need help with sick hen -- mareks or something else?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by foxcrossing26, Jul 4, 2008.

  1. foxcrossing26

    foxcrossing26 In the Brooder

    Jul 4, 2008
    I am a first-time chicken keeper with just two hens, both given to me this spring (from two different flocks) as young adults, maybe 18 weeks old? One is a RI red (Cinnamon), the other possibly a black Star (Raven). Both began laying intermittently about 2 months ago, and then Raven began laying pretty consistently almost every day. Cinnamon, however, hasnt laid in several weeks. For the past week, she has been acting weaker -- her wings droop a bit more each day, her gait is less steady, she flaps her wings to keep her balance and has trouble walking up the ramp into the coop. However, she eats the veggies and fruit treats I bring them twice a day, eats the laying mash that's always available, and also dips into the cracked corn dish. However, she's been closing her eyes a lot, and she just sits in the pen and doesnt scratch around anymore like she used to. When she closes her eyes, she twitches her head, as if she has a nervous tick. Today when I picked her up, I noticed that her breastbone is prominent. Her crop seems full -- I havent felt it, being a newbie, but I'll try that tomorrow morning.

    My girls have a brand new 25x25 ft fenced run, plus I take them out every afternoon to "walk." Yesterday when I took them into the garden, they both ate earthworms voraciously, but then Cinnamon just sat in the clover while Raven busily scratched for food. I had to carry Cinnamon back to the coop.

    I would appreciate any suggestions as to what is wrong with Cinnamon. Sometimes I think she is looking better, but then she'll lapse into her "sleepy" mode, her wings will droop, and her head will twitch, and I'm worried again. I also dont want anything to happen to Raven, as she's my dependable layer.

    I've read a lot of info on the internet about chicken diseases, but nothing really seems to fit. Cinnamon has no respiratory symptoms at all; breathing is normal, no nasal or eye discharge. Her comb does seem paler in color to me, and her butt feathers are a bit dirty. I have seen mostly normal poop, with one or two instances of slightly runny green poop. Cant tell which chicken it's from, however. Recently Cinnamon has been sleeping in the nest box, where before, the two of them would sleep side by side on the floor of the (raised) coop. Cinnamon used to be top chicken, but the pecking order is now reversed.

    BTW, I live in SE PA, where it's been in the high 80s recently but cooler at night. The girls' coop, pen, and run are all in complete shade, and the coop has several vents in it. They have a chichen waterer in the pen which is always full, and I dump it whenever it looks dirty.

    TIA for any help you can offer!
  2. dlhunicorn

    dlhunicorn Human Encyclopedia

    Jan 11, 2007
    It could be so many things...when was the last time you wormed your birds?
  3. foxcrossing26

    foxcrossing26 In the Brooder

    Jul 4, 2008
    I have never wormed them -- I've only had them since mid-April, and until recently they seemed fine. This morning I checked the sick chicken carefully. There are tiny red critters running around on her skin around her shoulders. The skin there looks normal color, but at the base of her tail feathers, the skin is dark gray right around the bases of the feather shafts. She spent the night huddled on the ground, but when I moved her to the food bowl, she ate and drank. However, her wings seemed to be positioned on the ground to help hold herself up, and unless I kept stroking her, she would just close her eyes and stop eating. Mostly she just sits there with wings and tail drooped and eyes closed. Her comb is definitely paler than when I got her. But when she wakes up and eats, she pecks vigorously, and her eyes are bright, not cloudy or grey. I'm so confused!

    Should I at least get permethrin (powder or spray?) and treat her body for the critters? Do I have to remove all the bedding and spray down the coop (with what?)? The floor of their enclosed pen is dirt -- how to clean that?

    Thanks for your help!
  4. PeeperKeeper

    PeeperKeeper Songster

    I'm not the greatest at giving advice, but it sounds as if things are getting desperate.
    I had a turkey once that was infested with foul lice, (little red critters). I was very poor at the time and all I had was SEVIN dust. It worked. Surely there are more appropriate pest dusts for foul. I'd find one quick if I were you, and use it. Directions for area decontamination would probably be posted on packaging label. Those lice will suck the life out of her! Jean
  5. chickenzoo

    chickenzoo Emu Hugger

    Lice and worms will make her weak and anemic...Ivomec will treat both. You will need to give vitamins and electrolytes, up the protien in her food, and adams flea & tick mist,$9.00 at WAL, can help treat pen and chickens, also look at cheap horse fly spray,some of those treat lice,mites.Retreat w/Ivomec 2weeks after 1st treatment.
    Sending good wishes your way....[​IMG]

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