Thursday, February 27, 2014

There's a chicken in my bathroom

Manflesh came in from his nightly chicken rounds with a friend.  One of the Barred Rocks had been hiding in a nest box instead of roosting with the rest of the flock.  When he opened it up to check on her, she stayed put instead of flapping away in usual chicken fashion, which was not a good sign.

Earlier, one of the Barreds had been very insistent on breaking out of the portable fence where the flock was supposed to be foraging to return to the permanent hen house, to the point that she spent most of the day out in the pouring rain rather than hanging out in the shelter.  Manflesh thought this might be the same chicken, and maybe she was just chilled from getting so wet.  He cuddled her on his lap for a while and offered a little lukewarm water and feed.  She perked up a bit, maybe, but her breathing was really labored, with her whole body rocking with each breath.

Frantic Googling was inconclusive, so we agreed to let her spend the night in the warm and dry and re-evaluate in the morning.  I fitted out a cardboard box with some cozy towels and little dishes of water and feed, and our invalid chicken took up residence in the bath tub.

The next morning, she was still with us, but didn't seem much improved.  Our chickens aren't very tame, so the very fact that she stayed in her box and didn't flutter when we walked around her seemed like a pretty bad sign.  Still, she was awake and alert, so we thought we'd just give her as much peace and quiet as we could muster and hope for recovery.

This went on for a couple of days, until this morning I woke up to the distinct sound of pecking on and around the bathroom door.  She was out of the box!

Our glamorous master bath.

Breathing was still a little labored, but we agreed that if she felt well enough to be up and about, she would probably be more comfortable with the rest of the flock rather than isolated in the house, so manflesh took her out.

So far, so good, but only time will tell.  It's so hard to know what to do in these situations, when the animal can't tell you what she needs, and there's not a lot you can do anyway beyond providing some comfort and hoping for the best.

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