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#116048 - 09/18/16 07:29 PM Progressive paralysis
GitaBooks Offline
New Egg

Registered: 05/26/16
Posts: 6
Loc: USA
For the last two or three years I have been having an odd issue in my flock. I'll begin by saying that I have done research on marek's and I know there are different strains. We don't have the money right now to pay for a test to be done, and if my flock has the disease then probably 90% or more seem not to be affected by it, so the marek's isn't the issue. It's the fact that the birds that do get it seem to have a supressed immune system caused either by stress or genetics. I want to know how to avoid this or breed out of this.

We had a flock 6 or so years ago that had two cases of this in standard birds, but then we went without chickens for a few years. We got some new ones and there were no issues for at least 3 generations. I did my best to avoid any inbreeding or unhealthy genetics (I am creating an egg-laying bantam that is hardy and friendly). Anyways, in this generation there was a white bantam named Amber who had dark skin, no crest, and feathered-feet. She was raised with 3-4 other chicks, but when her mother began to "wean" her at about 35 days of age she began to limp. Thinking it was an injury, we tried to set the leg, but this only made it work. She couldn't stand, dragged her back legs, and could do little besides throw her legs around widely to try to walk. She had to be put down.

The next chick was Augie, and he was a large white bantam mix with light skin, no crest, and little to no feathering on his legs. He was about 47 days old when he developed symptoms. Trembling legs, walking with straight legs (no bend in the knee), knee bending the opposite direction, doing the splits, tripping and slipping, stumbling, sitting while eating, and eventually he could no longer stand and was having trouble breathing. We tried providing vitamins, high quality food, plenty of water, rest, warmth, ect but none of it worked.

Two chicks named Irons and Ivory developed Progressive Paralysis after a bad attack from another hen. They were around 50 days of age, and healed from the wounds, but their immune system was weakened. Their third sibling did not get the condition,and Ivory almost survived it but was attacked again. Both had to be put down. One was white with light skin and the other was white with light skin and silkied-feathers.

Blaze lasted 58 days before he had to be put down from the condition. Began with the typical flapping while walking, trembling legs, standing tall, slipping and doing the splits, bending over while eating, chirping when trying to keep up with siblings, difficulty staying on perches or gripping, ect. I let him stay out with his family until he could no longer walk. The issue seemed mainly in the legs, not the wings, lungs, head, ect. He was a Paint mix with no crest or feathers on the feet.

Degotoga, DaVinci and Merlyn are my newest ones, and this is the first time I have had more then two with symptoms. They are only at the trembling leg, slipping, crouching while eating stage but I had to put Dego and DaVinci in a crate so they can relax and get easy access to food and water and Merlyn could n ot get up on a perch with out his mother's help. I let them have a fighting chance, but I doubt they will make it.
Degotoga and DaVinci are believe are biological brothers. They are both white with light skin, a small crest, and feathered feet. They are around the same age, about 45 days or so. Merlyn is dark skinned with a crest, paint spots on the body, and is only 30 days old.

So, what could it be that causes these specific bantams to get the illness and not others? Could it be toxins in the environment? I've raised them in different buildings and they generally have access to forage to balance out their diet. It isn't inbreeding, I do my best to avoid that. They don't seem to have consistent genetics besides that they all have the color white and are all bantams. It always occurs before 50 days of age and after that I don't have to worry. It has never happened before they are feathered.

The breed has Silver and Gold Sebrights, White and blue and black silkies, and Silver Duck-wing and Red Pyle OEGBs in its mix.

Sorry for the long description, but I hope this helps. THank you for any input!

#116049 - 09/18/16 08:58 PM Re: Progressive paralysis [Re: GitaBooks]
CJR Offline
Coop Master

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 8510
Loc: Montana
It does not describe symptoms of Marek's. However, you are working with a bantam breed, Sebrights, that worldwide seem unable to develop an immunity to Marek's. Most breeds can, over many generations, be bred for immunity. (??) How do you know?--Few Vets can test for it, even if it was not a great expense. Inbreeding and close breeding are the best way to obtain any trait that you want to be dominant, simply discarding any birds that show weakness for whatever trait you with to eliminate. It is too bad, but avoiding inbreeding is the slowest way to breed the dominant traits that you want! Keep for breeding, only the strong survivors in your breeding flock (which you may be doing) and breed those birds together, discarding any of their weaker or offspring that display the paralysis. While brother/sister is not first choice--once is OKAY-then breed to cousins, half brothers/sisters, sire or dam. 3 trios can give you breeding birds for YEARS, without obtaining ANY new birds EVER, becomes a personal strain of bantams with dominant traits for egg production, setting (which helps long life), whatever you choose--and good ones. New bloodlines, unrelated birds, send you back for YEARS, as you are bringing in unknown recessive traits that you DO NOT WANT. 3 trios can give birds that you can breed by "braiding" the offspring and not be straight inbreeding, but "linebreeding"--the best way to produce uniform birds with any trait you choose. This is why some Show bird breeders seem to always win with their birds-=-they have developed DOMINANCE with their birds--that are truly what their Standard requires. Cannot do it without inbreeding and line breeding! (And IF such breeders DO want "new blood", they will choose from a breeder with similar inbreeding that has discarded most recessive traits that they do not want! GOOD LUCK

And do check thoroughly for possible toxins that your birds may obtain as young birds. Feed storage, pasture, wood glues--anthing that your young birds could be ingesting. Scary when it keeps repeating with youngsters. Very sorry for your experiences. Breeding poultry can be such a great project, and yours can be very useful-- although I, personally, would not use the breeds you have chosen. Again, GOOD LUCK

Edited by CJR (09/18/16 09:04 PM)

#116051 - 09/20/16 11:07 AM Re: Progressive paralysis [Re: CJR]
GitaBooks Offline
New Egg

Registered: 05/26/16
Posts: 6
Loc: USA
Thank you so much for the answer! I'll keep all of that in mind. I don't breed any bird that seems to be weak in any way, my first goal is always for healthy, long-lived birds above anything else.

My breed is called the Dalmatian Bantam, hints why I used these breeds. Really I'm using any bantam that creates the paint pattern. However, I'm still in the very beginning phases of my project.

Again, thanks so much for the answers! : )

#116053 - 09/22/16 06:58 PM Re: Progressive paralysis [Re: GitaBooks]
Robbie Offline
Flock Leader

Registered: 01/19/15
Posts: 258
Loc: Ontario Canada
Hmmm how very odd- almost seems like a toxin of some sort. Is there any possibility there's lead paint on the chicken coop? Any old feeders/waterers? Are you fermenting feed in galvanized metal feeders or pails? Just a thought......

#116266 - 01/08/17 02:27 PM Re: Progressive paralysis [Re: Robbie]
GitaBooks Offline
New Egg

Registered: 05/26/16
Posts: 6
Loc: USA
Lead paint is likely because of the barns old age and the peeling, flecking paint (it falls in their water all the time).

For the first time one of my older pullets has come down with Progressive Paralysis. She seems to have walked funny all her life and is smaller than many of the others (though not unhealthy in any way other than her leg). She is in the basement because of the cold weather but she can't stay down there for too long. When it starts to warm up she will go in a crate out with the rest of the chickens. She hasn't gotten worse, but she hasn't gotten better either. She has plenty of sass, so is doing well behaviorally, but I'm afraid we'll have to put her down if she doesn't show improvement. : (

#116760 - 07/25/17 03:12 PM Re: Progressive paralysis [Re: GitaBooks]
Foehn Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/08/06
Posts: 1978
Loc: New Zealand
Perosis or slipped hocks or chondrodystrophy can also cause leg problems including crooked toes and is encountered in young birds whose diet is deficient in manganese (Mn) or some of the following vitamins: choline, nicotic acid, pyridoxine, biotin or folic acid. This is an anatomic deformation of leg bones in young chickens. Can manifest itself in chicks anytime between hatching and 6-8 weeks, and occasionally older chicks.
Have a google search to see if your chicks match symptoms.

It is very important that breeding birds are getting vitamin and mineral support long before you start incubating eggs. If you can eliminate any probable environmental/deficiency problems first, then you can start to look at genetic problems if the incidence of the paralysis continues


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