Rare breed Pullet has crippled leg. How can I help her? (Video included.)

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Sparkling, Jan 9, 2017.

  1. Sparkling

    Sparkling Out Of The Brooder

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    I posted this video as private, so it won't show up on my channel, but you should be able to get to it with this link.



    I wanted to show what is wrong with my little pullet, Tophat. It's hard to hold the phone and the chicken at the same time though, so I don't know how helpful it was to make the video. I don't know if you can see but the same leg that is injured is the same side where she broke her toe.

    I posted a reply in another thread where some people had responded but I was advised to create a new thread, so here is a copy of my message from over there.

    I have a little Cream Legbar that has just had one problem after another in her short life. She is only about 5 or 6 months old right now. She had a broken toe in November. We brought her in the house for a couple of weeks to recover. When she was able to walk again we put her out in the coop with the rest of the flock. Then in December our dog attacked her (the rooster defended her and got attacked pretty bad too but he is fully recovered now). Her wing was completely exposed and I was worried the others would peck her to death so I kept her in the house longer. After just a few days she started struggling to walk. It quickly digressed to being fully crippled. Now she can't walk at all, she just kicks and flops around and sleeps on her side. She is fully alert though, and she talks to us when we come in the bathroom. We have had the coldest weather I've ever experienced since we moved here to Idaho, and we've had snow on the ground for going on 4 weeks now. I've thought about trying to rehabilitate her with little outings in the greenhouse, but she really can't use her legs. Her right leg especially seems to have something severely wrong with it. It splays out to the side, while her left leg is straight. She doesn't really stand on either one of her legs though. And I realized last week she wasn't eating as much because she couldn't reach the food dish. If we hold her wrapped in a towel she will eat enthusiastically from a bowl in front of her. So I feel awful that she has probably been starving because she can't get to food. I'm trying so hard to save this little pullet but I don't know what to do. How can I tell if her leg is dislocated? I can't afford a $300 vet bill for her right now - my husband would be quick to point out we could buy a lot more chickens for that much money. But she is a life, and I love her, and I want to help her if I can. Does anyone know how I might be able to tell if her leg is dislocated and how to fix it? Would a video help to show what I'm talking about?

    (For the record, the dog is no longer allowed free run of the yard.)

    I have noticed that she enjoys being wrapped in a towel and held in my lap. This is how I feed her now, is I bring her to my desk and feed her in a little dish while I hold her in my lap, or my daughter holds her and feeds her.
     
  2. rebrascora

    rebrascora Overrun With Chickens

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    Hi

    Unfortunately it looks like Marek's disease. She is the right age to get it and the stress of the dog attack may have triggered it. I think it would be helpful if you rigged up a chicken hammock/sling. If you do a search I am sure you will find many images of quite professional looking as well as DIY ones. They can be made by simply putting an appropriate size cardboard box inside an old T-shirt and then cutting a couple of holes in the fabric over the open end of the box for her legs to fit through and gathering the fabric and stapling it to the sides of the box to tension it so that she is suspended in an upright position in the box. Cut another hole under her vent for her poop to drop through so that she is not soiling herself and two more small cuts in front of her to push empty yoghurt pots into to hold food and water within reach. You can even place a tray in the box under her vent with litter in to catch her poop, to make cleaning up easier. Keeping her in an upright position will help her digestive system and also stop her getting pressure sores.

    It is worth giving her a vitamin supplement particularly vitamin B and probiotics and anything that will support her immune system, so good nutrition is important and also keeping her happy and stress free. Occasional scrambled eggs, meal worms, tuna, even a bit of cat food... and chick crumb is probably better than layer since the extra calcium in layer feed is not required and may put a strain on her kidneys.

    Unfortunately if I am right and it is Marek's disease, then there is no recognised treatment and I've had a few of my cream legbars suffer from it.... some breeds do seem to be more prone to it than others....silkies and seramas being two others. The company of other chickens will help if you have a warm day when you can put her out within sight of them but obviously in a safe place and grass and sunshine have done wonders for some of my really crippled pullets but unfortunately at this time of year it's not easy to organise. Even if you can put her chicken hammock on a window sill where she can get some direct sunlight, that may help. If she stops eating and starts to waste away, that is when I usually take the decision to euthanize them, but fingers crossed she will fight it.

    I had one 2 years ago that took 4 months of supportive care through the winter but eventually went back to free ranging with the flock. One of the things that picked her up was having the company of another sick chicken and then putting them out in a cage on the grass in the sunshine for a few hours as soon as it was warm enough.

    Good luck with her and if I you are unsure of anything I have written please feel free to ask for clarification.

    Best wishes

    Barbara
     
  3. Sparkling

    Sparkling Out Of The Brooder

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    :(
    Her friend, a black copper maran, died of sour crop which the vet (I did pay the $100 vet fee for her) said looked like Marek's disease also. Both these birds came from the same farm. I soooo don't want it to be Marek's. The vet made it sound like a death sentence. I will try to craft a chicken-walker for her as you say. Have any birds ever recovered from Mareks and gone on to live a healthy life?

    I want to help her so bad. She has fought so hard!
     
  4. BantamLover21

    BantamLover21 Overrun With Chickens

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    It seems like she has Marek's to me, too. Unfortunately, it is a really common disease that is present most places where poultry are raised, though many birds exposed to the virus are resistant. Marek's can cause a wide variety of symptoms, from paralysis (the most common symptom) to irregular pupils to internal/external tumors, etc. Some birds miraculously recover from Marek's with supportive care, but it is generally a fatal disease. Many birds affected with Marek's act fine besides not being able to move, but lose weight despite eating and otherwise deteriorate.

    Since your pullet is clearly loved, you could try some natural remedies that have, in rare cases, helped birds recover from Marek's. These treatments can include giving affected birds hypericum/St. Johns Wort, colloidal silver, turmeric, and other immune enhancers. Giving supportive care is important, too. Offer her anything she'll eat and definitely consider making a sling so she doesn't have to lay around all day. You could also get some poultry vitamins to dissolve in her water; they will give her some extra nutrients and help if her leg problems are caused by a vitamin deficiency.

    Here are some links to Marek's threads:

    [Article] The Great Big Giant Marek's Disease FAQ

    St. John's Wort

    Moving Forward- Breeding for Resistance to Marek's Disease

    Good luck with your pullet!
     
  5. rebrascora

    rebrascora Overrun With Chickens

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    I have a large mixed flock of about 70 birds and I started seeing Marek's disease just over 3 years ago. Since then I've had a few youngsters each year suffer it. Some get it mildly, recover rapidly but then have subsequent attacks months or even over a year later, but interim quality of life is good/normal. Some decline quite quickly and give up fighting it but some have a strong spirit to live and with TLC can recover to gain a decent quality of life like the pullet I mentioned that I nursed for 4 months. She eventually started laying which I hadn't ever expected to happen especially as at one stage she was on her side unable to get up and soiling herself like your girl. She was left with a residual limp but compensated by using her wings and could come for treats as fast as any other member of the flock and could happily scratch about in my muck heap in my stable yard and dust bath and forage in the paddocks. Unfortunately I lost her to a fox along with her sister, which I was really gutted about as she was such a joy, but it is the price you occasionally pay for free range.

    Other people find that their birds die quite quickly from it. I think some of it depends on the strain. I think I may have one of the milder strains. I'm attempting to breed for resistance now.... from the birds that have been exposed and survive it.

    I have probably had almost 20 birds experience it over the past 3 years. I lost 2 pullets to it this autumn but a cockerel that I thought I might have to euthanize because he couldn't walk, suddenly made a full recovery from it and is now happily harassing my large fowl hens with his sexual advances even though he is a bantam and holding his own with the other large fowl roosters as well as the hens....he is Mr Attitude!! So I would say don't lose hope and it is not a guaranteed death sentence any more than life itself is a guaranteed death sentence. We will all die sooner or later. Quality of life and the spirit to live is important. If she is eating and drinking and keen to fight it, then give her whatever support you can. I have had miraculous recoveries as well as sad declines. Do give consideration and be prepared to end her suffering if she gives up trying but cherish every day and give her as much stimulation as you can.

    Best wishes

    Barbara
     
  6. rebrascora

    rebrascora Overrun With Chickens

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    Personally I'm not convinced that the natural remedies work with Marek's. I think it is just one of those diseases that ebbs and flows and some treatments may appear to work because of the remission periods.
    I tried turmeric and black pepper in the early stages and after a week or so, she no longer wanted to eat her food with it in. I got frustrated trying to get her to eat it and so did she, refusing. Then I decided that it was better to get her to eat her food rather than put stuff in it that discouraged her. By all means try these natural remedies if you like, but the important thing is to get good food and vitamins into her to support her body and immune system.
     
  7. BantamLover21

    BantamLover21 Overrun With Chickens

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    I'm not convinced, either. They didn't work with any of the three birds I've raised that had Marek's. Still, if Sparkling wants to give her pullet a chance, then the natural remedies can hardly hurt (unless, like your hen, they make the bird not want to eat).
     
  8. Sparkling

    Sparkling Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you for the words of encouragement. I have lots of turmeric (because I have fibromyalgia and it helps with inflammation) and I also have St. Johns Wort drops. I already have the vitamins and will be more diligent about giving them to her. (I oscillated on giving them because I didn't want to stress her system.) Thank you for the suggestions. I'm in process of making a sock sling for her now that I will affix to the top of a wire cage (which I am presently sterilizing because it was recently vacated by a hen that had bronchitis). I'm really regretting moving to Idaho. I never had any sick birds in 3 years in Oregon. Now I've had 5 or 6 (out of 15) get sick, and one died. So sad. Trying my best but my best isn't enough. I'll keep anointing her with frankincense on her feet too, and praying God will heal her. She is such a sweet little thing.

    God bless you, thanks for all your advice.
    -Laurene
     
  9. rebrascora

    rebrascora Overrun With Chickens

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    Yes I have a recurring respiratory infection in my flock too.
    Maybe you were just lucky for those first 3 years. As BantamLover21 says, Marek's is a really common disease that is very easily contracted. Even with proper quarantining of new birds, it can still get into your flock. Many people don't realise they have it or don't want to know and turn a blind eye to it because they know that they should keep a closed flock once they've got it. I chose to embrace it and deal with it and I find it is not so bad, although every now and then you do your best and still lose one and that is heart breaking(it took me two days to pluck up the courage to cull one little pullet this summer and I was in tears each time)....but the joy you get from even just one that recovers, most definitely makes up for it. The fact of poultry keeping is that chickens are prone to illness and sometimes die. Being kept in confined areas is part of the problem. That's one of the reasons why I free range.

    Anyway, really wishing you the best of luck with her and please keep us posted with her (hopefully) progress.

    Regards

    Barbara
     

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