Rescued stray hen has developed limp, floppy feet

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by StPaulieGirls, Feb 16, 2017.

  1. StPaulieGirls

    StPaulieGirls Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 14, 2007
    Oakland, CA
    Hello friends,

    Some weeks back I posted about two pullets that got dumped off on our dead-end block in Oakland. We've had them in quarantine in our garage and they were doing quite well. Their feathers filled in, they looked perky and they even started to lay.

    Today, one of them has started limping. I examined her and found that both of her feet are almost completely flaccid - no muscle tone or response to pinching. They're curled up and seem useless to her, one foot worse off than the other.

    I'm really, really worried this is Marek's and that I won't have been cautious enough about boots, clothes, etc, to have adequately protected my own flock. All my birds started as vaccinated chicks, but still, they're three years old now and their immunity is probably not really robust.

    Is this how Marek's starts in mature birds? Is there anything I can do for them or do to protect my flock? Should I cull both stray hens immediately or give them a chance? The limping girl is still eating, drinking and bright-eyed this evening.

    Thanks for any advice!

    All the best,
    Kerri in Oakland, CA
    (why do all the pathetic stray animals find my house????)
     
  2. StPaulieGirls

    StPaulieGirls Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 14, 2007
    Oakland, CA
    Or could it be botulism? How to tell the difference?
     
  3. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    What type of food are they eating, and could it be stale or outdated? I would start some poultry vitamins, but make sure they contain riboflavin (vitamin B 2.) Riboflavin can cause curled to paralysis. You can use foods high in riboflavin as well. Make sure that she is sitting next to her food and water and can reach them. Separate her in a basket or crate, and keeping her inside to watch her more closely may be an option. Botulism from what I have read causes a flaccid paralysis of the feet followed by the wings, then the neck, and eventually death in hours. Check the footpads for evidence of bumblefoot--red and swollen footpads with a black spot or scab. Look at the ankle and hock joints for swelling. Check your feed for any blue green mold or chemical odor, since mold can cause neurological symptoms. Make sure they are drinking well, since simple things like diarrhea or cocci can cause leg problems. Let us know how she is doing in the morning.
     
  4. StPaulieGirls

    StPaulieGirls Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 14, 2007
    Oakland, CA
    UPDATE a couple hours later:

    The flaccid paralysis has progressed to her wings, so the speed of it makes me think botulism. (?? How quick does Marek's progress?) Not being confident in administering of one of the more serious flushes, I just administered several CCs of liquid activated charcoal and a dose of B vitamins (which might just get absorbed by the charcoal, but I thought it's worth a try). She's plucky, still, though floppy and off balance.

    I sure hope she makes it until morning. If she does, I'll do another charcoal drench and then maybe some more B vitamins.

    I have both olive leaf and oregano oil in my herbal antibiotic chest and wonder if anyone has ever used either herb in their flock?

    I feel sad having rescued and rehabilitated her and her pal only for it to come to this. It's been so very rainy here in CA that I suspect damp straw/feed may have done it, though no other birds are showing signs of trouble. Just cleaned both my flock's coop and the stray hens' crate. We're so overwhelmed with animal chores that we could only clean out their quarters every three or four days. I feel sorry thinking that she may have been exposed to something because I couldn't keep things cleaner and drier.

    Thanks for any additional guidance.

    - KM
     
  5. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    Botulism is only caused by eating the botulinum toxin found in dead animal/fish carcasses, maggots that may infest those, or rotted vegetation that has all been underground without oxygen (anaerobic) atmosphere. This is common in ducks from swimming in ponds that may have dried up, then filled. Moldy feed can cause aflatoxin poisoning that may be similar to Mareks and botulism. In botulism, the books say that if a chicken lives for 2 days, then recovery is common with supportive care. The flushes are probably most affective if done immediately. Please let us know how she gets along with another update, and good luck.
     
  6. StPaulieGirls

    StPaulieGirls Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 14, 2007
    Oakland, CA
    Good morning, chicken keepers,

    So, our stray hen is still alive this morning. She's in pretty much the same shape: limping, drooping wing, bright eyes, interested in food, plucky and not cooperative in drinking the liquid charcoal I gave her last night and this morning (5 cc, p.m. and a.m.). I just watched her walk around the dog crate we have her in isolation in, and it may be that her foot is extending a little better than it was yesterday.

    I can say that she hasn't been exposed to carcasses or maggots. She is eating store-bought dried mealworms and we gave her our leftover organic salad mix yesterday, which had got a little wilted but my partner even said she'd still eat it. The hens are in two end-to-end dog crates and there's not much on which they could injure themselves. Yesterday when I cleaned out the crates, the straw was quite damp from the ambient moisture here (it's SO rainy). I switched them to pine shavings, which don't get as slimy as quickly in my experience.

    How fast does Marek's progress in terms of signs of paralysis? Is the timing of these signs sort of weird, in that they've clearly led a much harder life before now and are actually healthier than they've probably ever been, based on the shape we found them in.

    Also, these might have been battery hens (not sure how they got on our block in East Oakland) because they've been debeaked (not drastically, but they have no points on their upper beaks). Wouldn't they have been vaccinated against Marek's probably? They can't even be a year old yet, I feel sure.

    Thanks for any additional advice!

    Peace to you and yours,
    Kerri in Oakland
     
  7. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    I would doubt they were vaccinated because in large poultry operations, the chickens are rotated out usually after the first big molt begins, but others may know more of this than I do. Here are some good articles about Mareks, and you may want to check out the threads where people discuss their experiences with Mareks:
    https://extension.unh.edu/resources/files/Resource000791_Rep813.pdf
    http://www.thehappychickencoop.com/mareks-disease/
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/the-great-big-giant-mareks-disease-faq
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/39918/mareks-vaccine/150
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2017
  8. StPaulieGirls

    StPaulieGirls Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 14, 2007
    Oakland, CA
    Weird. Just weird, sometimes, these chickens.

    The hen who was limp yesterday is pretty bright today. Upon examination she has ONE TOE that remains limp and floppy, her outside toe on her right foot. It's floppy, while the same toe on the other foot bends and grabs. Maybe it got broken? She's eating well and acting pretty normal and friendly.

    So far here's what I've done:

    YESTERDAY - 10 ccs of activated charcoal in two doses about 4 hours apart, just in case it might be botulism. Someone said it worked on their Pekins.

    THIS MORNING - poultry vitamins in water

    THIS EVENING - soaked affected foot in Epsom salts in case there's some muscle or tissue thing I can't detect. Splinted the floppiest toe and the middle toe with tape and cardboard. Now that she's splinted, she's holding that leg far forward, which might be because it feels weird to have cardboard taped to your feet but might also be that Marek's sign.

    I just can hardly believe that after all this bird has been through (my neighbors found these two filthy, debeaked, naked-hard-moulting birds on our city street corner in the cold rain, so we took them in and have nursed them back to health)...after all she's been through that NOW she's going to get sick with Marek's or something and die? Honestly, you can't win.

    If anyone has some good photos of a DIY foot splint, I'd love some tips. I did a bit of a hack job, mostly just trying to straighten the toe and support the 'stepping' surface of her foot.

    Thanks, y'all.
     

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