UPDATE: Possibly my hen had a stroke? Turns out its a nerve injury.

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by RedheadErin, Oct 7, 2014.

  1. RedheadErin

    RedheadErin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Case History:

    Molly is a 4 1/2 year old production Leghorn (leghorn/rhode island red hybrid) who has lived with us since she was a week old. Sunday morning (the morning following the first really cold night) my husband went to the shed to gather eggs and found Molly sitting in a nest box. He reached under her to look for eggs and she flopped over on her side. Closer examination revealed right-sided wing droop and extreme weakness in the right leg, as well as a total loss of the "grab reflex" and all strength from the right foot. She can flap the right wing, but it is notably weaker than the left.

    My husband and I are both EMT's and our first thought was CVA (stroke).

    In addition, she makes a gurgling sound in her chest, mot noticeably when she eats. Her comb is pale and dry with a few white spots on it.

    Otherwise, the hen appears healthy and alert. She eats a little, drinks water, and occasionally attempts to stand. She poops normally.

    Interventions taken:

    We first hoped Molly might be having an issue related to the cool weather, given the timing. We brought her into the house and placed her in a laundry basket lined with a blanket, fed and watered her, and examined her carefully. We put her in the bathroom where we can monitor her and set up a heater. We keep the lights out much of the day to encourage her to rest.

    She has slightly improved from lying in a tipped-over position with legs sticking out to sitting in a balanced position, as if she is sitting in a nest box. She has also managed to turn around at least once, that we saw.

    Later today I plan to start taking her out of her basket periodically and encouraging her to stand and to flap her wings.

    Lifestyle/Other considerations:

    We have a small flock of about 3 dozen chickens, 2 Muscovy and a guinea hen, all of which were raised here or have lived here 2 years or more. All birds are free-range, coming into their shed every night. All birds eat the same food. We did buy a different brand of feed about a week ago, and switched from all-flock to layer feed at that time. We have used this brand of feed before. None of the other birds seem to be affected.

    Molly has always been a bright and personable hen, and she has always been healthy. Her only other health issue was a nasty case of bumblefoot about 15 months ago.

    Does anyone have any ideas or advice?


    UPDATE: after reading pages of BYC posts about similar symptoms, I took her some banana yogurt. She ate quite a bit of it and attempted to stand up. She made a good try, but the right leg is useless. It does seem that the warmth and rest are doing her some good. However, I am still taking her to the vet tonight.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2014
  2. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict

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    Stroke or a head injury could be possibilities, but I would also suspect possible Mareks disease. Mareks presents sometimes will one sided weakness or paralysis. It would be odd that you have added no chickens in 2 years, for her to get it at her age, unless she was somehow exposed by wild birds or on someone's clothing or shoes from other chickens. Here are some links to read about Mareks, and I am sorry she is ill:
    http://extension.unh.edu/resources/files/Resource000791_Rep813.pdf
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/the-great-big-giant-mareks-disease-faq
    http://partnersah.vet.cornell.edu/avian-atlas/#/disease/Marek's_Disease
     
  3. RedheadErin

    RedheadErin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had not thought of Mareks because she is not young and there have been no new birds lately, but I will definitely look into it. What kinds of wild birds can pass it?

    I just checked on Molly and she does not want to eat, not even the banana yogurt she was eating last night. She nibbled a little bit off my finger but turned her head away. She drank a tiny bit of water and then turned away from that. She did try to stand a little. I held her up so she would flap her wings a few times, and the right one seems nearly as strong as the left. I set her on a towel and encouraged her to try ands stand up. While it seems as if her good leg is getting a little stronger, she also did not try very hard. I think she is getting discouraged.

    Tonight I am taking her to Doc and also bringing in a chicken friend for her.
     
  4. RedheadErin

    RedheadErin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We took Molly to the vet and he believes its a nerve injury. What we first took for wing droop on the right side was Molly lowering her wing to balance herself.

    The vet does not believe she will recover use of her right leg, but admits "I've been wrong before."

    Has anyone ever rehabbed a chicken who lost use of its leg? What advice can you give?
     
  5. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict

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    Try some scrambled eggs chopped up finely, and put some water in her chicken feed to coax her to eat. One snack I feed to sick chickens is a raw egg whisked into a little buttermilk, and dribbled over some stale bread, which they dive into. the buttermilk contains good probiotics. Tub or crop feeding may become necessary if she doesn't start drinking.
     

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