This is an emergency post. It is not what I planned, scheduled or hoped to be talking about today. It will not be my best piece of writing but it is one of my most important.
In fact I don’t even want to type the words out.
But Cuddles is dying.
Last Tuesday I went out into the run and the normally wildly active and friendly Cuddles was hiding under a tree. Just laying there.
By Wednesday she hadn’t improved at all and wasn’t eating or drinking. She wasn’t moving. Otherwise she looked healthy. No signs of a cold or any respiratory problems. Nice red comb. She had laid an egg only a few days earlier. But I knew when I looked at her. Cuddles was dying.
Her poop was minuscule bits of green (bile filled) dry blobs. From what I could tell she had no swelling in her crop or abdomen.
So I ran up to my local feed store and got her some electrolytes (to replenish the liquid, vitamins and minerals she needed) and some penicillin in case she had any sort of infection that could be cleared up.
The horrible, horrible sad thing about chickens is generally when they get sick, they die.
They’re prone to cancer, egg binding, impacted crops, egg yolk peritonitis, prolapsed vents, respiratory illnesses and a litany of other things that can, and often do lead to death.
By Thursday Cuddles’ poop looked like this.
Sorry for the graphic photo, but really I don’t care. I just care about finding some sort of help for Cuddles.
After a day of antibiotics and electrolytes Cuddles was feeling MUCH better. She was up and moving around and drinking. Still no eating though. For the next couple of days she got even better and would peck angrily at the younger chickens, drink and eat (but only her favourite foods). I could coax her to eat preserved crickets, corn on the cob, oatmeal and a bit of her feed. She’d peck and scratch at the dirt like she normally does, looking for bugs. Her poops were not large, but back to normal with regular cecal matter and poopy stuff.
After 4 days I quit the antibiotics and electrolytes. That was today (I’m writing this Sunday night). She was active again today and scratching around in the dirt for bits of food, but will NOT eat her food and will not eat anything presented to her other than some fresh corn.
And her poops are back to this …
Like I said. For the most part, when chickens get sick, chickens die.
I know Cuddles is just a chicken. And I’m willing to let nature take it’s course if need be. I don’t want to prolong her life for my sake. But there are 2 things I won’t do.
I will not give up trying to help her if I think there’s a chance she can recover.
And I will not allow her to suffer for weeks or even days. If she has no chance, I will have her put down.
I will not chop her head off, I will not break her neck. I just can’t. Cuddles sat in my lap for hours last summer when the fella left. The poor thing would be soaked in tears, but just shake them off and sleep in my lap. So no, off with her head is not an option here. But I will have her euthanized the same way I’ve had other pets I’ve loved. If I have to I’ll have Cuddles put to sleep.
Now is when I ask for your help.
I cannot find a vet that deals in poultry in my area. If you know of someone who deals with poultry in the Hamilton, Ontario region let me know. I would like Cuddles looked at and diagnosed so I can decide what to do. I will also need a vet to euthanize her when the time comes.
Also, if you are a chicken owner and these symptoms seem familiar to you, let me know. I know very little about poultry veterinary but I suppose it could be egg yolk peritonitis.
If you know anyone else who is an experienced chicken farmer please forward this post to them.
Synopsis and timeline of Symptoms
Day 1 – lethargic, not eating or drinking
Day 2 – lethargic, not eating or drinking. Dry, green pellet type poops. Started on electrolytes and penicillin.
Day 3 – energy back, eating a tiny bit and drinking. Fed some olive oil in case of blockage or crop issue. Poops that look like egg yolk with no solids. (however both her medications that I’ve been syringe feeding her are a bright yellow colour)
Day 4 – Great energy, playing a bit, eating anything when hand fed. Picking out only black sunflower seeds from scratch. Eating crickets, green beans, greens, yogourt, oatmeal, and a small amount of crumble when fed by hand and she got jealous when the other chickens were eating it. Discontinued use of electrolytes and penicillin at end of day.
Day 5 – Less energy but still up and moving around all day. Running to gate when she saw me. Uninterested in eating even her favourite foods other than a few specific seeds from scratch, weeds and raw corn on the cob. Crop felt almost empty before bed. Decided to give electrolytes just before she retired for the night.
I apologize for the horribly depressing and you know, gross post where you didn’t learn how to do anything or get a chance to laugh but it seemed stupid to have this kind of a forum and not use it to help Cuddles.