I think one of my pullets may be handicapped?

MontanaDolphin

Songster
6 Years
Feb 16, 2013
1,051
81
168
Columbia, Virginia
My favorite pullet, Athena, has me worried that she may be "handicapped" in some way. She is 7 1/2 weeks old.

I noticed around 4 weeks old or so that her outer toe on each foot turns sideways...like, it's not flat on the floor. Here's a pic of what I mean:



I figured she just had defected toes. No biggie. She moves around just fine.

Then, last week when I had my chicks outside for some playtime, I was feeding them worms I found. Since Athena is my favorite, she got first dibbs on the worms. Problem was, she missed every time! All my other chicks see any treat, and the peck it into their mouths the first strike...Athena misses her target almost always! She pecks around it, to the right or the left of it, but rarely does she get the treat. She tries for a while, then just gives up...IF one of the other chicks hasn't stolen her treat by then. I noticed this behavior a week or two ago...I never paid attention to it before then, so I don't know if she's ALWAYS been like this or not.

So not only does she have deformed toes, but she eye to beak coordination is WAY off. Is there something wrong with her, like a disease or something? Or is she just retarded??? (NOT intended to be offensive in any way using that word, by the way)
 

Michael Apple

Crowing
11 Years
Mar 6, 2008
3,495
586
318
Northern California
It could be neurological and genetic. The sight and coordination can be affected by diseases like Marek's too. In either case, you can allow quality of life for the hen, and you may have to baby her along in order to help her. Make sure the other birds don't pick on her. She may not live as long as some of the others, but at least you gave her a chance. I've done this with a few chickens over the years, and so long as there isn't a contagious viral problem, you don't have to cull. Did you get them as 2 day old chicks, and were they vaccinated for Marek's disease before you got them?
 

MontanaDolphin

Songster
6 Years
Feb 16, 2013
1,051
81
168
Columbia, Virginia
I got them as day old chicks, and no they were not vaccinated. She has no other symptoms. She is my friendliest chick...probably because I hold her the most, and already baby her lol. No one picks on her, in fact she and my favorite cockerel (Zeus) pair up quite a lot...which is ironic since she is my favorite pullet and he is my favorite cockerel. They seem to always be sitting next to each other, scratching the dirt together, etc.
None of the other chicks are exhibiting any symptoms of anything (except for bad cockerel behavior LOL! They fight constantly...I have 4 cockerels and 2 pullets).
 

Michael Apple

Crowing
11 Years
Mar 6, 2008
3,495
586
318
Northern California
Well, I'm sure she'll have a good life even if it is shortened. Here's a bit of information about Marek's disease:
http://www.merckmanuals.com/vet/poultry/neoplasms/mareks_disease_in_poultry.html

I've dealt with this problem in non-vaccinated chicks in the past. Some showed no symptoms until a few years. I also know that immunity is not 100% depending on what type of Marek's strain is the culprit in the environment.
 

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