Marek's disease?


In the Brooder
8 Years
Nov 9, 2011
Sad way to start the new year....! I put down my hen today. Friday she was fine. Yesterday, she was a little sluggish. I didn't really think anything of it until today, when she could barely crawl out of the coop. She would stand up and fall over and spent most of her time hunched up in the corner of the coop. It happened so quickly. She seemed very addled and when I picked her up, she just drooped in my arms and closed her eyes. When I sat her down, she would try to move and then stumble and lose her balance and fall. After doing some research, we made the decision to put her down.

Now what? I'm not 100 percent sure this is Marek's, but I think it sounds like it, from everything we've read. We have five more hens and a rooster in her coop. Is there a good chance the others would get it? Anything I should be giving the others? Also, we are going to be having chicks this spring. Once you have Marek's, do you always have Marek's? I hadn't had my chicks vaccinated before but now I'm thinking I will. Also, we have two other coops, a pretty good distance away from the coop with my sick hen. Are they at risk? Would it be safe to use this particular coop again for chickens?

I was so sad. She was one of my favorite hens, a beautiful lavender Orpington. She was about eight months and hadn't started laying.

Thanks so much!
You say "HEN".. how old is this, was this hen? (And, I am very sorry for your loss, truely sorry). Eight months old? I do not know if it is normal for a Lav. Orp. to start laying so late... but, did you check her for Eggbound? Did you read up on Eggbound and treat her to the exam, massage, and warm bath?

Are each and every one of your flock all the same age? All about 8 months old? Do they live outside, eat bugs? Been Wormed?

I am not TOO familiar with Marek's.... but, it was sort of my assumtion, or from what I had read here, that it was only very young birds that got that? Maybe I am wrong.... isn't 8 months old sort of old to come up sick with Marek's for the first time... first in the flock? And, did you raise these chickens from little chicks? I assume they were not vaccinated for Marek's then?

Have you examined each and every chicken in the flock to check for mites, lice... do you have other hens that should be laying at 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 months old that are not laying? Do you have a light in the Coop to extend daylight hours for them, for laying?

Have you wormed the flock? When, with what? Repeated? I, personally, my opinion is that at 8 months old.. and not laying, but actually probably should be laying... I would have checked for Eggbound.. examined and treated for eggbound, while I went to the feed store and bought Valbazen liquid wormer... and syringes (no needles). Then, searching here on BYC for "worming with Valbazen", "how much Valbazen to give"... "giving oral medications", "eggbound treatment", "egg withholding with Valbazen", etc.. . I would have also maybe bought some Duramycin 10 (i.e.: Tetracycline) and added it to her, the sick (and isolated) hen.. using a child's medicine dropper or syringe to drip Pedialyte water and Duramycin 10 water (1 1/2 tsp per gallon) onto her tongue or the side of her beak.. even in her throat BEING VERY CAREFUL TO AVOIDE THE WINDPIPE, AVOIDING THE AIRWAY HOLE AT THE BACK OF THE TONGUE... there is also that green "jello" type of "chick rescue" stuff... for ill chickens in dire straights.

You may have lost her anyway.... and, I am sure you did all you knew how and the best you could for her. But, at 8 months... I would assume eggbound or worms.. first.. if the flock has never been wormed... I would worm them all, orally, individually, with Valbazen. 1/2 cc / ml per standard chicken.. 1/4 cc / ml per bantam chicken.. withhold eggs from first dosage until... redose ten days later.. and continue to withhold eggs until 15th day after second dose.. until the 25th day total.
And, many, maybe even most illnesses, not all.. are treatable... and most illnesses are contageous. And, chickens all living in the same environment and eating bugs, the same bugs will all have worms.
Become a poop watcher.. but, chickens get many kinds of worms, and you may not see the worms in the poop.... and not all wormers kill all worms... Valbazen is a good safe, first time wormer and kills all types of worms.

If any of your chickens have mites or lice.. clean the coop, run, nesting boxes.. Dust with Sevin Dust.. check each chicken under their wings (armpit skin) and around their vents.. also powder them there, in those places.. REPEAT IN TEN DAYS ALSO. You should do this now and then (the dusting) even if you don't see mites, as a preventative now and then.

Best of luck.
When I was researching illness the last couple of weeks I learned that many illnesses begin to seem the same and when you have a droopy chicken that is sick it can be hard to discern. My vet diagnosed an upper respiratory infection which I never would have guessed because she sounded fine to me. He could hear it in his stethoscope though and she had a fever which I also wouldn't have known. Do you have a vet that you can talk to before you make any decisions based on your hunches?

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