS
My Coop
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I'm having a similar issue and will open a new thread, but wanted to bump this in the meantime, to see if anyone has any other suggestions.
 

mom2chicksandpups

Songster
10 Years
Apr 18, 2009
1,000
9
159
Southeast Alabama
One of my 1 month old pullets behaved this way about a week ago. I posted a video of her here, but nobody replied. We ended up separating her from the rest of our chickens. I put her in an empty brooder with some food and water in the barn. We honestly thought she would not make it or that my husband would have to end her misery. After being separated about 2 days, she was fine. She is up and running again now. I don't know what the problem was. She walked around like she was drunk, fell over to one side or her back frequently, etc. You may want to just try separating yours in a place where she can get some rest and extra TLC.
 

aggieterpkatie

Songster
10 Years
Apr 26, 2009
733
7
141
Maryland
I'm not sure if anyone has seen my thread, but my pullet that was not walking is now better and has rejoined the flock! I gave her a dose of baby vitamins at 4:30 pm yesterday, and by 8:00 pm she was walking. I'm sure it was curly-toe paralysis. The baby vitamins were only $3.99, so it's worth a shot!
 

basicliving

Keepin' the sunny side up
11 Years
Mar 20, 2008
938
15
151
Shenandoah Valley, VA
mom2chicksandpups and aggieterpkatie - I am so happy your pullets are doing better! I know it must be a true sense of relief to see them recover.

Wynette - yes they are vaccinated for Merek's. The only symptom she is currently displaying is her inability to properly use her legs. So far, none of the other 36 in the flock display any sign of illness or injury. I pray it stays that way. They all free range - even the 1 week old babies. I quit putting out layer feed and only put out flock raiser for now. There is oyster shell available 24/7 for the layers.

I have had my hen in a cage in our bathroom since Monday night. Her appetite is good, she eats and drinks just fine. The first day or so, I left a night light on for her, but she spent most of her time flailing about the cage trying to get out. Since Tuesday evening, she is in darkness. The bathroom has no window. I hate doing that to her, but she will not rest if there is any light - and even got her head stuck in the cage bars a few times from jamming her head through them trying to escape. With it being dark, she is laying still at all times, unless I have her out to feed/water.

I notice very little change in her yet. After closely observing her, it seems it is only her legs that don't want to work correctly. If she spreads them a bit, she balances fine and even ruffles up and shakes herself without falling over. But if she moves her legs and tries to reposition herself, it's like her legs don't want to cooperate and she falls over. Her toes are not curled at all, and she is able to grasp my finger with them if I put my fingers under her feet. She doesn't seem to be in pain. When I pick her up and examine her she doesn't squirm too much or make any noise. I'm leaning toward some sort of damage. She is one of the roosters favorite hens, and I wonder if her back got injured along the way?

She's been drinking water with electrolytes and vitamins in it. I feed her eggs mixed with a little yogurt and cheese in the AM. Layer pellets turned to mush with a little water and mixed with a little yogurt for lunch, and the same at bedtime. Like I said, she eats and drinks just fine.

She's one of my favorite hens too and it just breaks my heart to see her like this - and to keep her caged because she desperately wants to rejoin the flock. But she can't function with the flock right now, and the roosters would likely really hurt her anyway. If she is no better in a week, we will probably have to put her down.
It makes me sick to even think about that, but she can't live a happy life like this in a cage forever. I'll give her a week to see if there is any improvement at all.
 
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ChooksChick

BeakHouse's Mad Chicken Scientist
11 Years
Aug 17, 2008
7,738
153
341
Larry, KS
My Coop
My Coop
I wonder if she hasn't the same problem as mine- and what that problem is!

Dhlunicorn suggested it is possible for internal laying or other egg-tract issues to cause pressure on the sciatic nerve and render the legs (or one leg) immobile- I'm thinking mine might have that problem plus a leg injury.

You can read my thread here: https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?pid=2433971#p2433971

Poor
girls- this is very upsetting. I'm going to give Georgie a while before rendering a decision, too. This is no life.
 

basicliving

Keepin' the sunny side up
11 Years
Mar 20, 2008
938
15
151
Shenandoah Valley, VA
ChooksChick - they do sound similar. I have not noticed my hen having any labored breathing though - but the temps are not near as hot here as there.

Mine laid an egg the day after I penned her - although it was a soft shelled egg. I've had her in darkness since then, so she has not laid another.

Because the only noticeable symptom is her inability to control her legs very well, it really does make me think it's an injury. Whatever it is, I pray she will get past it. I am just sick over it. Literally. I've had a knot in my stomach since I first noticed her and each day that I find no improvement I get a little sadder. But I'm not giving up on her yet.

I really hope that you and I both will be posting good news in the near future! Hang in there
 
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