I got home about 35 minutes later and found Kim with a tear in her eye, sitting on the concrete on the east side of the house giving Poppy water via a 1mm syringe. The hen was taking small doses, but looked very listless, however she was still able to hold up her head. She looked like she was in a lot of pain because she wasn’t moving other than her head, and kept closing her eyes as she swallowed the water. Poppy was also a very hot little chook which I noticed straight away when I picked her up to inspect her.
First I checked her crop for lumps of food or hardness. There were a few that I had to break-up until all the food moved around freely. Then I check her vent to make sure she wasn’t egg bound. This was a bit gross, but I had to insert the index finger to clear any blockages. I ensured I was very gentle. Not a nice job, but necessary. Finding no blockage, she did a few really solid droppings once I removed my finger.
She was still not moving and very hot, so I took over from Kim and kept giving her water. We were just putting the end of the syringe (no needle of course) up to her beak and pushed out a few drops of water at a time. Poppy was still very thirsty and kept drinking even though that was all she could manage to do. I had to rush off to a dental appointment so Kim took over again, giving her water when she wanted it. We had her sat on a towel on our laps so that she was comfortable.
I returned home at about 7pm to find Kim and Poppy over on the deck, with Poppy walking around a little and exploring things. Thank goodness we thought, as she started to perk up a bit. About half an hour later she sat next to Kim again on the towel and went back into her sick mode. Listless, not moving, hot to touch, so we gave her water again and massaged her crop and just stroked her to comfort her. Kim was overheating herself by this time, so she went off for a swim, and I took over again. I spent the next hour giving her water, petting and massaging her crop to loosen things up. Then all of a sudden, her head went limp and hit the towel and all this stinky brown fluid came out of her nose and beak. I thought that she was about to pop her clogs, but then she raised her head and opened her eyes a little and took some more water. This was one tough little hen!
After another hour of TLC, it was getting dark, so we decided to isolate her for the night to keep her away from the other chickens just in case Poppy had something contagious. We put some straw in the bottom of an esky (ice box) and put her in it with some wire mesh over the top with a small statue of a reclining Buddha on top to hold the mesh down. No religious significance, just didn’t want a cat to get her during the night. She settled down, moved a little, but was still quite listless but breathing heavily, so we let fate take its course.
We both had a tear in our eyes as we said goodnight to the tough little hen, not expecting her to make it through the night. I checked her before going to bed at 11pm and found her still alive and panting a little less.
We woke up at 5.50am and Kim asked me to check on Poppy, fearing the worst. To my surprise she was still alive and had laid a paper thin egg and was eating the contents of it. She was also standing, not panting and a lot cooler. Fantastic news and I rushed back in to tell Kim, who was ecstatic, as was I. Maybe the Buddha had helped after all!
We decided to keep her isolated from the rest of the flock by letting the other hens out the back of their house to the large run, then closed the front door of the house and put some feed and water in the caged area for Poppy. She started to walk around, eat some feed and had a drink and looked like her old self again. Kim let her back in with the other hens at around lunch time, with no ill effects.
Both Kim and I a very pleased that all this TLC worked. We don’t know what caused the illness as it wasn’t that hot a day, but are just glad that we didn’t loose her. Also a big well done to Kim who acted quickly and kept Poppy hydrated and pampered before I got home. Chickens are great pets, but I loath it when they get sick. I wish they could tell you where it hurt, but I don’t suppose any of our local vets could have done a better job.
Good on ya Poppy. Thanks for pulling through love, you are a beautiful, tenacious, little hen!