Neurological Issues In Chickens?

May 17, 2020
110
86
63
NW Washington
Hey there, does anyone know or have a list of the possible neurological issues in chickens? I'm afraid that one of my older hens has dementia but there are very few online resources as to how and why a chicken could possibly get this.
symptoms:
1. lagging behind the flock
2. forgets who/where she is
3. isn't sick with some sort of virus - she's been dewormed and was on Corid for 2 weeks just in case and we had a vet check her out. No symptoms of a disease other than diarrhea.
4. the rest of the flock isn't sick, and this has been going on for a while
5. I have a specific call for giving out treats that she now never answers to
etc.
Help!!!
 

Wyorp Rock

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Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Sep 20, 2015
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Hey there, does anyone know or have a list of the possible neurological issues in chickens? I'm afraid that one of my older hens has dementia but there are very few online resources as to how and why a chicken could possibly get this.
symptoms:
1. lagging behind the flock
2. forgets who/where she is
3. isn't sick with some sort of virus - she's been dewormed and was on Corid for 2 weeks just in case and we had a vet check her out. No symptoms of a disease other than diarrhea.
4. the rest of the flock isn't sick, and this has been going on for a while
5. I have a specific call for giving out treats that she now never answers to
etc.
Help!!!
She's two years old, and stopped laying in the winter and hasn't started up again. She hasn't lost weight, but she's awfully hard to pick up since she's so unbalanced and disoriented.
How long has she been sick - showing symptoms?

You're vet performed a fecal float to check for Coccidia and worms?

What de-wormer did you use to treat her (product and dosage), how much Corid did you give for 2 weeks?

What do you feed?
Can you feel her abdomen for bloat or fluid (below the vent between the legs)?

Have you looked in her ears for infection, lice/mites?
Any chance she got into something moldy, rotten or toxic?

If you can take a video of her actions so we can see her that may help - upload to youtube and provide a link.
If video is not possible, photos of your hen and her poop?

Any swelling of the legs, feet? Any lice or mites on the body?
Is her crop empty first thing in the morning before she eats/drinks?
Have you added any new birds in the last 30 days?

If you haven't done so, getting her hydrated would be good - if she's that disoriented, then dehydration can make it worse. If you have them - give her some electrolytes for a few hours, then switch out to plain water. Once she's hydrated then see if she will eat a little for you.

Hopefully with more information we can make better suggestions.
 
May 17, 2020
110
86
63
NW Washington
@Wyorp Rock
How long has she been sick - showing symptoms?
About a month and a half.

Your vet performed a fecal float to check for Coccidia and worms?
Our vet checked for coccidia, and we had him just look at her poop with a naked eye to check for worms. Should we have him perform a fecal float just in case?

What de-wormer did you use to treat her (product and dosage), how much Corid did you give for 2 weeks?
We used Verm-X and crushed it up in her food. It's an all-natural wormer, we didn't want to jump on giving her a strong goat wormer and risk making her condition worse. We gave her 2 teaspoons of liquid Corid per gallon (around 9.5cc).

What do you feed?
Our flock is fed Scratch N Peck organic layer feed with dried herbs and plants, probiotics, sunflower seeds, flax seeds and seaweed mixed in.

Can you feel her abdomen for bloat or fluid (below the vent between the legs)?
It's a little bloated.

Have you looked in her ears for infection, lice/mites?
Yes, and we can't find anything although aren't too sure if we're looking in the right places. This has never happened before so I don't have very experienced eyes when it comes to that kind of thing.

Any chance she got into something moldy, rotten or toxic?
We thought of that and gave her molasses in her water for around 48 hours. She had already had diarrhea at that point, so if the molasses induced diarrhea we couldn't tell. After the molasses treatment, her condition didn't improve nor worsen, so we stopped.

If you can take a video of her actions so we can see her that may help - upload to youtube and provide a link.
Here is a link to her wandering around her flock's rain shelter. She walks in a sort of squat and barely moves. If I want her to have time outside in our garden, I have to bring her out their myself since she has stopped following the flock. The only place that she really hangs out now is in the rain shelter while the flock is outside exploring (btw - sorry it's so drab today! her flockmates have been completely free-ranging for the past few weeks in the summer sun so they don't have any interest in hanging out there anymore). She can't fly at all anymore (or flutter, or whatever it is that chickens do that propels them momentarily through the air), and sometimes tries to sleep underneath the roosts because it's now too hard for her to jump up our chicken ladder.


If video is not possible, photos of your hen and her poop?
I uploaded the video to youtube, but also attached some photos of her and her poop. It ranges from cream liquid white undigested green chunks to just something that basically looks like black/brown water (black because the chickens have been eating a lot of their dust bathing ash recently).

Any swelling of the legs, feet? Any lice or mites on the body?
She walks in a hunched and shuffled way, but her legs look normal. No scaly leg mites from what I can tell, and I've checked around her vent for mites and can't find any.

Is her crop empty first thing in the morning before she eats/drinks?
Yes. She doesn't have sour or impacted crop, and she eats very well. Sometimes she forgets to drink so I come out with an eye dropper twice a day and make sure that she gets a good amount.
Have you added any new birds in the last 30 days?
Yes, about two weeks ago I got some chicks from a local certified breeder. However, her condition started long before this and the two flocks have had no interaction (although I'm aware that germs can be tracked).

I hope this helps!!
 

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Wyorp Rock

🐓 ❤ 🐛
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Sep 20, 2015
36,623
51,458
1,332
Southern N.C. Mountains
How long has she been sick - showing symptoms?
About a month and a half.
Your vet performed a fecal float to check for Coccidia and worms?
Our vet checked for coccidia, and we had him just look at her poop with a naked eye to check for worms. Should we have him perform a fecal float just in case?
What de-wormer did you use to treat her (product and dosage), how much Corid did you give for 2 weeks?
We used Verm-X and crushed it up in her food. It's an all-natural wormer, we didn't want to jump on giving her a strong goat wormer and risk making her condition worse. We gave her 2 teaspoons of liquid Corid per gallon (around 9.5cc).
Can you feel her abdomen for bloat or fluid (below the vent between the legs)?
It's a little bloated.
She walks in a hunched and shuffled way
Thank you for the information, photos and video.

One more question LOL Is she laying eggs?

The way she is hunched, shuffling and you mention the abdomen is a little bloated - I would suspect she is suffering from a reproductive disorder. Peritonitis, cancer, salpingitis, etc can be common in laying hens. If this is the problem, then sadly, there is not a lot you can do but offer supportive care - making sure she eats/drinks, lice/mites don't invade, etc.

It would be good if possible to get a fecal float to check for worms or deworm her it the vet can't do one. The only worms one might see by the naked eye is a heavy infestation of roundworms (you would see that too) or you might see tapeworm proglottids (larvae) but you would see those as well since they move. For the most part worms live inside their host, if there's a heavy load, then sometimes worms are expelled - a fecal float looks at worm load/egg count.

The poop is not normal. I would try to encourage her to drink. It looks like she's eating ok.(?) but I would feel her crop at night to see if it actually has food - sometimes chickens can act busy/normal just so the others don't notice.
 
May 17, 2020
110
86
63
NW Washington
Thank you for the information, photos and video.

One more question LOL Is she laying eggs?

The way she is hunched, shuffling and you mention the abdomen is a little bloated - I would suspect she is suffering from a reproductive disorder. Peritonitis, cancer, salpingitis, etc can be common in laying hens. If this is the problem, then sadly, there is not a lot you can do but offer supportive care - making sure she eats/drinks, lice/mites don't invade, etc.

It would be good if possible to get a fecal float to check for worms or deworm her it the vet can't do one. The only worms one might see by the naked eye is a heavy infestation of roundworms (you would see that too) or you might see tapeworm proglottids (larvae) but you would see those as well since they move. For the most part worms live inside their host, if there's a heavy load, then sometimes worms are expelled - a fecal float looks at worm load/egg count.

The poop is not normal. I would try to encourage her to drink. It looks like she's eating ok.(?) but I would feel her crop at night to see if it actually has food - sometimes chickens can act busy/normal just so the others don't notice.
Oh jeez. No, she's not laying. She stopped laying when winter came and hasn't started up again despite it being sunny and warm here. Our local vet specializes in avian care, so I'm sure we'll be able to get a fecal float. If she does have a reproductive disorder, is there a way to test her for it? Is she suffering? Is it cruel to keep her alive?
 

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