Disaster Strikes!

The coop continues to evolve but things are on the rails now.

Just as I was ready to start purchasing supplies for the extended run, I noticed the two Cream Legbar Roosters (Blondie and Dotty) were sitting down at every opportunity and often just stayed in the coop even when the weather was nice. Then I observed that Dotty was walking oddly – as if her leg was stiff. This progressed to them stumbling around and losing their balance.

I had repeatedly felt their joints and did a physical exam but everything was clear. Unable to discern a cause myself, I posted videos on Backyard Chickens with a plea for help.

The email came at 3:00 in the morning on September 23rd: a reader responded saying it looked like Marek’s Disease! I knew about Marek’s Disease. It is pretty much a death sentence for your flock.

Marek’s Disease is a highly contagious virus, transmitted via the respiratory system, with a high mortality rate. Googling information gives a grim picture: almost no chicken survives and the only cure – kill them humanely or watch them die.

I’m heartbroken.

In the ten days of research since diagnosis, I found this useful and comprehensive article.

Blondie and Dotty have been quarantined (all of the chickens were upset about the separation!). They now call a rabbit cage home. We are keeping them in a section of the dog yard with chicken wire and tarps for protection and warmth. They are still moving about, eating. Oscar is convinced they seem to be improving but understands that, even if they do survive, they will never be able to be with the other chickens.

To help prevent spreading Marek’s to the rest of the flock, the coop bedding was removed, all surfaces of the coop were cloroxed, and new bedding was put in. We also moved the chunnel to a new section of grass. They can no longer go into the dog yard as they would be too close to the sickies. Every time one of them sits down my heart does a little skip.

They will be 14 weeks old Monday.


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