Velvet!? Help with sick hen!

allaroundgoatgirlJune 29, 2008

This evening I noticed my 2 year old rhode island red stumbling around in the coop. When she walks it honestly looks like she is drunk. She tried to jump onto the roost and after a few minutes lost her balance and fell off. When she tried to preen herself she just tumbled backward.

We have her in a cage now with food and water and she is drinking and eating quite a lot. She doesn't seem to be in any pain, just very confused.

Do you know what this could be? I've had her and other chickens for 2 years now and never had any problems like this....


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Is anyone else besides Velvet allowed to answer? LOL just kidding. I found this information online that was in response to someone else asking a question very similar to yours:

First separate your bird from the flock. Your chicken could be contagious and you dont want this sickness to spread. If you know that your bird isnÂt going to pass it on it is still best to separate it so that it doesnÂt get annoyed and pecked at from the other flock members.

Then look at all his symptoms. It is very rare for a sick chicken to be very listless. Most sick chickens get drossy and sleep a lot. Other symptoms of sick birds include puffed up feathers, not eating, unclear eyes, mucus, troubles breathing, discolored dropping, runny droppings, falling out feathers (not caused by molting), not wanting to move, panting, and feathers that are not shinny. If you bird is not showing any of these symptoms he may just be excited or something.

Ways to help him out.
Put in a separate cage that has food and water. If he is a meat chicken do not give him free excess to food. You can put one Tablespoon of sugar in his water to give him a boast. You can also use a vitamin mix (purchasable at most feed stores) instead.

Make sure that the temperature is comfortable-around 70 degrees is best for a sick chicken.

If you see him loss appetite- you can put some molasses into his food to encourage him. Droop the sugar water if you do because otherwise the chicken will get diarrhea.

Overfeeding- If this is your birds problem it will be visible. The crop of your bird will be sticking out and feel very full. Your birdÂs feathers around the area may even fall off. Birds with this problem tend not to want to move.

Age- Most birds get sick before they die but they tend to be drossy. Most birds die at around 5-7 years.

Hope your chicky gets well!!

links that might be helpful:

Common poultry diseases

Poultry diseases based on symptoms

Vet on the web

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 7:44PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Does she show any signs of a head injury? Or signs of a head cold, such as a runny discharge from her nares (nostrils) or eyes? Both a head injury and a head cold can cause a loss of balance.

It's good that you have isolated her, as chickens tend to pick on an ill or injured flockmate for some reason. It's also good that she's eating and drinking.

If you suspect a cold, you can't really cure it, just give her supportive therapy in the form of keeping her warm and quiet, with good food and extra goodies, in a spot free of drafts. If you suspect Infectious Coryza, which presents with 'cold' symptoms and is treatable with Sulmet (a medicated liquid added to her drinking water), get some at the pet/bird/reptile store and treat her AND the rest of the flock at the same time--Coryza is very contagious.

If you think she has a head injury, even if she isn't bleeding, you can treat her for swelling of the brain (which is what can cause the 'drunken stagger' loss of balance thing) using Selenium & Vitamin E:

Crookneck/Limberneck In Birds

Symptoms range from inability to hold up head and kind of it twisting
backward thru full convulsion. Another is that their legs won't hold up their

Here is my theory and therapy for what some call "limber neck" and I
call crookneck. The symptoms first show as a crook in the neck. It
progresses to tucking the head, then tucking the head between the legs, then backing up, and tumbling over. The youngsters will make a distressed peeping.
It usually hits young birds but can happen at any age.

It is unclear what causes crookneck. American Silkie Bantam Club
members suggest water on the brain, vitamin E deficiency, and injury to the brain that is outside the skull and forms the knob on the top of Silkie's heads.

Water on the brain was seen in a necropsy of an affected bird.
Prednisone was suggested as symptomatic relief. Vitamin E and B complex are both good for neurological disorders. Selenium helps absorb vitamin E. Since prednisone is prescription-only, most people have to make do with what they can get at the grocery or drug store, which is the treatment below.

It is important to be sure the bird gets enough to eat and drink while
it has this problem. Birds with severe cases of crookneck can't eat and drink enough to survive. You will need to gently place their head in the feed dish and carefully dip just the tip of the beak in water. Be careful not to dip too far into the water, and to not stress the bird while trying to help.

Daily Dosage:
400 IU of vitamin E (one human capsule)
Selenium 50 micrograms (You may have to get a larger tablet and cut it in half or quarters)
Crush the Selenium into a fine powder. Take the Vitamin E capsules a poke a hole in one end with a pin, then squeeze the luquid out into a tiny dish. Mix the powdered Seleium into the Vitamin E liquid using a wooden matchstick or something similar. Hold the chick in one hand, with the other scoop up a small amount of the mixture, pry open the chicks beak and place the mix inside the chicks beak, allowing it to swallow it on its own. Fed the chick the entire mixture. Do this once a day for 7 days.

This isn't an injury that heals rapidly. It takes medication
and TIME. Results aren't instantaneous, but this treatment DOES work.

If you don't see any evidence of a cold, I'd go ahead with the Crookneck/Limberneck treatment, it cannot hurt her. Good luck with her! :)

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 8:37PM
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I knew I would bring Velvet out of hiding.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 11:10PM
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Okay well i have a vitamin and electrolytes supplement that one of my fellow poultry owners recommended. It has vitamin e and vitamin b, but no selenium. Is that okay? If it is how much should I give her and for how long?

She has a little bit of a runny nose, but no sneezing, coughing, etc.

I'm almost positive its not limberneck because I had a bird with this before and it was nothing like this.

Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 10:21PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Well if there is nasal discharge, she could have a bit of a cold and an inner ear problem, just like we humans get! Try keeping her in a warm, dry place and see if it helps.

Also, a hair blow dryer set on 'warm-low' and gently aimed at her head for a wee bit may help dry things out.

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 2:49AM
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