Sick Chicken: Stumbles like a drunken sailer


12 Years
Jun 10, 2007
I have a sick chicken (4-5 year old hen, orangish, related to a rhode island red, but not quite) who's been getting progressively worse over the past three weeks or so. She's eating/drinking normally and still tries to be very active, but I've noticed that her balance and coordination have been getting progressively worse (today she has stumbled and fell a few times).
I have not been able to isolate droppings to her, but the droppings I see around the yard are "normal" - there may be some out there that aren't and I just haven't seen them.

She, and the rest of the flock, are free range - meaning they are out and about all day, wandering as much of my land as they choose. They all come back to their coop at night and get locked in to protect against the many local predators.

I have recently dosed the flock with Sulmet for the past three days (kept the poor girls locked up to be sure they only drank the medicated water), but not sure if this might help her or not.

I do have one additional sick chicken - a 1-2 year old silver laced wyandote who's been displaying much different symptoms. She's very listless, not eating/drinking normally - doesn't really want to leave her nest box. If I place her near water she will drink, stop and eat on the way back to her nest box, but that's it. She did the same thing about 2 months ago - and I was able to see worms in her droppings, so a round of wormer picked her right up. I'm thinking that's what I need to do again - but wanted to mention this here to see if it rang any bells with the symptoms of the other sick chick.

My other 4 chickens seem fine/healthy/normal.

Any advice is appreciated!


12 Years
Jan 27, 2007
I'd isolate the puny girls, augment their diets, add ACV to their water and admin. Polyvisol vitamins (without iron). Pretty much standard palliative intervention (also allow opportunity to check droppings and observe for more specific symptoms, e.g., tremors, walking in circles, wheezing, nasal discharge? Loss of coordination could be anything from low grade Toxoplasmosis to encephalomyelitis ). You might consider worming the flock with Valbazen: along with clean-out of coop.

I wouldn't bother with the antibiotics.

Good luck!


9 Years
Jun 11, 2010
Ann Arbor, MI
did you do a follow up dewormer 2 weeks later? Dewormer usually gets adult worms but not the larve. Another treatment at 2 weeks later (when larve mature to adult worms) can be sure there is no worms. And don't eat eggs from the treated birds about 10days after treatment.


In the Brooder
12 Years
Dec 19, 2007
Any updates on this? I have same situation. I have chicken with one leg that appears to be paralyzed (started with "drunken sailor" routine about two and a half weeks ago). Seems too old for Mareks (14 months); I thought maybe botulism, but then I saw a worm in coop (thin bean sprout looking thing) - not sure from which chicken. Other two hens seem healthy.


8 Years
Sep 2, 2011
Hi I have an Australorp who this describes--although she can barely walk now. What is ACV and do feed stores carry these medications? I am in the SF Oakland/Bay Area.


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