Sick Chicken

I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am to see this girl up and foraging around the yard. Two weeks ago, we thought she was a goner.

It all started one morning when she came walking out slowly from her coop in the morning.  Normally, she comes running out with the other girls in hopes to get the most dried worms. But this morning, she slowly walked out and just looked at me.

Now, I know it is wrong to have favorites but this is my favorite chicken. It is my Goldie. The chicken I got to name. The chicken that likes to let me pick it up. The one that sits in my lap. I love all my chickens, but Goldie is definitely my favorite.

I didn’t know what to do so I continued to watch her. She was walking slowly and looked in pain. How could this be? She looked fine yesterday!

After a few steps, Goldie plopped down in the grass. Her comb was flopped and looked lifeless. It had a grayish color on the edges. I thought this might be the end.

I called for my husband. He came outside and was worried too. We had already lost one chicken without warning. One day she was fine. At bedtime, she didn’t come to her house and we couldn’t find her. The next morning we found her lifeless under a bush. There was no warning. There were no injuries. She was just gone. She was less than one year old when we lost her. The only logic we could think of why might have been an impacted egg.

Goldie is now two and a half. We didn’t want her to meet the same fate. My brave husband put on a rubber glove and inspected for an impacted egg. Feeling nothing stuck, we put Goldie back outside in the shade with some water. It had been hot for seven days and perhaps she was just dehydrated.

After several hours, Goldie had barely moved and things were not looking good. I decided I needed to quarantine her and bring her inside. I set up a rabbit cage from the shed with nesting chips and placed Goldie in the house. I searched the internet trying to diagnose what was wrong and for ideas about what to do.

I googled “sick chicken” and a few things came up. There were none that said the chicken lived, so I was terrified but tried anyway.  The first thing I found said that it was possible that she ate long grass and it was stuck in her crop. I quickly felt her crop and it was empty.  The second thing I found said it could be worms, so I went and investigated all the chicken poop I could find in the backyard and saw no visible signs of worms or diarrhea. The third thing I found said it could be bacteria in the gut, and I should feed her yogurt to help introduce probiotics into her digestive system. It also recommended adding apple cider vinegar to her water, which we do normally anyway.  Goldie actually at a few bites of the plain greek yogurt. I felt I had done my best.

The next couple of days, Goldie sat in the cage and didn’t want to move.  I took her out and pet her.  She would start to breath heavily and I would put her down to relax.

After three days, I went to the local farm store.  The clerk thought it might be coccidiosis. Coccidiosis is not usually a problem for backyard flocks but we didn’t know what else it could be. Coccidia is a disease that lives in the digestive system, sometimes without any symptoms. It is transmitted in pooh and can cause digestive issues, lethargy and sudden death.  Since we lost one chicken suddenly last year, the clerk thought the disease could be in our flock. I purchased some medicine for coccidiosis and headed straight home.

I diluted the medicine per the instructions and administered it to Goldie with a plastic syringe.  She opened her beak when I pinched it from the bottom or top.  She didn’t like it at all. It wasn’t too hard to get it down since she didn’t want to move.

After three daily doses of the medicine, we noticed a lump low in Goldie’s belly.  Once again my husband got the rubber gloves back on. This time he felt something in her bottom. It was a mass of grass and pebbles. After he pulled it out of her, she fell asleep in his lap.  She looked truly relieved.  She was just constipated!

She started to feel better after the extraction. She wasn’t ready to go back outside for about three more days.  She enjoyed time on the couch and getting snuggles.

I hope this helps you if your chicken should ever get sick.  We love our girls like family.  It has now been nearly two weeks and she still hasn’t laid an egg.  Hopefully everything is will be back to 100% soon.


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