Stroke Recovery for Chickens

 

Stroke Recovery for Chickens.

 I hadn’t really thought about Chickens having strokes until it happened, but of course, any creature with a circulatory system and a brain can be a victim. Then the family’s “pet” chicken, Professor Toast (generally known as “Chooky”) suffered a Stroke and was left paralysed down one side.

Well, I’m very fond of the chicken, and I started thinking, “Humans recover from strokes so why not chickens?” So I determined to try and nurse her back to health.

I had little information to guide me. The few articles on the web tended to be gloomy about the prognosis for a chicken that had suffered a stroke. All I had to encourage me was a little story in the local paper about a “hero” chicken that had survived the Brisbane floods, who had also apparently previously survived and recovered from a stroke. So it could be done, and indeed, with some help, in time Professor Toast has recovered herself and now leads a happy, carefree existence once again.

I decided to write this little record of Chooky’s rehabilitation for the benefit of any other soft-hearted fools who have chickens amongst their animal companions. Perhaps my experiance can be of help to others so afflicted.

Chooky; a character sketch…

A somewhat eccentric chicken, Chooky and her two chicken pals free-ranged into our yard one day and they never left. The previous “owners” washed their hands of them and said we could have them. They laid many eggs.

In time all but Chooky passed on and she has come to spend more and more time as a human companion. As a result, aside from thinking she’s a human herself, she has a number of other quirks. For one thing, she loves classical music and spends hours in front of the radio speakers, listening and singing quietly along. She also likes to help hang out the washing in the back yard, picking up socks with her beak and busily sorting thru the clothes pegs. If I slept in too long in the morning, she’d come into my room, hop on the bed then stand on my chest and peer in my face with benign concern till I finally gave up and got up.

Clinical history:

Chooky had stopped laying about six months previously. However she was otherwise hale and hearty and enjoying her retirement. But she was too fat. She really made the most of the whole “free-range” thing. The greedy fowl had been begging at the table for little tidbits, as well as stealing the cats’ food. And people would give her extra little treats during the day. She was still able to get up and down the back-steps alright though, all thirteen of them, but she was starting to have trouble squeezing thru the cat door.

First signs:

Chooky seemed under the weather for a day or so, off her food and sulking in a corner. Usually she perched for the night on the back railings, but one morning she was huddled on the ground below where she usually sits, unable it seemed to get to her feet.

So I put her in a low sided wicker basket draped in a blanket, with some newspaper flooring for befoulments. Very subdued she was, and both her claws were curled up like she couldn’t open them properly. In the next couple of days it became apparent she was  affected worse on the right hand side. Her right wing drooped  and the right claw was tightly curled. Her left claw was less badly curled and with some gentle help she was able to straighten it.

At first I put her basket in a quiet place, but after a couple of days I decided that left all by herself she was just going to keep brooding, so I moved her basket into the kitchen where it was warm, and people and animals were coming and going, and where she could listen to the classical station on the radio. This seemed to have a positive effect and she seemed more alert and taking more of an interest in what was happening around her.

She was totally uninterested in food at first, but after a couple of days I was able to feed her water with an eyedropper. After doing this for a couple of days I was next able to get her to eat a teaspoon of a gruel I made up. After that, each day she would eat a little more and seem a bit stronger. The gruel was a mixture of oat porridge and milk stirred into a lumpy slurry. I’d put some in a little foil pie dish and hold it in front of her beak.

She clearly had EYE/BEAK co-ordination problems, particularly in the early days of her Recovery. She kept missing the dish when pecking for food. Generally it would take her three or four goes to get a lump of oats she was aiming for, each time aiming a little closer. She also seemed to have some problems swallowing at first. Happily her ability to eat gradually improved over the next few weeks and her appetite returned.

Similarly her paralysed claw gradually regained functionality. At first I’d have to help her open that claw when she was trying to stand, but in time and with practice she could stand by herself. In time she was also able to hold up the drooping right wing.

After a couple of weeks she was able to get out of her basket and walk around the kitchen for a couple of hours each day. At first she clumped around like Frankenstein, a few heavy steps at a time. Like many a human stroke victim, she had to learn to walk all over again. Poor old thing, the first thing she did was clump over to the radio speakers and fall asleep leaning against them, listening to Mozart.

At this time she started eating some solid food again, like some sunflower seeds, some lettuce, and some leftover rice.

After a week of getting better at walking around the kitchen, I started taking her down into the yard for a couple of hours each day. Yes it was a big day for Chooky when she could have a dust bath in the sun again. She was also able to forage and eat some much needed roughage again after a bland invalid diet of milk and oats.

Happily also, some new chickens had moved in next door and they soon came a visiting every day, which also seemed to contribute to Chooky’s recovery.

I think an important factor in her post stroke rehabilitation was her environment and the attention she got. Chickens have a tendency to brood (how about that) when by themselves, so some company, be it human and/or chicken, is essential for their recovery.

It was a big day for chooky

Rehabilitation program

Postscript: Ten weeks later and I think Chooky is pretty much as recovered as she’s going to be. She eats well and gets around ok. She’s on a bit of a diet though and doesn’t get rich food treats like ham or cheese or pizza. She can’t get up and down the back steps like she used to, and can’t flap up onto railings or chairs or low branches .. But she can walk around, and scratch and hop onto low objects and hunt for insects and have a sun bath. She’s not always up to helping with the washing these days, but she still loves her music programs. Her chicken“friends” from next door visit every day and bossing them around always seems to cheer her up.

 She has bad days when she sulks in her basket all day, and good days when she struts around like nothing was ever wrong, but whichever, we count each extra day as a blessing. At sunset she gets carried up the steps and put in her basket in a warm corner of the kitchen near the radio.

For an old chook, Life is as good as it gets.

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Todays sermon brought to you care of the technical wizardry of Fats (the Professor)Parameter, who successfully solved our many IT problems.

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The Reverend Hellfire is a practising Performance Poet, an Ordained Minister, and a friend to the animals. Not unlike Saint Francis of Assissi now I think about it.

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~ by reverendhellfire on July 24, 2011.

49 Responses to “Stroke Recovery for Chickens”

  1. that is exactly what i have been doing to a girl that we rescued, it took around 4 months, she is actually talking to us now, not only did she have to re learn all the basics but she has too learned how to speak, we should do all we can to protect these girls that others dismiss as mere objects, thankyou for being you

    • Good for you! I’m heartened to hear that there are others out there with enough heart to care for our feathered friends and see them as other than egg laying machines. (We appreciated Chooky’s eggs while she laid them, and she seemed proud to contribute to the household,but we never thought about tossing her aside once she reached retirment age.)Good luck with your rehabilitation efforts. Your patient will have good days and bad days, but every extra day is a good day really.

  2. Glad to here there is someone else with a big heart. I love my girls. I am also taking care of a stroke chicken. She started her episode about 6 wks ago. I mix a slurry for her twice a day using leftover veggies, corn meal, and bread and I exercise her legs as part of her rehabilitation process. She is now walking and just started talking to me again and will follow the sound of my voice. I don’t think she can see. You still have put her head to the dish to eat. Thanks for this page.

    • Best wishes to you and your sick chookie. Try playing music to her, my girl really liked classical and it seemed to lift her spirits and help with her recovery. Sadly she has passed away now (from sheer old age I think) but she had an extra 6 to eight months of contented, quality life before she finally died, and considering chickens are not a long lived species I think that was a significant extension and repaid the efforts I put into her rehabilitation.
      As for me i find it encouraging everytime I hear of someone else who cares as i do for these lovable creatures.
      Good luck!

  3. I am afraid, Reverend, that we don’t have chickens in the yard, although they do live in the neighborhood a road over. Still, this is as delightful as writing gets, and I salute you. Anyone that will care for a sick chicken has both compassion and a great deal of patience that, perhaps, puts them on the side of the angels–as far from hellfire as you can get.

  4. This totally makes me smile!! I think there is a lesson in this for all of humanity – when such heartfelt compassion and concern for a chicken exceeds the love many people are unable to even give their human children. What a personality it sounds like she had – and what a name! Professor Toast. I am smiling right now, thinking of a chicken being nursed back to health and soothed by Mozart. Was delighted to read this. Thanks for dropping by my blog to give this lift to my day!

    • Thank you for your kind comments. I wont tell my daughter though, she already thinks the chicken got too much attention!
      Actually she was very fond of old chooky herself and wrote this poem in honour..
      “One very merry day
      I found a stray.
      If you had a look,
      you would see it was a chook.
      So I took it home with me
      and we lived so happily,
      eating marmelaid toast,
      swimmin’ on the coast
      and she never intended to fly
      away.”

      Actually now i come to think of it, my mother also wrote the chicken a tribute..
      THE CELEBRITY
      She’s familiar with Verdi
      And even with Bizet!
      An egg is presented
      Every other day!
      Of whom do we speak?
      Whose roost miscreants seek?
      Why, the Professors rare beak!”

      An inspirational fowl!

  5. As reports go here on WordPress, it is this reader’s most humble opinion, that this is without a doubt, one of the most interesting, kindest, well told & downright heart warming. Congratulations to you, Rev.H & dear Chooky…

    • I am touched by your generous words.
      Personally, I think the buddha had it right when he said that it is better to lead a life filled with small acts of kindness, than a life devoted to ambition and achievement.
      I miss the Professor still. Its just sad when I eat my marmelaide toast in the morning and there’s no little creature to share it with.

  6. Cat, dog, chicken, it’s who you share your life with, not what kind of creature it may be. Lovely post.

  7. Hi there,
    This afternoon my partner discovered one of our girls lying on the lawn on her side unable to get up by herself, with assistance standing her on her feet she just fell back over, falling asleep as she went!…one foot was extremely cold with no reaction or grip, while the other was just fine. We put her back in her house alone for a while and around 30mins later while checking on her she couldn’t wait to get out quick enough and now seems to be walking stright and upright!…she’s out and about with our other girls now and eating and drinking normally but her cold foot is tending to turn inwards and she is still a little wobbly when walking but nowhere nearly as bad as she was when we first found her. Could she have possibly had a small stroke? or a very mild heart attack?…we are leaning toward a slight stroke as most I have read regarding heart attacks the bird has died straight away. Any insight would be greatly appreciated. 🙂

    • It certainly sounds as though your girl had a “micro-stroke”. Humans can have such minor stroke events and not even realize whats happening- a little giddiness or numbness that soon seems to pass may be the only symptom. Certainly such seems to be the case with your chook. The worry is that she’ll have a second stroke.
      Humans suffering strokes are often given aspirin for its blood clot dissolving abilities as soon after a stroke as possible. You may feel your chicken would benefit, if she’s able to swallow.
      Condsidering the difference in chicken/human bodyweight, perhaps around 20 mg would be a suitable dose.
      Good luck

  8. Thank you, this is very encouraging to read. I found one of my new chickens (only about four months old) lying on her side on the lawn yesterday, next to our pond. Initially, I thought she had fallen into the pond (which was partially frozen at the time) and needed ‘thawing’ – gives a completely new meaning to the expression ‘thawing a chicken’…

    Then I thought we were seeing the side-effects of hypothermia, but I am now wondering whether it might have been a stroke after all. She is unable to weight bear or keep her balance. She is eating well, though and is indoors under a brooder to keep her warm. Unfortunately, I have precious little time to look after her, as I also have a profoundly disabled child who requires 24-hour-care for and fourty other chickens – I hope I will be able to as good a job as you did!

    • Certainly sounds like a stroke, even though your chook’s so young. Could stress from the cold have brought it on? Since I’ve written this article I’ve had so much interest on the subject that I’ve come to realise this is not an uncommon occurance. Are we inbreeding chickens and thus bringing out a genetic flaw?
      At anyrate best of luck with your patient. You might like to try the aspirin treatment I suggested to another reader.

  9. I have two chickens that were attacked by a hawk 2 days ago who are showing signs similar to a stroke. The hawk attacked 4 birds and killed 2, I am not sure the survivors will recover. They each have a strong and a weak side and cannot stand without assistance. When they try to stand or walk they topple over one direction or another. They have been willing to eat and drink to some degree but not yet enough to sustain them. Each laid an egg within 24 hours of the attack…bless their little chicken hearts. Everything seems to be working, they have sight, etc. I am encouraged by your stories that over time they may recover, I will keep working with them.

    I will contribute a theory: birds when attacked often die without sustaining any mortal wounds. I have seen this many times, I have also seen a bird flap and flounder as if in the death throws and then hop up and be fine a few minutes later. This is what I expected Saturday morning when I scared off the hawk and picked up my little chicken. Unfortunately she has made very little progress in the last 48 hours. Anyway…my theory is that while under extreme stress during the attack many of these birds will suffer an extreme cardiovascular or perhaps neurological event that results in sudden death; the survivors perhaps went part of the way there but did not die and are now left quite handicapped. While the symptoms mimic stroke, I am no sure that is what has occurred. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

    • Apologies for taking so long to reply, I’ve had a break from the desk for a week.
      Sorry to hear about your hawk attack, hope your girls recover. yes probably stroke.
      But yes I think you’re right about extreme events placing a strain on chickens cardio-vascular systems. I also have seen chickens die from shock after a dog attack, even though they were’nt harmed,aside perhaps from losing a couple of tail feathers.(Professor Toast on the other hand was made of sterner stuff and survived the same attack)
      Like humans, I imagine birds release adrenalin, etc.,in life threatening situations and their blood pressure would go up accordingly. Any weaknesses in the circulatory system would be placed under pressure. perhaps as a result of humans interferring with chickens genetics they’ve developed a tendency towards stroke, much as certain breeds of dog are so inbred they become notorious for certain flaws.
      On the other hand I’ve also observed wild birds die of shock after being rescued from a cat or whatever, even though they’ve suffered no real injury, the whole experiance was just too much for them- so perhaps its a bird thing.
      Anyway, as to your patients, you could try a tiny dose of aspirin to thin the blood, though that’s probably best administered immediately after the stroke. Just try and keep feeding them till they regain enough interest to feed themselves.
      Also, just a thought, but chickens are social animals-they could be also pining for the fallen. My chooky certainly responded to a bit of company- picked her spiritsa right up.
      Good luck and let me know how you go.

      • Well both of the chickens have made significant improvements in the way they are able to balance and walk. They have not yet returned to their steady selves but are able to walk about the yard with a bit of wobbling and flapping and frequent rest periods. One of the girls, the younger (less than 8 months old) has done quite well and eaten on her own since day 2, I believe she will be fine in time.

        The other girl who is quite a bit older, about 6 years, can get around but still does not want to eat over 10 days later. The 2nd day she drank water very well when I held it in front of her and dipped her beak to get her started, since then she will only swallow when I dip her beak but not reach out to drink. I tried putting a pellet in her mouth and she shakes her head and spits it out. I tried setting her with food on the ground and other chickens coming by to eat and she still does not eat. Since being able to stand without leaning on something (3 days now) I did see her peck at a bit of grass but still no sign that she really wants to eat. Of course she has lost a lot of weight and I don’t expect she can go much longer unless something changes.

        I have given her 3 steroid injections spaced over the time frame and I have seen some small improvement after each, she is due for another today but I can’t be certain that these are helping. Each afternoon I sit in the yard (watching for the hawk) and let the chickens out to range. I would prop the old girl up and set the food out and help her if she fell or got sideways; on day 8 she recognized when it was bed time and walked across the yard to go to bed in the coop. Bless her little heart. What I don’t understand is how she can do so well in some areas but won’t eat, seems like a tiny step forward at this point but I don’t know how to help her over this hurdle.

        Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

      • Greetings.
        Glad the young one is making steps to recovery. Alas, if you can’t get the older girl eating & (especially) drinking she’ll probably go down hill fairly quickly. Don’t think dry foods a good idea. maybe a milky/oaty slurry like I made? You could try feeding her water thru an eyedropper, but if she doesn’t pick up, and drink herself eventually..hmm, sorry I can’t be more positive.
        As for steroids..whaat! Not helpful for stroke and more likely to be be detrimental.It is well known Steroid abusing athletes are highly prone to stroke. Definitely contra-indicated. Check out the American Stroke Foundation’s info on the subject at.. http://stroke.ahajournals.org/content/35/1/229.full
        Better off trying simple aspirin. say 15-20mg.
        Best of luck

      • Well, given that we did not truly know the cause of the neurological deficit and the possibility of spinal injury is high following a traumatic physical attack…the vet suggested and I agreed that a steroid/anti-iflammatory treatment was warranted. The aspirin could certainly be beneficial if the stroke is caused by a clot, but it could make things worse if it is a hemorrhagic stroke…tough call to make. Athletes typically take anabolic steroid that mimic testosterone and produce excessive muscle development among other side effects; this is not the same type of steroid.

        The older chicken did start eating 2 days ago and I think she must have been taking some sips and nibbles when I was not looking as she has managed to maintain her strength somehow. She is not ready to rejoin the flock but is doing well standing and walking in a protected pen. Still quite wobbly but improving as the days go by.

        Thanks again for your information and support.

      • You hadn’t mentioned the vets advice before, but yes, as you say, a tough call to make and we proceed as best we can.
        Perhaps also there’s wisdom in the old saying, “Nature cures while the doctor amuses the patient.”
        Best of luck

  10. Thank you so much for posting your story. Two weeks ago my little Autumn suffered a stroke. I was so distressed trying to figure out what to do for her. She was getting around with difficulty but not eating. Grinding up her food seemed to get her to eat some but not much. I found your post last night and I had my husband pick up baby cereal to mix with her crushed food and make a watery paste. This morning I found her in bad shape, not lifting her head or able to move without falling. I figured we will lose her today but I am feeding her and giving her water on spoons and she is taking it. She is perking up some though not able to move much.
    Your story has given me hope there is something I can do and I am not some crazy person for not giving up on her. She seems to be fighting, too. Thank you, thank you!!

    • Sorry to hear about your feathered friend. I’m afraid there’s not much more advice I can give, (except that it definitely was easier for Chooky to eat gruel at first rather than hard, dry foods like she normally could.) But I’ll send a prayer that if she can’t recover that her passing at least will be easy.
      Good for you for taking care of her. If caring for our fellow creatures is “crazy” then take comfort; as you can see from the comments to this page, you have lots of company, including I’m proud to say, myself.

  11. Hello – we just googled “can chickens have a stroke” and found you… our little three year old had something happen about four days ago. It seemed like her feet were suddenly turned inwards and she shuffles, like an old woman with arthritis. She also holds her butt pulled under so that her tail is kind of between her legs. Her wings seem to be used to hold herself up at times and she is spending her outdoor time hiding in corners. I think she is avoiding punishment from the other chickens (we have three others and I have noticed one of them has jumped on her back twice at least). I have brought her in the kitchen the last three nights to make sure she doesn’t get left alone in the coop (I am not sure that she can jump up to the roost?) And this has also helped to prove that she has a great appetite. When she got up this morning her tail was high and she seemed happy but within about a half hour, she was back to tail between the legs again (still while inside). Any ideas? It was our daughter that suggested a stroke…

    • Doesn’t sound like a stroke. Sounds more like she’s getting hen-pecked (“pecking order” is no idle expression)
      You could try seperating her from the others for awhile and see what happens. Or if you’re still concerned and have the money, find a vet who really knows a bit about chickens.
      Sorry I can’t be of more help, best of luck!

  12. Hi. Yesterday I found one of my 7yr old cuckoo maran hens collapsed on her side (this is after she’d been quiet and subdued for a couple of days).
    She could not stand unaided and when I lifted her up she would kick out with her left leg bur barely move her right. I put her in a hutch within the hen house and drip fed her some honey and water as I didn’t know how long she’d been collapsed and thought she might be in need of a drink. I left her there over night with the other hens for company….
    When I checked on her this morning she still looked very sorry for herself still on her side but when I approached her she tried to stand but only one leg was “working”. I offered her some titbits which she readily ate and was helping herself to honey water, so I left her for a couple of hours then checked on her again, when I lifted her up it appeared that she still couldn’t move her right leg and the foot felt cold I straightened the leg and it sprang back or she pulled it back, tried to stand her up again but she tipped to her right again, I pulled up straw all aroun her for support and left her in a normal looking position but I did notice that her right eye was not wide open bright like the left and that is what made me think of a stroke, I googled it and found this site…Thank goodness!
    Any help, thoughts and ideas will be much appriciated.
    Thank you.

    • Sorry to hear about your sick chookie. Certainly seems like stroke.There’s not really anything I can suggest that I haven’t already gone over in the article and comments. It sounds like you’re doing a good job nursing your patient already. Just try and keep fluids and feed up until hopefully Nature heals & the brain starts to rewire itself. You might like to try the aspirin idea, or a little massage now and then on the affected limb. At seven years though your feathered friend is getting on for a chicken so recovery might be difficult. Best of Luck.

  13. Thanks visiting my blog and liking the write up. Pl visit again.

  14. Hi! I found, my favorite hen, Ruby, practically dead a couple of days ago. I put her in a location safer from the other hens, as they had started pecking on her head. At first I thought she was just old and was dying, but with her symptoms started thinking she had suffered a stroke. After reading your posts, I really think this is what happened. For three days now, I kept expecting to find her dead, but this morning, following a hard frost, I found her sitting up and even holding her head up a little bit! After screaming and running around the yard like an itiot in my bathrobe, I gave her some water and she fell asleep in her box. She isn’t eating yet, but I plan to give her some soft food like you suggested, if she will take some. Thank you so much for giving me hope and helping me to feel less crazy for loving Ruby so much! I was so close to providing her euthenasia, but couldn’t bring myself to letting that happen yet. If nothing else, at least she knows I love her!

    • Your letter brought tears to my eyes and a wry smile to my lips. Good on you for caring about about your little feathered friends. It always encourages me to know there are people out there with such kindness in their hearts.
      Personally, I think that if it’s “crazy” to love our fellow-creatures, then I’d rather be a loving lunatic than a Sane Monster with an empty heart.
      Best of luck with nursing Ruby, I hope this page has helped your efforts in someway. But even if she doesn’t recover, take comfort in that you’ve helped ease her Passing, and that surely counts for something.

  15. I am so glad you wrote this. Having my first 3 chooks has been a joy but 3 days ago it was obvious something had happened to Gertie, I have no contacts that have chickens so I did the internet search for wobbly, not eating etc and brain damage came up. I then decided to try my best to help her and after one day she has already brightened. However I am concerned she will get trouble from the other two so i have she is now in my kitchen warm and being pampered. Until i read your article a few minutes ago i though perhaps i was being cruel to her but i can see so many above, like me, want to give their hens the best chance, Like my dogs they have become part of the family. I will do my best and i do hope i am as lucky as you were and she recovers enough to have a good time again. Fingers crossed!

    • Thanks Alison,
      So glad this article was of some comfort to you.
      Good luck with Gertie, lets hope she doesn’t give up the ghost just yet.

      • Update Gertie has recovered as much as i could hope for. She is now walking around fine, eating and drinking, there is obviously still an eyesight/coordination issue as she still miss pecks abit till she finds her food but she gets there. She hasn’t laid as yet and i don’t know if she ever will again but its early in the year so we will see. Whatever she decides she has a warm and happy home with her friends and she seems content again. So don’t give up on your chooks, give them a chance!!

      • Glad to hear it.
        See folks it can be done! Don’t give up on your feathered friends, a little loving care can go a long way..

  16. just read your blog, looking for advice on how to help one of our beloved chickens Ginny Bee – who the vets think may have suffered a small stroke and I think you are wonderful! just a tip for anyone out there we have a vet who swears by greek yogurt mixed with chicken tonic and honey – we have managed to pull two of ours “back from the abyss with this magical gloop administered via a children’s medicine syringe over the years – it is heartening to read of someone who is unafraid to care x

    • Thanks for your kind words. (Frankly, I’m feeling a bit down today so a little praise was much appreciated.)
      Thanks also for passing on your “chicken health care tips”. Must admit I haven’t heard of Chicken Tonic before, but I shall do some research. Any idea what’s in it perchance?

  17. Thanks for posting this – I was a little worried I was a bit ‘too soft’ when it came to sick chickens (having a family of farmers who would just put it out of its misery ASAP)! I had a lovely little Silkie who I believe had a stroke a few years ago and successfully recovered with time, TLC and some chicken physiotherapy, and unfortunately our Faverolle is now suffering similar symptoms (weak wing and leg on one side, inability to stand or balance) and she’s currently snuggled in a box of straw in our conservatory gobbling up cat biscuits soaked in a little milk.
    (For anyone with a sick chook: a couple of teaspoons of cat biscuits, soaked in enough milk or yogurt to make them soft and mashable, is a great supplement for an ailing chicken!)

    Something else people might want to think about though: while elderly/adult chickens have strokes, in a young chicken (under a year old) inability to walk is probably more likely to be marek’s disease which is HIGHLY contagious to other birds, including older birds, (not humans or other pets though) so if you aren’t sure its a stroke make sure to isolate them from your flock straight away. If its a stroke then a little rehab and TLC will probably help, but if its marek’s the paralysis will develop further and the chicken may not pull through.

    • Thanks for sharing your diet tips for convalescent chooks and your inspiring success stories. Also the information re Mareks disease. Not sure if we have it where I live, but clearly it should be considered in some cases.
      Know whatcha mean about farmers attitudes. An occupational hazard pehaps?
      It’s not soft to try and help ease a fellow creatures suffering. In fact, having empathy for others is a hard thing because you have to have the courage to share anothers pain.And sometimnes you just can’t help them enough.

  18. Your journey could very well be ours too. We’ve been winging it (pardon the pun) since Hyacinth had a stroke a couple of days after last Christmas. Her best friend Rose died Christmas day (old age). H went around for 2 days calling for her, not eating or drinking, and on day 3 she went into the nesting boxes in the middle of the day and refused to come out. On investigation, she couldn’t seem to move and her feet were all clawed up. I moved her into the house (shower recess-easy to clean up!) and gave her water then ORS (like you do for sick kids) for a few days in a syringe. As she still wasn’t interested in food, I made soft foods that I could crop feed her with as well changing her liquid to sustagen. I also moved her into the lounge room in a washing basket where she could see and hear what was going on. I don’t think she sees all that well anymore but her hearing is still sharp.
    That’s nearly 7 weeks ago now. She’s very communicative and chatty, she’s a bit hit and miss with food, but she’ll eat seed and drink water herself although she still gets at least 2 syringes of sustagen daily as well for the extra calories. She went nuts the other day for a piece of watermelon, just like old times.
    She goes outside daily onto the grass but we have to watch that the other chickens, wild ducks and other wild birds don’t attack her. She’s more mobile but tends to only walk backwards in a moon walking Michael Jackson fashion.
    She seems to be improving slowly but her right wing still droops lower and her right foot still claws up most of the time unless we straighten it out for her.
    She is past the laying stage but she deserves a nice retirement like anyone else. Sometimes one or 2 of the other girls comes and sits with her, hanging out, which she really loves. The other place she likes to be is my lap in the evenings. She’s so relaxed there, she generally goes to sleep, to the dogs annoyance.

    • Sorry for the delay in replying-busy busy!
      Thank you for sharing your story-poor old Hyacinth! Glad she’s got caring humans to look after her. Chickens can indeed be personable and affectionate companions, as I have learnt, but alas they are short lived beasties, at least compared to us. I feel that this means if we can give them an extra 6 months of quality Life after a stroke, then from a chickens point of view, thats a considerable gain.
      Ah, I still miss Professor Toast. What a character, I haven’t told half of her quirks.

  19. Thank you so much for your wonderful article! You have helped me identify my girl Mimi’s problem.
    I’ve had her for 7 1/2 years and she’s always been one of the leaders of the pack. I know she is old for a chicken, but I have 7 others who are 8 and doing just fine, so I wondered about a stroke.
    She has the same symptoms you describe. Thank you for your lovely story. Chickens are awesome and it breaks my heart that so many people don’t know how special they can be.

    • Glad to be of service to you and Mimi. Seven and a half is indeed a good innings, fingers crossed the old girl has it in her to make a recovery. Good luck with your nursing, hopefully the information shared on this page by myself and others can be of some assistance.
      I’ll send a prayer Mimis way to the God of Small Animals.

  20. We have a chook that we have nursed back from being seemingly blind and unable to stand, and I think it must have been a stoke, from about 6 weeks ago.
    I found her one day walking in the pen, but walking into things and then a day later she could not walk or eat/drink at all. It is not Marek‘s as she still has pupil retraction to a bright light.
    We fed/watered her by hand for about 3 weeks, during which time we had her in a cardboard box but suspended in a shirt sling that we had cut holes into for her feet and poops. She had major problems with beak-eye co-ordination and was hard to feed as she would miss the food most of the time, but she’s good with that now. After about 3 weeks she started eating on her own, haphazardly at first, and is now able to drink on her own and is starting to be able to stand for short periods. We gave her a course of antibiotics at about 2 weeks and that seemed to help even though there was no obvious infection.

    • Yup, classic stroke signs. But it sounds like you’re doing all that can be done for yr feathered friend, so at least she’ll know she’s being cared for and if worse comes to worst, her last moments will be cradled in a comforting cocoon of love.
      Good luck with your nursing.

    • I have seen 3 chickens through “stroke rehab” to date; 2 were attacked by a hawk in one day and did side by side rehab (about 3 weeks to walk) and the other developed symptoms without any known trauma.
      The third chicken spent about 3 months not being able to stand/walk and had me questioning my sanity in terms of keeping a crippled chicken. Her infirmity began in early November and it was late January before she walked. She had begun to push herself up out of the “nest” I had built where she could reach food and water from a “sitting” position and I would find her sprawled on her side unable to get up.
      I began wrapping a towel over the top of her so she could not flip herself out of the nest but was able to push up against the towel. After about 3 weeks of this she was able to stand and walk much to my amazement. It seems she had the strength to do this earlier but lacked the coordination and the sense of what was up and down. My theory is that the time spent pushing up (standing up) against resistance re-educated her brain and muscles to allow this transformation.
      The sling is a good idea and I thought of that but was not able to make it work. I hope your chicken makes a full recovery.

  21. Thank you! I have a gal I think had a stroke. This is so helpful and hopeful!!!

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