When a chicken wont stand it’s in serious trouble unless you have a broody hen that’s staying in the nest to hatch a clutch of eggs.
Once a hen goes broody, she may continue to sit in the nest after you remove the eggs. A broody hen is nothing to worry about. If you don’t want her to sit, remove her from the nest daily and place her outside with the rest of the flock.
She may be in a trance-like state and unwilling to stand. She might take a moment to realize she’s no longer on the nest. Once she snaps out of it she may forage, eat and drink or run back to the nest to fulfill her nesting instincts, which means she is just fine.
Hopefully you’ve found that a chicken won’t stand or can’t stand early in this condition. Being unable to get to food and water is life threatening.
A chicken in this condition should be isolated in a comfortable cage with food and water near. It may have a contagious disease or be suffering from a serious injury which has left it weak and possibly dying.
Checking for injuries is the first priority. Look for wounds, bruised skin and broken bones. Next would be making sure the chicken is alert and able to eat and drink. It should also be warm enough and well hydrated.
You may need to hand feed or offer soaked feed if you find the crop is empty when a chicken won’t stand. You might find an impacted crop due to the chicken not being able to get to water as needed.
An impacted crop feels like a hard lump on the chicken’s right side near the base of the neck. Withhold food and give liquids only. Massage the crop to break up the lump once it’s swallowed some water. Don’t give any solid food until the crop has completely emptied, but offer unlimited water.
An impacted crop is a sign of dehydration. Dehydration will cause problems in all body systems and can lead to major organ failure, seizures, and ultimately death.
It’s a good idea to keep a vitamin/electrolyte mix on hand for emergencies. It can be purchased at most feed stores for a few dollars and can save a chicken’s life. Dehydration is an emergency.
Some disease, attacks the central nervous system. Sometimes a chicken wont stand because of a disease called Marek’s, even though it seems quite alert. Marek’s disease can cause paralysis and once a chicken is infected, the possibility of living is very slim.
A chicken with Marek’s may use its wings to try to move forward. It may heal and survive, but will be a carrier of the disease for the rest of its life. Even without symptoms it may infect other chickens. This is a disease you don’t want in your flock. Getting a veterinary diagnosis is important.
If the problem is injury or disease, separating it from the flock will protect it from bullying and possibly protect the flock from a contagious disease. If the chicken is injured, cage rest and a peaceful, warm environment may be all that is needed for it to have time to heal.
If a chicken wont stand it may need calcium and minerals for bones to knit and muscles to heal, so providing a good quality food rich in supplements can help. External wounds should be treated with topical antibiotics and kept clean. Oral or injected antibiotics may be needed for deep wounds. If you have a question you would like answered click here.
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