Posts Tagged ‘sick chickens’

Sad farewell

Our lovely littlest Araucana, Juliet, died on Saturday.  She’d had rattly breathing the week before and was a bit underweight so we’d been keeping her inside for most of last week in the warm and dosing her with some medicine to cover off the most common chicken sicknesses.  She seemed much better by Thursday so I put her back outside.  On Friday she seemed fine too, but Saturday I found her dead in the henhouse.  Chickens are very good at hiding their symptoms – being flock animals, they try to hide any malady for as long as possible so as not to get picked on by the others or kicked out and then become vulnerable to predators.  So if a chicken is symptomatic, they have likely had a problem for a while.

I felt quite sad when I found her, but in a different way to the sadness I have felt when we have killed the boys for eating.  Part of it is the unexpectedness of it – even though she had been sick, I did not realise quite how sick she was.  She had also become very friendly while she was inside last week as she had been handled a lot more than she was previously used to.  The main reason I feel sad though is because I am sure she was in pain until she died.  If she was sick enough to die, she must have been in pain.  I don’t even know exactly when she died – she was cold when I found her – so I feel sad that her death was no doubt drawn out and painful.  Even though I think it is sad that they all can’t live out long happy lives, at least I know when we kill a boy to eat the death is as quick and stress-free as possible and they have had a good life until then.

I am well aware that sickness and death is a part of chicken keeping.  Even though it is sad, I feel it is only right that I am aware of what eating eggs and meat really means.  Our society is so disconnected from the source of our food that we forget that these things do happen and some animals suffer and die even before they reach productivity (Juliet was about 20 weeks old, and not yet laying).  As sad as this experience was (and the first of many such experiences I am sure), it has only strengthened my resolve to ensure that the animals that provide our family with sustenance have as good a life and death as possible.

Juliet inside last Monday

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Chickens with impacted crop and respiratory infections

I’ve been a bit quiet recently – so much has been happening.  First Craig got a bit of an impacted crop for a few days, most likely pigging out on our slightly long grass (must mow more often….).  Olive oil down his beak a few times and a crop massage did the trick and he was okay again.

Then a few nights later I woke up at 2.30am to hear a really weird periodic noise.  On (husband’s) investigation it turned out to be Henrietta outside in the coop, wheezing and gasping for breath so loudly that it had woken me up inside the house. We had a single dose of liquid antibiotics left over from when we first got Paprika, which we made up and put down Henrietta’s beak, and kept her inside locked in our cat carrier for the remainder of the night (don’t worry, it’s huge – fits both our cats with room to spare).

The following morning I called the vet to get some more antibiotics, and the vet suggested tablets because they would be easier, and also that I would probably need to dose the whole flock.  Despite our early isolation of Henrietta, sure enough Craig followed by Pepper and Adelaide started showing symptoms, so with nowhere big enough to isolate the majority of the flock, everybody got one pill twice a day for the next week.

Having not really done this kind of thing before except on my very placid and compliant cats, it took quite a while to get the knack of catching a bird, calming and restraining it with one hand, getting out the pill, holding the head steady, opening the beak, and putting the pill in.  This is not too bad with two people but I had to do it on my own most mornings after husband left for work.  The first day took over an hour to do everyone.  I had it down to about 25 minutes (aka an episode of Play School!) by the end of the week.

Thankfully they are all recovered now, bar the odd sneeze, which I am fervently hoping will not develop into anything else.

We still haven’t had eggs yet, which in a way is good because we wouldn’t have been able to eat them while the birds were on antibiotics anyway.  But hopefully soon… the sussexs are coming up 26 weeks now, so it must happen soon!

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