Mystery chicken illness!! What to do??

Chasley

Chirping
11 Years
Dec 8, 2008
22
10
77
I have a mystery on my hands and I'm hoping the collective knowledge of the BYC community can help!

I'll try to provide as much pertinent info as possible without going overboard...

Background:
We have been backyard flock keepers for the better part of 10 years. We are on our third flock and are pretty familiar with all the day-to-day chicken issues, ailments and benefits. We are in southern California, just north of LA, no abnormal weather conditions or other environmental stress factors that we have observed. We work away from the home during the day so we dont see everything that goes on, but are generally very observant about the coop and girls conditions. Girls are on an organic, non-gmo crumble type feed. With scratch, kitchen scraps and yard treats regularly. We don't have any toxic plants like oleander etc in the yard.

We got our current flock (a mixed bag of leghorns, wyandottes and australorp) in May of last year and they are currently going through their first molt.

On to the chicken sickness...

We first noticed one of the white leghorn girls limping and sitting on the ground most of the day. My initial thought was that she had injured her leg somehow. After some poking and prodding, I could find no injury or anything that caused her pain. I also checked if she was egg-bound and again came up empty. Thinking she had maybe just tweaked a leg or something we decided to let her "walk it off". after two weeks with no improvement, I went to my old standby and brought her inside for a warm chicken bath and time away from the other girls. That turned into a month of "chicken spa" inside with no improvement. Determined to to get the bird out of the house and promote her own self healing, back in the coop she went. That was in mid-July. She is still in there and in more or less the same condition.

In another twist, she now has a friend in the "sick ward" as one of the Wyandottes has developed the exact same symptoms.

Here are the symptoms:
- Limping on one leg (not the same side in both hens)
- Not laying
- Combs are pale
- Sitting/laying a lot (and the wyandotte sometimes doesnt come out of the coop all day, just to eat and drink)
- They both are still eating and drinking albeit at a lower amount
- When they sit there, they often close their eyes and just 'rest'
- The wyandotte seems to be a little worse off and also can seem off-balance.
- Although I know she can see me, the wyandotte displays what might be some diminished sight capacity.

Again, there have been no major changes on our side as far as our routine goes. No obvious predator attacks or injuries. And although they are now molting, both girls' symptoms started before the molt.

In my experience, most illness/sickness/disease/injury tends to take the hen out pretty quickly. They are such simple creatures and dont have many defenses. This is a strange one though because they just seem to hang on. I am wondering if this might be some kind of vitamin or mineral deficiency??

The other girls are just fine and dont display any issues.

Thanks for the help and discussion in advance.
 
Last edited:

Chasley

Chirping
11 Years
Dec 8, 2008
22
10
77
Oh, and I forgot to mention, there are no respiratory symptoms. No sneezing, coughing, discharge etc. Poops are fairly regular, maybe a tad runny.
 

Chasley

Chirping
11 Years
Dec 8, 2008
22
10
77
Hi All, I have not checked for worms (not sure how to?) but they dont seem to have mites or lice. No skin or feather issues.

The sick ones are not heavier than the others. Probably lighter due to being sick and not eating as much.

Today the wyandotte seems to have worsened and is now turning her head side to side. Not twisting it but just like she is looking over both shoulders back and forth.

Any other thoughts? I have looked up wry neck and that is not the same movement shes doing. Much slower and more consistent side to side.

Probably going to get a vitamin supplement at the store tonight and see if that helps.
 

slordaz

hatchaholic
5 Years
Apr 15, 2015
3,456
6,393
602
Idaho
Don't mean to scare you, but your not in an area or have been to an area that's quarantined for Newcastles have you? I know that several areas down there have been under and they just put San Diego area on quarantine too, problem is you might practice good biosecurity but besides others may not be it is highly contagious
 

Chasley

Chirping
11 Years
Dec 8, 2008
22
10
77
@Texas Kiki I have been reading on mareks and i just dont think the symptoms quite fit. She was out just a few minutes ago walking about and trying to get some scratch.

@slordaz The last I heard on Newcastle was it was still pretty far south of us. We also dont have any contact with outside flocks. I also read the Newcastle is a super fast killer. These girls have been slowly declining for some time.

One other thing- the wyandotte did just come out of the coop to forage for scratch with the other girls and she is acting 'drunk'. Thats the best way I describe it. Shes not really stumbling, but just seems disoriented. As when she pecks at the scratch on the ground, shes mostly missing which I know is very weird for hens.

Anyhow, I got some vitamin and electrolyte powder at the ranch store so we'll see if that helps. They didnt have any dewormer. Any pointers on how to tell if they have worms?
 

Kiki

🙄🤚FFC
Project Manager
Premium Feather Member
6 Years
5 Years
Jul 31, 2015
118,318
738,399
2,122
Houston, TX
My Coop
My Coop
@Texas Kiki I have been reading on mareks and i just dont think the symptoms quite fit. She was out just a few minutes ago walking about and trying to get some scratch.

@slordaz The last I heard on Newcastle was it was still pretty far south of us. We also dont have any contact with outside flocks. I also read the Newcastle is a super fast killer. These girls have been slowly declining for some time.

One other thing- the wyandotte did just come out of the coop to forage for scratch with the other girls and she is acting 'drunk'. Thats the best way I describe it. Shes not really stumbling, but just seems disoriented. As when she pecks at the scratch on the ground, shes mostly missing which I know is very weird for hens.

Anyhow, I got some vitamin and electrolyte powder at the ranch store so we'll see if that helps. They didnt have any dewormer. Any pointers on how to tell if they have worms?
The only for sure way to tell if they have worms is a poop test by a vet.
Can you collect fresh poop tomorrow and call around to your local dog vets and ask them if they will run a fecal float for you?
My dog vet will not see chickens but he will test poop.


Are you sure there is no moldy feed laying around?

Have you ever had to treat for coccidiosis in the past?
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom