Merak's??? Week Legs in a Bantam Buckeye 2 Month Old

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Jodistur, Oct 21, 2009.

  1. Jodistur

    Jodistur Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 21, 2009
    Northeast Ohio
    We are new to chickens and even newer to this list. Located in Northeast Ohio, so it's been as cold as 34 and as hot as 73 lately - mostly cold and rainy lately... We are in search of some information related to a problem one of our Buckeye chicks displayed today - weak legs.

    We are raising 5 Bantam Buckeye chicks we hatched from an incubator early August. In the same barn we have 2 two year old Bantam Buckeye hens that we got in June or July, 8 seven week old Rock-Cornish cross that will be butchered in a couple weeks for our freezer, and 25 rabbits.

    My son went out last night to the barn to feed and water when he found 2 of the buckeye chicks under a rabbit cage. Alpha (biggest & hatched 1st) and the sick chick were together. Alpha seems fine and might have just been staying with the sick one. Son isolated the sick chick in a rabbit cage this morning and it seem a bit worse than it did last night. Symptoms last night were right leg week, not able to stand on it. As I held it, I tipped it sideways to see it's legs and when I turn it back up right, it held it's head/neck funny like it was dizzy or something. While I held the bird with it's feet dangling in mid air, the bad leg's foot was curled in a ball like it was holding on to something. I tried to get it to stand up on the ground and when that foot touched the ground, the bird did try to open it's foot, but could quite get the toes to straighten out. This afternoon, my son put the bird in a rabbit cage with a carpet square on the bottom to cover the wire. Food and water were sat next to the bird. I picked up the bird and it squawked loudly like I was hurting it or something. I tried to see if it would stand and it tried very hard to stand on the good leg while the other leg was pulled up underneath it. It's wings flapped around I think in an effort to gain it's balance, but I'm not sure. After several seconds like this I put my hands around it's wings/body, set it down and settled it with a gentle release of my hands and it stayed put. I tried to offer a crock of water and it had no interest. I even tipped the crock enough so the water touched it's beak and it still did not even open it's beak. A rabbit would have licked and swallowed, but again we have years of experience with rabbits and only months with chickens...

    We read some posts here regarding Merak's and other possible causes. These birds were not vaccinated, as we did not know we should. They are on dirt with pine shavings. All chickens can share same floor space, food and water but the meat chickens usually stay in the front third of the barn where the heat lamps are and the bantams go all over although they don't like being around the meat birds. 2 different feed containers - 1 container (plastic) is 24% is up front for the meat birds (but the bantams could eat from it), the other (plastic) is half 16% and half scratch is in the middle part for the buckeyes (meat birds could eat from it). Fresh water daily in 3 different plastic containers - a 3 gal is up front, and a 1 gal in middle and a 1 gal in the back area. The barn foundation is cement in most places but floor has been damaged in several places and dirt covers it all anyway. Walls are wood - this is an old surrey shed converted into a rabbit barn, so I have no idea what the wood is, but it's old. Yes the rabbits are in the barn but in individual cages so they do not intermingle with each other or chickens in any manner other than the air they share. There are mice in the barn. We use traps not poison, but it's hard now that the chickens are on the floor. Actually, now that I've said that, I'm not sure where my son has the traps set... Both feeds are stored in Rubbermaid containers, water is from our yard hose - the rabbits drink the same water. In the last two days, my son built a fenced area outside the barn door to give all the chickens more room to move around, so this chick might have picked up something from outside the bard. As of today that will not be continued, the floor and containers will be throughly cleaned. Not sure what other information to tell you...

    We are searching for a cause/cure for the sick chicken and to prevent spread to the flock if applicable.

    If this is Merak's disease I was wondering if you can give Merak's vaccines now that they are 2+months old or can you only vaccinate at birth and found at the following... "Although chicks are best vaccinated at one day, at the hatchery, chickens up to 3 weeks old can be vaccinated. ". Does anyone know for a fact that this is true? Loosing one bird is one thing but loosing all 7 would be devastating to my son.

    Thanks you for any help you can provide!!
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2009
  2. Jodistur

    Jodistur Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 21, 2009
    Northeast Ohio
    We purchased Hypericum pills and distilled water today. We will be administering the first dose tonight 24 hour after we discovered the sick chick.

    1.) Should I be using PolyViSol baby vitamins and/or Vitamin B in conjunction with the Hypericum?

    2.)Should we administer the hypericum to the whole flock or wait for symptoms?

    We would appreciate any advice or assistance since we are new to the chicken world.
    Thank You!!
  3. chickerdoodle

    chickerdoodle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 21, 2009
    So sorry about this poor chicken! Scratch is not for main nutrition--it is just "candy" for chickens. They should be on at least 85% chicken feed for their appropriate age. They can get various (some neurological) problems without the proper nutrition so I would give vitamins for sure! You can use a dropper and let drops go down into their crop slowly so they don't choke. I do not know enough to tell you about Hypericum pills so hopefully someone else will chime in. Also, how is their poo? What color and texture? Any blood in it?
  4. kayri

    kayri Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 6, 2007
    I can only give you my experience with my 4 month old partridge wyandotte. She had a paralysis that sounds a little like yours. The kind people on this website advised me to feed polyvisol without iron 4 drops/day for one or two weeks and then taper off. I also hand fed her twice a day with chopped hard cooked egg, yogurt and oatmeal as well as squirted water into her mouth when I wasn't sure she could reach the water.

    She started to get better after 1 week and now she is absolutely fine. None of my other 7 young chickens (4 months old at the time) ever showed the same symptoms. I still try to catch her to hand feed her once in a while because I think she makes poor nutritional choices.

    I don't know if it was Mareks, a friend of mine who is a vet says it sounded like Mareks, but there isn't a definitive test aside from autopsy. I know from reading, that a positive sign of mareks in the optical nerve is that their eyes turn grey. I don't know if chickens can recover from Mareks, but if you read the info coming from the big poultry houses it says the chickens that have this paralysis die from being trampled or because they can't get to food/water. In our small flocks we can give them support that they need. The other thing to consider is, if they get it, will they be a carrier? I don't think the research on that has been done, but I intend to keep my new and old chickens separate until they are about 5 months old and have natural immunity, or get any new chicks vaccinated.

    good luck with her. Kay
  5. sammi

    sammi Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 21, 2007
    Southeast USA
    sounds like a nutritional problem..
    chicks should be on all chick or starter feed..nothing else.(except chick vitamins)

    get some Poly-vi-sol liquid baby vitamins, Enfamil iron..give 3 drops on beak once a day for 2 days, then 2 drops for 3 days, then 1 drop for 3 days.
    and some Vitamin E from a capsule.
    B vitamins very important for this chick.,.so get the Poly-vi-sol asap.(available at any pharmacy)
    until you can get it..if you have human Vitamin B complex..crush up 1/2 capsule in food, or mixture ...

    you can make up the mix mentioned above..
    1 cooked egg yolk
    2 tablespoons plain yogurt
    3-4 tablespoons regular or quick oatmeal is ok since it will mix easier and easier to digest for a chick.
    drizzle of honey, or dab of unsweetened or baby applesauce.
    make the mix can add feed if needed.

    this amount is for 1 day, usually for an adult it might not eat it all...but it does need 1/2 or more..or give leftover to other chicks...divide into 3 feeds for the day..also have CHICK or starter feed and water available and easy access for the chick..
    help the chick eat if necessary.

    do not pour water down the throat.....give by drops on beak letting it dribble into the mouth...don't get it in the "nostrils". important to keep the chick hydrated and not allow dehydration.
    describe the droppings...color and consistency.

    Very important to keep this chick warm..bring in if necessary..
    all the chicks this age should be kept warm and dry.
    chilling will make them sick and not allow for proper metabolism of nutrients. isn't a good idea to mix different age poultry together.
    don't mix corn scratch and feed together...just give the scratch as a treat before roost..this can help to generate body heat..for the bigger ones but not for the chicks..
    they need a heat lamp or better protection from cold.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2009
  6. Jodistur

    Jodistur Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 21, 2009
    Northeast Ohio
    Oh! Thank you for all the information!! What a great group of people you are!! We will get the Poly-vi-sol 8am tomorrow and we've got the rest of the ingredients as suggested in house except plain yogurt and can buy that at a convenient store at 8am too.

    We will keep you posted as to what happens if that's appropriate or do we only post the problems and solutions?

    Very glad to hear that it might not be Merak's! Hopefully this chick will bounce back with no other symptoms.

    It's strange because the breeder we got the hens and eggs we hatched from is who told us to feed half 16% and half scratch to the adult hens, starter to the chicks but only for 6 weeks then switch to the hen's mix. She said that's what she feeds her entire flock. We even buy the same brand from the same store that she does in an effort to be raising our poultry correctly...[​IMG]

    We did bring the chick inside as it'll be in the 40's tonight. We will leave the others in the barn with a heat lamp until we can decide what to do with them. I may have to start a new thread on that subject... lol

    Filled with gratitude and hope - Thanks!!
  7. Jodistur

    Jodistur Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 21, 2009
    Northeast Ohio
    Son said poop is normal consistency and color is not normal - has a greenish color to it. He said it's normally more of a gray color. Will keep an eye on it now since this chick is now separated from the others.

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