Just want some reassurance - lame hen incapacitated

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by gryeyes, Sep 9, 2010.

  1. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    A little over a week ago, my BA Matilda, who is 11 months old, started limping. I checked her foot for bumblefoot (using all the descriptions found here on BYC) and there was no scab or anything hard in the pad of her foot.

    Her limp got worse. By the third day she was REALLY gimping around. On the fourth day I came home from work and found her sitting on the ground to eat from a feeder. So I picked her up and checked her foot and leg again. She allowed my manipulations. It's her left leg. Couldn't find anything. But when she got up, she used her left wing as a crutch and began to hobble - barely - towards the waterer.

    OMG. I picked her up and brought her into the house right away. Set her in a Rubbermaid bin I was readying to use as a brooder for chicks hatching in an incubator.... gave her food and water, which she was very glad to have right close to her.

    Then I prepared a cardboard box for her (because that brooder box really needed to be used for chicks and I wanted her to be able to get out of it if she wanted to do so). It's on its side, so it's like a cave.

    She keeps her left leg stretched out behind her. She can wiggle a toe, but mostly the foot stays curled up. Her leg is warm, which I think is a good sign. I can bend it back under her, she doesn't squawk or pull away. It doesn't stay under her, though.... I work, so she's on her own all day. The first two days she got out of her cardboard box and made her way into the (unused) cat litter box to lay an egg. Then she stayed there. It seemed to be too much trouble for her to get out and drag herself back to the cardboard box.

    She continued to drink, just fine, and ate chick feed (for extra protein) and any treats I bought her until 3 days ago. She stopped being interested in feed, but would eat oatmeal, BOSS and mealworms. She also drank, but most of the time she just seemed so depressed. Although she did hobble/drag herself back to the cardboard box when the heat radiating from the brooder area got the litter box too warm. I think that's why she moved, anyway. Or maybe she just wanted to be back on pine shavings.

    I was hoping she would perk up, listening to the chicks peeping. I know chickens are social animals. But it was obvious she's depressed. She would talk to me, quietly, but not with much animation. Most of the time she had her head in a back corner of the cardboard box.

    I bought a hutch kit and built it today, setting it up on the back porch. I have a grow-out brooder out there with older chicks in it, too. But I really thought it would be best for Matilda to be out in fresh air, plus be able to see and be seen by her flock mates.

    Oh BOY, did that work! She perked right up and started eating and drinking. I had set her in the little "nest box" portion of the hutch facing out to the wired sides of the hutch section. She raised up and looked around, and clucked a little to her flock mates who came up on the porch to look in the hutch.

    I just don't want her to be in pain. I don't care how long it takes for her to heal, I'm willing to keep her safe, warm, fed and able to visit with her flock mates. If only I knew what was wrong with her. I'm guessing she hurt herself in the coop jumping or falling from a roost but I don't really know.

    Can I get some reassurance I'm doing the right thing?
     
  2. ella

    ella Chillin' With My Peeps

    Poor girl [​IMG] I can't tell you if it's right or not. It's up to you to decide her quality of life, you are in the only position to do it.

    I have a rooster in a similar situation. No idea what happened, this spring he had a tiny cut just above his little toe in the back but no other signs of trauma (rotates with no pain, can open & close foot, no heat or swelling) . His leg sticks out to the front and away from his body, he doesn't want to put weight on it, but doesn't seem painful at all. Just weird.

    He wasn't being picked on so I left him with the flock. When I started out with chickens I too discovered that if you remove them from the flock they tend to give up.

    He slowly got better over the summer, even started using his leg again and you could hardly tell it was ever injured. Then just last week he got worse, no idea why! He must have somehow re-injured it? Very frustrating.

    He's happy with the flock, isn't in pain and can get around to get food and water (and action, silly boy!) I'm just going to keep nursing him along and hope he gets better again.

    So I guess we're in the same boat. [​IMG]
     
  3. alaskafarmgirl

    alaskafarmgirl Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi there, and I'm sorry about your poor ailing girl. I found one in a real mess one morning, about 6 weeks ago. She could barely walk, one wing hung low, and her toes on both feet were curled and crippled. She could take a pigeon-toed step or two, then had to sit down. But she was perky and bright-eyed, and it seemed to me she had jumped off of something and broken her back or hip. I checked out both legs, gave her an enteric coated low-dose aspirin for 2 days in a row. She seemed better, but tried to do too much and seemed worse on day 3. I tried isolating her, but she didn't like it, and the whole flock was upset.

    I put electrolytes in a separate water feeder closer to the ground, for her (the others drank from it too, but none are worse for it). I put electrolytes in both feeders for a week, then did it every other week for 4 weeks. I made sure she got extra scratch, greens, grapes, away from the others, for a couple of weeks. When the others are outside in the early evening when I let them free range, I carry her out to join them. She began roosting after week 4, and now she is walking normally -- although she frequently takes breaks. She can jump up and down out of the coop, but is spoiled now and waits for me to pick her up and put her outside. But she goes back in to roost by herself, and she's much much better.

    I thought about giving her a very small does of medrol (methylpredinosone). I have an expired packet of 21 pills, 4mg each, that I thought I'd reduce down to 1/2 mg. and give it to her once every other day for about a week. Has anyone heard of giving a chicken methylprednisone (medrol), in a small dose? The aspirin helped her a lot, but I'm not sure with a chicken's composition that they can break down medrol effectively. She's doing so well, I don't want to kill her! Does anyone have any ideas about this?

    By the way, I allowed my egg-eating bird back into the coop, and I believe they were just house cleaning, afterall. I haven't lost an egg since I made that one stay outside all night. If I see egg on the face of any others, I've got plastic bands to mark them with, and I'll keep an eye on them before they are forever banished from the coop. So far, I'm seeing no broken shells, and I'm getting 8-11 eggs daily from my 11 hens; good job, girls!

    Thanks for any advice --
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2010
  4. Kittymomma

    Kittymomma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Olympia, WA
    I think you're on the right track. As long as she's not in pain and you're up to the challenge. It was a really good idea to move her back outside too. The last one I had in chicken ER (master bathroom--dh was on a hunting trip [​IMG] ) did the same as your, seemed to be improving and then went downhill fast. She was in too poor a shape and it was too cold to put her outside so I brought her buddy hen. Neither hen was thrilled with living in the bathroom, but my sick one perked back up and was well enough to go back to the flock before dh got back from his hunting trip.

    If there is room in her new "house" and she has a buddy that you could pen up with her (even if it's just at night and part of the morning before you go to work) that might perk her up even more.

    Please update with how she does and what you try with her. I hope she gets better soon!! I've read lots of your posts in the course of my byc addiction and I know that you are a good chicken mommy with good instincts so I'm sure she has the best chance of recovery that she could possibly have anywhere. [​IMG]
     
  5. Kittymomma

    Kittymomma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 9, 2009
    Olympia, WA
    How's she doing today?
     
  6. alaskafarmgirl

    alaskafarmgirl Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 25, 2010
    Soldotna, Alaska
    Greyeyes, it sounds to me like you're doing all you can do. Yes, how is she today? If she's not better in 3-4 weeks, then she may not heal, but I'd give her the chance. I thought mine (I named her Crippy) was a goner, but she's so amazing and resilient. Keep up the good work, and she'll probably rebound.

    Crippy is better every day. Try electrolytes in the water, maybe a baby aspirin. Worked for my Crippy.
     
  7. silkieroo

    silkieroo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I hate to be the bearer of bad news here but it sounds to me like your hen has the early signs of mareks... If theres no cause for the limping and no reaction to you minipulating it i tend to get suspicios. crossing my fingers i'm wrong and it will clear up:fl


    Maddie

    P.s. If she the other leg becomes paralyzed to and she sits in a sort of split then i would say she almost defenitly has mareks.
     
  8. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    Well, Matilda is better today, mood-wise. She moved to the other end of the hutch, and ate mealworms with alacrity. I'm keeping food and water near her.

    I read up on Marek's disease and have scared myself half to death, now. I'll keep an eye on her symptoms.

    It makes me wonder about Ellen's unexpected death a month or so ago. She was younger and was a pullet I bought from a breeder who had not been keeping chickens very long. (He had told me -incorrectly - the other young bird I bought from him was a pullet.) I thought Ellen might have been egg-bound... she'd just started laying and then she stopped, then died about a week later.

    I do appreciate the information.
     
  9. alaskafarmgirl

    alaskafarmgirl Out Of The Brooder

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    I checked Crippy's symptoms for Marek's and she didn't meet the criteria. She's improving every day. I started her on 2 mg of prednisone yesterday, so I'll give it to her daily for a week, cut down the dose and ease her off. So far, so good. I think she broke her back or thigh; it's been 6 weeks now, and I can hardly tell her apart from the others anymore.

    Give the girl some time, but if it is Marek's, that's a tough one.
     

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