Chicken Percy

by Bob A.
(Pennsylvania)

Question
Chicken Percy: My fiance has 7 Barred Rock hens and one rooster, Percy. Recently we found him huddled in the corner of the coop with his legs somewhat crippled.

We separated him from the hens but he doesn't seem to be getting better. what could be wrong with him? please help Percy, he's an awesome bird!

Answer
Sorry to hear Percy isn't well. There could be any number of things that could have put Percy in this condition.

He may have been injured, contracted parasites or disease, or eaten something toxic. You didn't say how long he's been in this state, so it's hard to know if he can be saved or not.

He may benefit from a heat lamp, vitamins and electrolytes.

You should examine him thoroughly looking for external parasites, signs of malnutrition and injury.

Check his droppings for signs of worms.
If you find no sign of injuries or parasites, I would suspect disease; though disease may have made him an easy target for parasites.

Marek's Disease has a form that affects the nervous system, crippling legs first. The disease is contagious and can be carried undetected until an chicken's immune system becomes weak for some reason, then symptoms turn on.

Parasites can cause such immune weakness, or just lack of adequate vegetation, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients vital for good chicken health.

Nutrient deficiencies can mimic many disease symptoms and can only be cured nutritionally, though secondary infections may occur possibly needing antibiotics.

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My Rooster cannot walk

by Lisa Buttons
(Central Oregon)

Question
My Rooster cannot walk: A few weeks ago he hopped out of the coop to pick at fresh grass but once he landed, he could not get back up.

I examined his feet and found dried poop and pulled it off as it was quite heavy (he has those short legs with all the spotted feathers).

He seemed fine but today he was crouched behind a barrel unable to walk. We looked him over for vent issues, cuts, bugs etc. but could find nothing.

He hobbled over to the food to eat but obviously there was something seriously wrong. Any advise? Thank you!

Answer
I only know of one disease that can affect chickens suddenly like this. It’s called Marek’s and is fairly common.

Chickens remain alert and have an appetite, but their ability to stand and walk seems to go first.

This disease is contagious, so he should be separated from the flock, in case he has it. Sadly, the disease affects the nervous system and there is no cure.

If this is Marek’s he will gradually lose his ability to move. I don’t know for sure if he has this disease. You would need to get him to a vet familiar with chicken diseases.

There is a vaccination against the disease, so you might want to talk to the vet about that for the rest of your flock.

This is a serious disease, so if it is in your flock, you will want to know for sure and take appropriate actions.

I’m so sorry this is happening. I hope it’s not this disease. If you move him to a quarantine area, it would be good to support him with a heat lamp, some vitamins and conditioning feed.

If you notice any improvements, this is probably not Marek’s. In case it is, you should give the coop and areas he’s been in a thorough cleaning and disinfecting.

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