Chicken leg problems

by Linda
(Flagstaff, AZ)


I have chicken leg problems with two chickens. They first seemed to have injured their legs, but now they have progressively gotten worse to where the legs cannot be used and appear almost broken up in the thigh area.

They also seem to lose most of their muscle in that area really fast. One died and then the other.

I isolated them and after a week the other leg is doing the same thing which leads me to believe that it is some type of disease and not an injury.

I have 14 chickens mostly egg layers, Barred rocks, Rhode Island Reds and Aracauna and some Bantams.

They are housed in the same coop but are let out to run in the yard in the daytime. They are fed Layena crumbles and given bread and a small amount of scraps such as rice or veggies.

The ones so far affected are not quite 1 year old, but were born last spring. I have a few older ones but I have found two of them dead within the last week, one hen and one rooster with no signs of what happened.

Anything you might be able to tell me would be greatly appreciated.

I agree with you that this is probably a disease. Which one should really be diagnosed by a vet that can draw a blood sample and test a stool sample.

Whatever it is has found a foot-hold in your flock and has probably effected the weakest ones.

Checking their feed for any signs of contamination, either from pests or possible spoiling, would be advised.

Rodents can dirty feed, if they have access, causing problems
for the chickens eating their droppings or urine in their feed.

A thorough cleaning of the coop is important and disinfecting waterers. You would want to consider giving vitamins to all, sick and well. Most feed stores carry poultry vitamins, which can help them fight disease. If the vet finds a specific disease there will possibly be antibiotics that can help.

Your best defense against disease is good balanced nutrition for their current needs. Winter months can be hard and may call for feeding higher protein levels and good fats for helping them through increased calorie demands to keep warm enough.

There are chicken diseases that can lay dormant until stressful conditions lower the immune system’s ability to keep them at bay.

Flock animals like chickens have to keep up the appearance of being healthy, as long as they can.

Signs of weakness attract predators, so when chickens seem to suddenly become ill, there may have been a problem hiding due to their survival instincts.

It can take many years of experience to notice changes in behavior and little signs that something isn’t quite right.

Due to differences in climate and conditions, what might work for one flock, may not work for another. A nutritional schedule that worked for years may not work as a flock gets older.

It’s generally not necessary to supplement heat for chickens in cold months, but it can help.

If your area experiences cold stormy conditions and many dark days, a way of adding vitamins and other nutrients may be even more helpful than providing heat. Hope this helps you with some ideas for helping your flock.

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Reply to answer on Chicken leg problem
by: Linda Flagstaff

Thank you so much for your advice, I am now doing everything you suggested. I cleaned everywhere and am giving vitamins and more greens, probiotics and protein.

We do have a lot of mice all over area and sometimes I have even caught the chickens killing and eating them, we also have many wild birds coming in from crows and doves to small sparrows and an occasional pigeon.

Thanks again. Unfortunately we have no vets in the area that see chickens or turkeys.

mine too
by: Anonymous

I have a cockerel that is exhibitng these same symtoms. Did you ever find out what it was? Thanks

Chicken leg problems
by: Linda Flagstaff

No I did not find out what it was but I have not
lost any of the other ones yet, and my poor girl that was affected is still alive but can't walk but still eats.

I started giving her antibiotics but don't know if I should let her live like she is or if there is any possibility of her getting at least better enough to be on one leg she still can move one but not support herself on it.

by: Anonymous

Have you considered Marek's disease? It is a herpesvirus which causes cancer (tumors). The common symptoms of Marek's is lameness/paralysis especially in a leg and/or wing, lesions on internal organs such as lungs, kidneys, liver and gradual wasting away -

lethargic and just growing thinner and thinner until they pass away. Not all chickens will display the same symptom. Marek's is a world wide disease and the most common killer of all chicken diseases.

We had an outbreak of Marek's with our younger birds this summer and lost several.

We are disinfecting and getting new birds this spring which will be vaccinated for Marek's at the hatchery.

How old are your birds? Typically, Marek's symptoms are seen between 6 to 25 weeks of age.

Reply to answer on Chicken leg problem
by: Linda Flagstaff

I did read about Marek's disease and all the symptoms you discribed apply to two of the birds I lost.The other two did not display any of these symtoms. They were seemingly fine one day and dead the next.

With the time element of the age of the birds does not fit with Merek's. Two were 10 months old and the other two were 3 years old.

Have you ever heard of chickens that age getting
Marek's? I appreciate your comments and symptoms,
it sure sounds like Marek's to me. Is there any treatment for this disease or is it always fatal


by: Yardbird.dana

My birds contracted Mareks one year after I brought in birds form another persons flock that they wanted to get rid of. After that, I vaccinated my own birds and still lost a couple.

I have not had a case of Mareks after that, but don't add adult birds to my flock anymore, just chicks. I tried to heal one of the birds, but was unable. Good luck.

Leg Problems with Rooster
by: Anonymous

Hello, My sister in law has a rooster that had the same symptoms, but none of the other hens in the same environment have exhibiting theses symptoms. It began with one leg, then it seemed to have gotten worse affecting the other leg.

She did had to take him out of the coop and began giving him home advice treatments, and made some support sticks for his legs. It helped him and he is eating, but he cannot walk as he once did.

He seems weak after exerting himself, but is able to get around limping and using his wings. He is a beautiful rooster that at this time is unable to function as one.

He does not roost anymore, the last time he did was early on after treatments. We do not know what is wrong, but he is eating, drinking, and getting along the best way he can in a different area.

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