Need Help! Does my paralyzed orpington have Marek's or something else?


Eggstactic for Pretty Eggs
14 Years
Dec 8, 2008
Glendale, AZ
The information below was written 11 days ago -- I still don't know what she has - I added new info to the questionaire below (new info is in italics and underlined) Also, please see post #28 for more new, updated info.

1) What type of bird , age and weight. Splash Orpington, 17 1/2 weeks (not laying yet), 3 lbs. 6 oz (without a full crop) - She has now lost about 1/2 lb. from not eating and is 2 lbs. 13 oz.

2) What is the behavior, exactly. I noticed she seemed to be sleepier than the other pullets in the last couple of weeks - frequent napping, but she is my only orpington and I thought maybe the heat was just harder on her than the other chickens. She is top hen of my 7 pullets of similar ages and still keeps them in check, so I didn't worry. Yesterday, I noticed a very slight limp (after checking her & finding nothing, I figured it must have been my imagination). Today, she is limping pretty badly. After eating and drinking normall, she hobbled over to lay down and close her eyes. She is now paralyzed in both legs (1 first, then several days later the other). Both wings are still perfectly fine, no other signs of paralysis.

3) Is there any bleeding, injury, broken bones or other sign of trauma. no - I'm very familiar with bumblefoot and she doesn't have that either. The bottom of her feet look perfect - the toes, legs, and feet on both sides like identical

4) What happened, if anything that you know of, that may have caused the situation. If the sleepiness is unrelated to the limping -my younger flock (of 15-19 week olds) has been spending time being integrated with the older flock (7-9 months old). They have been being picked on some, but I haven't seen any injuries happen.

5) What has the bird been eating and drinking, if at all. Crumbles (gamebird layena), water, & free-ranging in the yard. She is hardly eating at all now - She's able to, but doesn't seem to want to - depressed? I was able to get her to eat by taking her out to her flock - she has stopped eating with them though - I now have to open her beak up and feed her with a dropper (crushed crumbles, yogurt, vitamins, & electrolytes), but it doesn't take long and she can't take anymore (about 5 full dropperfuls and she starts leaving her mouth open - not to eat, but like she's full).

6) How does the poop look? Normal? Bloody? Runny? etc. I just brought her inside and waited for it
- it was normal - brown, somewhat runny, but they are drinking a lot of water this summer (we're near Phx, AZ) - odor's no different than the usual chicken poo. - Poop was been normal until I started in with the mash - mash also has a tiny bit of molasses in it. The poop now has a greenish tinge, but I think it may have to do with what she's eating now.

7) What has been the treatment you have administered so far?
none - just picked her up yesterday & today to check over her legs & feet. - I did close off the door between the two pens, so that the older chickens won't bother her today. She came in for a couple days in the beginning, but started acting depressed. She is now outside in a dog kennel near the other chickens - we have baby chicks in the house that I don't want her to be near and I also thought it would keep up her spirits to hear & see the other chickens.

8 ) 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? I'd like to find out what she has and treat her myself

9) If you have a picture of the wound or condition, please post it. It may help. no wound to take a picture of - her picture is below Both legs are always behind her - she never had one leg in front & one behind like I've seen in Mareks pictures. She raises her neck up when she wants to - I saw her peck at her food (crumbles) yesterday, but it was only a few pecks - don't think she got more than a couple bites.

10) Describe the housing/bedding in use She is in a run with her buddies (smooth pebbles & sand) - they refuse to roost at night like the older pullets do and instead huddle together on the ground. They free-range in our yard every day for several hours (grass areas & rocky areas are in the yard).

Other info & things to keep in mind:
The sleepines may or may not be related to the limping - I don't know that she naps more than the others, but I do notice that she closes her eyes more than they do. When she's awake, she doesn't act any different from the other chickens - except for today - now that her leg is hurting, she's not wanting to walk much.

She was hatched from an egg here at my house. All my chickens have started here as baby chicks (most of them from a feed store - some of them hatched). I have never brought in an older chicken, so no diseases would have come in that way, but I do sometimes have wild birds find their way into the coop/run. I have never had a sick chicken before - no repiratory problems, runny noses, etc. None of the chickens have been vaccinated for Marek's - all of them were raised on medicated chick starter. - the younger flock was just taken off it last week and are now eating gamebird layena with the rest of the flock.

These two pics were taken today:

starting to doze off


This one was taken yesterday, when she was still walking pretty good.
Last edited:
Nobody has any ideas?

Today her limp is the same as it was yesterday. I'm thinking perhaps the sleepiness is related. I just went out to check on them and the other 6 pullets her age were all preening themselves, chestbumping, etc, while she is off in the corner dozing. If she does have something contagious, then they would have all been exposed - she's been acting sleepier then they were for a few weeks now - the limp is new. I also have 11 older pullets that have been sharing run space and free-ranging in the yard together. If this is something contagious - then it would have to be very slow in showing itself, since all the other chickens look & act very healthy.
I'm racking my brain to think what might be the problem.

Could be that she hurt a joint higher up that's causing her to limp?

I think i would bring her inside, feed her scrambled eggs and other good nutritional stuff, and watch her really closely for clues. And give her a chance to rest completely.

I'm sorry i can't offer any better light on the subject.
I have a Similar problem accept mine is unbalanced as opposed to an obvious limp. She is not sleepy and is also eating and drinking. Poop looks good, I started some vitamins and the ACV water. She doesn't seem to be any worse. And is doing fine keeping up with the others in the yard, my other cochin is going off to the coop and kind doing alot of chatting. I wonder if she is getting the desire to lay her first egg. Do they lay anytime of the day? She also seems to be able to run pretty good.

Good Luck
Last edited:
Thanks for the advice - I was reluctant to bring her in, thinking it would be stressful for her and she'd lose her status in the pecking order (she's at the top), but maybe I should so that she doesn't use the leg.

Yesterday, when it was time for them all to free-range, I locked all the young flock into my garden area so could still eat grass, but they wouldn't run all over the place and force her to keep up.
I have no idea what problem your chicken has, but I don't think it has anything to do with getting ready to lay her first egg. I've already raised 13 pullets from chicks to laying and none of them became unbalanced before laying. They do squat down in the weeks before starting and start looking at the boxes, but other than that there are no visual physical signs that I noticed. They can lay anytime of the day, but most of mine are done before 2 p.m. (occasionally I'll have one return to the nestbox after she's been let out and lay a late egg).
I would seperate her and give her a through all-over exam.

About a month ago, my 17 week old (at the time) Dominique pullet was totally sleepy and standing on one leg. My wife and I gave her an full exam and found a wound on her head (yellow rubbery skin bump), anyway my wife the RN rubbed the rubbery stuff off, then it bled a little and then we applied liquid Blu-Kote to the wound and the pullet was better within hours.

Check out Nathalie Ross's page:

I hope this helps,

Wow! I'm shocked that a bump/infection on her head would make her start limping. I'll give mine a more thorough exam and check it out. Thanks for the link too.
Keep in mind that birds don't look sick until their illness is advanced. Otherwise, they would be easy prey.

All of my other chickens were acting normal, but not the injured one...obviously sick. Easy to know notice that something was wrong.

Being that you are AZ, it may also be related to the heat in addition to an injury or illness. Can you bring the sick bird inside to cool off a little?

Fingers crossed,

I brought her inside where she can't move a lot. Her limp is the same as it's been for the past 3 days. I don't think it's Marek's - she's not acting paralized - she's acting like it hurts (both wings work fine).
I checked her for other injuries, but can't find any - she has a lot of feathers and it's hard to know what's underneath - couldn't find any bumps, anyhow.

There is nothing going on respiratory either - only other sypmtom is sleepiness.
Last edited:

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom