Need inspiration or advice - 3 weeks into therapy with chicken that can't walk

BPaula

In the Brooder
May 22, 2020
15
18
34
My Easter Egger chick, Easter, starting limping around 7/8 weeks old. She was vaccinated for Mereks but was around two non-vaccinated birds at a week old. I separated her from the flock when she started limping (she's a house chicken now). Remaining 6 chickens healthy no issues. Early on I took her to a vet who did an xray on the leg that the problems initiated with and I was told no breaks or fractures, might be a sprain in the knee with some loss of feeling / nerve damage ocurring. Was sent home with Metacam for pain and inflammation. Very shortly after going to the vet (same day I think) she stopped even trying to stand up on the other leg. After another week (two weeks into this) she was barely eating, neck seemed weak, she seemed disoriented trying to peck at food but couldn't focus on it. I thought that was it. As a last ditch effort thinking now this had to be Merek's I gave her a huge liquid dose of Hypericum (St. John's Wort) which some people tout can help. I was praying for a miracle cure. Prior to this I'd been giving B12 (thinking that would help nerve damage) vitamins, probiotics, electrolytes etc. I'd been doing ok giving the liquid metacam, but she didn't like the liquid hypericum at all and accidentally aspirated it. I thought I'd surely killed her. She gasped and had labored breathing for at least a day (stretching neck way out with beak open) I could hear gurgling sounds in her beak and in her chest. I was worried about pneumonia. But at the same time (I thought I imagined it at first) it seemed like she could now hold her neck up better. Unbelievably after two more days her breathing was back to normal but she still wasn't eating much if anything at all. She'd survived the aspiration! I'd read another story online where a doctor said it can take several days, but their system will work it out - in this case it did! That in itself was amazing! But she still wasn't eating. Two and a half weeks and now I thought starvation was going to do her in. I held her in my lap thinking she surely wouldn't be alive in the morning (not the first time I'd thought this since this started). Then I thought it was about to happen - she peed out a huge stream of liquid (my lap was soaked), and the foulest smelling diarrehea I'd ever smelled.. and gave some painful gasps afterwards. She acted really sleepy after that. I didn't want her passing away smelling so awful so I gave her a really warm bath and held her in a warm towel till she dried. Then I set her back in the cage and said goodnight thinking it would be the last time I'd say this, but UNBELIEVABLY she perked up and started pecking away at her food with vigor unlike anything she'd exhibited in the prior two weeks! I don't know if she felt better because she'd relieved some kind of blockage or if it was because I'd just set her on a RED towel (her normal one was dirty) but something kicked in and she ate and ate and ate. A week later and she's eating and drinking completely normal every day and has energy, preens, purrs etc. but still can't stand. She struggles and tries to but can't stand. The weird thing is it almost seems like her original bad leg now has more movement and strength than the leg that started out good (which now seems more lifeless especially in the toes). It's so bizarre. Both legs still have issues though and I don't even know how to tell if she has issues with her wings. I give her hot baths, physical therapy (moving her legs as if riding a bike), massage, etc. every day in hopes it will help. She holds her head up good, eyes bright... after all I've been through I can't give up on her! She gets small does of hypericum every day, vitamins etc. I just started her in a sling today to see if that would help, but what I really need is other ideas to try or inspiration from someone who can truly tell me their bird walked again after 3+ weeks of not walking! Or what exact problem do you think she has? Merek's, Kinky Back, ?
 

Starburst

Jesus Loves You
Premium Feather Member
May 25, 2020
4,065
42,583
946
Western Washington
Hi, it looks like you are doing a great job taking care of your bird! My Australorp, Jasmine, received nerve damage from a dog attack, and we first thought she had a dislocated leg, so we took her to a vet to see if they could fix it. They thought she was paralyzed, she couldn't walk, barely drank anything, and refused to eat. They sent us home with some medicine (I am not sure what it was called, I will try to find out) and every day and night we would put it in a syringe and slowly drizzle it into her mouth. Whenever I was with her, I would dip her beak into her water container and would hold up some food for her to eat. I gave her legs warm compresses, massaged her legs, did physical therapy, washed them every day and put coconut oil on her legs, and after many, many weeks, I started taking her outside to her favorite herb garden to let her get some fresh air and enjoy the sun. She still, however, couldn't walk. So I began supporting her while letting her stand, and I did that for about ten minutes every day. Then I would just keep her balance so she wouldn't fall over, and after several more weeks, she started hopping on one leg. She is now with the rest of the flock, roosting, eating, and drinking. and while she does have a slight limp now, she now walks quite well. All in all, it was months of her not walking, but with patience, love, and care, I bet your chicken can walk too. I am sorry I don't know much about what your bird has, or what caused her to stop walking, but I hope this helps and that she gets better. :hugs
 

BPaula

In the Brooder
May 22, 2020
15
18
34
Thank you so much Starburst! Your story gives me so much hope! It seems like since I've put Easter in a sling, holding her body up with her feet touching the bottom of a box, she has put more effort into trying to stand. She'll try super hard, get up for a few seconds, then sit back down in it. The biggest challenge is that she has to be monitored all the time in the sling as if she struggles too much she could flip upside down. But she seems to prefer the sling vs. lying on her side in her other cage. I just think I need to devise a better sling, maybe something that holds her up from above too. I will also start doing as you mentioned, practicing just holding her to stand. I'll post her progress again if it changes. I once fixed a bumblefoot almost the size of a golf ball on a raven's foot (with Emu oil - great stuff!) so hoping I can fix this little girl too!
 

Starburst

Jesus Loves You
Premium Feather Member
May 25, 2020
4,065
42,583
946
Western Washington
Thank you so much Starburst! Your story gives me so much hope! It seems like since I've put Easter in a sling, holding her body up with her feet touching the bottom of a box, she has put more effort into trying to stand. She'll try super hard, get up for a few seconds, then sit back down in it. The biggest challenge is that she has to be monitored all the time in the sling as if she struggles too much she could flip upside down. But she seems to prefer the sling vs. lying on her side in her other cage. I just think I need to devise a better sling, maybe something that holds her up from above too. I will also start doing as you mentioned, practicing just holding her to stand. I'll post her progress again if it changes. I once fixed a bumblefoot almost the size of a golf ball on a raven's foot (with Emu oil - great stuff!) so hoping I can fix this little girl too!
I am so glad that she is trying! I will be checking here for updates. I never used a sling for my chicken, but at the time I was brand new to chicken keeping and barely new anything. I bet the sling helps a lot as well!
 

BPaula

In the Brooder
May 22, 2020
15
18
34
Just a little update for anyone following Easter's progress... Easter is now actually trying to stand! She doesn't hold her original bad leg straight back like she used too (ie the splayed leg position), it now bends as it should, and she can jerk and move both legs. I think she is building her strength up every day. I should mention a week ago I gave her some penicillin in case there was anything internal going on - I would of given in the beginning but my vet wouldn't give me any antibiotics. I don't know if that helped, or if it's the epsom salt baths, physical therapy, emu oil creme I'm rubbing on her legs or all the vitamins and Hypericum (I'm throwing everything at this!) but it is helping!!!

Another odd thing the last week or so, I began noticing several red patches on her knuckles and knee. Not sure if they were bruises, kinda like bed sores from lying down so much, but I've been rubbing oil into these and using the epsom salt baths and several have formed scabs now which came off revealing normal skin underneath. She also has one very tiny spot that looks like bumblefoot was starting, a scab came off this, and it's now got a new scab but it seems much smaller than before so I'm hopeful this is going away too.
 

BPaula

In the Brooder
May 22, 2020
15
18
34
I only gave the penicillin for a few days - it’s been a week or so since I stopped and like I mentioned above I don’t know if it was that or all the other stuff I’ve been doing that has helped but she’s trying to walk on her hocks now but she struggles super hard to do this and while I know exercise is probably good I don’t want her to overdo it either - it’s really painful to watch... not knowing what caused all this is really frustrating and stressful... because I’m trying to treat for so many different possibilities... my latest concern is Mycoplasma Synoviae (MS) or Kinky Back it seems odd her improvement did occur after the penicillin which wouldn’t have helped if it was Mereks right? and I’d noticed since she was a chick she sneezed a little more noticeably than the others and MS also causes respiratory issues right? So now I’m wondering if I should give her an antibiotic more directed for MS such as Tylosin. But i hate giving more antibiotics if not necessary.... and she still doesn’t seem to hold her neck up that high - making me think of Wry neck but that wouldn’t cause all the other problems... I keep going down rabbit holes and get more frustrated think I just need to talk to a really good chicken vet on the phone since no good ones locally to go to in person (not having much faith in original sprained knee diagnosis) - I keep telling myself I should just be glad she’s putting in such an effort to stand and walk (that is an improvement right?) but watching her do it is hard because she really struggles.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom