What is wrong with my chicken

by Ahli
(Va)

Question
What is wrong with my chicken? My chicken was fine until about a week ago. She was eating fine and running around doing her thing.

I went out to feed the flock and she was in the hen house, when she saw me she tried walking over to me, but was flopping around like she couldn't stand.

I picked her up and she was very bony. This was weird because I checked the whole flock a week before this and they all felt fine.

I brought her inside and have her in a wire dog crate with straw for bedding, a lamp for heat, and fresh food and water. I've seen her try to eat but she misses the food and hits the tray as if she is dizzy and can't focus on it, I've not seen her attempt to drink.

All she does is sleep. While she is sleeping or tries to walk over to eat (she flops around until she gets their) she has a foot curled up, she will let me straighten it but will curl it back up if I stop touching her.

She also wobbles her head back and forth like she is cleaning herself but she's not. I have been feeding her medicated chick mash and watering her through a dropper until her crop is full.

I'm not sure what to do, can you help at all?

Answer
There have been a lot of questions about chickens with similar problems lately. I avoid giving disease names as it’s impossible to know, from here, what the problem really is.

At this point I will mention a disease called “Marek’s”, which should be studied in full on line, by anyone raising chickens.

There are many good articles going into detail about the signs, causes and treatments. This is a contagious disease.



There are three forms and some chickens can respond to antibiotics. Sadly recovery from the symptoms are about 50%.

There is a vaccination against it. If this is Marek’s Disease, this would be the type that affects the nervous system, and would explain what you have described. I can only guess from here.

It’s good that you removed her from the flock. I would highly suggest a thorough cleaning & disinfecting of your coop, nests and places where the chickens spend a lot of time.

This disease, and others can be spread by contact with other birds, their droppings or their dander.

Some chickens seem to have a natural immunity against Marek’s Disease. Older chickens, chickens that are stressed, under nourished (possibly due to parasites), can have a sudden onset of symptoms.

I really hope not to scare anyone with information, but feel at this point, with so many similar questions, that more information is needed.

The only way to know what the problem is, for sure, is by veterinary exam and testing.

It sounds like you take very good care of your chickens and that is the best way to keep them healthy.

Some things are beyond our control to foresee and prevent. It can be possible to help prevent the spread of Marek’s and other diseases with the best possible nutritional care of our chickens.

This would include a good balanced diet and adequate vitamins and minerals for the lives they lead season to season.

What keeps them healthy in spring and summer may need to change in the fall and winter. I hope this helps with a possible reason your hen has suddenly fallen ill.

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