Serama rooster paralysis


May 13, 2015
I'm hoping someone can help me with our rooster. I have been searching the threads here and keep coming up with conflicting diagnosis.

We have an older Serama rooster that we got from his previous owner. I don't know how old he is or what his medical background could be. I have no idea if he has been vaccinated for Marek's. We currently have one older barred hen and a pair of brown ducks. The ducks are kept in an adjoining pen. He eats the same layer feed as the chickens and we throw down scratch as a treat which he enjoys as well.

A few weeks ago he started limping and curling his left foot under his body. It progressed to his other leg until he was laying down, almost on his chest, and not moving, except by scooting around with his wings. It is not bumble foot and there doesn't seem to have ever been an injury. We thought it might be Vitamin B2 deficiency so we have been grinding up B2 tablets into his water and confined him to a smaller space. He has always been very skittish but when he was at his worst we were able to pick him up for inspection. We gave him B2 in water by dropper and that seemed to perk him up. After a few days he seemed a little better and for the last 2 weeks he has been hobbling around but has always been unbalanced. He preens and is quieter than usual but still talks and he will fall over if he flaps his wings or tries to walk more than a few steps. Sometimes his wing gets stuck up over his tail since it stands so tall and it is an effort for him to bring it back down. He eats and drinks and his poo looks fine. As far as I can tell, his ears look fine. When he is just sitting there, you wouldn't know anything is wrong. His right foot seems okay now but his left foot is shaky, almost like he has palsy.

I can't find any source that he would be able to get botulism or lead poisoning but yesterday we did discover lice. We are not experienced chicken farmers and didn't notice the infestation; his behind was red and at the base of the tail feathers it looks like q-tips. We dusted him with a mite & lice powder, cleaned the coop again and dusted everything. Now this morning he is laying quietly in his small pen and seems to be lethargic and doesn't want to keep his eyes open. Its like he has regressed back to day one.

So my question is this - what could this be? Can lice cause these symptoms? Would 3 weeks on Vitamin B2 be enough to help him recover if that's what it is? If the symptoms come and go is it for sure Marek's? If its something else, how do I rule that out?

I want to do everything we can for the little guy; we have had him for two years without incident but we are not in a position to take him to a vet. Any help any one could give to rule out issues or identify what else we can do to help him would be most appreciated.
Welcome to BYC. You are doing what I would have done to treat him, since it could be riboflavin (B2) deficiency or Mareks. I would probably give him a multivitamin and mineral supplement, such as Poultry Booster that you can put in his feed, since it could be something else. With riboflavin deficiency, it needs to be treated quickly, or it can be permanent. If he should die, I would recommend getting him tested for Mareks by the state vet during a necropsy.

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