It’s a sad day when a keeper finds a chicken paralyzed. The cause may be injury, disease, malnutrition, or dehydration. In many cases, disease
Inability to reach needed food and water compounds the problem, but mercifully may quickly end the suffering of a chicken with an incurable disease.
The first thing to do is try and determine if there is any external injury, punctures, or breaks in the skin. Next would be to gently examine the condition of toes and leg bones for breaks.
It would be more difficult to check pelvic bones, but you may be able to determine breaks, especially combined with external trauma.
Sometimes you may find a chicken paralyzed temporarily with fear when grabbed by a predator and somehow escaping. They are often easy to pick up and handle in this condition.
Calming them and placing them in the coop or other safe area will often allow them to snap out of shock and quickly return to normal. Any wounds should be examined, cleaned and treated. Hydrogen peroxide is a good wound cleaner.
A chicken with a large wound should be isolated in a clean cage and kept warm. Other chickens may peck at a wound slowing down the healing process. Being in the coop and chicken yard may expose the wound to bacteria, further slowing the healing process.
Marek’s Disease can leave a chicken paralyzed. Often one leg will become weak, but soon both legs will fail to function and support its weight.
It may only be able to move forward by using its wings. A chicken in this condition should be isolated from the flock to prevent spread of this fatal and highly contagious disease.
Sadly the recovery rate for this disease is poor, though possible, and once the disease is in your flock, it can be spread even by chickens not showing signs of disease.
Giving the chicken electrolytes and vitamins in its water may help it recover. If not doing better in 24 hours and you find no sign of injuries, you’re probably dealing with disease. A chicken paralyzed can be very difficult to diagnose at home.
For the sake of the rest of your flock and so you know how to deal with the disease, getting professional help is the best idea. A veterinary exam and testing would be the best way to diagnose any mysterious disease symptoms.
Egg yolk peritonitis is a non-contagious disease that affects older hens that might look like paralysis. It’s caused by dysfunction in the hens oviduct that creates an infection in her abdomen. She retains extreme amounts of fluids.
She may first appear to be waddling with a wide stance and within a couple of weeks be unable to stand or walk. The heaviness of her body will make roosting impossible. Heat stroke, hypothermia, dehydration and malnutrition may cause you to find a chicken paralyzed. This can be due to sudden extremes in weather conditions.
Freezing temperatures may make water supplies unavailable, causing a chicken’s digestion to shut down, making it weak. Lack of water during heat waves can do the same.
Malnutrition with weakness and paralysis can be caused by internal or external parasites draining nutrients and fluids from a chicken’s body.
Determining the type of parasite and treatment will be sped up with the help of a good poultry vet. Chickens may have multiple problems, so checking for parasites on a regular basis is a good practice.
The most common practice when finding a chicken paralyzed is to humanely euthanize it. But I would highly recommend determining the cause. If the paralysis was caused by contagious disease, finding out what disease is important.
Selling chickens from a contaminated area or bringing in new chickens can be a death sentence for more chickens, which can be costly and heart breaking.
Some diseases and parasites can live in the environment for months even with the best cleaning and disinfecting practices and efforts.
If you have questions that you would like to ask a vet, use the service below. Ask a Vet has qualified doctors that can answer questions about chicken health.
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