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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Sick Chick

One of the hens "martha stewart" (so named because of her extreme attachment to cleaning and arranging the hay in the hen house) got all droopy and began to walk like a penguin, all straight up and down instead of like chickens normally walk.

Many Google hours later made it pretty clear that martha had an egg stuck umm..somewhere.

Treatment is very warm baths to relax the muscles

In case the egg had ruptured and caused an infection in the abdomen Martha went on antibiotics. 3 days of hot bathes and 0 signs of an egg made the peritonitis the more likely culprit.

You haven't really lived until you try to pry open the clamped beak of a highly unwilling chicken to force down a liquid antibiotic that is necessary but dangerous since chickens inhale liquid into their lungs very easily.

After 3 nerve wracking days of this I found a way to inject a strawberry with the drug instead and just let her eat the strawberry!

Much easier on both of us!

She was so weak that she had to be separated from the hens and the rooster because they were beginning to peck at her which (thanks again Google) is a response designed to keep the rest of the flock from catching what the weak one has. So Martha moved in to the big house and lived on a heating pad covered with a layer of newspaper to soothe her sore tummy.

She turned down every food imaginable except the strawberries and was losing weight rapidly UNTIL in desperation I tried butter.

She loved it and would peck diligently while I held a stick of butter in front of her.

That gave her protein, fat and much needed calories, hooray for butter!

So therapy became antibiotic laced strawberries, fresh water, a heating pad and BUTTER.

Not a bad gig for a chicken except for the fact that she started to refuse water....and food...and would turn and face the wall.

Her belly (which had been swollen and hard and red, was getting smaller. The antibiotics were working so what was wrong now?

After consulting my good friend Dr. Google still once more I found a very interesting article that helped me diagnose this latest development. It seems that of all the herd/flock animals that exist, chickens are the most dependant on interaction with the group. On a scale of 1 to 10 they are the tens of group therapy. In short, Martha Stewart was suffering from depression.

Late afternoon is "chickens gather on the deck time" in these parts so that might be a good time to reintroduce Martha to the flock that had tried to peck her to death 3 days earlier, right? Yes? No? Am I throwing her out the door to her death?

Oh the stress of it!

I looked at the chickens on the deck.....I looked at martha standing there all wilted and facing the wall........

Time to see what would happen. I lifted her up and sat her in front of the door and opened it, figuring it would be better if she made her debut on her own two feet rather than me dropping her from the sky so to speak.

Turkey Lurkey on the left, and mz martha rubbed necks and talked - no pecking whatsoever.


Even Gregory Peck, the rooster, came over and settled in beside her making little friendly noises.


So therapeutic supervised visits for two hours in the late afternoon were added to the strawberries - heating pad - antibiotics and butter regimen.

Today martha spent the whole day outside with her peeps and all was well. No antibiotics, no strawberries, or butter, just chicken feed and fresh raw cream for the probiotics to counteract all the antibiotics.

As twilight set in I was curious to see what martha would the rest of the hens and the rooster began heading towards the chicken house, martha stewart stayed behind anxiously peering in the window at her newspaper covered heating pad.

"stop taking your stupid pictures and open the door" she said.

and in she hurried, as fast as her little legs could carry her

back to the safety of her little warm lair for one (?) more night...

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful story indie. And great detective work! I've lost two chickens to stuck eggs. THe first one I didn't even notice, it was just dead, And when we slaughtered it for dog food we saw the backed up eggs. The second one I figured out, but the soaking treatment didn't work. Great that you were able to see it, find the solution, and make it work, AND get her back into her community. Martha is one lucky chicken!