Rooster can't walk. Nutritional deficiency?


In the Brooder
Feb 10, 2020
1) What type of bird , age and weight (does the chicken seem or feel lighter or thinner than the others.)
Marans/Olive-Egger mixed breed Rooster, will be 2 years old in 2 months, thinner than his normal but is gaining weight now that his food intake is being micromanaged.

2) What is the behavior, exactly.
He cannot walk correctly. He struggles to balance, and doesn't seem to be able to walk forwards or backwards, he just steps quickly in place on tip toe with his whole body very upright and his legs completely straight. He can move his legs on his own with full range of motion when I support his weight with a hand under his body, no clicking or crunching in the joints, no broken bones, no indication of pain anywhere when I palpate. He does seem to get tired quickly after trying to walk, so he's been taking more naps than is normal, but I wouldn't call him lethargic as he's very active and alert otherwise.
Great appetite, eager to be up and about, getting into crowing contests with my house rooster in the other room, talking up a storm trying to flirt with my house hen, perfectly normal otherwise!

3) How long has the bird been exhibiting symptoms?
As noted in the video that I'll try to attach, he started walking more strangely than usual a couple of months ago, but didn't show any significant difficulty that I noticed until 4 days ago. The morning after I noticed he was walking slowly and gingerly, I found him on the floor unable to stand on his own.

4) Are other birds exhibiting the same symptoms?
No. I took special care to really lay hands on everybody else, they are all in great condition and behaving normally.

5) Is there any bleeding, injury, broken bones or other sign of trauma.
Not that I can see or feel. There is a possibility that he could have injured a joint or tendon due to the roosts being a bit higher than I like, since he's a very big clumsy guy. (Edit: the roosts are about 2 1/2 feet high)

6) What happened, if anything that you know of, that may have caused the situation.
I recently changed my rooster flocks' food. I've been mixing in a little bit of scratch grains to pull the protein down a little bit, because I noticed early signs of gout in another rooster. This rooster was the most dominant one in his flock, always first to the trough, so I guess he was just filling up on the tasty bits and not eating enough of the healthy stuff.
He also has poor hygiene habits and so he had a gnarly mite infestation, both body mites and scaly leg mites.

7) What has the bird been eating and drinking, if at all.
Nutrena NatureWise Starter and Grower (18%) plus a little bit of Nutrena Country Feeds Scratch Grains to pull the protein down closer to 16%
This guy is not getting the scratch grains right now!
I have chickens ranging in age from 2 months to almost 2 years, so everybody gets the 18% and the hens have oyster shell and crushed egg shell available

8) How does the poop look? Normal? Bloody? Runny? etc.
Perfectly normal!

9) What has been the treatment you have administered so far?
I gave him a long, very soapy bath for the body mites. I'm smothering his legs with petroleum jelly daily for the leg mites and rough scales. Starting yesterday I now have him on 2cc Poultry Cell and 2cc Liquid B-12, in case it's a vitamin deficiency. I also made a sling for him to sit in between feeding times, so he can put some weight on his legs if he wants or he can relax and just hang out.

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?
I'd like to treat him myself, as we don't have the budget for a large vet bill right now.

11) If you have a picture of the wound or condition, please post it. It may help.
Link to video on Instagram

12) Describe the housing/bedding in use
The rooster flock lives in an old wooden barn, they have large flake pine shaving bedding.
This guy is now inside in a small crate on a pillow/thick towel to minimize his chances of hurting his legs more.

I feel like I have a pretty good idea what's caused his condition, but I would greatly appreciate input especially if you've seen this type of lameness before!
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Premium Feather Member
13 Years
Nov 27, 2008
Glen St Mary, Florida
Excellent video!
I suspect the scaly leg mites have caused tissue damage in the legs. Given time, they can eat right through a leg. I'm glad you're treating the scaly leg mites.

The blood sucking mites probably took a toll on him as well. Left untreated they can cause anemia, then death. The Poultry Cell and B-12 will help in recovery.

Hopping down off a high roost; he would be limping on one leg, possibly drawing it up into his body. It's normally a sprained or strained ligament or tendon that is injured. This is not the case in this instance.
Anyway, I'd lower the roost down if I were you, 6-8 inches off the floor, no more painful hard landings for your boy.

If it were gout, there would be swelling in one foot and/or leg, not usually on both feet or legs at the same time. However, it's possible for them to walk "gingerly" on both feet. Gout usually occurs in older birds.

Are his spurs interfering with his walk? If so, they need to be removed.
In any case, I think you're on the right track treating him.

Get a container and fill it half way with warm water. Then put your rooster in the container and let him soak in the warm water for about 20-30 minutes. The warm water will relax him and it should ease the pain in his feet and legs. He might even doze off while he's soaking.
After you remove him from the container, dry him off with a hair dryer, he'll like the warm air blowing on him.
Then apply vaseline to his legs and continue to apply it until all scales are completely flat. It'll take time to smother the mites, have patience and do the best you can for him.

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