Is my Rooster "slow"?

smlinn17

Chirping
5 Years
Apr 11, 2014
82
19
91
Alabama
My silkie rooster Loki is 8 months old. He hasn't crowed yet and still will not roost. He can't seem to aim when trying to eat or forage. When trying to eat from a feeder he continuously misses the holes and when trying to get scratch from the ground, he just gets a beak full of dirt. I had considered that he might be blind but his eyes aren't cloudy and he will follow my fingers in front of his face. He isn't deaf because he responds to sounds. He has fits of excess energy but He tends to lay around a lot. I've started feeding him separately from the others in an open container in the morning and evening. Is something wrong with him? Is he "Slow" or is there another explanation? Thanks.
 

ten chicks

Songster
6 Years
May 9, 2013
3,290
304
208
MB,Canada
My silkie rooster Loki is 8 months old. He hasn't crowed yet and still will not roost. He can't seem to aim when trying to eat or forage. When trying to eat from a feeder he continuously misses the holes and when trying to get scratch from the ground, he just gets a beak full of dirt. I had considered that he might be blind but his eyes aren't cloudy and he will follow my fingers in front of his face. He isn't deaf because he responds to sounds. He has fits of excess energy but He tends to lay around a lot. I've started feeding him separately from the others in an open container in the morning and evening. Is something wrong with him? Is he "Slow" or is there another explanation? Thanks.
Is it possible his crest is obstructing his view? I feed all of silkies from a deep dish as i have one that has the same issue you described,his aim is off. In the case of my boy,it is from an eye issue that has left his sight in one eye very poor,so to accommodate this problem they all eat of deep feed/water bowls and i keep his crest feathers trimmed away from his eyes.

As for roosting,my roosters do roost,but none of my hens will,instead they sleep in a small cat cage.
 
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chooks4life

Crowing
6 Years
Apr 8, 2013
4,905
655
296
Australia
My silkie rooster Loki is 8 months old. He hasn't crowed yet and still will not roost.

This late development of gender specific characteristics/behaviors is fairly common for some Silkies, especially US ones judging from the info on this forum. Aussie ones I've known were not that slow, in fact they were all precocious.

But the roosting is a separate issue. It can be because he was raised in a cold area where nesting was preferable to perching, and nobody stopped him, or because he was bullied off the limited perch space available, or because he hurt himself but didn't show symptoms so it went unnoticed and he kept nesting because of an inability to get onto the perches or experiencing pain when perching.

He can't seem to aim when trying to eat or forage. When trying to eat from a feeder he continuously misses the holes and when trying to get scratch from the ground, he just gets a beak full of dirt. I had considered that he might be blind but his eyes aren't cloudy and he will follow my fingers in front of his face.

If you are sure it's not his inability to see his target, then the alternative explanations are mostly not good; "acquired brain damage due to trauma caused by external application of force" is about as good as it gets. I've had some purebred Silkies before, and other birds with very large and obstructive crests, and they could not see the ground directly in front of them but managed to not misjudge distances.

If you can take a torch out at night, while he's perching/resting, check how well his pupils dilate and restrict according to the light. You can do this in daytime too without the torch if he's friendly enough to handle, just move him into and out of the shade into the sunshine and watch his pupils' reactions. Check both eyes to see if there is a difference in reaction or reaction time.

I had some Isabrowns who developed neurological degenerative conditions due to genetic issues and they had no obstructions crest-wise but all exhibited the inability to gauge distances correctly, after 3 years approximately of having been normal; this also happened to other people who'd bought from the same hatchery but raised their birds completely differently to mine; but genetic problems can set in much sooner. Some people describe this depth perception problem in some newly hatched ducklings too.

This misjudging distances issue is a common symptom of neurological problems. It could be disease, bad genetics, or other things like toxicity from something in his environment. Even if the others aren't showing symptoms he may have a problem eating behavior like consuming toxic things, toadstools, lead paint, etc, or may have encountered a one-off brain-damaging thing he consumed.

He isn't deaf because he responds to sounds. He has fits of excess energy but He tends to lay around a lot. I've started feeding him separately from the others in an open container in the morning and evening. Is something wrong with him? Is he "Slow" or is there another explanation? Thanks.

Personally I would not breed him unless experimenting to see how strongly genetic in origin this trait may be. It might not be genetic at all. Either way though he's appearing quite faulty and has failed at the competition of achieving breeding viability, so to speak; the only reason I'd breed a male who was physically incapacitated in some way is if I knew it was acquired and definitely not inherited, or, in a probably never likely to happen scenario, if he was genetically very valuable.

It is, however, only early days, he may straighten up and act normal, but I would always put a note in my breed records about him, if he were mine and valuable enough to breed. His offspring would be under suspicion for at least 5 generations to come. I'd inbreed, too, to see if the trait resurfaces, even if his offspring are apparently normal. That's IF he ever comes right and breeds. He may be sterile, depending on what's caused the symptoms showing.

Best wishes.
 

smlinn17

Chirping
5 Years
Apr 11, 2014
82
19
91
Alabama
I appreciate your advice. I am not a breeder, Loki is just a pet, he is a beautiful boy through. I will check the dilation of his pupils this evening, and then try trimming his crest. He is very friendly so I can handle him easily.
The man I bought him from had him and eighteen other six to eight month old chickens in a very small hutch type cage. They were cramped and filthy. Loki had never touched the ground before. Which explains the lack of roosting now that you say that. Is roosting something I should encourage? If so, then what is the best way to approach it? I have put a roost bar at his chest level and one a bit higher already.
 

smlinn17

Chirping
5 Years
Apr 11, 2014
82
19
91
Alabama
Is it possible his crest is obstructing his view? I feed all of silkies from a deep dish as I have one that has the same issue you described, his aim is off. In the case of my boy, it is from an eye issue that has left his sight in one eye very poor,so to accommodate this problem they all eat of deep feed/water bowls and I keep his crest feathers trimmed away from his eyes.

As for roosting, my roosters do roost, but none of my hens will, instead they sleep in a small cat cage.
Thanks, I will trim his crest this evening.
 

chooks4life

Crowing
6 Years
Apr 8, 2013
4,905
655
296
Australia
I appreciate your advice. I am not a breeder, Loki is just a pet, he is a beautiful boy through. I will check the dilation of his pupils this evening, and then try trimming his crest. He is very friendly so I can handle him easily.
The man I bought him from had him and eighteen other six to eight month old chickens in a very small hutch type cage. They were cramped and filthy. Loki had never touched the ground before. Which explains the lack of roosting now that you say that. Is roosting something I should encourage? If so, then what is the best way to approach it? I have put a roost bar at his chest level and one a bit higher already.
Yes, that does explain the lack of roosting. It should be encouraged because in general birds are more likely to develop and die from respiratory diseases than other animals. Roosting means he's not sitting in his own droppings, inhaling the ammonia etc, and he also won't be cleaning the poop out of his feathers daily and thereby ingesting cocci and oocytes.

I would make a series of low perches, starting around his breast height and staggered in such a way that a short legged little chook can easily jump from one to the next highest one, and from there to the next highest one. At night I would put him on the lowest one. After a few nights, maybe a week, he will bond to that location and put himself to bed there. When he's doing that, I would put him on the next highest until he bonds to that. And so forth.

Having said that, trimming his crest sounds like a good idea, but if this does not fix his distance-gauging problems, he may never be able to perch normally.

Best wishes.
 

smlinn17

Chirping
5 Years
Apr 11, 2014
82
19
91
Alabama
Yes, that does explain the lack of roosting. It should be encouraged because in general birds are more likely to develop and die from respiratory diseases than other animals. Roosting means he's not sitting in his own droppings, inhaling the ammonia etc, and he also won't be cleaning the poop out of his feathers daily and thereby ingesting cocci and oocytes.

I would make a series of low perches, starting around his breast height and staggered in such a way that a short legged little chook can easily jump from one to the next highest one, and from there to the next highest one. At night I would put him on the lowest one. After a few nights, maybe a week, he will bond to that location and put himself to bed there. When he's doing that, I would put him on the next highest until he bonds to that. And so forth.

Having said that, trimming his crest sounds like a good idea, but if this does not fix his distance-gauging problems, he may never be able to perch normally.

Best wishes.
When I got home yesterday, I took a closer look at his eyes, there are bluish white splotches in his pupil (the iris is completely normal and nothing is swollen). He doesn't scratch it and there is no discharge. He isn't completely blind but definitely can't see like he is supposed to. He can see the food from the side but not in front of him when he tries to pick it up. Cataracts maybe? None of his sisters have this problem they all see fine.
 
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chooks4life

Crowing
6 Years
Apr 8, 2013
4,905
655
296
Australia
When I got home yesterday, I took a closer look at his eyes, there are bluish white splotches in his pupil (the iris is completely normal and nothing is swollen). He doesn't scratch it and there is no discharge. He isn't completely blind but definitely can't see like he is supposed to. He can see the food from the side but not in front of him when he tries to pick it up. Cataracts maybe? None of his sisters have this problem they all see fine.
Very interesting. Not good though. I once hatched a turkey hen who had white flecks in her pupils, who also had this misjudgement of distances issue. Before she was a year old she had gone completely blind. She died not long after. I've never seen anything like it before or since. These flecks were in her pupils, not over them. Not cataracts. They appeared to be on an angle, slanting inwards into the pupil, and due to one of her siblings having the habit of pecking her in the eyes, I originally thought they were blunt impact injuries. Subsequent experiences disproved that, I believe.

That sibling never pecked others in the eyes, even the pecking was done carefully, not violently or in aggression, and many times I have noticed that chickens and other pet animals will attempt to remove or peck out cancers. I don't know how they know one mark is a cancer and another a sunspot or freckle, but they know. They never harmed anyone or each other, even the eye pecker didn't peck hard or repeatedly, it was done in the gentlest and most considerate way an animal could attempt to remove something from anothers' flesh, as strange as that may sound. They all stopped when the 'patient/victim' showed signs of pain. There's been a lot of cancer in my family and among our pets due to some external influences we were exposed to so there's not been a shortage of examples.

Best wishes.
 

smlinn17

Chirping
5 Years
Apr 11, 2014
82
19
91
Alabama
Very interesting. Not good though. I once hatched a turkey hen who had white flecks in her pupils, who also had this misjudgement of distances issue. Before she was a year old she had gone completely blind. She died not long after. I've never seen anything like it before or since. These flecks were in her pupils, not over them. Not cataracts. They appeared to be on an angle, slanting inwards into the pupil, and due to one of her siblings having the habit of pecking her in the eyes, I originally thought they were blunt impact injuries. Subsequent experiences disproved that, I believe.

That sibling never pecked others in the eyes, even the pecking was done carefully, not violently or in aggression, and many times I have noticed that chickens and other pet animals will attempt to remove or peck out cancers. I don't know how they know one mark is a cancer and another a sunspot or freckle, but they know. They never harmed anyone or each other, even the eye pecker didn't peck hard or repeatedly, it was done in the gentlest and most considerate way an animal could attempt to remove something from anothers' flesh, as strange as that may sound. They all stopped when the 'patient/victim' showed signs of pain. There's been a lot of cancer in my family and among our pets due to some external influences we were exposed to so there's not been a shortage of examples.

Best wishes.
That is very sad. I'm sorry to hear that. However what ever is on Loki's eye is not spots or specks. It starts in the center and spreads out like fingers. He seems perfectly healthy otherwise and none of the others peck him. I will just have to keep an eye on him. Thanks so much for all of your input.
 

ten chicks

Songster
6 Years
May 9, 2013
3,290
304
208
MB,Canada
He will be fine,just make sure he had deep feed/water dishes. My boy is thriving and has no problems eating with deeper bowls.

Chooks4life. RE:comments the silkie in question is not slow and neither is mine,difficulty seeing is not a result of acquired brain damage,toxicity,disease or neurological issues.
 

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