My Hen has a Grey Eye, is it Mareks?

Apr 29, 2018
45
61
74
Grande Prairie, Alberta
My hen has had a grey eye for a while and her eye is bulged as well. Could it be mareks?

1) What type of bird , age and weight (does the chicken seem or feel lighter or thinner than the others.):

Buff Orpington, around a year and a half.

2) What is the behavior, exactly:

Bulging eye, Grey iris. Not connecting with food very well when eating.

3) How long has the bird been exhibiting symptoms?:

About 2 months.

4) Are other birds exhibiting the same symptoms?:

No

5) Is there any bleeding, injury, broken bones or other sign of trauma:

No


6) What happened, if anything that you know of, that may have caused the situation:

Maybe Mareks disease

7) What has the bird been eating and drinking, if at all:

Drinking and eating normal.


8) How does the poop look? Normal? Bloody? Runny? etc:

Haven’t seen it.


9) What has been the treatment you have administered so far?:

Nothing, thinking on culling.

10 ) What is your intent as far as treatment? For example, do you want to treat completely yourself, or do you need help in stabilizing the bird til you can get to a vet?:

Probably will have to cull.

11) If you have a picture of the wound or condition, please post it. It may help:

see below

12) Describe the housing/bedding in use:

Pine shavings.
 

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Eggcessive

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Have you had any birds with Mareks or a grey eye before? Does she see okay out of her left eye? Have you added any new chickens in the last few months? There can be other causes for a grey eye or the bulging. She might have a growth behind the eye or tumor, and the eye also could have been injured. But it could be ocular Mareks. Is she having any other issues? If she is getting around to food and water and not being hurt, I would let her be. But if you do decide to cull her, I would have your state poultry vet do a necropsy to test her for Mareks.
 
Apr 29, 2018
45
61
74
Grande Prairie, Alberta
Have you had any birds with Mareks or a grey eye before? Does she see okay out of her left eye? Have you added any new chickens in the last few months? There can be other causes for a grey eye or the bulging. She might have a growth behind the eye or tumor, and the eye also could have been injured. But it could be ocular Mareks. Is she having any other issues? If she is getting around to food and water and not being hurt, I would let her be. But if you do decide to cull her, I would have your state poultry vet do a necropsy to test her for Mareks.

Thanks for your input! I did have a hen this winter have a grey eye that died (she was out in the cold when I found her and quite frozen in her feet, so the grey eyes may have been from the weather). They also had bad mites in the coop. I cleaned out the shavings, lightly torched the coop with our tiger torch, sprayed ivermectin and used DE all over the hens and in the coop. I do occasionally put DE in their feed and dust the area of the coop occasionally with DE.

Apparently Mareks affects younger birds and mine are 1.5 years or older. But apparently it is still possible to affect older birds.

This spring, another bird passed but didn’t have the grey eye. She was always in the coop on the roost, then slowly just faded and died.

I think this one can see fine out of her left eye, but I believe she is a little blind in the other. If it was mareks, I think she would be dead by now. Would it be a genetic problem? since she is the offspring of the sister/brother I have. I have noticed this in a different bird I had last year (I think a coyote picked her off), she wasn’t connecting to her food very easily and just seemed off- would sometimes stumble and not get around as easily (she didn’t have a grey eye though).

I only have 5 hens now, a few are daughters of the rooster I have, there is maybe one from the original flock I have left.

This hen is getting around to her food and water fine, I don’t think she can see properly and may be blind. She doesn’t connect to her food very easily and has a delayed response to my actions when I want to grab her.
 

RoostersAreAwesome

Crossing the Road
May 21, 2017
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Thanks for your input! I did have a hen this winter have a grey eye that died (she was out in the cold when I found her and quite frozen in her feet, so the grey eyes may have been from the weather). They also had bad mites in the coop. I cleaned out the shavings, lightly torched the coop with our tiger torch, sprayed ivermectin and used DE all over the hens and in the coop. I do occasionally put DE in their feed and dust the area of the coop occasionally with DE.

Apparently Mareks affects younger birds and mine are 1.5 years or older. But apparently it is still possible to affect older birds.

This spring, another bird passed but didn’t have the grey eye. She was always in the coop on the roost, then slowly just faded and died.

I think this one can see fine out of her left eye, but I believe she is a little blind in the other. If it was mareks, I think she would be dead by now. Would it be a genetic problem? since she is the offspring of the sister/brother I have. I have noticed this in a different bird I had last year (I think a coyote picked her off), she wasn’t connecting to her food very easily and just seemed off- would sometimes stumble and not get around as easily (she didn’t have a grey eye though).

I only have 5 hens now, a few are daughters of the rooster I have, there is maybe one from the original flock I have left.

This hen is getting around to her food and water fine, I don’t think she can see properly and may be blind. She doesn’t connect to her food very easily and has a delayed response to my actions when I want to grab her.
From the description of your other birds’ deaths, I’m thinking it’s likely your chickens have ocular Marek’s. Yes, it is possible that birds won’t show symptoms until they’re older. Marek’s varies a lot in the way it presents. To be safe, if you get any future chicks, get them vaccinated. Keep in mind that they’ll continue to be carriers even if vaccinated. Make sure not to give away or sell any of your chickens. Ocular Marek’s is actually a milder strain, so it usually doesn’t result in death, but it can result in blindness. It helps blind chickens if you always keep the stuff in your coop in the same place so they can easily navigate it. This article has a lot of information about Marek’s: https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/the-great-big-giant-mareks-disease-faq.66077/.
 
Apr 29, 2018
45
61
74
Grande Prairie, Alberta
Thanks @RoostersAreAwesome, I did hatch some chicks but I’m not planning to sell them. I was trying to find a vaccine for them but of no avail :(. I may be able to get one in Edmonton (which I live like 4 hours away from). So I guess it’s a gamble if they survive or not. I was going to cull this hen and pressure wash my coop, clean it out really well and start using sand as my bedding layer. Then hope for the best for my pullets. Then the next batch of chicks I hatch I will have to resource that vaccine and vaccinate them.

Oh and yes I read that article extensively before I posted this, it’s a very good resource on the disease. Actually I have a question- I was wondering why she hasn’t died yet because I was reading in that article that once they show symptoms they die within 1-2 weeks. Also she is still laying as well- saw her in the laying box multiple times. I thought this disease affects their laying.

I did speak with my local farm vet. I explained the situation with the vet tech. I mentioned that these hens are also inbred and it may be a growth due to in breeding, she seemed like she agreed with me. Although I’m kind of leaning towards being mareks now from what you mentioned. Thanks for your info!
 
Last edited:

RoostersAreAwesome

Crossing the Road
May 21, 2017
9,285
25,904
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Thanks @RoostersAreAwesome, I did hatch some chicks but I’m not planning to sell them. I was trying to find a vaccine for them but of no avail :(. I may be able to get one in Edmonton (which I live like 4 hours away from). So I guess it’s a gamble if they survive or not. I was going to cull this hen and pressure wash my coop, clean it out really well and start using sand as my bedding layer. Then hope for the best for my pullets. Then the next batch of chicks I hatch I will have to resource that vaccine and vaccinate them.

Oh and yes I read that article extensively before I posted this, it’s a very good resource on the disease. Actually I have a question- I was wondering why she hasn’t died yet because I was reading in that article that once they show symptoms they die within 1-2 weeks. Also she is still laying as well- saw her in the laying box multiple times. I thought this disease affects their laying.

I did speak with my local farm vet. I explained the situation with the vet tech. I mentioned that these hens are also inbred and it may be a growth due to in breeding, she seemed like she agreed with me. Although I’m kind of leaning towards being mareks now from what you mentioned. Thanks for your info!
They won’t always die after showing symptoms, and from what I’ve read, ocular Marek’s is usually less fatal than the other forms. I believe I have Marek’s in my flock (though it isn’t yet confirmed) and I assumed several of my earliest unknown deaths were due to inbreeding. However, I doubt it now, since almost every person or hatchery that breeds chickens breeds related birds together without much consequence, other than fertility issues. However, there can still be issues, especially if chickens that are sickly or have deformities are continuously inbred. What made me sure I had Marek’s in my flock is when one of my roosters lost control of his legs and gradually wasted away despite having a great appetite.
 

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