Saturday, July 11, 2009
Chickens are usually low maintenance, but lately they have been causing some distress. First, we lost Hope on Saturday, June 20th. I was home all day and didn't hear any chicken alarm calls. That morning Hope hopped out of the coop and went ranging in the pasture with the rest of the flock. She was happy and healthy. She was six months old, had just started laying small tan eggs, and was being a big sister to Hannah and Rosa, the youngest in the flock. But that night she didn't come home. I searched all the pastures over and over for about three hours, and even had a friend come help me, but in the end we found no trace of her - not even feathers. I can only hope she went quickly and for a good cause. It could have been a hawk or a coyote or fox or raccoon? None of the other chickens alerted me and I don't know if Hope wandered off on her own or what happened. I do know that I enjoyed having her, and that although her life was a short six months, she had a happy life. She enjoyed being raised by her mom, and then she loved gaining some independence and establishing a place in the flock of her own. She loved irrigation day and grass and bugs. She had a few red feathers at her throat, but she was almost all grey. I miss her. One thing hard about chickens is that if you give them freedom, you put them at risk, and each day you hope they are all there. This is the first one I lost to some unknown cause, mid-day. Hope is pictured at three months old above with her mom, Sylvie, who is still with us.
In other chicken news, Samantha came down with some illness. Samantha is black and white and the friendliest of the chickens. She didn't want to go out and play on Tuesday, which I thought was odd. Wednesday she didn't want to leave a nesting box where she was resting, and her comb was dehydrated and dark gray. She was totally lethargic and clearly not feeling well. She refused food and water. I had to go to Westvet for a cat injury anyway, so I took her in to see if I could get some fluids and maybe an anti-biotic for her. When I picked her up, she was very, very thin.
Westvet was able to inject some fluid for her and get her started on an antibiotic, and they referred me to a GREAT chicken vet. I've been looking for one for a long while and was glad to finally find a local vet who treats chickens. His name is Dr. Shackleford with Treasure Valley Vet in Meridian. He was very professional, very kind, and got us in first thing Thursday morning. I was worried Samantha might not pull through the night but she did. He said there was no obvious cause of her illness but she was quite sick. He took an x-ray on which we could see inflammation and he said there was a serious infection going on. Bloodwork showed it was attacking her liver.
I put her in a dog crate in the living room and per the vet's instructions I am giving her an anti-biotic, vegetable baby food, and pedialyte for fluids. She is starting to get a little stronger, starting to show some interest in food, and being a little less lethargic - but she is still really sick. She is rehydrated, her comb has returned to normal - and now we wait to see how she does. None of the rest of the flock is sick, so I have no idea what got into Samantha. There is no doubt she is dong her best to fight it off, and I will help her as best I can. She is still young so I hope that she will be able to pull through.