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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Good-bye Marley

Today started off quite sad: we had to put down our little Marley. Over the past two weeks, we've watched Marley go from a feisty cockerel to an emaciated, depressed, and withdrawn little chick.

The third week in July, we noticed that Marley was limping on one leg. We did some online research and read about Marek's Disease, but after consulting with our vet, it seemed Marley just had an injury. Dr. Karin Kanton put a sling on Marley, and we kept him inside, treating him to red currants, raisins, cheese, and the occasional episode of Weeds with his Human Parents and Feline Siblings on the couch. At times, he'd seem to be getting better, but then other days, it looked worse. It's hard to read a chicken!

Unfortunately, a few days ago, we noticed his chicken sister, Janis, began limping as well. We called Dr. Karin, and she confirmed what we feared: we probably had a case of Marek's at our house after all. So, in hopes of getting the potential disease off the premises as quickly as possible, we cleaned out the coops and brooders and mowed the chicken run.

Right now, our biggest concern is that the disease has or will spread to all of our chickens, including the house favorites: Ani and Zappa. If you're a fan of chickens or animals in general, cross your fingers, send us good vibes, pray to your version of God, whatever ... we are not ready to lose more pets.

Today, our vet came to take Marley. He is going to be the sacrificial chicken to determine if we definitely do have a case of Marek's here.

With this experience, we've learned quite a bit:
1. The Polish chickens that seem to have the disease are the only chickens we've gotten from a breeder. I don't believe for one second that she intentionally gave us sick chicks, but this experience does point out that we need to research where we're getting our animals better.
2. Marek's Disease is a form of herpes and is contagious. It can easily wipe out a flock of chickens, though only if they've all had contact.
3. If you live in the Madison area, you should contact Dr. Karin Kanton for your chicken needs (or other pets). She does house calls, and she is amazingly compassionate (both for the pets and the humans involved). She's really helped us and is continuing to do so. 
3. Losing a chicken is like losing any other pet (if you view them that way). We're very sad.

Marley was a boisterous little chick. He started off as "Fiona" until we heard him crow a few times. Before he got sick, he was impossible to catch. I remember once I literally ran round and round the same tree for nearly ten minutes trying to get my hands around the little bugger.

He loved cheese and would proudly nab the first piece thrown into the run or into his brooder. He'd then loudly prance around with it in his mouth, taunting his hens. I guess he wasn't a very good sharer.

His hair was nappy, and he would shake and bob his messy hairdo. That made me laugh.

His hen sisters, Janis and Ella, miss him greatly. They're still peeping, wondering where he is. I hope those two make it, though it's not looking good for Janis. We have crossed fingers .


  1. So sorry for all of you, humans and chicks.

  2. Sorry about this .. keep us posted