*WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS GRAPHIC PHOTOS OF POOP*
*CHICKEN POOP. NOT HUMAN POOP*
When last we met, Cuddles had a very small problem with maggots trying to eat her alive. Such an inconvenience. She got off easily because the majority of animals who suffer from flystrike die. The only reason Cuddles made it through is because I happen to work from home and spotted it right away. I also happened to have antibiotics on hand that I could give to her immediately. Had these two things not have been working in my favour, Cuddles would most probably have died. Again.
Once she got over her flystrike episode she was feeling great, running, bouncing and bullying. Bullying is a good sign in a chicken. It means they're feeling happy and healthy when a chicken has the energy to divebomb another chicken's wattle for no apparent reason.
Then this happened. (poop picture coming up)
For those of you who don't know, that's not what chicken poop normally looks like. This is what chicken poop normally looks like.
If it's hot out and the chickens are drinking a lot, their poop will be watery, or if they've eaten a lot of greens it might be green ... but generally a healthy chicken poop looks like the above photo. The white is urine and the poop coloured stuff is poop.
So there are two things wrong with the poop in the first picture. It's very watery with only a tiny bit of "poop" in it. That means she's drinking, but isn't eating. Watery stool in general means she isn't feeling well. The other issue with the poop are the yellow blobs in it.
Those yellow blobs are COOKED EGGS. Yes. Yes they are.
That means that a) Cuddles is laying eggs internally and they've given her an infection which has given her a fever which HAS COOKED THE EGGS INSIDE OF HER.
Cuddles. My little microwave chicken.
In that one poop I found 5 eggs. Granted, they have no shells, but they are eggs.
You can see that more clearly when I cut the larger egg open. You can very clearly see the "white" surrounding the "yolk". And you can also very clearly see that it's cooked.
The second I saw this I knew she was going to need antibiotics again and right away. She was so sick and lethargic and just feeling awful. So right away I syringed some antibiotics into her and fed her things she loved and I knew she would eat. Tomatoes, corn, mealworms, pedicure toe separators. Yeah. The pink spongey ones. It happened about 2 years ago.
But after a few hours she didn't even want to eat mealworms so I had to make a gruel out of her feed by grinding it up and mixing it with water. I syringe fed her 5 times a day for two days. By that time the antibiotics I was also syringe feeding her made her feel much better and she was eating on her own. I kept her on antibiotics, syringe feeding them to her 4-5 times a day for 5 days.
Making sure an internal layer has food in them is important for two reasons. Eating keeps them alive through nutrients obviously, but having food inside their little stomachs allows them to have something to pass. The more they're pooping, the faster and easier time they'll have getting rid of the eggs that have built up inside of them.
This is all just experience talking by the way. I'm not a vet, have never been a vet and could never be a vet. Unless the only job I had to do was syringe feed chickens.
Or extract a puss filled abscess on a cat. I can do that too.
Also if you need any small home dental work done, I've experimented with that too but I wouldn't recommend hiring me because I'm not very good.
For the first couple of days I let Cuddles roam around the backyard by herself so she wouldn't be bothered by the other chickens. She moved around and scratched in the dirt. As soon as I put her back in her run she went to the furthest, darkest corner and laid down looking like she was just waiting to die. But I wasn't going to let that happen. At least I was hoping I wasn't going to let that happen.
One of the ways you can instantly tell if a chicken isn't feeling well is her wing position. A droopy wing signals lack of strength and energy. The same way you get droopy when you're sick, a chicken gets droopy. The top dotted line shows where Cuddles wing should be. It should be tucked up nicely against her body. But it's hanging low. In this photo she was sick, but not so sick she couldn't ruin my shot by walking away. So the picture is blurry. In case you hadn't noticed. I'm good at pointing things out like that to you.
Which brings me to the point of this post. I've read about a certain hormone therapy you can put a chicken on. I read about it on Backyard Chickens. Then, a reader commented that their wife is a vet and uses this hormone therapy on her own chicken.
The drug is called Suprelorin and was originally made for ferrets. It's an implant that's placed in the chicken's breast, or under the wing. The implant releases hormones which stop the chicken from laying eggs, therefore preventing infection from internal laying, the end result being healthy hen. However, there isn't a lot of information on it and it's experimental in chickens.
It definitely isn't anything my regular vet is familiar with. He helps me with Cuddles the odd time doing fecal tests and prescribing me antibiotics for her. But big farm animals are his thing so he doesn't know what to do with something that isn't likely to hoof him in the head.
I now have a local cat vet who is also a chicken owner and poultry judge looking into it for me. I'll report back with what he finds out. (he's also starting a magazine dedicated to poultry and other avians which I'll introduce you to later)
So Cuddles is on the mend for the moment, but isn't laying eggs because she probably will never lay eggs again. Oh, and Josephine is broody once more. As is Mabel. And Cheez Whiz is moulting. So that means I'm getting exactly zero eggs a day.
I wish I had known this whole "no eggs thing" was going to happen all at once.
For one thing I'd have made those last eggs of Cuddle's last a lot longer. Lipsmack.
*Postscript* After writing this post I got an email from the vet who found out the drug is not available in Canada. Which is kind of heartbreaking. He says it's possible to import the drug, but at a cost of $100 just for an import license (or something like that). Then there's the cost of the drug and finding someone who can implant it successfully and repeatedly. I've asked him to look into it further.
I find myself growing more and more fond of Cuddles, she is one tough bird,..... Bless her Heart..
You are a great pet mom...I'm not sure I would go near a puss filled abscess. Is that kind of like expressing anal glands on a dog? I can do that. Get well, Cuddles. You are loved by many.
Karen, you are one good chicken Momma. Good thing they have you. Have a great day and a rest.
Sorry to hear that Cuddles is not well again. You are indeed a good chicken mama. I am not surprised that chickens can be complicated, as it seems to me that all birds are, as are the reptiles that they are so closely related to. I know reptiles, as I have taken care of many through the years. But birds need special care, and you have been a real trooper in loving your birds. Hats off, and wish you the best! Also, the "Poo shots" did not bother me and were informative!
i may never eat eggs again
If I were the sort of person who wrote hashtag things, I would write #sogladibuymyeggs
well it sure ain't pretty to look at but it was very informative. i shall continue eaten eggs, why wouldn't i? it'a all part of the circle of life. Cuddles is one tough chick and she's really lucky to have you as a chicken mom. i was called to my friends coop a couple of times now to help move along an ailing one to the feathery gates of chicken heaven. I really admire your determination and Cuddles'.
on a sidenote though, what is this magical metal beautiful sphere in the pic with Cuddles meandering through your backyard?
I hope Cuddles continues to survive and thrive. She was sooooooo lucky to have ended up at your home!
What amazes me is the chicken poop made me gag whilst people poop doesn't. Unless it is from dead bowel or c-diff. Belly button goobers make me gag too so don't worry about clean undies if ever in an accident, for the love of all nurses everywhere, ream your button daily.
Hope Cuddles is on the mend.
I am a vet tech that works in a bird specialty practice. Suprelorin is not available in Canada, but Depo Lupron is. I know this because I order it from Canada because it is cheaper! Depo Lupron is the injection version of Suprelorin, which is an implant. It is short acting so Cuddles would need injections every 2-3 weeks. It is also VERY expensive but some bird vets make multiple chicken sized doses out of one human dose. See if there are any local vets that carry it.
I read some of the comments about the Suprelorin above. No, you can't give 1/2 of a dose. You actually need the double dose. Birds have a very high metabolic rate and burn through medicine faster than other animals. And the studies are not great on the implant actually working in birds. Just so you know in case you can get your hands on an implant. They also were on manufacturer back order for months last year. That means the price went way up and the ferret owners are buying them up for their little guys.
I hope Cuddles is doing well. And good job saving her life multiple times!
That's good to know Julie. I'd appreciate any other information you have on it. I'd have to look at the cost obviously, which sounds like it might be prohibitive. BUT at least I could do the injections myself. I wouldn't (probably) be able to do an implant myself. Anyone I've talked to who has tried Suprelorin has said it has worked on their hens. But I understand it's off label use for sure and experimental. I'll let the vet doing my research know about the Depo Lupron and I'll look into it myself. ~ karen!
I just did a quick online check of the drug and see several people who have used it for their hens, but two of them I came upon said their hen developed hip problems (the join disintegrated) and they died after a few months of treatment. So that's a bit scary. ~ karen!
We use it on birds, parrot species and chickens, on a daily basis and have never seen hip or bone problems. And we actually use it on birds with bone problems because of the laying. The bones become thin because of the excessive amount of estrogen in the body. Maybe the cases you read about actually had that problem first. Who knows?
Good luck! Julie
That's great to know. Thanks Julie. ~ karen!
Poor lamb! You I mean, And poor little chick. Although I have no advice to offer I hope Cuddles feels better soon. Is there a chicken vet at University of Guelph?
I usually read your posts right after they appear, at midnight. That's a good thing, since I am less likely to be eating anything at the time. But since I returned home from the US very late last night, I didn't get around to reading the latest one until just now. I thought I would read the new post, and then go make some egg salad. Swear to God. I shit thee not. To make matters even worse, the eggs are the kind that you buy already hardboiled, in little packs of 2, and my 4 eggs are already a few days expired, but I was hoping they were still be OK. *gags* So much for that plan. I think Lindy made an excellent suggestion that you immediately start using the universal "Heave Alert" when appropriate.
Can someone here please explain to me the allure of chicken keeping? Unless you all have delusions of being Laura Ingalls Wilder, and think you live on the Little House on the Prairie, which I don't think is the case, you know that buying your eggs is a hell of a lot easier - and cheaper, and far less gross - than getting them on site. If you keep chickens as pets, do you really get that much social interaction with them? The term "bird brain" was coined for a reason. While I hope that little Cutlet recovers from her latest crisis, I just cannot fathom the time and trouble and expense that you chicken wranglers put into this endeavor. You chicken people must be a special breed. Someone above mentioned a chicken rescue organization that sterilizes chickens. That sounds like a great idea for cats and dogs, but is that really necessary for chickens? I'm not trying to be mean, really I'm not, but if roving gangs of unowned chickens are really a problem somewhere, well, everyone has an oven. Cue the vitriolic outrage from chicken owners now.
Hilarious. I have chickens. I love Laura Ingalls Wilder.
uhhhh...I see what you mean about that one...You just keep doing what you are doing..I know you won't give up on Cuddles unless it is absolutely what you must do...I'm not sure who is the toughest..you or Cuddles...Hugs..
Awww, bless her little chicken heart! She's so cute too.....never thought I'd say a chicken was cute, but darnit, she IS! You're awesome for taking such good care of her. What a good chicken Mommy you are! : )
OK, I know I'm weird, but that photo of the big egg cut up . . . made me want eggs! It looked just the way I like 'em, not overcooked - just right. God, I wish there was some way to make this comment anonymous.
You are a good chicken mama, Karen!
LOL. Yup. That definitely puts you in the weird category. Which is fine by me. ~ karen!
Best wishes Cuddles. What a trooper. Internally cooked eggs are so gross. I hope if my chickens get some ailment, it's one that yours have had. you have a great reference guide at poor Cuddles expense. But actually, all of the things Cuddles has had are too gross for me. Darn it. ce la vie!
Lipsmack? LIPSMACK? The only lip-smacking I would be doing in relation to your birds is, as previously stated, for chicken and dumplings. Even I (who grew up eating her pets) don't think I could eat Cuddles. So what does that mean?
Of course all your girls have stopped laying simultaneously. Sorta like human females when we all live together. Of course they did.
Bahaahaahaahhhaaaaaa!! Seriously, don't eat Cuddles. What, um, do you do, when um, your uhhh, girls get too old to produce? I gather you haven't stopped eating chicken soup in their honor, right?
Oh I'd never eat Cuddles. Just her poop eggs. Cuddles is the only chicken to stop laying. The others (Norma & Walnut) died suddenly. Probably a heart attack for Walnut and a prolapsed vent for Norma. Meh. They're pets. They can stay as long as they want to live out their years here. ~ karen!
I feel ya! I had a rotten July and most of August with having to medicate 15 chickens twice a day with THREE antibiotics. Because that wasn't enough, my dominate rooster decided that some extra vigorious humping was in order with his favorite gal and tore a 3" gash in her side that I could stick my fingers into (she's healing wonderfully now that she was a stylish chicken parka to wear). So, no eggs here for most of the summer. I lost two chickens, but I'll keep fighting and going to unneccesary measures for the rest of them.
Karen, I enjoy your most informative and funny blog. Some days it just what I need for a good laugh. I also have chickens, I bought them in Feb . and they have been laying since late July. I have a gold-laced Wyandotte (Golda) she recently started staying in the nesting box all day and also sleeping there. After reading my chicken books, they mention the ice bath solution (my husband called it the water-boarding method) I did try and after a couple times of doing that she stopped going into the nesting box totally. Now I'm wondering where are the eggs? She stopped laying. Any suggestions on what I can do. Thank you for your blog and I love "doing stuff". Jeanne
Thanks Jeanne! So you have a broody chicken. I think maybe next time you could try this method which is a little gentler on the hen than an ice bath. It also explains a bit about broodiness in hens. If she was in broody mode for more than a couple of days then she won't be back to laying eggs for a while. Probably a couple of weeks. It takes that long for their hormones etc. to return to normal after being broody and they won't lay while they're brooding either. You might get an egg the first or second day she's broody but after that she just sits there waiting for something to hatch even if there's nothing under her! Good luck. ~ karen!