Lame chickens : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I need some diagnosis help with a chicken problem. I have raised a lot of chickens and have never had a problem. Two perfectly healthy barred rocks and one skinny australorp have developed a lame leg problem. After a few days all strength is lost in both legs. The chicken does not die but remains paralyzed. No swelling, damage, or other symptoms have been noted. Is this a feed, disease, or husbandry issue? Thanks.

-- Tom Silliman (, October 22, 2001


look at the feet. I posted a suggestion before about bumblefoot and will again if it looks like there is a foot problem. Also, look under the thread below about "sick Chicken"--someone has posted the address for feathersite.

-- Ann Markson (, October 22, 2001.

Thanks Ann, There were no visual cuts or damge to any of the feet on any of the chickens. No swelling, just appearant paralysis of the upper leg on one side and then a few days later on the other. All kept eating (in isolation) and drinking. But after 2 weeks never regained any leg use.

-- Darlene Silliman (, October 22, 2001.

I have had a hen about 6 months old in isolation for a few weeks now. Same sort of problem. Her developed months her original owner's place. My son brought her over here. Her name is Dumpling and she is slated to meet the ax, but I tried everything I could to get her walking again. Besides that she seems fine..eats and drinks and is a friendly bird.

-- Jenny (, October 22, 2001.

Hi there

Sounds like mareks disease or botulism. Check out this site.

Kiwi Karen

-- Karen Holmes (, October 22, 2001.

It is Marek's Disease. It is very contagious to the other chickens. I have been through this, I have lost almost all of my chickens to it. You must vaccinate all new chicks before you expose them to your chicken yard. You now have this disease on your property and all fowel are exposed to it. I learned the hard way, it is heart breaking to watch my chickens die from this disease.

-- June Blue (, October 22, 2001.

I have just finished reading "Pastured Poultry Profits" and the author speaks of his chicks becoming paralysed, first one leg then another, but will still eat and drink. The lab investigation indicated Merek's disease, however the author felt that it was curly toe syndrom, a riboflavin dificiency. He fed the remaining chicks raw beef liver cut finely and got them onto green grass. It cured the chickens who were lame whithin a few days. He added brewer's yeast to their ration to combat this in future. Might be something to try.

-- Terri in NS (, October 22, 2001.

I too have a chicken that went lame. We found her in a corner of the coop. That was about a week ago. She is moving around but favors one leg. This hen came from a batch of chicks that I had vaccinated for Mareks. I suppose it is possible the leg is out of joint or something. I have about 20 or so birds and this is the only one like this.

-- LBD (, October 22, 2001.

Here's a poultry ailment website i have bookmarked & always refer to..

If you'd like to try posting this question at a poultry only forum, i recommend P.I.E.

Hope you can find some definate answers!

-- Buk Buk (, October 22, 2001.

About it being mareks or botulism, there are two symptoms that make alot of difference.

First, in mareks there is a tendancy for not only leg paralysis, but also wing paralysis. This isn't a hard set rule, but a tendancy. If there is paralysis in the neck, it is with strength - no floppy necks.

In botulism on the other hand, I've seen the lameness followed by paralysis of one or both legs. The neck is the key, however, as it is limp thus botulism is often called Limberneck Disease. Rather than being picked up from other chickens (as mareks is), botulism results from the bird ingesting something which has the toxin. Some examples are wet food, soured food, overripe fruit, decaying vegetation, stagnant water, algea, maggots (yes, no feeding these nasty little germ laden creatures), or access to manure piles/compost heaps that might contain rotten materials, as well as of course the old stand by "eating dead things".

In Mareks, there is no "cure" and the chickens either die, live to become carriers, or are culled.

In botulism there is a "cure", antitoxin, but it's very expensive, requires veterinary assistance and a clear diagnosis, both of which are hard to get to when the bird is on its way to death.

However with botulism some people (including myself) have had luck with flushes. Flushes wash toxins from out of the birds systems are are VERY harsh and should only be used in life-or-death circumstances and always followed by probiotics.

Epsom salt flushes are the best but taste nasty. Use 1/2 teaspoon of epsom salts in a 1/2 cup of water and either give to the bird manually (using a baby's ear syringe pushed to the back of the chicken's mouth with slow release of the liquid, or dribbled into the front of their mouth). Repeat 2 times a day until the bird recovers or for no more than three days.

Another more friendly alternative (tho not as effective, maybe better for the other birds that might have gotten into the same gunk) is the molasses flush. Use 1 pint molasses dissolved into 5 gallons of water. Remove their water in the evening and replace before they get up in the morning, if possible, with the molasses water. If you have waterfowl, leave it for no more than 4 hours. Chickens alone can stand 8 hours. Then remove for the day and provide fresh water. Repeat daily for 2-3 days or until the bird is better.

In your case, I would consider having the birds tested at a local vet or through the state testing labs. For the sake of your flock, consider 'sacrificing' a bird not yet dead for testing. It could save you LOTS of heartbreak in the end.

In the mean time, take a good investigative look at the area where you keep your chickens. Look for the causes of botulism and remove them. An ounce of prevention...blah blah blah. *wink*

I wish you the best of luck with your birds, and I'm sorry that you have to go through such a frustrating time. God bless.

Nathalie Ross in Houston TX

-- Nathalie Ross (, October 26, 2001.

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