With all of the wet weather we’ve had in the past two months, it was inevitable that we would end up with chickens suffering from some kind of illness. I was prepared for respiratory infections and or Coccidiosis which are the most common wet weather afflictions. Of course, my chickens being unique specimens, they had to come up with something I have never seen before.
Pickle, one of my new Pekin point of lay pullets is the one who decided to lay down the gauntlet of diagnostic dilemmas this time!
(Try saying this quickly ten times: Peter Piper penned a peck of pampered Pekin pullets)
OK this is serious now, attention…
I picked up this little girl the other day as a part of my regular care and discovered that she was very underweight. I could feel her breast bone very prominently, like the blade of an ice skate. Comparing her to her sister, purchased at the same time, she also seems quite undersized (I’d observed this previously and was keeping a closer watch on her). I decided to isolate her as I feared she may be subject to bullying and unable to get enough to eat.
As is common with chickens, once she was separated from the others, her condition seemed to quickly deteriorate. That is because when with the flock, chickens will do their best to hide signs of weakness, lest their flockmates turn on them. Soon she was limping quite heavily, and by the next day she had lost the use of her legs entirely.
At first, I suspected Marek’s Disease, but some of the symptoms you’d expect to see, such as eye discoloration were not present, so I was at a bit of a loss. I added vitamins to her water, switched her to a higher protein feed, and posted about her on my facebook group Crook Chook’s Health Advisory.
An experienced breeder replied that perhaps she was “Failure to thrive due to manganese deficiency” so I bought her some sunflower kernels to help boost that mineral and also put her onto a multivitamin and mineral supplement.
I am hoping that this will help her. The picture shows Pickle wrapped in paper towel so that she can sit upright to eat. If not wrapped up, she can’t right hereself and becomes exhausted from trying to get up. When I wrapped her like this, the relief seemed palpable. Chickens dislike to feel vulnerable, so being unable to remain upright is stressful and frightening to them.
I will persevere with her while she is willing to eat and drink for herself. I just go and switch out the food for her water dish once an hour during the day and she seems happy with the arrangements. Here’s hoping she will make a good recovery.
- What the Heck Is a Pullet? (gettinchickens.wordpress.com)