My hen is walking strangely, any idea why? **MOULTING is the answer

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by 5Leepy!, Oct 8, 2011.

  1. 5Leepy!

    5Leepy! Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Austin, TX
    For the last several days my DH and I have noticed that our Hen, Scrappy, has been walking funny once in a while. She walks sideways, backwards, crooked, etc... Nothing seems to be wrong with her legs. It almost seems like she's unbalanced or something.

    Here's a link to a video of her walking http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwVY48fDpQI

    Note
    ... she's been "molting" for many months now. She is regrowing feathers VERY SLOWLY. Lately the tips of her wings (her wing muscles, not the feathers) are bright red. I've been worried about it but it appears to be because new feathers are coming in there. Anyway, when you watch the video you'll see how she's bald in spots and has some red on her. That is not from any pecking by other chickens. She's our top hen and everyone leaves her alone. There's no sign of trauma on her at all. Also, she hasn't laid any eggs in months except a few little fairy eggs but we've been attributing that to the 100+ degree weather we had over the summer. According to her previous owner, she should be about a year and a half old now.

    Any insight would be wonderful.

    Thanks!
    5Leepy!

    edited to add answer to subject line
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2011
  2. kbackel88

    kbackel88 Out Of The Brooder

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    There are many things that can cause neurologic symptoms. If she simply seems off balance make sure to check her ears for any signs of infection, as inflammation of her ear canal can affect her vestibular system. But there are a lot of pretty scary diseases that can cause neurologic symptoms including New Castle and Mareks.

    If all your chickens are exposed to the same environment effects from a toxin would probably show up pretty quickly in the other birds as well (unless she wanders off alone).

    How is her stool? Is she vaccinated against Mareks?
     
  3. 5Leepy!

    5Leepy! Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Her stool has seemed fine and I don't know if she was vaccinated or not. I'm going to guess yes because her beak was trimmed when she was a chick but she's had two previous owners and the last one was proud of the fact that he did not medicate or deworm any of his livestock, only used DE. She was in bad shape when we got her last spring. She had lice so horrible that I thought the masses of eggs were actually tumors at first. We've wormed her twice... first with a mild one and then a second time with a stronger/broader range one to ensure she could be as healthy as possible to regrow her feathers. She's about half-way regrown them now but it's very very slow going.

    When we first got her, she laid an egg every single day for a couple of months. She never missed a day. Then she stopped and hasn't restarted and it's been at least 6 weeks now, probably longer.

    This evening her walking seemed worse than ever and she seemed to be reluctant to try to go up the ladder to the coop so now I have her inside the house in a dog crate. She seems perfectly happy but when she was settling into the pine shavings she did fall down chest first and slide a bit rather than just gently lowering herself. It's almost as if she's drunk!

    No toxins around for her or any other chickens to get into. She doesn't wander off on her own very much. No other chickens showing any symptoms.

    I read some posts about chickens staggering sometimes when they go through a hard molt and that it may be a protien deficiency or something. I've given her some BOSS, which she always loves. When I hold my hand out with the seeds, she shies away slightly before coming into get them. Very unlike her. It's almost like she can't tell if I'm moving my hand towards or still or if I've stopped. Is it possible this is an eye problem? Both of her eyes look perfectly fine but if she's lost sight in one of them, wouldn't that make her unsteady?

    Thanks for any ideas....
    5Leepy!
     
  4. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Poor thing [​IMG] I would check her eyes - maybe hold her, and bring a really yummy treat out to each side to see if she goes for it each time??? But a stroke was really the first thing that went through my head... I'm just throwing out possibilities. You mentioned that she hasn't laid for 6 weeks, but molting can put a hold on eggs for that long in some birds, and I'd think a bird that has gone through the background issues you mentioned might totally quit (some just slow way down during molts). Sorry I'm no help...just shooting out ideas.
     
  5. Yay Chicks!

    Yay Chicks! Chillin' With My Peeps

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    As far as adding protein to help regrowing feathers...how about some tuna once in a while for a bigger boost? I'm sorry, I don't have any other guesses as to what might be causing her neurological issues.
     
  6. kbackel88

    kbackel88 Out Of The Brooder

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    They balance issues are probably not due to an eye condition, you would be more likely to see her bumping into things than be unsteady. However if there is something affecting her central nervous system it could cause neurologic symptoms that could involve her vision and her balance center (which is in the ear... so make sure you check out her ears!) Unfortunately the circling/inability to right herself/possible paralysis sounds like a virus... Mareks can cause symptoms that wax and wane. If you continue with the supporting care she could pull through.

    Make sure you keep an eye on the rest of your flock!
     
  7. 5Leepy!

    5Leepy! Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the ideas, guys. I'll try the tuna, I've never given her any before so I'm not sure if she'll like it or not. And, great idea about testing her eyes. Can't hurt to try that.

    Stroke is a possibility except that her personality doesn't seem to be changed at all. She knew exactly where the coop was, knew where her little rock was that she likes to stand on. She knows me and BOSS. I don't know.... I'll try to examine her more closely in the morning and see if I can find anything physical I may have missed.

    Thanks again!
    5Leepy!
     
  8. Prisserbabe

    Prisserbabe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The chicken coop
    What if it was just the wind? [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  9. 5Leepy!

    5Leepy! Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Update from this morning...

    She's eating, drinking and pooping fine. Still have her inside with us.

    Gave her half a can of tuna fish this morning, which she loved. Also gave her a dose of Hypericum as suggested for Mareks on this thread https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=135247&p=1.

    Her crop seems full this morning so also gave her some olive oil but then found out that my 10 yr old daughter fed her mashed potatoes! Long talk with daughter about not doing anything for sick animals without asking first, that it can mess up treatment. Her heart was in the right place, though.

    Felt around her chest and underside and can clearly feel her breast bone all the way down. It's very prominent. That does NOT seem normal. Also notice some dryness/flaking on her feet. I plan to give her a warm bath in a bit to clean her up, possibly help if she's egg bound at all, and then coat her legs and feet with Vaseline to make sure mites are not involved.

    I was playing with the idea of letting her back outside because she's lonely and only bringing her back in for the evening/night hours but after watching her attempting to walk I don't think it's a good idea at this point. We'll see.

    Any further thoughts? I'm pretty worried. And she's so bored in the crate... she's taken to rearranging the pine shavings one shaving at a time!

    Oh! I've also noticed that even though she is walking sideways, crooked, backwards, unsteady and occasionally falls down she DOES seem to be in full control of her neck and head.

    Thanks for anything you can think of... I'm open to tons of ideas.

    Aisha
     
  10. Yay Chicks!

    Yay Chicks! Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do you have some grit in the crate with her?
     

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