Lame leg & curled toes


7 Years
Mar 6, 2014
Hi Everyone!

I need some guidance with one of my sweet 2 year old Sussex hens. I am brand new to raising chickens. We bought a flock of 6 hens last month and all has been going well until I noticed one of my hens with a slight limp last Thursday night. Each day it got progressively worse. Now her toes are curled and she simply lays there unable to use her leg or walk at all. My heart is breaking for her and would love to know how I can help her.

What I've done so far:
- isolated her from the rest of the flock so they don't pick on her
- checked her leg/foot for bumblefoot, mites, broken bones. As far as I can see, there is nothing alarming... but again, I'm brand new to all of this
-gave her a bath on Saturday to rule out being egg bound
- added vitamin B to her water

After isolating her, I noticed that she doesn't seem to eat much of her feed, but she will eat other things I give her. Could this leg problem be related to a recent switch in their feed? When we ran out of the feed the previous owner gave us, we bought a different brand because our local store didn't carry the same thing they were on before. Could this be the issue? Perhaps she doesn't like the new food and she has become vitamin deficient? We went to TSC yesterday and they didn't carry the old food either.

The only other thing I can think of is perhaps she hurt her leg/hip when jumping off the perch. I will attach a pic of her foot. Any help would be so appreciated.

What is the feed you are using? Is it a 16% layer feed or a flock raiser feed? Unfortunately I think it is possible that your hen may have signs of Mareks disease with curly toe paralysis. I would keep giving vitamins, and I would get some poultry vitamins for the water at TSC. There are many different symptoms for Mareks, and a chicken may have only one symptom or several depending on the type. I sure hope it is just a deficiency, but you may want to become familiar with Mareks by reading some of these links:
Thank you for your reply. I took a look at the first link and read through some of it. It definitely makes me wonder. She does seem to be breathing heavily today and I do remember her having some watery poo last week but it appears more normal now. I need to read through more of the thread to figure out what to do next. I think a blood test would be wise so we know for sure.

The feed she was on was Nutrena Nature Wise 16% Layer Feed. They're currently on the layer pellets found here:

When changing feed, are you supposed to do it slowly so they can get acclimated to the new feed?
I have changed back and forth among Purina Flock Raiser 20%, Layer pellets16%, the local feedstore layer pellets, and Southern States Rockin Rooster Growth Booster 20% pellets with no problems. All layer pellets and crumbles should be balanced and adequate in vitamins/minerals, but some people will add poultry vitamins and probiotics 2-3 days a week just to make sure. Mareks disease is in the environment, but you don't know it until an unvaccinated chicken comes along. I have had vaccinated chicks and then raised my own chicks who are not vaccinated without a problem, so it's always unknown whether or not it's in your environment. I still hope this is curly toe paralysis and not Mareks. Here is another link to read about riboflavin (B2) deficiency:
Ugh. She doesn't look well at all today. Her comb is definitely darker now and her breathing has gotten much worse. She is panting with her beak open and today is the first day that she looks sick on top of having the leg/claw problem. Her leg also looks weird... not sure how to describe it. The color of it looks off and the scales look different than the other hens. I will try to get some more pics today and possibly a video that may help shed some light on what is going on.

How do I get a blood test done for Marek's? Do I need to get the sample myself and send away for it or do I need to find a vet or university and bring her in?

Sorry for all these newbie questions. I've only been a chicken owner for a few weeks. I never expected to be dealing with a possible Marek's issue!

The poor chicken. :(
Last edited:
Well.. I took her to the vet last night because I was at a loss as to what was wrong with her. We ended up putting her down because her health declined to the point where she just wasn't going to recover. Poor thing. We're getting a necropsy done to determine why she became sick. I will update this post when I find out. I'm praying it's nothing contagious that the rest of the flock has!!!
Thank you. The vet put her down and will send her out to the state for the necropsy. It was pretty expensive... $178 for the exam, euthanasia, and the necropsy. The necropsy alone was $120. Yikes.
Sorry for your loss, but it may be worth it to find out what she had. Please post an update on here when you get the final results. In the meantime, check out your state vet or Dept. of Agriculture, and ask how much they charge for a necropsy. Many states do not charge, and some will euthanize for no extra cost. Unfortunately when you go through a local vet, they are going to charge more, and the state vet may end up performing the necropsy any way. Here is a link to your state vet:
The results of the necropsy came back: Ovarian adenocarcinoma. She had cancer. I'm sad we lost her, but I'm so relieved that she didn't have anything contagious that will affect the rest of the flock.

The vet said this is pretty common in hens. This has been such a learning experience in just a few short weeks!

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom