Two hens limping, no obvious cause


8 Years
May 6, 2011
1) What type of bird , age and weight (does the chicken seem or feel lighter or thinner than the others.)
First hen to develop limp is a 3.5 year old Red Sex Link. Comb was a little pale and has flopped over. She started acting off about 3 weeks ago. She did well in the flock until the limp worsened 5 days ago. We then separated her into a crate, at which time she was very thin. She seems to be doing better and her comb is perking up a little. But the limp is worse. Limp is on the left side.
Second hen is a 3.5 year old Cuckoo Marans. She has always had an odd gait. She was walking a little off two days ago, seemed to have minor trouble yesterday, and has severe trouble with her left side today. She physically cannot roost. She is perky, comb is nice red and standing. Weight wise, I would put her in the pleasantly plump category.

2) What is the behavior, exactly.
Limping on left leg, attempting to get balance by using wing. Right side seems better or fine, depending on what the hens are doing.

3) How long has the bird been exhibiting symptoms?
RSL - 3 weeks, Marans - 3 days

4) Are other birds exhibiting the same symptoms?
No other birds in the 19-chicken flock are affected at this time.

5) Is there any bleeding, injury, broken bones or other sign of trauma.
No signs of injuries. Palpation of the leg doesn't seem to pain them, but they don't seem comfortable with it (who would be?). Abdomens are not swollen. Eyes bright on both. Comb of the RSL still droopy but regaining color now that she is segregated. Comb of Marans is normal.

6) What happened, if anything that you know of, that may have caused the situation.
No known cause.

7) What has the bird been eating and drinking, if at all.
Before being separated, the RSL had lost weight, I think because it was hard for her to get to the food or she would get pushed away from it. Once separated, she is eating very well and seems to have gained a little weight. Marans is eating normally. Both drinking fine.

8) How does the poop look? Normal? Bloody? Runny? etc.
Normal poop.

9) What has been the treatment you have administered so far?
We have not administered anything for this specifically, but the flock underwent prophylactic treatment with Corid two weeks ago. Our flock did not develop proper immunity to coccidiosis as chicks so we do this twice per year at the recommendation of an avian vet at the U of MN.

10 ) What is your intent as far as treatment? For example, do you want to treat completely yourself, or do you need help in stabilizing the bird til you can get to a vet?
Our plan is to get these birds through the weekend. If they are both still sick on Monday we may take the RSL in to the U of MN for necropsy, and we definitely will if a third hen comes ill.

11) If you have a picture of the wound or condition, please post it. It may help.
12) Describe the housing/bedding in use
We have a spacious coop with numerous roosts with straw bedding that was just changed one week ago.

Other comments:
Our entire flock was vaccinated for Mareks as chicks. The limping brought this to mind for me first. I have watched videos of folks with hens who developed limps and none seem the same as these two, though they are nearly identical to each other's limps. I thought of trying some Vitamin B for them, but is that dangerous since they are susceptible to coccidiosis? I am still in wait and see mode, but if anyone has any ideas of what to do for either of them, I would be grateful!


Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Apr 3, 2011
southern Ohio
B vitamins are not harmful to them. Some people don't use thiamine while they are being treated for a coccidiosis outbreak while being on Corid, but B vitamins are in their food every day. Could your hens have become injured by high roosts or nest boxes, or from a rooster mounting them? Injuries are pretty common. You said the Marans has always had an odd gait, so a leg bone deformity might be possible. Is her hock tendon swollen? Rest in a pen or crate for 1-2 weeks with poultry vitamins in their water would be a good first step.

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