Juvenile Buckeye Rooster...not right

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Fyremelody, Oct 18, 2014.

  1. Fyremelody

    Fyremelody Out Of The Brooder

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    May 22, 2014
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    Hey all. Thought I'd come here and maybe get some specifics. What I've found on the forum and Internet so far doesn't quite match up and mainly pertains to chicks.

    Ben -- 8-9 month old Buckeye Rooster is sitting all the time.

    Background:
    Purchased with another of the same hatch from a local breeder at 4 months of age ( Jerry). They were culled from the breeding program for black on their feathers, not just down by the skin, not for other reasons. I reached out to the breeder, explaining I needed a breeding candidate for meat bird production, they understood and picked two out of their non-showable, non-breedable (for standard) roos. After visiting their property and long discussions with them, I have every confidence I did not pick up a diseased rooster.

    Ben and Jerry lived in temporary, small, quarantine quarters for approximately 4 weeks while we built a new coop for them. Some arguments, nothing disastrous or concerning. Jerry was dominant. Both Ben and Jerry moved into new coop and run with 6, Cornish-Cross hens (aged approximately 3 months). After about a week, everyone was hiding from Jerry, so Jerry was moved to solitary confinement. Ben seemed a little "off" in his gait, and I witnessed a non-injury, non-harmful dominance issue. I assumed that perhaps Ben was bruised up a little, given the hens wouldn't come out of the coop with Jerry in the run.

    Ben and Jerry have had no health issues, by the way. They were healthy as pie and have been, in so far as viral, cocci, etc.

    Ben has been with the hens who are laid back and they all get along. This morning however...

    I noticed this week that he was sitting in the coop more often. However, I was doing chores at hours they are typically going to bed and assumed he'd tucked himself in for the night -- he wasn't the only one tucked in ever. He came out to eat in the mornings and drink with the others everything seemed normal otherwise.

    This morning he was sitting in the run when I decided we'd see if Solitary had done anything for Jerry's 'tude. Ben got up and walked a little, and it was awkward though not immediately noticeable at first. It was about the second or third time he got up that I realized he was getting up from his hocks or knees, and sitting on them, and connected everything to a problem. Picked him up; his crop is completely empty.

    Brought him inside, his tootsies were really cold. Offered feed and water which he went after with gusto. But he's clearly imbalanced. He's sitting like a broodie hen in his cage, and when he does lift up, is still on his hock, not just his feet. I bathed and checked his feet -- no injury. No swelling in any of the joints that I can see. He has strength in both legs and normal 'reflexes' as far as I can tell. There does seem to be some sort of possible pain in/on/around the bone from hip to hock on the right leg. If I palpate it with my fingers he starts to try and squirm out of my grasp and when I shifted my hold on him a few times, if the leg is moved in a particular direction, he gave signs of discomfort. At one point, that leg was shaking. The toes on his right foot seem somewhat closed, like he's 'holding' something (but he's not). No heat anywhere that I can isolate.

    So he's penned up and eating, but won't go to his food and water. No discharge around eyes or nose. No droopy tail other than the fact he's sitting. He has some imbalance issues but nothing overt. His stool is fine.

    Other observation, he is half the size of Jerry, both in weight and body frame.

    He's been on a standard 16% layer or grower ration since I've had him. I change it out as I'm trying to control the hens development.

    I've waffled between three things:

    1. Either the hens who still eat with the same CornishX Gusto are eating so frenetically he's been pushed off food which has resulted in overall weakness and we're dealing with malnutrition issues.

    2. Either the leg injury / issue came first and he had physical trouble eating on his own.

    3. Given that with hindsight he had some weirdness to his gait, perhaps he started with a vitamin deficiency of some sort that has compounded as he's aged and now we're seeing it present as ultra-obvious.

    I don't think this is "disease related" as in something he caught. No one else is having issues. Neither the hens who live with him, nor his hatch mate, who lived apart from him. I'm pretty certain we're dealing with either injury or a compounding deficiency issue.

    So... thoughts on what it might be and what may have caused it? What can I do to help him out? My current plan of action was to leave him confined inside the house where it's warm, with food and water pushed under his nose frequently, and see if he perks up if he's eating around the clock, and then if not, take him to the vet on Monday. But the bird vet is not a chicken vet, so I'm hoping I can nail this here. I am able to tube feed, but I'd really rather not.

    Thanks!
    V.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2014
  2. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    I would put him on poultry vitamins in his water, including riboflavin or vitamin B2. Poultry Nutri-Drench does NOT contain it. Chickens with a riboflavin deficiency will sit on their hocks, and sometimes have curled toes into a claw. Did he have a Mareks vaccine when he was a chick? That would be a possibility with his balance issues. Leg bone deformities can be common in meat chickens, but also in laying chickens. Here is a good link with pictures that can be enlarged about valgus-varus bone disorders, and one on riboflavin deficiency: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1790586/
    http://www.thepoultrysite.com/publications/6/diseases-of-poultry/217/vitamin-b2-deficiency
     
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  3. Fyremelody

    Fyremelody Out Of The Brooder

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    May 22, 2014
    Missouri
    Thanks for the advice. I will get him started on both asap.
     
  4. Fyremelody

    Fyremelody Out Of The Brooder

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    May 22, 2014
    Missouri
    Okay in researching I learned B2 IS Riboflavin, so I will get him started on that, not 'both' as I mentioned previously.

    But more questions arise:

    When I'm reading about this, this seems like something that dominantly affects chicks. Ben has a deliberate hole punched in the slight webbing of his feet and Jerry doesn't, which I've always assumed marked them as different breeding groups; IE: different sire/dam. His feet are also a much more orangey color than Jerry, which furthered that assumption. It makes sense given the breeder bred for show purposes and perpetuation of breed standards, so they would likely want to know who came from whom.

    My confusion comes in with the fact he's 8 months old, not a 'chick'.

    So should I assume that perhaps Ben's dam had the deficiency to some degree, which for simplicity's sake, set him off on a 'bad start', and my commercial feed didn't supply what he needed to restore him to normal or compensate for a deficiency? Perhaps because of the fact that I've used layer feed with him while trying to manage super-growth on Cornish Cross birds, as opposed to keeping him on a grower ration? (But then also, he was pretty close to the 18 week mark when I got him, so layer feed shouldn't have been an issue correct?)

    Should I assume that he might have some genetic issue that he generally 'runs low' in riboflavin and therefore might need a lifetime additional supplement? Particularly given that none of the birds he has lived with in two different housing environments show any indication of the same?

    IE: I'm trying to figure out where this began - my end or his end - since he obviously wasn't problematic at a young age, or at least not noticeably so. (He would have been culled before four months if he couldn't take care of himself.) It would be far easier to understand if one or both of the coops he's lived in or coopmates showed the issue.

    I don't know (I could reach out, yes) about the vaccination for Marek's. Given what I know about the breeders, it's highly probable they do. However, I'm ruling it out largely because given environmental factors, odds, and his background, it seems highly unlikely. In short form, he's been here long enough and around enough birds, and we've been around the birds he hasn't, that odds say someone else in the 40+ population would also be experiencing problems. Particularly the Cornish Crosses that are not vaccinated, and while we set six back that are now at four months, there were 50 of them here for over three months. Something should have shown up if they were carrying. Again... odds. Going with my gut on this one.

    Thanks again for your input!
    V
     
  5. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    The riboflavin can help you rule out a deficiency. Chickens can somehow suffer deficiencies from parent stock, and in older chickens, from feed that has been on the shelf a bit, or in diets deficient in riboflavin. His problem may stem from other reasons besides riboflavin deficiency. Hopefully it's not Mareks, but it can show up at this age. There are also leg bone deformities that can cause sitting on hocks. These deformities can get progressively worse as the chicken grows. Sometimes tendons in the hock can rupture as these bones twist or rotate as they grow. Affected chickens may be smaller. Although leg bone deformities are more common in meat or broiler chickens, layers can still have them too. A common deformity is called varus-valgus deformity, and there is a lot of info available showing pictures. Unfortunately these things are not easily treated. I'm not an authority on any of this, but leg problems are pretty common. I hope that it not anything serious.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2014
  6. Fyremelody

    Fyremelody Out Of The Brooder

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    May 22, 2014
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    No progress to update, but I wanted to share some information I found.

    After spending 11.00 on a little bottle of polyvisol and doing the math for how many drops I'd need to put in the 3 gallon waterer to supplement the hens that Ben has been with, just in case, for a week... I decided there had to be a better, cost-effective, less annoying way to add in additional Riboflavin. I don't think I'd do this for Ben, who's actively affected by something we're assuming is a deficiency, but maybe as a means of preventative or 'just in case' -- like I'm doing with the hens.

    1 cup cooked mushrooms has .47mg of riboflavin.
    1 cup uncooked mushrooms has .29mg of riboflavin
    1 cup boiled or steamed broccoli has .18mg
    1 cup steamed or boiled spinach has .18mg
    1 cup raw spinach = .10mg

    and 1 organic large egg, cooked, has .27mg

    A 4.5lb heavy breed growing hen needs .154mg daily and mature layers need .276mg (.241mg for lighter breed like leghorns)

    Looks like my hens are getting a scrambled egg breakfast tomorrow morning. Maybe I'll even make them a spinach, mushroom, and egg omelet for dinner ;)
     
  7. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    PolyVisol is pretty much just for using on one chicken--3 drops a day orally, not for using in the water. A super B Complex tablet gives you good value for the money, dissolved in the water or food, but poultry vitamins used in the water are more accurate. Good work on the nutritional values of riboflavin!
     
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  8. JoshU

    JoshU Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you post pics of Ben, I may be able to help. There are sometimes runts or stunted offspring. It happens. And they generally never catch up. Sad to say a lot of them don't make it to old age either. Either way, I wouldn't use him in your project because it is genetic as well. Even if he is healthy again at some point. I would hope your friend would not sell you a runt but it is possible.
     
  9. Fyremelody

    Fyremelody Out Of The Brooder

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    May 22, 2014
    Missouri
    So... Updates!!

    It's been a little bit of a "brain-wracking" ordeal, honestly. Shortly after my last post one of our meat birds went down. For about the first 24 hours I thought she was showing the same symptoms, and my hopes began to sag. But on day two her symptoms were totally different. She couldn't walk, but her "awkwardness" was a completely different way... hard to explain. Within three more days she had excessive respiratory issues and was gasping all the time. Keep in mind that this is a CornishX, almost 20 weeks, and definitely 10lbs plus. While she was rapidly deteriorating, Ben was staying relatively the same.

    At the two week mark, I moved the hen (I rotated her positioning so she wouldn't suffer clots--habit from horse care) in her cage and she subsequently had a heart-attack. Full out panic, then two minutes later, dead. This wasn't really a surprise -- I'd put off handling her for 48 hours because she was so bad and we were waiting for normal vet hours so we could have her put down. (I need thicker skin)

    In conversations with the vet, we strongly felt that what the hen suffered was classic coronary issues related to the inability of a CornishX's body to hold up. This has since proved true as two others we held back have passed and necropsy validated "normal" demise. One was dysfunctional leg breakdown (15lb rooster), the other heart-attack. The initial hen I couldn't have evaluated--I had no place to chill a bird that size.

    Back to Ben. At two weeks I decided he'd reached a typical point where if he was going to kick over, it would have happened, and now he needed to rehab. I maintained the Polyvisol daily -- a full dropper in a quart waterer. Ben refused to eat the layer crumbles, but went to town on scratch which I'd been providing as a treat here and there. So I changed him over to exclusive scratch and really began babying him. I was worried because his crop never seemed full -- he'd get himself turned around backward in his cage then couldnt get back around to eat. So I began taking him out every night for a full hour. The first part I held him with the food beneath his nose and he ate until he had a full crop. Then... (don't laugh)... we began "Chicken Rehab".

    Where I supported his weight and moved him up and down the rug, shifting him back and forth to hopefully teach him how to untangle his legs. He could move them forward and back, but one, unfailingly, always came down on the other and then he'd beak-plant in a squawking fit. After about fifteen minutes of this, and then stationary work where I just lifted him up and down, forcing him to use his leg muscles (which had wasted), I held him and did bicycle exercises with both legs. (Now you may laugh.)

    A week of this and I went in one morning to find him standing in his cage attempting to crow with the roosters outside the window. He had never crowed in his life.

    Two weeks of this, and Ben was shuffling around his cage. And I know it sounds insane, but you could truly see him use what I'd done on the rug, when he got tangled up. "Lean left, lean right, lift foot, move foot" -- it was even rather "robotic" as if he thought each movement through. That's probably giving him more credit than due...but it is what it is. You could see the brain engaging.

    That brings us roughly up to this week. Two days ago, I left the cage door open while I filled his water and came in to find him nose-diving out of the cage. An awkward forward propulsion left him finding his balance and taking his first steps on the carpet by himself. As of today, Ben can walk, hold himself up, is relearning how to preen his feathers, and really enjoys it when I help him out with getting those darn feathers freed. His walk is unlike any bird-walk I've seen and resembles that of a rehabilitating stroke victim. One leg works, the other shuffles behind, and he never gets that full one foot in front of the other motion, although I'm seeing him getting closer and closer to "normal". Right now, It's sort of a peg-leg shuffle that he makes work. He crows with his brother who is outside, and the raspy croaky sound has turned into the rich and beautiful crow of a buckeye. He has cage fever and wants to be out of it all the time. Unfortunately, weather isn't really conducive to it, and while I'd love to give him a few moments of time in a run, I don't want to rush too far too fast and have stress send him backward or have him injure himself inadvertently. He'll probably remain inside for the duration of the winter, although I'm brainstorming how (and where) to make him a play/exercise area.

    I am convinced this was a riboflavin or some other vitamin deficiency. Namely because I noticed there was a prominent difference in his strength and progress if I failed to include the drops in his water. (I tried here and there, just to see what would happen or if it made a difference -- it obviously did.)

    We're a month into this; he's growing again, he's putting on some weight, and he's made a remarkable turn-around. And my oh my is he the sweetest chicken I have ever seen. I've had no other birds present with anything similar and the only other loss I have had on the farm that wasn't evaluated by my vet was a hen who egg-bound. The birds Ben had the most contact with are all hale and hearty and there's close to twenty in close proximity to where he lived, so my sample group isn't a small number. His progress mirrors one story, almost identically, of a riboflavin deficient chicken a rescue outfit taught how to walk again. (Where I came up with the crazy idea.)

    Now, if I can convince him crumbles are the ideal food....though I draw the line at teaching him how to eat. :)

    But, assuming all continues to go well, my plan is to take him into the vet and have her draw a vial of blood and send it off for testing just to cross all my 't's. I've held off because my veterinary expenses this fall have been fairly high between trying to insure I had no disease in the flock and my senior dogs. Once I get through Christmas, I can follow up on this, and I'll let you know if there's anything that shows up. Until then, we'll keep doing what we're doing and making sure we do all we can to not cross-contaminate accidentally, if there's a lingering possibility.

    Thank you SO MUCH for your input and advice!!!
     

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