Lethargic chicken

by Lisa
(Nottingham)

Question

Lethargic chicken: My warren is 11 months old, we got her from a breeder luckily before she went to battery.

She has been lying down for about 3 hours in the coop, she did come out and was fine this morning. She had her eyelids closed, didn't open even when i stroked her.

When she breathes in she opens her beak but isn't gasping or struggling to breath. Her right leg was fully outstretched and she seems unable to close her claws.

She had a drink when I offered it but one sip then her head stayed in the backward position with her eyes closed.

Her pupils seem normal. She did try to walk but wobbled and sat down again with her right leg still outstretched. When I picked her up and tilted her head up it stayed there and she closed her eyes again and felt a bit limp and didn't struggle.

Her other leg seems normal, she has started to growl when i approach her. her comb and wattles look normal.

Answer
It's possible she is showing signs of Marek's disease. It can cause lameness, first in one leg, then both.

This disease attacks the nervous system and can eventually cause chickens to become fully paralyzed. There is no way I can be sure what this is, but what you describe sounds similar. She should be isolated from other chickens.

Her droppings may contain the disease and cause it to spread. It would be good if you could find a local avian vet and get her checked in hopes of saving her and any others you may have.

She is old enough that she may respond to antibiotics and recover, but she may remain a carrier of the disease.

Healthy mature chickens may have some immunity against the disease, it usually is seen in young chickens.

Battery breeds are often short lived, most do well do until about 2 years old. Battery breeds, or Production breeds were developed to mature quickly and lay a lot of eggs in their first year.

Often they are replaced after a year of production, which is when their egg quality and volume start to diminish.

Sadly, even with the best of care, they may not do well past 2. Laying disorders and general health issues associated with old age set in early for them.

There are exceptions and I have heard of a few here.

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Help my hen
by: George

When I pick my hen up she closes her eyes what is wrong with her? We are wondering if she has infectious bronchitis and we have had a mite infestation lately too. And because bof that she has mites under her scales!

P.P. What is the treatment for all of theses illnesses?
What can we do to help her
Is she dying?
She is 2and1/2 years old she lives with three other chickens she is the oldest

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sounds like Mareks
by: julie

I agree, I lost my beautiful partridge cochin roo at 7mo's with Marek's. It's a horrible disease. He started out pretty much like you are describing your hen.

I'm so sorry but there is no treatment.
I get so furious at breeders for not vaccinating for this. It can save a lot of grief.

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