Just a quick post today. I'm hoping someone wiser than me will have some words of wisdom to impart.
Our dear Cheryl is not doing well. I noticed on Saturday that she looked a little "droopy" - not moving much, standing around with her body all hunched up and her head down. We didn't think much of it, but when I went to open the coop Sunday morning, she didn't come out. Poor thing stood there and as I watched her from the kitchen window, she didn't budge for over 45 minutes. So I pulled out the "chicken hospital" (a.k.a. the old dog crate) and put her into the Intensive Care Unit (our house).
Upon examination, I discovered that her comb had drooped over and was starting to turn dark purple. Her abdomen felt slightly swollen. She would not touch food, but I was able to get her to drink by holding up the water right to her beak.
She has now spent 4 days in the ICU. Her comb is still droopy, but no longer purple (maybe it was the cold weather?). She abdomen feels more or less the same. There is evidence of poop in her cage, so I know she is not completely blocked up. I'm wondering if she is egg-bound (the egg is stuck inside her), since she has not laid an egg in 4 days and she normally is a reliable layer. I even went so far as to lube up her vent with olive oil and have a feel around inside her (with gloves of course!), but I can't feel anything resembling an egg. Most websites say that an egg-bound chicken usually dies in about 48 hours. Is that really what is bothering her? And if not, what is?
I've given her two baths in warm water to help relax her vent muscles, hoping it would help her pass an egg, if indeed that is her problem. No such luck, but she did seem to enjoy her warm bath, along with the towel rubdown and feather blow drying. Let me tell you, it takes a loooooooong time to blow dry a chicken.
I'll be the first to admit I feel a little silly spending so much time caring for a chicken. The farmer in me says that she will most likely not improve and it would be more humane to put her out of her misery. But the other, more sentimental side of me can't bear to do that if there is hope she might get better. She doesn't seem to be in pain. She perks up when I come to check on her and help her drink, or offer her food (I did get her to eat a little yogurt and oatmeal). I know I should not be so attached to a chicken... but I am. Cheryl is special and we all love her dearly.
If anyone has advice or suggestions, please share!