If you are a poultry farmer and you have recently noticed that there are some chickens in the shed with walking problems and you don’t know why then we invite you to read this article since here we will talk about the possible causes of this problem.
Generally, the main cause of chickens that have walking problems is due to disease. However, there are also other factors that, although less frequent, also affect the chickens’ ability to walk. Next, we will describe some of the most common diseases and factors that cause abnormal gait in birds.
Main causes of chickens with walking problems
“The walking ability of chickens is considered an important welfare parameter.” Therefore, if the birds have problems walking, then they will not be able to have a good physical or productive development, and in extreme cases, the death of the animal occurs. Next, we will mention some of the diseases that affect the walking of chickens, and later we will mention other possible factors that cause this problem.
Main diseases that cause problems when walking in chickens
There are many pathologies that among their symptoms are abnormalities in the animal’s legs that cause different locomotion, of these. Below are just the most common diseases that affect gait in chickens.
1. Avian encephalomyelitis
This disease is caused by an enterovirus and affects birds during the first and third weeks of age and in adult birds during the laying period. The main symptoms of this disease are the following:
- Walking hesitantly
- Muscle incoordination
- Total or partial paralysis
Chickens tend to sit on their tarsi until they can no longer walk.
Currently, there is no cure for this disease, so the most advisable thing is the sacrifice of the animals that are affected.
2. Newcastle disease
The New Castle is produced by a paramyxovirus and although the main symptoms that birds with this disease present are respiratory problems, they also affect the nervous system. The latter causes the hens to show poor coordination and begin to walk backward.
There is currently no effective treatment for New Castle and the only way to prevent or control the disease is through vaccination. However, there are natural ingredients that work as preventive treatments against New Castle.
3. Avian paralysis
Avian paralysis is an infectious disease that affects the nervous system of chickens. It generally occurs in birds 3 to 8 months old, although it can often also be seen in chicks 5 to 6 weeks old. Some of the symptoms that birds develop with this disease are the following:
- Poor coordination when walking (“somewhat wobbly gait”).
- The chicken avoids moving.
- The bird walks on curled fingers.
- The hen jumps, like the kangaroo.
- Total or partial paralysis.
As you can see, avian paralysis is one of the diseases that cause chickens to have trouble walking. Currently, the disease has no cure and there is no method to immunize birds, so it is considered that the best prevention is good hygiene and adequate living conditions. If any of the chickens have this disease, the idea is to sacrifice it to prevent the others from being infected.
Coccidiosis is a parasitic disease that affects the digestive tract and is quite contagious. Among the symptoms that an infected chicken presents are the inability to hold its head up and difficulty walking. Generally “the bird begins to walk backward.” Sulfonamides are regularly used to treat the disease: sulfaquinoxaline, sulfadimethoxine, and sulfamethazine. However, these products should not be applied to laying hens. You can also add vitamins A and K, as these promote recovery.
Factors that affect the ability to walk in birds
We have already talked about some diseases that make it impossible for birds to walk. Now we will mention other factors that cause changes in the normal walking pattern in chickens and that mainly occurs in fattening breeds.
- Hypothyroid birds show weakness in the limbs and legs. As well as tremors when walking.
- Fluctuating asymmetry due to environmental stress causes asymmetric bone development in each leg of the animal, which in turn causes lameness.
- Changes in tendon development due to poor nutrition, lack of exercise, or aging.
- Deviations of the vertebrae and injuries to the spinal cord.
- Joint infection by bacteria such as salmonella, streptococci, and E. coli.
- Pain due to degenerative joint diseases, such as secondary osteoarthritis.
It is essential that you pay attention to chickens with difficulty when moving or walking since it will depend on you to give them the best treatment so that they recover. If you suspect that some of your birds suffer from any of the aforementioned diseases, ideally you should go to a veterinarian who specializes in birds. Since he will be able to give you a better diagnosis and the appropriate treatment so that the birds recover.
The daily use of additives such as food supplements, natural vitamins for chickens, and substances that favor newborn chickens is always recommended.