I have three chicks that are about three weeks old and one of them looks so much smaller than the others and walks with

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Customer: Hi, I have three chicks that are about three weeks old and one of them looks so much smaller than the others and walks with a limp and her left leg seems to have a perpetual tremor.
Answered by BrittanyB426 in 3 hours 1 year ago
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Specialities include: Dog Veterinary, Cat Veterinary, Bird Veterinary, Large Animal Veterinary, Small Animal Veterinary

Often when she falls on her side she cannot get up and just bicycles her legs frantically in the air and cheeps until someone helps her
Her left leg often looks like it kind of buckles under her and she ends up sitting

Hi there! Whenever a young chick has mobility issues, 2 things come to mind. One is a slipped tendon, which usually accompanies a very swollen hock joint, and they usually have a consistent difficult time walking. The other, which I believe is the case with your chick, would be Marek's Disease. Even if vaccinated some can be afflicted. It usually starts with odd walking and progresses to not being able to walk at all. This especially makes sense if she is much smaller than the others as well-it could mean the virus is causing problems with how she is absorbing her food.

However, since I cannot palpate her leg myself, I would advise a veterinarian taking a feel of it if you have one in your area that will do so. If not, I would suggest separating her so she doesn't have to compete for food or water, or move around too much, and see how she does.

Unfortunately, if it is Marek's disease, it can be contagious, though not all birds exposed will become afflicted. This is a very common virus in almost all backyard flocks, even with strict vaccination protocols.

I got these chicks when they were a couple of days old from tractor supply who does not vaccinate for Mareks

Ah yes, then it makes the likelihood of Mareks being the cause quite a bit higher.

I had read that Mareks usually doesn’t manifest symptoms until about 10 weeks old
The chick is not doing the typical Marek’s “split”
Any other thoughts to what it might be? My gut tells me it’s not Mareks

That is the normal but it can afflict younger ones. And there can be many other signs than just the split leg appearance.

Other causes could be trauma, though that shouldn't cause a smaller size unless she is being pushed away from the food. It could be a tendon issue from development, again wouldn't cause small size unless being bullied. Prognosis for slipped tendons are usually not good even with a brace, but sometimes worth a try if that is what it is. Do you have a veterinarian in your area that will see chickens?

I do but it is $100 just to walk in the door

Yes it can be difficult to justify that much for a small chick, and they might not be able to do anything anyway. I would try separating her so there is no competition for nutrition. I would also recommend using Rooster Booster Poultry Cell as a vitamin water additive as if there is a deficiency this may help.

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