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Loss of balance?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by pdxmelissa, Aug 21, 2018.

  1. pdxmelissa

    pdxmelissa Chirping 5 Years

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    I have a six year old Golden Comet hen who seems to be having issues with her balance.

    She can't seem to stand from a sitting position without help. Once I boost her up she can walk, but if she tries to move quickly her wings kind of pop open to steady herself. She's not flailing around or falling over, no head tilting.

    She's our oldest bird, but has never had any health problems. Her vent is clean and she doesn't have any injuries to her feet or body. I did notice her limping a while back, but it wasn't constant. I checked her for bumblefoot, no issues there.

    One odd thing is that apparently all the feathers she's grown on her belly and vent haven't had the keratin sheaths chewed off. These are full length feathers so that's something that has obviously been going on for a while.

    Any ideas? She is my most favorite hen, and I would hate to see something happen to her.
     
  2. Flockandfowl46

    Flockandfowl46 Crowing

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    I'm not trying to scare you but this is one of the most common symptom of mareks in chickens.im not saying this is the case but if it is you can only offer supportive care and hope she recovers there are some really good forums here about mareks and here is a site that will maybe help you
    http://www.thepoultrysite.com/diseaseinfo/90/mareks-disease/
    Some chickens can recover from this but will always be carriers.
    Supportive care includes electrolytes, vitamin mineral supplement such as nutra drench,low stress is very important
    Sorry for your problems hun
     
  3. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Free Ranging Premium Member 7 Years

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    Have you added any new birds to your flock in recent months? Mareks is a possibility with her symptoms, but it is more common to affect them when they are young birds, unless exposed by a carrier bird at a minimum of three weeks ago. It can affect them at any age if exposed and not vaccinated.

    In older hens, reproductive masses, cancer, and ascites can cause problems walking and affect balance. Just as with Mareks, symptoms can vary among birds, but can include an enlarged lower belly, weight loss, loss of appetite, separating themselves from others, lethargy, tail down, and runny droppings.

    Either disease can be fatal and there is no treatment. Keeping her close to food and water, comfortable as possible, and considering when to put her out of misery is the way most handle it. A necropsy and testing for Mareks by the state vet or nearest poultry lab would give you some answers on what caused her illness. Refrigerate the body. Sorry that she is not doing well. You can find most state labs here: http://www.metzerfarms.com/PoultryLabs.cfm

    I also live in OH, and have heard that the state vethere requires you to go through a local vet for necropsies (to send the body) but you can get that info on the phone.
     
  4. pdxmelissa

    pdxmelissa Chirping 5 Years

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    We got 8 chicks from Meyer Hatchery that are 3 weeks old today

    I've had a hen with ascites before, and reproductive tumors. Her belly isn't swollen at all. Those birds had that distinctive splay-legged waddle from the swelling.

    So if it is Mareks, what is the risk to the rest of my flock? We have 22 birds total, plus the 8 chicks. We had a broody hen so the babies went right under her, we didn't use a brooder box. None of the babies seem to be affected or ill.
     
  5. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Free Ranging Premium Member 7 Years

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    There have been chickens with other illnesses that can look like Mareks. Any infection or tumor that puts pressure on the leg nerves can cause problems walking. An ear infection may cause imbalance. She may have some arthritis at her age.

    Mareks is in your environment if she has Mareks. That is a big if. It is spread through dust and dander which gets everywhere, and all your chickens would be considered carriers. But I would not fret yet. Some strains of Mareks are weaker than others. Not all chickens may be affected. It can only be confirmed with testing during a necropsy through your state vet. If you want to cull her and get a necropsy with Mareks testing, make sure to refrigerate the body and send it on ice packs. Here is a good article about Mareks:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/the-great-big-giant-mareks-disease-faq.66077/
     
  6. MissChick@dee

    [email protected] Songster

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    Awh hell...dunno much about nothing but 6 year old hen is what? Like 120 yrs old. My arthritis was aching just reading this post. Bet the old girl has earned some stiff joints during her lifetime
    I’d try something simple (pain relief) your doing something right to have a otherwise healthy hen. Not sayin there’s not a ton of good advice. Hope all turns out well. :love
     
  7. pdxmelissa

    pdxmelissa Chirping 5 Years

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    When she first started limping I figured maybe it was arthritis and soreness due to her age.

    I have her isolated in the garage. She's been eating, feed as well as some plain yogurt with a few drops of poly-vi-sol. And a bread crust from my daughter's sandwich, lol. She has electrolyte water. I just checked on her and she was standing up on her own, which was more than she was able to do this morning.

    That Big Mareks FAQ is great. Although the list of other possibilities is so long, how do I even start to figure it out?
     
  8. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Free Ranging Premium Member 7 Years

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    Sometimes it takes awhile to know, and if she starts starving herself or getting worse, she may have other symptoms. There are many Mareks threads where people talk about symptoms and how they deal with it available to read here if you do a search.
     
  9. pdxmelissa

    pdxmelissa Chirping 5 Years

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    For anyone who may be interested in an update:

    I isolated our hen in the garage. Set her up with food and electrolyte water. Tried to entice her to eat with fruits, oats, scrambled eggs. Gave her water with a dropper every hour to make sure she was staying hydrated.

    She wasn't really improving, but she wasn't getting worse. Showed moderate interest in whatever treats I brought (would eat a few bites and then ignore it) Moved her out to a small pen in the yard for "exercise" (I noticed she wouldn't lay down in the grass, so I thought keeping her standing and walking might help strengthen her legs)

    By Friday night, she was eating a little more and moving around better. Taking into consideration her age and possible soreness, I bought low dose aspirin for her. Crushed up a tablet, mixed it with water and soaked it into a piece of bread.

    Two hours after her aspirin, she decided she was done with her hospital pen in the garage and flapped over the 3ft barrier to go walkabout in the yard.

    Later that night, at roosting time, she launched herself out of the pen and then up to the handle of my husband tool box (a 4 ft leap) to sleep. After that I put a lid on her hospital pen.

    We kept in in the garage/in her exercise pen until yesterday, at which point she decided she was done with this confinement nonsense and flew over her fence to rejoin the flock in the yard. At this point she was back to eating and foraging with gusto, walking fine, standing on her own, etc so I just let her go. I watched last night when they went to roost to make sure she could put herself on the roosting bar, and she had no problems. Totally normal when I let her out this morning.

    I have been giving her one low dose aspirin a day, for 4 days now. Is this something I can continue long term? Should I move it to every other day? I don't want to keep her on it if it's going to be hard on her, but obviously she has some kind of arthritis/joint issue that is resolved with the pain relief.
     
    Flockandfowl46 likes this.
  10. Flockandfowl46

    Flockandfowl46 Crowing

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    Great job! Glad she's doing better hun...i would only give her the aspirin if you see symptoms coming on again it's really hard on their digestive tract. Im so happy for you and her and I'm glad you updated us! Let us know how she continues to do
     

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