Severe weakness in legs/can't balance. UPDATE (avian vet diagnosed)

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by AmazingRachel, Feb 2, 2018.

  1. AmazingRachel

    AmazingRachel Songster

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    10 month old Barred Rock pullet. Home hatched from an incubator, so no vaccines.
    Yesterday, I saw one of my birds kind of limping/having weakness on her left leg yesterday. She could walk fine and was drinking so I assumed that she might of fallen off the roost and sprained something. She's near the bottom of the pecking order. This morning, she was sitting in the coop and when I stood her up, she stood crouched. When she tried to walk, she barely could and she used her wings a lot for balance. I separated her and left her with vitamin/electrolyte water and food for the time being.
    I remember last week my grandma commenting that the bird was a bit light. She is a bit on the skinny side for her breed.
    Right now she is very alert but still cannot walk right. She is not lethargic and she is even trying to scratch the bottom of her enclosure. When I took her out to walk, she tried. She can move her legs but they are weak and her toes kind of rolled under her foot. She ate some feed and meal worms out of my hand, the meal worms with vigor. I noticed that her poop is very dark in color, very smelly, and has some undigested kitchen scraps that I had fed this morning/left with her (cut up mango peels).
    Her crop feels normal and not squishy so I think I can rule out sour crop.
    I'm thinking that the best case scenario that this is a vitamin deficiency that should correct itself with the vitamin water. Worst case is that it is Marek's. I asked my county's 4-H educator about the situation and she said that she highly doubts that it's Marek's since she hasn't heard of any cases in the county recently and no one else in my flock has symptoms.
    I'm taking her to the vet tomorrow along with a stool sample. I think that it might be parasites that are causing are to be light and to possibly have a vitamin deficiency.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2018
  2. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Free Ranging

    Sounds like Marek's and I disagree with your counties 4 H person. Sorry. :(

    Birds that are vaccinated for Marek's can very well have it and not display any symptoms. Your vet as far as I know won't be able to diagnose a live bird. But if they are please let me know! They can run the fecal sample to check for cocci and worm... which yes under extreme conditions could cause the symptoms you are seeing, but I have NEVER yet seen that be the case. They might be able to check for a bacterial infection through fecals as well.

    I had 82 birds and only the TWO I culled displayed symptoms. EXACTLY like yours. Plenty of vigor... which come to think of it, isn't what I would expect from a bird lacking in vitamins. :hmm

    I'd skip kitchen scraps except maybe scrambled egg (selenium and other vitamins and minerals plus easy to digest) or some plain yogurt. Sometimes moistened feed is attractive to them and it does have all the needs met. Most other things won't be beneficial if you are trying to correct a deficiency. Meal worms do help to create smelly poo, though their may be more at play there.

    So I think Marek's is a possibility and would say that any deficit could be caused by bullying, worm load, or diminished nutrition caused by excessive treats. Just being low in the pecking order doesn't constitute bullied. And for informational purposes... What do you feed? Did you know that barred Rock are a dual purpose bird and as such will do better with at least 18% protein. Layer with only 16% is meant to be for light bodied layers like leghorn.

    So cool that you have grandma to consult! :love

    Some birds are lighter than others even among their breed. Especially hatchery birds very often don't meet the potential for their standard of perfection. I saw people complaining specifically about the Jersey Giants being kinda small. But I am only mentioning it as a possibility. It's great that Grandma and you are both on the look out for stuff.

    Very hopeful that your girl will recover. The ones we hatch are somehow a little extra special. :) :fl

    Thank you for sharing so we can all learn. If you haven't seen this article, it's loaded with good information...
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/the-great-big-giant-mareks-disease-faq.66077/

    Hope things go well for you at the vet and that you might report the findings along with your cost, for others who might face it please.
     
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  3. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Crossing the Road

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    I would definitely try the poultry vitamins including riboflavin especially. Hopefully it is not Mareks. I have had hens who have become sick and seemed to stumble around using wings to balance just before death. Several of those had ascites, so other things besides Mareks can cause the stumbling.try to determine if one leg seems weak or paralysed. Make sure that you keep her near food and water, and try to give her some extra calories with cooked egg, rinsed tuna or salmon, beef liver or hamburger and her chicken feed. Wetting it with water can get them to take it well.
     
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  4. AmazingRachel

    AmazingRachel Songster

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    @Eggcessive @EggSighted4Life
    Ok, so today I took my chicken to an avian vet who took an x-ray. The x-ray showed that her reproductive tract with inflamed and put pressure on her sciatic nerve, causing the weakness in her legs, particularly the left one. The repro. tract also pushed against the proventriculus and gizzard, which could be the reason why there was undigested food in the poop (gizzard dysfunction). There was one egg just starting to form it's shell and two follicles about to become eggs. The vet thinks that her repro. tract over did it with two more eggs to follow.
    The chicken was prescribed an anti-inflammatory so that should calm stuff done. Because the chicken can still move her legs, just not bear weight, there has been no permanent damage to the nerves and she should recover.
     
  5. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Free Ranging

    I actually heard this as a possibility before but without description as to how it took place... And even I mentioned it as a possibility recently on another thread regarding unbalanced, limping type issue.. as way of being real hopeful 2 see it NOT be Marek's. So in one way it's great to have your confirmation that sciatic nerve pressure (whatever the source) can indeed cause limping. :thumbsup

    On the other hand, I'm sorry to hear that your girl has swelling... though it's a lot better (I think) than Marek's. :hmm I hope it was just a hiccup that does happen sometimes in young layers and not an actual reproductive problem.

    Gee, I had sciatic nerve pain once, just out of the blue.. that caused serious limping, a trip to the doc, followed by six weeks of physical therapy to get back to normal. So it's interesting to see how things can correlate to the other animals sometimes. I don't remember it making me cry, but it must have been painful. :confused: Hopefully the anti inflammatory will help.

    Good for you for following through! :highfive:

    Can you share if your bird had to be sedated for the x-ray? And what was your end cost?

    I guess I'm not familiar enough with reproduction to know if this is abnormal as I thought there were always eggs at different stages in there... And I would wonder did that cause the swelling or did the swelling cause that, if it wasn't normal. Sorry major over thinker here. :smack I also kinda wish I could see the x-ray so my mind could wrap around the concept and know what you are describing or the doctor is seeing. I always pay attention even to car repairs.

    Did he say if she was light or do a fecal float? Since this is only a recent development I wouldn't expect it to be the cause of thinness already... if she is indeed "thin". I will say my full grown girls that are over a year old (and definitely after they've fully recovered from their first molt) are more filled in and heftier. Even their legs are thicker. But ALL of my pullets are not full fledged curvy hens until they get a tad older. Same actually with my boys. Cockerels are much punier than roosters. So maybe it's just because she is still young. :)

    Hope she recovers quickly and has a long, happy, and productive life with you! :wee
     
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  6. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Free Ranging

    Proof that two distinctly separate illnesses CAN present exactly the same (at least initially). It's very hard sometimes, so we follow the clues best we can and keep on learning. Thanks again for sharing.
     
    micstrachan likes this.
  7. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Crossing the Road

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    I am so glad to hear that you were able to see a vet, and get some help. Hopefully, she will improve with treatment.

    Reproductive problems are very common in hens. Viruses and bacteria can cause problems which can cause problems with egg and shell formation, infection, and internal laying can cause masses of egg material to collect inside the abdomen. It can be enlightening to open the abdomen and have a look around whenever a chicken dies.
     
    rebrascora likes this.
  8. AmazingRachel

    AmazingRachel Songster

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    @Eggcessive @EggSighted4Life

    The vet did blood work and I gave her a fecal sample to have tested. Since it's the weekend, the lab they sent them to will give us the results on Monday. Unfortunately, they don't do the tests in-house like in The Incredible Dr. Pol.
    I'll ask for a pic of the x-ray to post. Yes, follicles can be at varying/staggered stages of development but with my chicken, there were two follicles that were the same size and about to be released on top of an egg already being in the magnum (midway through the repro. tract). The vet also thinks that there could be a possibility of infection of the repro. tract that might be causing the inflammation.
    Right now, my chicken still can't use her legs and is laying on her side. She isn't eating and drinking as much as I want her to but nevertheless she does. I just force-fed her 30 ml of vitamin/electrolyte/probiotic water with a needle-less syringe just to top it off.
    I'll update with the blood work and fecal test when it comes back.
     
  9. rebrascora

    rebrascora Crowing

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    I hate to be a sceptic but I am struggling to buy your vet's diagnosis. Marek's will cause inflammation of the sciatic nerve. One egg in the system is perfectly normal so that should not be causing any pressure anywhere and two ripe follicles of similar size is not unusual from the hens that I have opened up. Considering that hens that lay internally have 20+ ripe follicles (yolks) inside them and show no sign of lameness, even though their legs are pushed wide apart from the bulk of it, I see no reason to believe 2 ripe yolks in the ovary would cause any lameness let alone this level of disability. I also cannot see how any of this can put pressure on the gizzard, which is an incredibly solid organ, whereas the oviduct and ovary and follicles are all soft tissue. I freely admit that I have no formal qualification to challenge a vet but the explanation you have given is just not logical.
    The anti inflammatory should help with the inflamed sciatic nerve regardless of the cause, so hopefully youwill see some improvement but my gut feeling is that this is still probably Marek's.

    Unless people have necropsies and testing done on birds for Marek's (which most don't) there is no way to know how many cases there have been in your area (so I too challenge the 4H educators statement) and so many people don't want to believe that they have Marek's that they prefer not to get the testing done. It is one of the top 2 illnesses of birds under a year old.... the other being Coccidiosis.

    I may be wrong and I hope I am, but the age of the bird and the symptoms you describe and the fact that Marek's is so incredibly common, all point in that direction to me. Sorry! :oops:
     
  10. AmazingRachel

    AmazingRachel Songster

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    Blood work and fecal came back with everything being normal.

    I'm going to keep giving her the anti-inflammatory med until they run out (~5 days). If she doesn't get any better, I'm going to put her down.
     

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