5 Years
Sep 15, 2015
Hello. I searched the internet and this site high and low. Posted on chicken FB page. NO ANSWERS Please, I am desperately hoping someone here will recognize these symptoms and shed some light on this lingering problem.

We have a rooster that is approx 3 years old. He is an Araucana. He has a flock of approx 10 girls he was guarding and taking care of diligently. Approx 6 months ago we noticed he seemed wobbly. Off balance. We brought him in and treated with vitamins, checked for bumble foot, gave him a bath.

He was kept by himself for a couple weeks. Nothing helped. He seemed to be getting VERY depressed. I know this is probably not the best ting but I let him back with his flock to die a happy man. Well, he never died.

We continued to supplement the flock water with vitamins. We offer grower feed in addition to the layer feed the rest of the flock ate. He showed some signs of improvement but it seems to have waxed and waned. He is still alive. Eats, drinks and runs with his flock. He is just weak. Wobbly, off balance. The girls get all the snacks unless we throw them right at him. He no longer gives the girls his snacks, he wants them. They just steal them. He still gets on the roost at night.

I do not believe it is merks. His eyes look normal, no diarrhea, no weird leg thing, no wing things, no neck thing. He can semi stand to scratch himself but stumbles and falls off balance. He did go through a heavy molt around the time it started but is long past that now.

He has been like this for a long time. Can anyone shed some light on this?
Wow! You're like me. Just look at my signature. Vitamins? Which ones are you giving him? Maybe a video: have him stand, gently have him set down, get him to walk, and show us how he acts. What experience do you have? Would you be willing to hold him on his back in your arms like a baby? If you don't have too much experience, you might not want to test him in this way. If something is seriously wrong and you don't know what your looking for, you might accidentally loose him. But it's kinda a test to help indentifi the problem. I'm thinking that there could be something internally. He could of aten something bad like rat poison or something else that's slightly poisonous. If you want, mix some molasses and water, and force him to drink it. If you have something like what they use for giving medicine to babies, that'll probably be best. Just hold him, gently open his beak, and slowly scirt it into his throat, and give him chance to swallow. It's what I use to boost the strength of a sick bird, and it even saved a goose's life that I had. I'm thinking it could be something he ate, maybe a melnutrian that's weakening him. As I said to help him, you can try the molasses. I hope this helps. Play around with him to see what other things you can identify, and perhaps you can come back and let us know what you gather.
Sorry about your Roo, I'd be interested to hear some comments about this as well. I have a hen acting similar, was told maybe she is just old (no idea how old she is but she was old looking when I got her a few years ago). I told a local friend with chickens to get an opinion, he said he had a Roo act like that after he had a scare from a hawk flying over, Roo frantically ran all his hens back into the coop & somehow Roo ran full speed smack into the door, knocked himself simple, & he's been wobbly ever since, probably neurological damage. He said that was 2 yrs ago, but his Roo has a healthy appetite with food available in the coop all day & other than that is fine. My chickens also have food access in coop all day so no one is going light. I am not with my chickens 24/7 so I don't know if mine injured herself, but this did come about seemingly overnight, and she hasn't gotten worse or better in 6 mos. So I don't know what to think.
I dont see anything wrong with putting him back with his flock. :)

Do you know that hes getting food and water and the hens arent bulling him off it? I know you addressed treats already but actual sustenance.

Do both of his eyes see normally? Could it be a depth perception issue?

Do his legs look, feel and bend normally? And the pads of his feet, in between his toes, etc? Ive seen pics that are like bumblefoot type infection but between the toes.

Is there anything weird is his past like a previous illness or injury, related or not?

And finally... I have no idea if ears in chickens relate to balance as in humans, but ear infection?

Here is a video
Hmmm.... Is he naturally without a tail? The tail can hold balance, but really shows how off balance he is. Have you runned your hands over all his outer bones? What does his belly feel like? He looked more wobbly eating than walking. Check his ears with a flashlight. Chickens can get ear infections and that can lead to him being a bit off balance. Have you also tried giving him the molasses in water?
THANK YOU sincerely for the answers. This is such a mystery. There has to be someone out there who knows something. I will try to answer some questions.

I have had chickens approx 7 years. We have seen a lot in that time. I have handled many issues over the years. Our flock is apprxo 14 at present.

This rooster is very sweet. He hates to be handled and fights anything you try to do to him. If we try to MAKE him take something he freaks out so bad when we put him down he rolls around like a bowling ball because he is so upset and cannot get his footing.

I have nursed MANY chickens and have never had one so stubborn. This is our first roo. He was a "pullet?" when we bought him. He is very sweet and does his job very well. Until approx 6 months ago. Now he just tags along. The girls love him and treat him with respect. Except for when it comes to snacks.

The chickens have food offered free choice all day. Our food is layer pellets with FASTRACK probiotic. Water is offered all day with nutri-drench and rooster booster alternately. They free range approx 4 - 6 hours a day.

I have checked this bird over and he has no issues. No weezing, snorting, coughing. Nothing wrong with his feet.

If you notice in the video when he walks he sways in the rear. He did not do that before. Its almost like when he walks it is an effort. He can run. FAST. He escaped a hawk the other day.

His eyes seem normal. See close up video of his face. I did check his eyes when it first started and have kept an eye on them. He does not seem blind. He can see treat a half acre away. He can hear a treat box shake from a half acre.

He did have a bad case of fowl pox last year but got through it and healed nicely. We did have respiratory illness in the flock a couple years ago and he showed small signs of it but has since recovered. This happened long after that. Since giving the flock FASTRACK we have not had any issues with respiratory things. We live in Florida and chickens do get stressed in 100 degree sticky heat. We did have the flock tested for mareks and avian flu by the state when all of this happened.

Sorry this is so long. Maybe details will help rattle someone's memory. Thank you for taking the time to read.
Hmmm.... Is he naturally without a tail? The tail can hold balance, but really shows how off balance he is. Have you runned your hands over all his outer bones? What does his belly feel like? He looked more wobbly eating than walking. Check his ears with a flashlight. Chickens can get ear infections and that can lead to him being a bit off balance. Have you also tried giving him the molasses in water?
He has had many things but not molasses and water. What would this do that other things have not?

I have ran my hands over him. He seems thin. But he is a small chicken. Araucana are not large at all. I do not feel anything that seems weird.

This putting him on his back thing. What would this tell me? I just want to get all info so I can subject him to as little trauma as possible. He gets so upset. This is why I let him back out. He was getting so depressed being locked up.

I will get a hold of him tomorrow and check all the things you mentioned and give full feedback.

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