What a month May has been. This month has absolutely kicked my tail up the street and back. This has been such a stressful month personally and with all the shifts I picked up at the hospital, has left little time to manage things at the homestead.
As if this month hasn’t been challenging enough, several days ago I noticed Solstice (our Buff Orpington hen) was sick. She was lethargic and had a foul smell coming from her face. Along with this fabulous smell (which smelled exactly like the infected wounds of the many patients I have cared for) she had runny eyes and a runny beak. I immediately scooped her up and got her away from the others. I quickly disinfected where she had been sitting. Solstice was then quarantined to a crate in the back bedroom. I gave her extra water, food and comfort measures. I went to bed praying I didn’t have an epidemic on my hands.
The next morning Solstice looked worse. She was even more lethargic and not eating. I knew it was time for some medical intervention. I headed up to the feed store and got Vet Rx which is a natural remedy for many chicken ailments. I doused her with the concoction and hoped for the best. As I headed out to the coop that night to check on everyone, I heard several girls with the sniffles and a rattly cough. I knew I had to get a handle on this before it spread like wildfire through the flock. With a flashlight that intermittently stayed on (more May luck I guess) I made my way through the dark pen to snatch the sick girls off their roosts.
I immediately brought them inside and treated them with the Vet Rx. Running out of crates (there were now four sick hens in all) I utilized the bathtub. With my stress level at an all time high, I tried to accept that this is part of caring for anything. Everyone gets sick from time to time. So far, I have never had to deal with a sick chicken. Since the girls haven’t been exposed to any new girls in awhile and no one else with chickens has interacted with my girls, I figure this is from all the daily rain and resulting muck. The pen is an impossible mud pit.
After re-situating everyone outside on the front porch, which has become our make-shift chicken infirmary, I thoroughly disinfected everything. Humans can’t cat the virus the girls have, but I didn’t want to run any risk of us spreading it to anymore of the girls.
I also spent a day spreading 700 pounds (yes you read that right) of sand and rock in the pen to help dry out some of the mud. It worked beautifully and the majority of the muck has dried out. I also fenced in half of the pen so Houidini does not have access to the chicken side. This will help decrease the mud on the girls’ side. I also set up several feeding and watering stations that will now stay dry in all weather conditions. It was a lot of work to cram into one day, but I got it done. I didn’t want anyone else to get sick, which was excellent motivation.
After several days of antibiotics, the hens are getting better. Two of the four have some respiratory gurgles (sounds like a CHF patient that needs lasix) still, but are doing better. I have been feeding them a scrambled egg concoction with oatmeal grain and feed. They are getting lots of rest. So far, the other hens have remained healthy and we haven’t had to cull any. I sure hope it stays that way!
Is May over yet?!?
Until next time…