Silkie chicken with neurological issue??

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by KKsilver1977, Feb 3, 2014.

  1. KKsilver1977

    KKsilver1977 Out Of The Brooder

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    I have about 16 bantams, mostly silkie and a few d'uccle. They're all under 2 years and this is their first New England winter (with me anyway). About a month ago I lost a silkie, no noticeable signs of illness, just checked on them and he was laying dead by the water can. About 2 days later my favorite little d'uccle hen was dead in the same spot. I handle her daily and she was fine all along. She was hatched around July 2013 and wasn't the healthiest bird, she's had at least 2 respiratory problems, treated well and recovered fully each time. There was no outward physical signs with either bird. A day or so later I had a silky that didn't seem to have use of her legs. She'd just crawl around in the coop, eat and drink normal. If she got knocked over it would take a lot of effort for her to get back up so I brought her inside and she's in a separate cage in the cellar, where she's lived for 2 weeks now, not improving but not worsening either. I have a high potency vitamin mix I add to her water, along with electrolytes. I use a needleless syringe and make sure she's drinking plenty of the water, otherwise I don't think she'd drink any on her own. She doesn't stand up at all, if I put her in one spot I can count on her being in that same spot a couple hours later. I set her food up right in front of her otherwise it's almost like she forgets to eat or drink. I noticed she started to put her head under her body and tends to leave it there for long periods of time. When I pick her up she doesn't lift her head and seems to actually pass out. I have to pick her head up and it's not until I start squirting water in her mouth that she holds her head up on her own. As soon as I lift her up she passes out, I get her back in her cage and by the time I count to 10 she snaps out of it and will pick her head up, eat for a sec then tuck her head back under her body. I'm sure none of these birds were vaccinated, in fact, I would never go back to the place I got them. I've lost many of them in the short time I've had them. I keep the coop very clean and use hay for bedding. I don't know if all the deaths are related or if this one could be an injury? She doesn't seem sick, she seems retarded. I've been treating it as a vitamin deficiency, I must've read that somewhere or someone pointed me in that direction. Any ideas on what could be going on?
     
  2. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    http://www.thepoultrysite.com/publications/6/diseases-of-poultry/218/vitamin-e-deficiency
    graphic pics vit e deficiency- note head hanging down



    http://www.merckmanuals.com/vet/pou..._poultry/vitamin_deficiencies_in_poultry.html
    dosage for vit e and selenium noted here on this page

    browneggblueegg.com has an article entitled "crookneck" with dosages also for selenium and vit e

    Also the "lets talk wry neck" thread is helpful, here on BYC.

    http://www.thepoultrysite.com/diseaseinfo/90/mareks-disease
    look here down the page where it says "differentiate from" other conditions - Mareks can cause some paralysis...so can botulism.

    I don't know what the diagnosis is, but thought these links may help you.

    In summary, silkies are prone to neurological problems due to the structure of the skull (article on browneggblueegg.com entitled "silkie skull" has pics). It is quite common for them to get "wry neck/crookneck" due to infection, injury, or vitamin deficiency. They can walk in circles, tuck head under legs, have neck spasms, and a lot of folks on BYC have tried vitamin therapy with success.

    Of course it depends on the cause of the illness or problem, as to whether vitamins are the answer. If your chicken has Mareks for example, that wouldn't help as far as I know. If it were my chicken I would certainly try the selenium and Vit E as with silkies these are often the way to go, along with a general vitamin supplement. Of course the vit E is fat soluble and BUILDS up in the body if overdosing. So be cautious with dosages. I am not that familiar with selenium but be cautious with all vitamins.

    In order to determine the cause of the problem, I would suggest that you send one off for necropsy if you lose another if you want to definitely know. You would need to contact your state vet or county extension agent. Refrigerate the body. (I am sorry for your losses and for the illness of your chicken...don't want to seem insensitive here!)

    I hope she will get better with some vitamin therapy. It is common for it to take three or more weeks I have read many say, to help them with vitamins.

    I have personally seen wry neck injuries (pecking) that recovered over time, to near normal status in silkies. However, the paralysis of the legs concerns me greatly.

    I have had feed turn moldy on the ground and then they ate it, and they got aspergillosis and died. Paralysis and quick deaths, with gasping. Botulism is on this graphic link:
    http://www.thepoultrysite.com/publications/6/diseases-of-poultry/187/botulism

    http://www.merckmanuals.com/vet/poultry/botulism/overview_of_botulism_in_poultry.html
    see 4th paragraph from bottom if desired
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2014
    1 person likes this.
  3. SilkiesnFrizzle

    SilkiesnFrizzle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    x2
     
  4. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member

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    Source:http://www.browneggblueegg.com/Article.html
    Crookneck Treatment
    Alan Stanford, Ph.D.
    It Is Important to Know I'm a Physicist not a Veterinarian
    If You Can Convince a Vet to Treat Your Chicken, Do It

    Here is my theory and therapy for what some call "limber neck" and I call crookneck. The symptoms first show as a crook in the neck. It usually rapidly progresses to your bird tucking her head, then tucking her head between her legs, then backing up, and tumbling over. It usually hits young birds but can happen at any age. It often happens when Silkie chicks are crowded, especially with more aggressive breeds (like Araucanas) in the mix.

    Crookneck's Cause
    There are other problems with similar symptoms; botulism is one.


    It is unclear what causes crookneck but I have a fairly sound hypothesis. Silkie club members suggest water on the brain, vitamin E deficiency, and injury to the brain. A Silkies' brain is often outside the skull and forms the "knob" on the top of Silkie's heads. See Silkies Have a Hole in Their Head. Brain injury is the cause I feel fairly certain about.

    Water on the brain was seen in a necropsy of an affected bird in Florida. Prednisone (read on about different opinions on prednisone) was suggested as symptomatic relief and vitamin E and vitamins B complex are both good for neurological disorders. Selenium helps animals absorb vitamin E.

    Here's what I do for affected birds. If started before symptoms get severe, the bird will usually totally recover.

    The Most Important Treatment

    It is important to be sure your bird gets enough to eat and drink while she has this problem. Birds with severe cases of crookneck can't eat and drink enough to survive. You will need to gently place their head in the feed dish and carefully dip just the tip of the beak in water. Be careful not to dip too far into the water and to not stress the bird while trying to help.

    In severe cases, you will need to use a hand feeding syringe and hand rearing formula for cage birds. My boy Spot had to be hand fed for 2 months but he survived to father lots of healthy chicks.

    If you and your bird are lucky, hand feeding and the vitamins will be all that is needed.

    Giving Prednisone Must Not Be Abruptly Stopped

    Before I present my treatment I need to mention that a couple vets have expressed concern about using prednisone. They suggested instead giving Celebrex or Metacam. They are also anti-inflammatory. I can understand their concern but I gradually reduce the dose and do not just one day stop giving prednisone. I have seen no adverse effects and prednisone is inexpensive while Celebrex and Metacam are expensive.

    Many vets think prednisone OK and in fact is was prescribed for a bird of mine.

    Veterinary Information on Prednisone

    My Treatment for Crookneck

    If started before symptoms get severe, the bird will totally recover. The following is for an adult about 2 pound bird. Scale back for smaller birds. Do not over do the selenium; it is toxic in large amounts. Animals are more tolerant of vitamin E especially and of vitamin B.
    • For the first week I give
      • Once a day
        • About 1/4 piece of human vitamin B complex pill or a squirt of human B liquid vitamins
        • :25 micrograms selenium
      • Twice a day
        • 2.5 mg of prednisone
        • 400 IU of vitamin E
    • For the second week I give
      • Once a day
        • 2.5 mg of prednisone
        • 400 IU of vitamin E
        • About 1/4 piece of human vitamin B complex pill or a squirt of human B liquid vitamins
      • Every other day
        • :25 micrograms selenium
    • For the third and following weeks I give
      • Once a day
        • 2.5 mg of prednisone - less and less each day - none after third week
        • 400 IU of vitamin E
        • A piece of human vitamin B complex pill or a squirt of human liquid vitamins
      • Once a week
        • :25 micrograms selenium

    Do not abruptly stop prednisone, the swelling rebounds. Decrease the dose gradually. Recovery can be slow; continue the vitamin E for several weeks at least.

    You can get prednisone from a vet; just describe the problem of swelling in the brain probably due to injury. Yes Silkies' brains do stick out through a hole on the top of the skull. Print the pictures at Silkies Have a Hole in Their Head and show them to your vet.

    Your vet might suggest a different anti inflammatory like Celebrex or Metacam.

    You can get the vitamin E, selenium, and vitamin B complex or liquid vitamins at any pharmacy.

    A Vet's Review of this Therapy

    Diana Hedrick asked Janny Hermans, a poultry specialist in the Netherlands, to review this Therapy. Janny Hermans' reply is below. Janny Hermans warns about over doing the prednisone and agrees the vitamins E and B can also help. She does however address the possibility of poisoning causing the neurological problems. She suggests an antibiotic in case bacteria are the source of the poison.

    Dear Diana,

    I'll try to write English and I'm sure we'll understand each other. If you really found her on her back, that means she totally lost her balance. This is a severe neurological symptom and therefore I agree for a great deal with the article of Alan. I don't think your cat attacked her. Then you should see wounds on her head, if the symptoms are so bad.

    It's more likely that she suffers from an intoxication of any kind. It's difficult how to react, because there are no real detoxification methods. Antibiotics are a good thing and I think your choice of amoxicillin was a right one. Amoxicillin passes the blood brain barrier and is our first choice antibiotic in Streptococcus or Staphylococcus infections in the brain. Amoxicillin also is the best antibiotic in an infection with Clostridium perfringens (a brother of the bacteria that causes botulism). These Clostridia bacteria all cause cramps or paralysis of muscles. The real problem is that these bacteria also produce toxins against which no therapy is possible.

    So my therapy would be the same: Amoxicillin for a day or 7 and perhaps a little bit prednisone (I've never heard of the hole in Silkies brains, but prednisone causes no harm if you give it shortly). A little bit of vitamin E and B can help also.

    I hope I helped you a bit!!

    Janny Hermans Poultry veterinarian
     
  5. KKsilver1977

    KKsilver1977 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 8, 2013
    New Hampshire
    Wow I appreciate all the info! I read that, in winter, rather then cleaning old bedding out that new clean bedding should just be tossed on top of the old. It provides insulation, therefore warmth. Being that I use hay, it gets wet and I'm sure molds. When I lost the 2 I spent hours getting every bit of old bedding out, and replaced it with fresh hay. So I don't think botulism is out of the question. Last night I crushed a half a bufferin (aspirin) and put it in her yogurt. She ate it all and I noticed a definite improvement even this morning. She's more alert, she holds her head up more often and though I haven't actually seen her drink water on her own she's takin more interest in things around her. Today I bought liquid B12 complex, Selenium and vitamin E oil that's labeled for consumption. I just gave her oatmeal with (hopefully) the correct dose of each along with another 1/2 aspirin. This is all in conjunction with her vitamin enriched water that's changed daily. She chowed down every bit of oatmeal. This afternoon I noticed her legs were under her, for the last couple weeks they've been flopped off to the side or in front of her, she looks like she may be standing up on her own!
     
  6. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    I am so glad she seems to be getting a little better for you!!!

    Yes with moldy litter that can definitely be a lethal thing. I actually have switched to sand in the bottom of my coops since we have such wet winter conditions here that everything becomes wet. There is the "got sand you should" thread that is interesting if you ever move in that direction.

    I clean my coops daily with a kitty litter scoop/plastic rake. It is the only way for me to keep mold away. I also have to spray my coop walls with bleach at least every 6 months. You are probably not as wet as we are out here but everyone has their own microclimate. I could not possibly use deep litter here. I have tried it. Good for you for finding what works for you.

    [​IMG]

    Oh also there is the "poop board convert thread" that is awesome too!
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2014
  7. KKsilver1977

    KKsilver1977 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 8, 2013
    New Hampshire
    We'll she never really ended up getting better. She stopped eating and drinking on her own. I continued the vitamin regimen, hand fed and watered her 3+ times a day. She was shaking a lot last night and this morning, rarely lifted her head on her own anymore. Her head was so crusty and dirty from stuffing it under her belly all day. She never regained use in her legs, in fact, they were cold to the touch... :( ....Anyway we decided she was never going to have quality of life and she was just suffering. We've NEVER been in the predicament of killing one of our chickens so I left it up to my husband. I didn't want to know details but he was bothered by the process and experience and gave them to me anyway! He shot her with a 20 gauge but said she was flapping around ALOT. This is a bird that has barely moved for 3 weeks! So he was afraid he didn't get her in the right spot and shot her again but she continued to flail for a period of time. Please tell me this is normal and she didn't suffer.....I'm regretting the decision now and wish I gave her a couple more weeks, though I'm sure the outcome would have been the same.
     
  8. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Putting a chicken down is always a traumatic thing for us too. I am sorry for your loss. I don't know how to advise you on methods but her suffering was short, even though it took two times, it sounds.

    Ending their suffering sometimes is the kindest thing.
     
  9. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member

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    Sorry for your loss.

    -Kathy
     

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