Rooster can't stand up

by Carol Willis
(Chumuckla FL)

Question
My full grown barred rock rooster is now not able to stand on his feet.

He scoots around and sits. His feet don't lay flat, they look like he's standing on tiptoes. I can't find any injury.

He still eats but just scoots where he needs to go. I am puzzled by his not being able to stand anymore.

Answer
This sound like it might be Marek’s disease. There are three forms and the most common seems to affect the nervous system by confusing and failing to relay messages from brain to body properly.

For an accurate diagnosis you would want to get the help of a veterinarian familiar with chicken health.

This disease is progressive and deadly. It’s possible to vaccinate newly hatched chicks, but there is no treatment that will cure the disease or repair the damage it causes.

It is contagious, so your rooster should be separated from the flock. Sadly, if this is Marek’s, the kindest thing is to put him down to prevent suffering.

Areas where he has been should be cleaned and disinfected to help prevent the spread. Marek’s can be present in a dormant state until a chicken’s immune system becomes weak for some reason, like: internal or external parasites, increased stress level, dietary deficiencies, other illnesses.

After separating him from the flock, the next important thing would be getting an accurate diagnosis, so you are sure what you are dealing with and can manage your flock accordingly.

When introducing new chickens or chicks it would be best to know they have been vaccinated against Marek’s.

Based on what you have said about your rooster’s symptoms, this disease seems likely.

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chicken wont stand

by Jay Ferris
(United Kingdom)

Question
My chicken will not stand up and walk around. I'm not 100% sure its female or male, but I have checked to see if it is egg bound but cant feel anything in the lower abdomen.

It’s not sour crop or an impacted crop. I can’t see any worm or worm eggs in its poo and no lice or mites on its body or wings. It does have slight labored breathing and green poo but not diarrhea.

It tries to stand by using its wings and head to push itself up and that’s when it sort of breathes heavy. It’s about 10 months old and I think a Buff Orpington; not too sure as was a birthday present.

I have another chicken but no idea what breed she is. She is fine. Just wondering if this is a brooding hen or something else.

Also, someone said to put it into a pot, put the lid on, and bang it. He said this would liven it up and get back up on its feet. Will it?

Answer
Oh, dear! No pot banging, please! That won’t help. Hopefully he was just joking. This chicken is very sick and should be separated from the other.

Good job checking out all these possibilities of disease. Checking the droppings is a good way to check on health.

You might see worms, but would probably not see the tiny eggs. You would need a veterinarian to test the droppings.

This is not how a broody hen acts. The problems you describe sound like a disease called “Marek’s”.

The symptoms sound very similar, but it would have to be diagnosed by a veterinarian. I can only guess from here.

Marek’s is a virus that can affect the nervous system and prevents normal messages between the brain and rest of the body.

Sadly it’s possible this chicken will not get better. Keep it away from other poultry and birds and give it a heat lamp to be more comfortable.

If you are to save this one, you will need medical help. I believe there are antibiotics that may help, but we can’t prescribe here, not knowing what this is.

Your other chicken will be lonely with this one kept somewhere else. Before you think about adding more chickens, you should look into this disease more, clean your coop and consider getting chickens that are vaccinated against this.

This disease, if it is Marek’s, can live dormant in some chickens and become obvious when they experience some stress, like cold temperatures, shipping and other sudden changes in their lives.

Some chickens have a natural immunity and won’t catch the disease as long as diet is good and living conditions are stress free.

A well balanced diet that provides vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, and fiber along with fresh vegetation is very important for chicken health.

A clean coop, good water and a safe lock up at night are vital.

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