Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Egg Bound Chicken

Monday night was a true test of my farm girl skills.

I went out to the chicken run at about 8:00pm as dusk was settling in.  I noted that the birds had come into the coop as usual to roost...but there was one missing.  I looked around and found Sweetie Pie standing still like a statue in the back corner of the run with her beak slightly open.  She had her tail tucked down and just gave off a feeling of something being very wrong.  I was nervous for her and coaxed her down on her butt.  She obliged with virtually no response.  Like I wasn't really there.  Her eyes were looking somewhere else off into the distance, or into nothing at all.

I left her for 20 minutes, thinking maybe I had just caught her as she was about to lay and it was a timing I had not experienced before.

When I came back down it was quite a bit darker and she was still down nested in a pile of straw.  But nothing on her expression had changed and I knew for sure now that something was wrong.  I immediately suspected she was egg bound.  I picked her up gently and placed her in the coop so I could keep her safe inside while i went to get a bath set up for her.  The timing, of course, was absolutely horrible.  It was the mosquito hour and dark as could be now.

I had some fresh blackberries I picked earlier that day and some fresh cherry tomatoes...her favorite.  And I placed them on a paper plate, crushed them all up and sprinkled with oyster shells.  I thought that maybe if I could get a strong dose of calcium into her system that it would help her pass the egg.  But it was useless, she was so out of it that she didn't even look at the food I placed in front of her.

Now, time was I went up to the house again and I changed into long pants and shirt and filled a big bucket full of hot soapy water.  I poured it into a large tupperware and mixed cold water from the hose to create a warm soaking tub.  I figured the warm water would help relax her muscles and maybe even lubricate her vent enough to allow the egg to pass.  Being egg bound can be fatal and combine that with such a hot humid day I was really nervous for her.  I was able to coax her into a sitting position into the water and held her firmly there for about 20 minutes...or until the mosquitos had no more places left to bite me or her.  She seemed a bit more alert in the water but still oddly calm.  I noticed at about 15 minutes that she passed some sort of mucous into the water.  I then gently picked her up again and took her down to the coop.  I placed her on top of a pile of fresh straw in a nest box and left.  I half expected to find her the next morning face down in the coop, having fallen from the nest.  But there she was standing next to the door waiting to be let out in the morning.  She was alert and looking almost back to normal.  She took it easy that day and sat on a pile of straw a lot more than normal.  I checked the nest box and there was a malformed egg in there and I suspect it was hers.  Thankfully by end of day she had roosted again as normal and seemed to have made a full recovery.  I am so relieved.  And what a boost for my confidence as a farmer!  BRING ON THE GOATS!!


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