Limping hen now has black poop!?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by ChickenVegetable, Jul 19, 2018.

  1. ChickenVegetable

    ChickenVegetable In the Brooder

    Feb 1, 2018
    Hi everyone,
    I've a bit of a problem with one of my lovely little hens. She is a Rhode Island x Sussex and is three years old. Still laying eggs as I got one yesterday. I do have a sofa spot for her as she loves to sit on my lap so any advice would be great. She is currently in 'sick bay' by herself. A month ago I noticed her limping, I thought she could of just simply hurt it by jumping etc and put her in sick bay for a week. It cleared up. Just last week she started limping again. Still I could find no break or dislocation and put her by herself. The week passed on Monday and on Tuesday things went dramatically worse and she couldn't stand at all. Wednesday back to limping again and today there now seems to be black poop. She gets outside just in a pen and not free range with the others. She has lost a lot of weight but still eats plenty. I am pretty sure she has lost muscle on her leg. It is just her right leg. Left is fine. The black poop is worrying me. Is it something more serious? Why is her poop black? What is wrong with her leg? In case your wondering i haven't taken her to the vet as honestly I know more about chickens than they would but if she has to go at least I know what to tell them. Sorry this is so long I am trying to cover everything.
    That is her poop!
    Any help would be great, thanks!
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2018
  2. staceyj

    staceyj Enabler

    Jan 1, 2017
    Coastal NC
    My Coop
    ChickenVegetable and Wyorp Rock like this.
  3. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Enabler

    Sep 20, 2015
    Southern N.C. Mountains
    Do you use wood ash in your run or dust bathing area?
    If possible, take some samples to your vet for testing.
    ChickenVegetable likes this.
  4. rebrascora

    rebrascora Free Ranging

    Feb 14, 2014
    Consett Co.Durham. UK

    I'm so sorry that your lovely girl is sick.

    Unfortunately the symptoms you describe tie in with Marek's Disease, particularly the lameness and then getting better and then losing motor function again a few weeks or months later and the muscle wastage whilst eating well is another classic symptom of the disease. The black poop may be an indication of cancer (tumours are the final stage of the disease) or intestinal necrosis unless she has had access to some black currants or blue berries but even then it normally comes out purplish with those. What does the poop smell like?

    I'm not sure there is anything much you can do for her, except make her comfortable. There is no recognised treatment for Marek's and whilst she is old to get it (it more frequently exhibits in adolescent birds), I had a 4 year old light sussex come down with it for the first time earlier this year, so it is not impossible. (I have had the disease in my flock for 4 years now)
    Have you added any new birds in the couple of months preceding her first lameness incident. Have you had any other unexplained illnesses or deaths?

    Marek's is an extremely common disease but it has so many different and variable symptoms that it is difficult to diagnose and often gets misdiagnosed. Here in the UK, there is live testing available (as oppose to diagnosis via necropsy in The States) and I'm pretty sure there is a very knowledgeable poultry veterinary clinic in Nottingham that does the testing. I can try and find details if you are interested. They may accept mail order samples if you are not local enough to attend. I have not used their service myself but I have read about them.

    I hope I am wrong and it is something else, but Marek's would be my educated guess. I would give her some Nettex Nutri Drops which you should be able to source at your local feed store. You can direct does her with some and put some in her water. Dosage should be on the bottle. A human vitamin B supplement tablet would be a substitute until you can get some if you are having difficulty. They are usually available in Lidl for under £1. I will give my Marek's birds whatever they will eat but try to include some slivers of raw liver or minced beef or a bit of tinned tuna or salmon and some probiotic plain yoghurt and scrabled egg mixed into their regular feed.
    A chicken sling or hammock can be beneficial to support them in an upright manner and prevent them from lying in their own faeces. They can be simply made with everyday items, see below.....
    sling 2.png

    It needs to be adjusted so that her feet touch the bottom but her weight is supported. Empty yoghurt pots containing food and water can be clipped to the front so that she can reach them and depending on the width of the material, her vent should either overhang the fabric at the back or you can cut a third hole under her vent, for poop to drop through. Be guided by her though, if she is not happy in the sling, don't stress her by persisting. Stress will make her worse.

    Wishing you lots of luck with her and hoping the heart break that usually follows with this, doesn't happen in your case.
    ChickenVegetable and staceyj like this.
  5. ChickenVegetable

    ChickenVegetable In the Brooder

    Feb 1, 2018
    Hi everyone, thank you all so much for your advice!
    I still have her sleeping on her own but out with the rest of the flock during the day. Is she okay to mix?
    They do get blueberries and at times blackberries and I've never seen black poop before but I'll give her some berries tomorrow and see how it goes. She hasn't had black poop since. The black poop didn't really smell.
    I don't use wood ash.
    I did get two new birds back in March, I always isolate first and even put them in a run so they don't mix. The two newbies then did go on to live with my now sick hen in a house with one of the roos as the larger flock was bullying mad. Do you think those two have this diseases too? If they are the cause in the first place. Although they arrived in March and she didn't start to limp until June. She is still limping and even resting more. The rest bully her but she was always near the bottom which is one of the reasons I isolated her.
    I will definately see if I can get the Nurti drops and even the vitamin B supplements and even start to add those foods to their diets.
    Do you think I can send poop overseas? I live in NI.
    Believe it or not I actually made her a wheelchair out of a baby walker but didn't get the harness part just right but now you've given me an idea with your picture so thank you!
    Just a couple of more questions, will all my chickens get this? Is she safe to rejoin the flock? Can the turkey get it? Is the eggs ok? Speaking of eggs she hasn't laid (that I've seen though may of got mixed with others) for a few days now. She is still eating well but no weight gain.
    Edit: I checked to see when I got the two newer hens and it was May not March. That could mean it is possible they have this disease too and gave it to her? Will they display symptoms too? They are a lot younger about four - five months old.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2018
  6. ChickenVegetable

    ChickenVegetable In the Brooder

    Feb 1, 2018
    Update: I have had her on vitamin B supplements since Saturday and she has been eating tuna for a couple of days (hoping to get more meats this week) and she is improving. Her limping is almost non-existent, still there but not nearly as bad. She is still isolated and have had no black poop. I gave her blueberries and her poop was normal after. I have no blackberries so will test them when I get some.

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