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Runt with stunted wings having problems roosting at 16 weeks

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by BWchicken, Dec 5, 2009.

  1. BWchicken

    BWchicken Chillin' With My Peeps

    483
    1
    121
    Jun 4, 2009
    Texas
    I have a 16 week old Bantam white wyandotte runt, Casper. I can't even tell sex yet because of the stunted growth and feathers. When he was about a week or two old, he almost died from what I think was IB or CRD. He recovered well on duramycin-10 and TLC. He has physically grown since, but still smaller than the others. The big problem is his feather growth is so stunted, his feathering still looks like a baby chick's. He only has 1 or 2 longish wing feathers, and no matter how hard he flaps his little nubby wings, he can't get up a foot off the ground. The others either fly straight up to the roost (about 4 ft) or get on top of the nest boxes and on up from there. But Casper can't even get on top of the nest boxes (about 14 inches). I've watched him try and try. We built him a ramp, but he hasn't figured out how to use it yet. But even when did I put him on the roost, he fell off within 5 minutes, alone on the floor again. This would be fine, except it's below freezing at night right now, and he can't keep himself warm without down feathers. So what I've done the last few nights, is put 2 fluffy flockmates with him on the floor to keep him warm. They're not happy about that, but I close the door so it's too dark for them to see to get back on the roost, and they have no choice but to cuddle with Casper on the floor. I feel bad doing that, but it's all I can think of to keep him warm at night. Heat lamp's out of the question. I'm afraid I may have to wait til his first molt until he (hopefully) grows proper feathers. I rarely see new pins on him. It's hard going through this every night, trying to get him to use the ramp, putting him on the roost just to fall off, then waiting for the girls to go into their nighttime trance to put a couple down on the floor with him. If it was summertime, I wouldn't worry about it, but it was 21F last night and Casper doesn't have his warm down feathers.

    I must add that other than him being a little smaller and the feathering, Casper is a perfectly normal chicken. Without proper feathers, his wings are useless, but he tries! He is extremely active and healthy otherwise, though. He's not anywhere near the bottom of the pecking order either (out of 13 chickens). He's a good bird and I'm so glad I was able to save his life when he was a baby. Not sure if the illness or the Duramycin is what stunted him, but that's when it started. He was feathering well until then. It's like his feathers just stopped growing right then and have never started back. Any ideas on that? I've read about malabsorption, infectious stunting, runting syndrome, and helicopter disease. But if he really had any of these, he would have died (from what I've read). He has the wierd "helicopter" wing feathers where they grow very sparse in every direction, but from what I've read, helicopter disease kills all affected while they are still chicks. Sorry for rambling, I guess it doesn't matter WHY he is the way he is, I'm just very curious about it. But back on the subject of nighttime cold and roosting.... I guess I'm really wondering if I'm doing the right thing by putting others down on the floor with him.... or if anyone else has had this particular problem. What would you do in this situation?

    Here's a pic of Casper when he/she was about 10 weeks (he looks exactly like this at 16 weeks only a little bigger). This picture makes his wing feathers look longer and fuller than they actually are. Not a good angle, and the white on white feathers are deceiving, but you can see he has feathering problems.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2009
  2. ThePamperedPullet

    ThePamperedPullet Chillin' With My Peeps

    What about putting it up on a nest box instead or in a nest box with some extra hay to help keep it warm?
     
  3. chicks4kids

    chicks4kids Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 22, 2009
    Northern Indiana
    To convince him to climb the ladder, you can sprinkle some scratch on it. As far as the roost goes, and he/she is falling off, maybe you could screw a piece of wood say 12 x 12 under the roost where Casper will 'learn' to roost to help catch him/her from falling. Good luck! I hope Casper gets better!
     
  4. BWchicken

    BWchicken Chillin' With My Peeps

    483
    1
    121
    Jun 4, 2009
    Texas
    Thanks for the replies and ideas! I just love this little guy (or girl, idk) and want to take good care of him and his flock mates. I'm still brainstorming about the best way to get him through the winter, but if he's still like this come spring when it's warmer, I'll make him a little roost of his own (just above floor level). Hopefully he will eventually feather out into a beautiful adult bird. BTW, shouldn't he be going through a mini-molt soon (I read around 7 months old)? Maybe the missing feathers will come back then? I hope so, or he's stuck like this for a year until his first "real" molt. And that's IF his feather follicles even still work, since he's been like this since he was a chick.
    Thanks again for the input and I welcome any further suggestions or information anyone may have for me!
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2009
  5. BWchicken

    BWchicken Chillin' With My Peeps

    483
    1
    121
    Jun 4, 2009
    Texas
    I know I probably sound a little over-excited about this, but I have good news, Casper is roosting tonight with everyone else! He finally figured out how to use the ramp. He got desperate and lonely when the others refused to stay on the floor with him anymore. When I would put him on the roost he would fall off, but now that he got up there himself he is more aware of his location I guess and he didn't fall off. I checked on him after an hour or so and he was still up there all warm and cuddled up with everyone else! I'm so proud of him, and it makes things easier for me too! Now if only he'll remember how to get up there again tomorrow night....
     
  6. chicks4kids

    chicks4kids Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 22, 2009
    Northern Indiana
    Excellent news!! Good for him! And I'm sure he'll remember how to get up there now! Way to go Casper!! [​IMG]
     

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