3 November 2012

This blogger turns chicken nurse

Gentle, mournful chicken calls float about our bedroom in the morning. Our four hens live out the back of our house, and a few weeks ago our neighbours got some too. Interestingly, they have different voices!

This morning I was jerked out of my dozy sleep-in by a call that sounded wrong. This pyjama-clad blogger raced outside to find a sick looking chook. I transformed into nurse mode.

Obviously sick. I'd never even seen a chicken's eyelids before.
Note the flopped-over comb. I'd read about it but never seen it before.
I lifted her up and tipped her upside down to check her cloaca (egg laying and everything else hole). Healthy. But before I tipped her right way up, some fluid came out of her mouth. Hmmm.

A consultation with Dr Google revealed that she probably has 'sour crop', basically a blocked fluid-filled belly. I gathered the troops to witness me squeezing out her foul juice.

Can you see the white fluid dripping past my leg?

Then I made her a sick bay with provisions: water with a dash of apple cider vinegar in it, some plain yoghurt and her normal food. The first two things are to provide good bacteria to counteract the bad ones in her crop. Strangely, I'm just reading a book about the importance of healthy gut flora in humans!

The other hens were madly curious to see what I was up to!
Sick bay
I did another squeeze a bit later on - also fruitful - and squirted some yoghurt into her mouth, which she swallowed. 

At bedtime, she had just sat in her sickbay all day, hadn't touched her provisions, and left completely clean straw. Not good - these gals do regular droppings when things are normal. 

The truth is, I may find her dead in the morning. I really, really hope not - she is one of my best layers. Stay tuned: I may have my first chicken corpse to dispose of. 

Pity it's not tree-planting season; corpses are the best fertilisers, I hear. A while ago I admired a friend's flourishing cabbage tree and he told me there was a cow under it!

What happened next? My post about it about it is here.

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