Is there Mareks in my flock?? (Long story)


Apr 15, 2015
Northern Wisconsin
We have only had chickens since may. Being new at chicken keeping, I didn't know where to get them from, so.. I thought I would rescue a few from the zoo. 3 black bantam silkies, and 2 Rhode Island Red bantams. One silkie died within 24 hours (we suspected shock from the move). And one RIR died after 2 months, she was eating, but became emaciated and so weak I had to have the vet put her down (our chickens are much loved pets.. Not for dinner, I cannot cull them myself, we get attached to them). Vet found nutrients in stool sample, thus they concluded at some point the chicken had a virus which killed off her ability to absorb nutrients, and she starved to death. In October, we saw the other RIR developed a limp. We THOUGHT she injured herself and we took her in our heated garage to try and help her recover. Vet thought it looked like a hip or back injury, she could stand on both legs, but favored one leg when walking. It progressed quickly into her not getting around to eat enough and she lost weight and started sleeping a lot. I had her put down also. (Was very hard, she was my husbands favorite and this was just days before his birthday.). 2 weeks ago. Our new standard size RIR stopped emptying her crop overnight and I noticed it was very squishy and she had weird smelling burps, VERY watery stool, and she started sleeping a lot too. I concluded on my own after some research that maybe she had sour crop. I treated with both antibiotics, probiotics, and ACV. She did recover and crop started functioning normally. Yay! Finally a chicken recovered! BUT.. NOW.. Yesterday we noticed another one limping! I'm so frustrated! Her limp is real bad, yet she is continuing to eat, and drink, and lay eggs. It has gotten worse since yesterday and sometimes she even seems to be sliding it out to the front a bit (not completely out front though, not yet anyway). It is the right leg. So I started thinking.. Jeez, another limping chicken, again?! Maybe we have Mareks within the flock and that's why we keep having issues and keep losing birds?

I am using Prince 17% feed (crumbles) with scratch grain, sunflower hearts, oatmeal, yogurt, and fruits and veggies (no citrus fruits!) as treats to help them maintain weight during the winter. One if the remaining silkies is quite thin, and I am trying to keep her weight up.

The current limping chicken also keeps closing her eye on the same side as the bad leg. Is this a sign of pain on that side? Or a Mareks sign? We did see her use her bad leg to scratch her head, so it's not paralyzed.. Or might it become paralyzed if it's Marakes? Ugh!! I don't know! I'm thinking it's a possibility she accidentally scratched her eye when doing that.

The following is a list of the chickens we have and where they came from, some may have had a Mareks vaccine (yes I know they can still contract it), some have probably not had the vaccine.

Age range is between 7.5 to 12.5 months.

2 Black silkies (Zoo) no health issues, but one is thin
1 Bantam Cochin (from a friend of mine). Very healthy
2 Standard size RIRs and a Silkie Roo (Different friend of mine) one had sour crop & VERY watery stool

2 Bantam mix (Farm, hatched in kindergarten class) Very healthy
1 Gold Star (Limping and eye closed sometimes)

Any advice is very appreciated! I love having chickens, but I am starting to think I am either very bad at this, or I have very bad luck! Help please, and thanks!
Only a PCR blood test on a live bird, or necropsy done on a dead bird by your state vet can give you a positive answer about Mareks. Mareks can have so many different symptoms in every case, and it can cause a lack of immunity to common diseases due to a low white blood cell count. Sorry for your losses, and for going through some much with your flock.
ON this forum... HERE I READ about a lady who herbally cured her rescued bird. It was a youtube video that was linked to. But the person didnt tell which treatment she did..

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