Possible Chicken Hip Dysplasia?


In the Brooder
May 12, 2015

One of my Buff Orpington girls may have hip dysplasia but I'm not sure.

Scratch is 18 months old, fed on Organic Layer Pellets by Country Heritage Feeds, free ranges daily and also steals cat food. Do not think her genetics are good as breeder had issues building up breeding stock apparently and 3 other chooks I purchased from him (Light Sussex) didn't make it to laying age (respiratory issues and Maerecks). She has always had one leg, her left, that she would constantly stretch out behind and slightly to the side whilst bumbling around, as it was tight and needed a flex.

It is definitely NOT Maerecks as there has been no degeneration, no paralysis, no loss of use of either legs or wings etc, no other health issues at all and is in fact the most active forager etc of our small flock. Having had to kill one chook who definitely did have Maereck's, I have done a fair bit of reading and become very familiar with it.

Currently it is raining a lot her and their enclosure is very muddy. One day I discovered her sitting at the side of the pen and when I threw in a handful of mixed grain in the evening to help warm them up before bed, she hobbled over to eat rather than the normal full pelt run. There are no high points onto which the chooks could get, let alone jump off. There are no visible injuries or gashes etc.

My assumption was that she had simply slipped and strained herself in some way so I left her in the enclosure and checked her regularly for any changes. Two days later I saw she was still chickening away but not able to support herself on that side. She has control of the leg, can move it and flex it, but it simply doesn't support her.

I bought her indoors and placed her in a box thinking she needed to rest completely for a few days. I examined her and found no obvious hot spots on her legs, no obvious slipped tendons etc, and no signs of breaks. The one thing I have noticed is that her left hip joint is clicking a lot when she moves her leg or I manipulate it. There are no signs that this is painful for her. In fact, she is perfectly calm and peaceful when I do so.

Last night whilst bathing her to get the poo off seeing as she's living in our house and a tad smelly, I realised that I could feel an obvious difference in the hip area between right and left. Right feels tight against the body but obviously still flexible. Left feels loose, almost as if it's being held in place only by muscle and tisse etc.

So, I'm thinking she has hip dysplasia and wondered if anyone had any experience of this?

As she is in no apparent pain, still laying, eating, drinking, beeping at us and seeking out company, just less mobile (expect when trying to forage around the kitchen floor when I'm preparing dinner - amazeingly useful to have a kitchen chicken!), we do not wish to end her life. Plus, she has been until now my favourite gardening companion. Unfortunately, nor can we afford vetinary care for her.

Is there a bandaging / splinting technique or even a hip manipulation that we can learn about and try to help her?
Can she continue as she is and remain happy and healthy?
Presumably her legs (we're calling them forearms as don't know the correct term!) will become sore as they're not used to being walked on; what is the best way to prevent / relieve this?

If anyone has any experience, stories or information resources I'd love to have them. I have tried searching this site and googling, but almost everything I find relates to hip dysplasia in children or dogs!

Thank you in advance for taking the time to read and reply. Much appreciated.


PS Clare if you read this, yes, I have finally solved the problem of a messy kitchen!
How do you know for sure that your other chicken definitely had Mareks disease? Mareks is contagious to other chickens, and spread through the dander and dust. It remains in the environment for up to 7 years, so if your chicken had Mareks, then all the others would be carriers whether they get sick or not.
Yep, I know that, but thanks for the reminder. :)

Without an autopsy you cannot be 100% sure any chicken had marek's, however there are some very obvious classical symptoms and the chook that I culled displayed all of these, in order, and her condition deteriorated exactly as described. I guess you could say she was a text book case unfortunately.

Again, this chicken has NO marek's symptoms so whilst she may be infected, she is either only a carrier or lucky enough to be asymptomatic.

Her left hip is very definitely displaced. I am assuming it's dislocated rather than dysplasia or however you spell it due to the completely lack of pain being evidenced.

I am really looking for some advice from someone with experience of this situation (not Marek's) so I can do what I can to help her.

Thanks again!
Due to the lack of pain I've moved her back out with our little flock. She's confined to a small area of their house where she can continue to rest and recover, but doesn't lose her place in the pecking order or get lonely.

Still looking for anyone who's had experience and wondering if I can / or should try to put hip back in place. Sounds like it would cause her more pain and distress than she is currently suffering...?
Oh, sorry for your loss. Not much you can do but let it runs its course with the remainder of the flock. As eggcessive has said, the soil can remain infected for up to 7 years. Remove all nesting material and perches, scrape back to bare earth in the run. Spray all surfaces and the ground with virkon let it dry and spray it again. Only buy in chicks that have been vaccinated from now on. It's not the end of the world and with some informed choices you can still keep chickens.
Mareks is far more prevalent than any of us would care to believe. :hugs

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Thanks for the link @Fancychooklady :)

The chooks WERE apparently immunised. Down to two buff orps from the original six chooks from one breeder, plus two barred rock's (also apparently immunised) that we obtained as day olds from another breeder. The buff orps are approx 14 months now and the barred rock's are approx 7 months.

Will defenately use the Virkon as described in the run & house. As my chooks also free range however around the garden I'm assuming that the entire garden would be affected, which there's not much I can do about.

I will however ensure that any chooks in future do NOT come from the original source, are immunised AND are at POL so at least the main period for symptoms to show will have passed I hope.

Really sucks though!!! :(

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