*Warning: This post contains some gross (yet fascinating) photos. If you are eating while reading this, STOP. Read it later. Just sayin'. You've been warned.
Our beloved Cheryl, an ISA Brown chicken, has been ill almost 2 weeks now. I know some of the blog followers also have chickens (and know how much we love these silly creatures). Perhaps someone out there can help us.
Here's the scoop: We noticed Cheryl looking a little "droopy" about 2 weeks ago. She has been living in the house in a dog crate since then. Cheryl barely eats, only a few bites a day (she likes yogurt or quinoa best). She will drink, but only if I hold the water right up to her. Her comb has fallen over. She can walk, but prefers not to (probably because she has no energy from not eating).
At first, I suspected she was egg-bound (stuck egg - ouch!), as I noticed her abdomen seemed swollen. I tried everything I could think of to help her. I oiled her vent to make the egg easier to pass, I tried reaching a gloved finger up her vent to get things moving. Goodness, I even gave her several warm baths, hoping to relax her muscles. Nothing (she seemed to enjoy the bath and being blow dried, though!).
And then last Friday morning when I went to check on her, I found this:
Ahhhhhhh!!! What in the world is THAT?!? She obviously passed this "thing" sometime in the night. I picked it up to find that it was firm and rubbery, like a bouncy ball. It looked just like a piece of breaded sweet and sour chicken, darker brown in some places, like it had been fried (....and now I can never eat that again, thank you very much). It was soft, but not slimy. Very, very bizarre.
So, of course I put photos of it on Facebook. And of course everyone was curious what it looked like inside. I succumbed to peer-pressure and decided I better cut it open. Deep breath. Slowly sliced it open.... to find this (are you sure you want to look at it?!? I'm giving you space to change your mind):
Whoa. I don't know what I was expecting, but not this. What IS this? At first I thought maybe it was a weird egg, but after cutting it open, I don't think it's an egg at all. It looks like body tissue, not embryo.
So, I jumped on some chicken forums (you would be SHOCKED how many chicken forums are out there! Crazy chicken people....like me...) and discovered a few people with similar situations. Turns out this "thing" has a name- it is called a "Lash". Ok, great, I know what it's called. But what IS it? I still don't really know. Some sources say a lash is layers of reproductive tissue, or parts of the reproductive tract. I cannot find any information that will tell me if this life threatening or not. Seems there is very little known about lashes, what they are, how/why they are formed and what they mean.
It's been nearly a week since Cheryl laid the lash. She seemed to perk up a bit after she laid it, but still has not been eating much at all. We've been giving her vitamins and electrolytes. Her abdomen felt better the few days after the event, but today she felt lumpy again. I fear she has more weirdness inside her.
We're getting to the point where we ask "What now?" She's no better or worse than she was almost 2 weeks ago. Do we keep trying to nurse her back to health? Do we turn her loose outside with the rest of the flock? Will she ever lay eggs again? As much as I love her, I'm not super thrilled about having a chicken living on the kid's play room.
What to do, what to do....