now 2 chickens with leg issues in 1 week.

ippys chick

May 19, 2015
One week ago one of our speckled Sussex was limping so I separated her in a cage. She is getting.g worse now today I come home to find we have a second bird a comet who won't put any pressure on her foot. These birds are about 5 months old and free ranged with about 25 other chickens and 4 Turkey's about their size and 1 big turkey. Do I put them in a sling or what? How do I help them recover?


Free Ranging
5 Years
Feb 14, 2014
Consett Co.Durham. UK
I'm afraid it sounds very much like an outbreak of Marek's disease. They are the right age and it is approaching that time of year when it becomes more prevalent. It's surprising though considering that you have turkeys as many people believe that because the Marek's vaccine is made from a less virulent strain that turkeys get, that raising chicks with turkeys will help them develop immunity in the same way as the vaccine. That said, the vaccine does not prevent them getting Marek's disease, it just lessens the more severe symptoms like tumours.

I've had Marek's in my flock for coming up 3 years now and it started with one lame and then two more. One fully recovered within a couple of days, one learned to hop and became extremely agile on just one leg and one declined until eventually I had to cull. The one that recovered, had a second more serious attack a couple of months later and took 4 months to recover but did eventually get to the stage of laying eggs. Since then I have lost one or two young birds to it each year and the odd older bird that has a recurrence.

It's a nasty disease caused by a herpes type virus that is extremely infectious (spreads via dander dust) during an outbreak and after the initial paralysis symptoms, it usually goes on to cause tumours. There is currently no recognised treatment but many people find supporting the immune system with vitamins and good nutritious food and keeping the birds happy and stress free helps. I find that an outbreak usually coincides with young cockerels becoming sexually mature and starting to harass the young pullets.

I hope I am wrong and it's something else, but Marek's is an extremely common and widespread disease. Either way, giving them vitamin supplement, particularly vitamin B complex is known to help with neurological problems like wry neck etc.

Good luck with them and yes a chicken sling will make them more comfortable and keep them from soiling themselves if they are no longer able to keep themselves upright.

Best wishes


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