Pullet is Stumbling and Leaning to One Side

RainForestBird

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Jul 12, 2016
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My friend has a approximately 3 month old pullet that up until yesterday was fine, but then started stumbling and leaning to one side. She is a cross between an Rhode Island Red and a Serama. He has provided a lower water dish so she can drink without trouble. At first I thought that because it seemed neurological that she could have ingested moldy food which is entirely possible because the chickens are fed food scraps from a community kitchen. She sleeps with 20 odd other hens in a watertight greenhouse at night. She has tumbled completely over once that he witnessed.

Please help, some advice on next steps are needed. I don't believe that he has the means to take her to a vet unfortunately.
 

Celeste Cannon

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Jan 15, 2018
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Make sure she is separated from the others, don't want them to get sick. Try and give her protein like unsalted scrambled eggs and mealworms. Lots of water, keep and eye on her while you do this for couple of days. If this doesn't work then I think the only option I know of is vet :idunno. Hope she gets better:hugs
 

chickengeorgeto

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The symptoms sound like Marek's disease. I know that I am likely just flopping my lips but if your friend values his or her other chickens then advise your friend to cull this pullet.

Unfortunately if your friend was as rich as Bill Gates and Warren buffet combined there is nothing that a vet can do to help a Marek's chicken.
 

Wyorp Rock

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3 month old pullet that up until yesterday was fine, but then started stumbling and leaning to one side. She is a cross between an Rhode Island Red and a Serama.
seemed neurological that she could have ingested moldy food which is entirely possible because the chickens are fed food scraps from a community kitchen.
I agree, the symptoms sound neurological.
How long has your friend had her?

Like @chickengeorgeto says, it very well could be Marek's. Ingesting moldy food is another possibility, but if the other chickens had access to the same foods and they are not showing symptoms, then I would again be leaning towards Marek's.

Do the chickens get fed anything else besides the food scraps?
 

RainForestBird

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Jul 12, 2016
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Apparently the chickens forage. He has had her since she was a young chick. None of the other birds are sick. So its kind of a mystery. Neither of her wings are drooping. He says that she seems better today but not out of the woods yet.
 

chickengeorgeto

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I agree, the symptoms sound neurological.... Like @chickengeorgeto says, it very well could be Marek's. Ingesting moldy food is another possibility...

Feeding fermented food is a good way to get moldy food. If fermented food was the miracle that some say then ever commercial chicken farmer in the USA would be feeding fermented food to their flock.

I would like to see all posters in this forum state if they are feeding fermented feed when they have unknown or strange diseases crop up in their flocks and log in to ask for help..
 

Wyorp Rock

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Apparently the chickens forage. He has had her since she was a young chick. None of the other birds are sick. So its kind of a mystery. Neither of her wings are drooping. He says that she seems better today but not out of the woods yet.
Marek's is complicated to say the least, symptoms can be subtle all over the place. Sometimes it can present as loss of balance, stumbling, leaning to full blown "classic" symptoms of paralysis in the legs/wings, wry neck and/or the splits. There are several forms of Marek's and symptoms can overlap one another - here's a good read for you to share with your friend.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/the-great-big-giant-mareks-disease-faq

Each person has their own goals when it come to chicken keeping. Some people do try to treat symptoms and give supportive care, while others cull to help minimize the spread of disease through their flock.
Getting a fecal float to rule out Coccidiosis and worms is always a good idea. For a bird that is presenting with neurological symptoms, you can try poultry vitamins. Poultry Cell would be a good choice or find one that has E and the B vitamins.

Feeding fermented food is a good way to get moldy food. If fermented food was the miracle that some say then ever commercial chicken farmer in the USA would be feeding fermented food to their flock.

I would like to see all posters in this forum state if they are feeding fermented feed when they have unknown or strange diseases crop up in their flocks and log in to ask for help..
This is a good idea @chickengeorgeto I know that a lot of people use fermented feed and they are passionate about it, but on this forum, knowing what and how a person feeds their chickens can be an important "clue" at times. :)
 

RainForestBird

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My friend pointed out to me that mold that could be toxic to hens would most likely not be growing on kitchen scraps as this is relatively harmless penicillin type mold. I am not a mold expert. I only know that moldy grain is not a good idea, in fact, in earlier times (Dark Ages, Medieval era) it led to a lot of problems for people who hallucinated after eating it. How does one attempt a "fecal float" and is a veterinarian involved or can you just send it to a lab for analysis? My friend suggests that since the weakness seems to be on one side that should could have been injured, stung by an insect or had a stroke (seems very unlikely). He even thought she could even have an inner ear problem, is this possible? Are chickens like humans with inner ears that can become infected, or filled with fluid? I don't believe she has any nasal discharge. I advised him to isolate her to protect the rest of the flock and allow the hen to rest and get unfettered access to high protein food and water. I don't feed fermented food because I don't have the space or time to prepare it. Is there substantial proof that it adds significant nutritional value/health benefits?
 

Wyorp Rock

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My friend pointed out to me that mold that could be toxic to hens would most likely not be growing on kitchen scraps as this is relatively harmless penicillin type mold. I am not a mold expert. I only know that moldy grain is not a good idea, in fact, in earlier times (Dark Ages, Medieval era) it led to a lot of problems for people who hallucinated after eating it. How does one attempt a "fecal float" and is a veterinarian involved or can you just send it to a lab for analysis? My friend suggests that since the weakness seems to be on one side that should could have been injured, stung by an insect or had a stroke (seems very unlikely). He even thought she could even have an inner ear problem, is this possible? Are chickens like humans with inner ears that can become infected, or filled with fluid? I don't believe she has any nasal discharge. I advised him to isolate her to protect the rest of the flock and allow the hen to rest and get unfettered access to high protein food and water. I don't feed fermented food because I don't have the space or time to prepare it. Is there substantial proof that it adds significant nutritional value/health benefits?
Mycotoxins can be in anything.
http://www.thepoultrysite.com/diseaseinfo/100/mycotoxicosis/

You can have your vet perform the fecal float or see if your state lab will accept samples for testing. You can look up your state here
https://www.backyardchickens.com/th...sease-testing-lab-info.1236884/#post-19849025

If you happen to lose her, your state lab can do testing and provide you with a diagnosis.

Chickens can have ear infections and ear mite, so you may want to look in her ears to see if there is any debris or pus. Usually with an ear infection there is swelling of the earlobe.

Having access to feed free choice certainly won't hurt, at 3 months of age chickens really should always have nutritionally balanced feed available to aid in their development.

You would have to do some research on the pros/cons of fermented feed. I don't know if it's "beneficial" or not. There's plenty of threads about fermenting here on BYC and I'm sure on poultry blogs as well. I don't ferment, but I do give mine freshly made wet mash daily which they love-this is in addition to free choice dry feed.
 

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