pullet can't stand/loss of balance

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by RiverEdgeChx, Nov 23, 2013.

  1. RiverEdgeChx

    RiverEdgeChx In the Brooder

    Nov 23, 2013
    Hi all, we could really use some ideas here. We have been scouring the internet since this incident happened, and nothing seems to be helping. Also, if this sounds like Marek's please let us know if there are specific things to look for, as the condition of our hen is not worsening.



    1) What type of bird , age and weight (does the chicken seem or feel lighter or thinner than the others.)
    18 week old, barred rock, pullet
    uncertain of weight, about the same size as other pullet her age

    2) What is the behavior, exactly.
    Found her on her side in the morning on the floor of the chicken coop 6 days ago. She moves her legs when she is picked up, like she is trying to walk. She will also flap both of her wings, and she wiggles her tail. Everything seems to be working independently, but she cannot balance and stand up. When I sit her down on her feet, she falls over on her side. She will fall onto either side. Once she is on her side, she will paddle with her feet to push herself forward. I have been keeping her indoors in a bowl padded by towels to keep her upright. She has been eating, drinking, and pooping.

    3) How long has the bird been exhibiting symptoms?
    6 days

    4) Are other birds exhibiting the same symptoms?
    no - we have 5 other chickens and all of them live together. No other chickens are affected. We raised 3 from chicks last spring (1 barred rock and 2 black australorps) and added 3 to the flock 3 weeks ago (2 barred rocks - now 18 weeks old, and 1 black australorp - now 26 weeks old).

    5) Is there any bleeding, injury, broken bones or other sign of trauma.
    noticed a small bruise on the bottom of her keel

    6) What happened, if anything that you know of, that may have caused the situation.
    unknown. Everything was normal the previous evening.

    7) What has the bird been eating and drinking, if at all.
    Previous to her condition we were feeding chick starter and she was free ranging. Now that she is confined, she is eating chick starter and is being offered some fruit as treats. We have been giving her polyvisol drops, and electrolyte water. She seems to be eating less now than a few days ago, but she is still eating and drinking on her own.

    8) How does the poop look? Normal? Bloody? Runny? etc.
    Brown and runny.

    9) What has been the treatment you have administered so far?
    see number 7

    10 ) What is your intent as far as treatment? For example, do you want to treat completely yourself, or do you need help in stabilizing the bird til you can get to a vet?
    Would prefer to treat myself, but a vet is not out of the question.

    11) If you have a picture of the wound or condition, please post it. It may help.
    12) Describe the housing/bedding in use
    Chicken coop has pine shavings on the floor and in the nest boxes. She is now being kept wrapped in cotton towels.

  2. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Free Ranging Premium Member

    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    Unfortunately it sounds like it could be Mareks disease. Botulism and spirochetosis can also cause paralysis and problems standing, but the symptoms don't fit. I would start treating with vitamins in the water, and make sure she can reach food and water while you are evaluating her. Some chickens can get over initial symptoms and get better, then get worse. You need to do some reading on it:
  3. RiverEdgeChx

    RiverEdgeChx In the Brooder

    Nov 23, 2013
    Thanks for the links. Of the different kinds of Mareks, it seems like the kind that affects the internal organs would be the most likely if that is what she has. Her legs are not paralyzed and they do not point in opposite directions. Her legs are both quite functional, she just can't balance.

    Another interesting twist is that a few days before she got sick, we found a tiny pullet egg in the nest box. She and our other new barred rock pullet do not seem mature enough to be laying yet, but the egg was a different color than what our other hens have been laying. Could her present illness be a side effect of starting to lay too early?

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