Quick advice from Extension poultry expert helps save backyard chicken
By guest blogger Theresa Hogue
There’s nothing worse than coming home and finding one of your pets or family members has fallen ill. Since our two backyard chickens are an extension of our indoor fur family, it was upsetting to get home from work last week to find Viola, the largest of our black sex-linked hens, huddled out of the rain looking downright exhausted and listless.
Since her sister, Betita, was marching about in the yard and seemed fine, Viola’s sickness was even more evident. After picking her up and carefully examining her, I was surprised when she expelled clear liquid from her beak, looking at me almost mournfully as she did so. This was one sick chicken.
I called the vet, who informed me that only one veterinarian in town dealt with poultry. That vet happened to be booked until Monday. This was Thursday. I looked up symptoms on the Internet. Turns out it could be anything from a tummy upset to cholera. This was not helping.
Finally, a friend suggested that I get help through OSU Extension’s Ask an Expert website, something that should have occurred to me earlier, since I work down the hall from Extension folks. I immediately fired off an email question through the web site, and within 12 hours, had a reply from Jim Hermes, Extension Poultry Specialist. While the prognosis was not good, Jim recommended I try Viola on some over-the-counter antibiotics (easily available at the local feed store).
Another friend, a local organic chicken farmer, also suggested I bring Viola indoors for a few days to let her warm up and rest. I combined these two suggestions, and fed the listless Viola her medicine from an eye-dropper (donated by a nice man at the Fred Meyer pharmacy who was sympathetic to my chicken problem). Within a day, Viola had perked up and started eating. Within two days she was complaining loudly about her confinement and her separation from her sister. By the time four days had passed, she was so healthy that I put her back in the yard, although I will keep dosing both hens with antibiotics until the end of the week.
I am keeping a close eye on her, but thanks to quick care and some good advice, she seems well on the road to recovery.
Theresa is aspinner of tales who is currently working on her highly anticipated new work, which should make his appearance in the spring after nine months of hard effort.