When Chickens Stop Walking

House sitting nightmare #1: Open the chicken coop to find this little girl laying on the ground with her legs stuck out behind her, panting, and showing no signs of being able to use her legs to run away from me like usual.
I immediately checked on the other chickens but they were just fine, happily pecking away at the yard. I picked her up (something I never thought possible with this particular bird) and brought her in out of the heat. I thought maybe she had overheated so I checked and their water tray was full to the brim, there was plenty of food (and nothing foreign or poisonous that I could tell of ) so I was kind of flumoxed. Google searches for ‘chicken can’t walk’ were all terribly grim and repeatedly mentioned that an autopsy was the only way to diagnose what had happened. House sitting nightmare. I called the chicken’s mama and she suggested that I keep Mutton Chops in for the night so the other girls wouldn’t pick on her and so I could keep a closer eye on her.
So we loaded her into a cat carrier and brought her to our house so she could be in the AC all night and so I could check on her every now and then. She seemed perfectly fine in every way except that her legs refused to work. She bobbed her head and fluffed her wings like nothing was up, but again, her legs didn’t work.  Squeak was immediately intrigued and kept creeping closer and closer until…

The chicken flapped her wings as a warning and Squeak ran off right into my camera. Needless to say there were no more close calls. In the morning when I opened the cat carrier door Mutton Chops walked right out like no big deal. And then ran around my living room like no big deal. Apparently all she needed was a night in the air conditioning to feel like her fluffy old self again. I’ve never heard of this happening without chicken death following soon after and am going to write it off as just another weird thing that chickens do.

Since the incident she has not layed any eggs but doesn’t show any signs of being egg bound. However, she does look like shes beginning to molt on the top of her head. Has anyone else ever experienced pre-molting lameness?


4 responses to “When Chickens Stop Walking

  1. Aww, poor chicken! Glad she was okay…this sounds like something that would be terribly scary. Will have to keep this in the back of my mind for when I finally get chickens.

  2. (1)It is not unusual for a hen that has gone broody to act in the way you described, refusing to get up or walk.
    (2)The same symptoms can be caused by getting over heated and go away after they cool down.
    (3)No eggs, an ill, broody or chicken in molt will stop laying and may not start again for several weeks.
    Happy gardening

    • I think overheating was the source of this chicken’s lameness. After a night in air conditioning with a fan on she was just fine. Thanks everyone for your help, now I won’t be so terrified if another girl stops walking!

  3. Sometimes ours refuse to get up when they are broody… that would explain the lack of eggs and the revival in cool conditions too.

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