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Sick chooks

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    Help! In the last couple of weeks we have lost one rooster, have a hen who has been down for nearly 2 weeks and today another roster has gone down. All are around 7-8 months, the two which are alive we’re hatched naturally here from a friends eggs, the rooster was one of a breeding pair bought 2-3 months ago. His hen is still fine. Initial symptom for the dead roo was a loss of balance but his legs then became paralysed and within 2 days he had wasted away and died. The hen that has been sick for a week or so is still eating and drinking, but one leg seems paralysed. The second rooster was fine this morning but I found him outside tonight when I went to do lock up. He also seems paralysed and I don’t know if he is eating or drinking.
    I have isolated the sick ones as soon as we’ve noticed. They had fresh paddock hay put down the day the first one became sick, from our property so chemical free.  No sign of mites.  

    We have googled and Marak’s disease looks the most likely? Does anyone have any other ideas on what is wrong, experience with Maraks, ideas on what we can do, how to avoid others getting sick too?
    We have not had any troubles with chooks in the past.  

    Paralysis tick? Do they infect chooks?


    Sorry to hear about your sick chookens dierich.  

    I don’t have any helpful info myself but seem to remember reading about similar problems in the chooken thread on the old als site.  Presumably that is still available but I can’t remember the name of the thread.

    I hope you work it out, best of luck for the chookens.



    Well, both the sick chooks have died but, touch wood, all the others still seem happy and healthy so hopefully that’s the end of it for now. Its time to move them to their winter run anyway, so I can give the others a good clean out and disinfect and hopefully remove any lurking problems over the next few months.

    Neighbours have also had problems in last couple of weeks, although no chance of them catching directly off each other as there’s 100 -a 500 metres between us.


    Mareks lives in the soil unfortunately and infects the chicks when they are hatchlings. They dont become symptomatic until a few months later. Some chooks are immune to it so its not that you are going to lose all your chooks. We have had a chook survive it from careful nursing and lyseine and St Johns Wort. She is now a carrier though. I realise this and now we are breeding for Mareks immunity and realise its going to take a while but seeing as though our soil already contains it (not something you know when you buy a house!) we might as well do what we can.
    Lime is a good chook pen disinfactant- just make sure you use garden lime as opposed to brickies lime which will burn the chooks feet. Ammonia kills coccydiosis spores. Unfortunately from all my research I am yet to find anything that kills Mareks.


    Sounds like Mareks, we bought a couple of chickens that turned out to have Mareks from a market and ended up losing most of our female chickens and some males. My husband is a vet but could not save them. Females at point of lay seem to be most susceptible. You can vaccinate against Mareks in chickens that have not already been exposed to it (so for example vaccinating your remaining chickens now would not help), but the vaccine is not available in small doses so from what I remember you have to buy enough for a thousand doses or so and once open it cant be stored. The best thing is to lookout for vaccinated chicks. Mareks can live in the soil for six months. After losing a lot of ours,we kept the remaining chickens and have since bred one of the remaining females and now have 6 of her chicks laying. No further sign of Mareks. Very sorry this is happening to you, when we had it I found it absolutely heartbreaking. Good luck


    Some big chick breeders sometimes offer Mareks vaccinations to your own newly hatched chicks. I have heard the Mareks vax is only able to be purchased in 1000 vax lots which isnt much use for a hobby breeder. Its like a herpes virus.
     I am studying herbal medicine at uni and also have a growing stash of herbal related livestock research articles so I am always keen to give different treatments a go.


    Thankfully no more have become sick and I have moved them to a separate pen so will be able to keep them there for 6 months or so and give the other area a good clean out. Lesson learned – don’t spend money on chooks! In the past we have had fertile eggs from a friend who has a large mixed bunch of chooks, hatched either in Incubator or a broody, and never had a problem. The blue australorp hen we bought so far seems fine so hopefully it’s was only in the rooster. So sad to see them suffering, and so grateful for helpful neighbours who are more able to put them to rest than me!

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