Need Advice on Wobbling 16 Week Old Bantam Hen

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Barnhouse, Aug 4, 2014.

  1. Barnhouse

    Barnhouse New Egg

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    Aug 17, 2013
    Southeastern Wisconsin
    My wife and I purchased 21, six-week-old mixed breed bantam hens and roosters in May. One of the chickens started to wobble when it walked. One of its wings hung low and limp. Eventually the hen had trouble standing and finally it could not stand at all. Fearing a disease, I put the hen down. A couple of weeks later a second hen started behaving the same way and I put that hen down as well. It has been about a month since the last episode, but we have a third chicken starting the same behavior. At first we though Merak's Disease, but the chickens were supposedly vaccinated for this by the seller. A friend thinks it might be a contagious parasite affecting the brain and with no cure, the bird would have to be destroyed.

    Does anyone have any ideas what might cause this and if there is any other treatment other than destroying the animal?
     
  2. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    There are several possible causes - some simple and easy to address, and some that are much more serious and with harsher outcomes for you/your flock.
    What are you feeding them?
    Are they free ranging or confined?
    Do you have a regular lawn service, exterminator services, etc that visits on a periodic basis?
    Do the chickens have access to consume anything that might border on a neighboring property or public right-of-way that may be being treated on a periodic basis with chemicals?
    Have you looked for avian vets in your area who may be able to perform tests to rule out or diagnose suspected communicable causes?
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2014
  3. Barnhouse

    Barnhouse New Egg

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    Aug 17, 2013
    Southeastern Wisconsin
    We are feeding them a Sprout Medicated Starter Feed from Fleet Farm. Its Fleet Farm's house brand. The birds are confined to a covered run and do not free range yet. We do not treat the lawn, orchard or garden with any chemicals (bad for honeybees as well and we have several hives). One neighbor I know of treats his lawn, but he is across the street and about 100 yards away. I have not found an avian vet yet, but that is my next option.
     
  4. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    I would also think about coccidiosis as a possible cause of the illness, even though Mareks could be possible. This can be more of a problem when they are not out on grass free ranging. Cocci is present in the soil, and chicks get exposed gradually, building up resistance slowly. This is the first disease I would suspect in chicks under 11 weeks, and it can be a problem up until they 5 months or older. Some strains cause blood in the stool, but some don't, but if you see sleepiness, weakness, poor appetite, and puffing up or hunching in a chick it's best to start a course of Corid (amprollium) since it won't harm them. You can find it at feed stores in the cattle section. Dosage is 2 tsp of the liquid per gallon of water for 5-7 days.

    Also, with Mareks disease, chicks are best vaccinated at 1 day old, but then must be kept away from any traces of the disease (such as onthe property or inside someone's house where it has been) for 2-3 weeks to develop full immunity. Adding a good poultry vitamin to your water can help if any of this could possibly be vitamin related. I hope that it isn't Mareks, but here are some of the better links to read about it:

    http://extension.unh.edu/resources/files/Resource000791_Rep813.pdf
    http://partnersah.vet.cornell.edu/avian-atlas/search/disease/502
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/the-great-big-giant-mareks-disease-faq
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2014
  5. Barnhouse

    Barnhouse New Egg

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    Aug 17, 2013
    Southeastern Wisconsin
    Thanks for the advice and links. The medicated feed we give the birds is suppose to "help prevent coccidiosis," per the label. I'll look for some poultry vitamins. I have added some apple cider vinegar to their water. They seem to like that.

    I took the hen to a farm veterinarian this afternoon. She did not know what was wrong with the hen, but agreed there was a problem. Part of the difficulty she has with chickens is most of the sick ones are not brought in for treatment, they are euthanized instead, and she never gets to see them. She is hoping she might learn something from this one. Her first thought was Marek's, and even though the chicks were vaccinated, she said some still succumb to the disease. The vet did ask if the chicks were vaccinated in the shell or after hatching. I told her I didn't know, but apparently it makes a difference. She doesn't think the hen will survive, but asked to keep her overnight for observation and blood and fecal tests. The hen pooped while at the clinic; the vet said it looked good (if poop can look good), not bloody or runny. Sad to lose a hen, but hopefully the vet can figure out the cause and I can prevent this from happening to the others.
     

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