Limping rooster, tips over, do I need to worry?


9 Years
Mar 7, 2010
I have a rooster who is 12.5 weeks old. I have noticed that for at least 2 weeks he often stops and then just slumps over to one side (not always the same side). If I walk up to him he will pop right up and walk away so I have figured he was sunbathing. This morning, I let them out of the run to free range he seemed to spend even more time lying on his side. He can get up if you touch him but would also just lay there and let you pet him for a minute before he decided to get up. This afternoon, I noticed that he was favoring his left foot. If I pick him up to put him on my lap, when he flaps down he lands poorly and pretty much falls forward. I don't see any wounds or scabs on his legs or feet. No swelling anywhere or loose scales. I don't see any bugs. The 5 hens are all fine.

I went out to go check on him and his is not sleeping on the roost like usual but is sleeping on the floor of the coop instead but still seems alert and otherwise fine.

He eats (chick crumbles still as well as appropriate kitchen scraps and whatever he can find in the vegetable garden) and drinks without difficulty. Normal poos. He seems to be otherwise Ok. It is almost like he has a sprained ankle or something but I can't see any injury and he hasn't had any trauma. I don't medicate them (except what's in the crumbles) and haven't done anything in particular.

Should I be doing anything? Do I need to separate him from the hens (they aren't bugging him so it would be in case he's contagious I guess) and if so, can it just be a dog crate in the pen or does he really need to be separate?
Does he have a fever? Does he seem to shake or make off sounding little sounds before or while he flips? THis can be any number of things, but the most common are distemper and / or a seizure - stroke. Yes, birds do get them. My daughter had a beautiful Delaware rooster contract distemper from a Coon, then suffer the same things when he recovered. We figured the fever fried his little brain. He did live quite fine for two years afterwards, but listed frequently.

Where his muscles seem to be involved, I wonder if he fell off of a perch. Seriously. I am not a poultry vet, but my brother in law is a poultry scientist at Purdue and he frequently mentors me. If you are truly stumped and others don't jump in, you can call the University of Kentucky and talk to a poultry doc. Or maybe i=someone in your coop ext would have an answer.
Thanks for the quick response.

He doesn't feel feverish to me, but I wouldn't know how to take a chicken temperature, nor do I know what "normal" is. We live in the suburbs and I've seen no evidence of racoons here although I know they are everywhere. They are pretty secure in the pen 90% of the time and are only out when we are home so I think I would have known if something got in the yard to get them.

I hatched all 6 myself, and had an automatic turner malfunction. When he first hatched, he tipped over all the time. I put him in a teacup for about 12 hours (at the advice of some BYC posts) and he didn't have another problem.

He doesn't make any strange sounds, just his usual chicken stuff. I have wondered about seizures because he does stop and then abruptly slumps over. He doesn't go to sleep typically although he will close his eyes sometimes.

He is bottom of the pecking order because he is younger than the other chickens and was only introduced into the pen with his hatchmate about a month ago. But I don't see evidence for pecking or an injury.
He is now limping worse although he is still able to get around to get food. He won't roost with the others. I still can't find anything wrong with his leg. He is not acting sick or lethargic or anything. I made an appointment with a vet for tomorrow but am not anxious to do this.

Any other suggestions.

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