Monday, 23 June 2014

Poorly Wilma

Wilma the chicken is poorly.  I noticed 2 days ago that she wasn't eating much, then yesterday morning she looked decidedly under the weather - listlessly pecking at food but just dropping it, not drinking, lethargic and keeping to herself.  I checked on her regularly during the day and things didn't really change.  She was quite happy for me to hold her, which is most unlike her normal feisty self, almost cuddling into my warmth and sitting very docilely while I examined her.  She seems to weigh not much more than a sparrow poor thing.  Her crop was empty so it wasn't an impacted crop, and her abdomen was soft so being eggbound didn't seem to be the issue.  My inner vet is telling me that she may have some sort of infection inside, and perhaps she has been the one laying shell-less eggs and it's all connected somehow.

Anyway, towards dusk last night when it was getting very cold outside, I found her sitting alone in a corner, and I was worried the other girls, who are very congenial most of the time, might decide to pick on her.  So, I rummaged around in the shed and found a large cardboard box, lined it with sawdust and straw, and brought it over to our house.  Where to put it though?  In the end I put it inside our shower recess, figuring that a) it would be easy to clean up any mess, and b) Lord Neo couldn't get to her. Then I went and collected Wilma and settled her into her box for the night, to give her a chance to rest.  She just sat down in the corner and basically didn't move.  I was almost scared to look this morning in case she had died in the night. 

Nope, she is still with us.  She seemed a little better this morning, was up on her feet eyeing off the top of the box as if to make her escape.  I had done a lot of reading during the evening as to what could be her problem and what to do for her.  The issue was to get her eating and in particular, drinking again, and the fact she seemed sort of interested but then changed her mind was odd, it made me think she was in pain maybe.  I read mention in my book and on chook forums on the Internet about giving chickens aspirin to relieve pain and inflammation and decided to give that a go.  I dissolved 1/4 of an aspirin in a few mls of water then syringed it down her throat very slowly while Steve held her.  Then I left her for half an hour for it to take effect, during that time collecting up delectable items of fare such as worms, slugs, a cricket and some chopped kale, then popped her on my lap to try and persuade her to eat.
 Don't mind me sitting on the lid of the loo in the photo will you, I figured it was the safest spot to nurse her, alongside her bed for the night.  I was really pleased to watch her devour one cricket, 3 worms and some kale, she didn't fancy the slug.  She seemed much perkier and interested in everything, so I decided to put her back with her sisters.  She had a special treat enroute to the chook yard, I stopped at the worm farm, took the lid off, turned over a scoop of scraps so there was a seething mass of worms visible, then sat her in the worm farm where she gobbled up at least 20 worms, hooray!  She was reintroduced to the chook yard with no problems and although subdued, she was pecking around a bit and eating small amounts.  If she deteriorates later on then that will cement the pain theory in my head I think.  I don't want to give her too much aspirin, (god forbid a chicken with a stomach ulcer!) but if she looks really crook late in the day then I think I'll bring her inside to sleep in the box again, and give her a night dose of aspirin.
She looks pretty good in the photo, taken after her medication, her eyes are bright and she wasn't just a limp rag on my lap but her comb is a bit paler than normal.  Time will tell, wish us luck.  :-)

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