Isaac, My 5 Year Old Delaware Rooster....Old Age is Closing In On The Big Guy (Long Story)

Discussion in 'Pictures & Stories of My Chickens' started by speckledhen, Jan 17, 2014.

  1. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    Isaac is separated on soft shavings with a reptile bulb for a little warmth so he stays quiet and doesn't run around doing roosterly things, chasing his sons, etc. He has developed a serious condition with his legs and feet that has much to do with his age and possibly a genetic predisposition, though the latter I'm not sure of. All I knew for sure when this happened was that he does have some arthritis and he does NOT have bumblefoot and he does NOT have leg mites. He's never had mites or lice in his entire 5 years of life. He has quit roosting within the last two weeks, which I attributed to his arthritic hocks. Just prior to that, we had widened his roost to almost 8" because of his difficulty in sitting with legs bent at an extreme angle on his 2x4 bar. He even fell off the roost during the night not too long ago, so I figured that his arthritis was lessening his flexibility and making it harder for him to maintain balance when he was asleep. I needed some sage advice so I turned to my go-to person for something like this.

    I consulted a man in South Ga, who has bred chickens for over 50 years, is an NPIP tester for the state and probably knows more than all of BYC combined; I trust him more than any vet with a chicken. The consensus without actual testing is that he thinks that Isaac is suffering from a combination of arthritis, bad circulation and beginning gout. His toes and feet are inflamed/swollen/red. One outer toenail was almost swallowed up by the swelling of the toe. Skin was peeling off the bottom of his feet in sheets and scales were being pushed off a couple of toes by the swelling. A few days ago, I'd seen one toe with 3 raised scales that were hanging on by one side of the scales, like an open book, and the toe underneath very red, and thinking he had injured himself, removed the scales and put antibiotic ointment on that toe. Since he's always had that outer buckle toe thing going on and he has those gnarly older-looking rooster feet, didn't really think much of it, didn't notice anything else unusual. Then, when giving him a couple of baby aspirin for his arthritis pain a few days later, I noticed that outer toe so badly inflamed and took him to the house for a foot wash and complete exam.

    The concern is that one or two toes look almost infected, one greenish under the skin. It's similar in my mind to a diabetic with bad leg circulation, the way they get sores if they are not very careful, and worse, can develop gangrene. We started him on penicillin for the possible infection. We soaks his feet daily in saline water then they are slathered with silver sulfadiazene cream that is antibacterial and antifungal, a cream used on burn victims and also, on hawks and eagles at the raptor center here in North Georgia to treat bumblefoot.

    His coop is bone dry and when it's soggy out, the flock usually just stays inside, especially in this cold weather, so it's not as if he's standing in mud or 3" of nasty poop, so the condition of his feet was perplexing to me. It seems to have escalated very quickly, though not sure I would have noticed immediately due to the normal shape of his feet and his usual Nazi-like walk (he's always walked like that, lol) and pronounced limp when he runs, which would be natural for an arthritic bird.

    As far as gout is concerned, some birds are genetically predisposed to an inability to process excess uric acid, which is why some roosters develop issues from eating layer feed and some can do it all their lives and never have a problem. One of Isaac's half-EE sons, a 3 year old owned by a long time customer of mine, was recently euthanized for a similar condition--his legs a the "ankle" were badly inflamed and he would self-mutilate. She chose to put down her beloved rooster because he was in so much discomfort and she couldn't fix the problem. I've never seen this in any other rooster I've owned, including my almost 6 year old Orpington, Suede, who ate the same layer feed as Isaac his entire life. That is, if this is, indeed, the beginning of gout. There is a type that comes from excessive protein (definitely not the case here) and one that comes from excessive calcium, or rather, being unable to process excessive calcium. William said that some of this is most likely due to his advancing age, the bad circulation, the arthritis and his body maybe starting to build up uric acid in the joints. The kicker? Nothing to do except restrict feed in the areas of protein and calcium, acidify the water, make sure he's drinking to flush the kidneys and hope it helps. If his toes/feet go necrotic, my worst nightmare, or if he is in too much pain, I will have to think of the unthinkable for my Isaac. He is such a sweet, gentle soul. You should have seen him standing calmly but shivering a bit from nervousness, on my living room floor, nose to beak with me, looking into my eyes while I talked to him and told him what we were trying to do for him while my husband got the broody cage readied for him to live in while we treated his feet. Such a good man he turned into, this rooster. Ive been blessed with the good ones over the years.

    Anyway, we're doing all we can for Isaac. I think the toes seemed slightly less inflamed yesterday. Hope to see more improvement today. Then, will have to see how I can feed him differently, or just feed everyone differently in deference to his condition, for awhile.

    Isaac, for those who don't know my guy:


    Please think good thoughts for my Isaac. I know he won't be with us much longer. Never heard of a truly elderly Delaware rooster, have you? I'd rather find him gone one morning, having died in his sleep, or have him die defending his hens as is a rooster's duty than to have to go out from something like this.
  2. ronott1

    ronott1 Daily Digest Guru Premium Member Project Manager

    chickens get gout so it is probably that.

    Treat him like you would for a person with Gout. It should clear up but will come back again.

    I hope he recovers!
  3. Suzierd

    Suzierd Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 8, 2011
    Isaac is so Beautiful, sending good thoughts and prayers your way for a speedy recovery. May the sweet old man be healed. :hugs
  4. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 26, 2011
    Upper Peninsula Michigan
    What a shame, I have loved my Delaware roosters for their brave but social temperament.

    The only thing I have to suggest is to soak his feet and legs in warm water with Epsom salts instead of saline, they are very soothing and help stimulate circulation, as well as decreasing inflammation.
  5. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    I did sea salt once only because I didn't have Epsom (casualty of the house fire that hadn't been replaced), but today's soak was Epsom salt and Chamomile and honey tea.

    Here is my love today after his treatment. His head is dirty from a major dustbath the other day.


    Last edited: Jan 17, 2014
  6. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens


    Definitely cut out the layer is my opinion. I never feed layer and have really old roosters prior to our fire. One was almost 9 years old.

    It's kind of like how not all smokers get cancer.. You still don't want to take the chance and smoke (may be a bad example if you are a smoker ;) )

    I hope you can reverse the damage :(
  7. wekiva bird

    wekiva bird Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 18, 2010
    South Carolina
    We are sending our love and our prayers for a speedy recovery.
  8. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    The reason I feed 16% Layer is that it's what I can afford on our pension The other stuff is way more expensive, like $5 per 50 lb higher, no matter what you get, either grower or Flock Raiser (which I actually don't care for, being vegetarian crap). I can't get pelleted grower, only powdery crumbles. The last bag I got was full of bugs because apparently, no one around here buys it and it was sitting too long so I took it back to the store. Like I said, NO roosters have ever had this issue here. I believe it's really his genetics, IF gout is what is the issue. If it's poor circulation combined with arthritis, no feed will fix that. I have a problem finding feed at all that isn't starter/grower or layer pellets. And I honestly don't believe I can afford $20 /bag for feeding all these birds. I wish I could.

    If he was living by himself, like Zane did, I could feed him only Knockout, the 11 grain scratch mix. Zane lived on that himself. It's 12% protein. The feet almost look like some frostbite in places, but he doesn't even have a frostbitten comb, except maybe some minor stuff on the back blade that is very, very minor.
  9. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    Thanks, Robin. Doing everything we can do.
  10. wekiva bird

    wekiva bird Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 18, 2010
    South Carolina
    I know you are.[​IMG]

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