Injured or Mareks? Please help.


Mar 26, 2019
I have a little bantam rooster I bought off a lady from Facebook. I was brand new to chickens. I brought him home it will be two years this coming April. She told me he was around 9 months old. I bought another rooster at the same time. Honestly she had around 100 in her back yard so I was a little curious how she could remember the ages of all her chickens. Anyways, I brought them home. The one in question had an occasional wheezing the day I brought him home. He has done it all along no matter the temperature. I have a very large coop/building for them. I keep clean fresh bedding. So about 4 weeks ago my husband was checking in on them and my little guy was couldn't stand. His eyes were very bloodshot. I scooped him up quickly and he just laid over on me. I thought he was dying right there. He had just a tiny bit of blood on the base of his talon. I thought maybe he got stuck on his perch and was fighting it and possibly fell. I brought him in my house and he has been since. After rest and being kept quiet for a few days he was fine but limping. I thought he was going to recover just fine. Well then he started kind of not moving around much. I panicked and called my vet. They couldn't get him in for like 3 days. Not sure they wanted to see a rooster. Called everywhere and finally found a vet that got him in a couple hours later. Explained everything and she prescribed antibiotics and pain meds for 5 days. Hes still on antibiotics. She was worried he was septic. First few days he was great. Walked quite a bit but limped on the left side. Then he just sat down and did not get back up. I've been hand feeding him. First time the vet has seen a rooster so I don't know she really knows what's going on with him.

So here it is...he has stopped eating. Six days ago he didnt eat much. Five days ago he acted like he was starving and ate all day. Four days ago he picked at very little food. Three days ago I got him to eat one worm and maybe three bites of cucumber. Not a thing since.

He is my baby! I'm very close to this one. I've cried so much because I know he's dying. He seems paralyzed on his left side. He is keeping his left leg thrown completely behind him. He is just lifeless.

So I don't know if he was injured or if possibly he could have mareks. This seems like its way more than an injured leg. There were no breaks either. At times he will sit right up and want a drink but will not even attempt to eat. Talks to me all the time no matter what. I'm willing to put any amount of time into rehabbing him but at this point im sure there is no bringing him back. I can't believe he's still even here. He's lost a lot of weight.

Does anyone think this could be mareks? Or have you had similar experiences with leg injuries? I mean wasn't broken. Vet said maybe a little nerve damage. And that could take months to heal. But he won't even attempt to eat. He can't last much longer like this I would think.
It's not possible to diagnose Marek's with any certainty until the chicken has died. Then a necropsy would examine his organs for Marek's tumors and enlarged nerves in the paralyzed leg.

It seems we're having quite a few threads like yours lately. I also have one going with some pullets I have that have gone lame. I'm deep in the process of trying to diagnose and treat them. Rather than try to explain what I've done so far, it would be best if you read through the thread to see if it relates to your situation.

What you need to do is tube feed your rooster so he doesn't die of starvation. You can try syringing food into him, but tubing is far, far easier and less messy. You can get a tube feeding kit from your vet for just a few dollars. The tube is inserted into the esophagus and then you load up a syringe and squirt it down the tube directly into his crop.

I suspect my pullets have Mycoplasma synoviae. I sent off some throat swabs to a lab, and may know next week sometime if I'm right. Your rooster may have this bacteria, and a clue was the eye inflammation you described. My pullets never had any respiratory symptoms, but they aren't always present. It's treated with an antibiotic.

Whatever this turns out to be, it's cropped up in my flock occasionally from the very start. I had a rooster suddenly go lame, and he went down hill just like yours, slowly starving and becoming weaker and weaker until I had to euthanize him. I didn't know about tube feeding him. It may have prolonged his life, but he may still have ended up lame. I strongly suggest you try tube feeding.
Wow thank you so much for your suggestions. Im going to contact the vet as soon as they open. I had read that mareks had to be confirmed post mortem. Because of his symptoms I was just trying to figure if he actually fell and injured his leg or if in fact he fell due to onset of paralysis/mareks. He's actually been trying to stand but can't. The past few days he's done nothing but lay there. So that is a little encouraging. And he actually just ate two worms and a few bites of applesauce. Not ideal at all but I was desperate to get him to eat anything! Tube feeding sounds like the way to go. I'm going to try to find a vet that has more experience with birds. Gosh there is so much to learn. I've never heard of the bacteria you are describing. I'll ask the vet about that as well. I hope yours gets resolved and again...thank you so much for all the information and suggestions on tube feeding. I greatly appreciate it.

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