Sick Barred Rock at Vet

The other night I was going out to dinner so I put the girls in their coop/run for protection in case I didn't get back before dark. At that point I noticed one of my barred rocks was walking a little slow and seemed to be waddling. I said a short prayer and hoped nothing was wrong.

Unfortunately when I fully closed the coop that night, I found the barred rock laying on the floor, not perching with the others. This is never a good sign! I also noticed that when I picked her up, her abdomen was hugely swollen.

At first, I thought she was egg-bound, so that night I soaked her belly in a tub of warm water for 20 minutes and she slept in my bathroom where I had run the shower at a high temperature to get the humidity up.

By morning, it was clear none of these methods were working. The strange thing was, and is, that other than her swollen belly, the barred rock was alert, eating and her comb/wattle were perky and a bright healthy red.

So, as a last ditch effort, I took her to the vet. I know it sounds weird, but I had to do something. The vet pronounced that the situation was dire. My "barty" was not egg-bound, her abdomen was filled with fluid. There are many possible causes for this, from a shell-less egg that entered her abdomen to ruptured reproductive organs or liver problems. All these issues are more likely to arise in older chickens, and considering my "barty" is four years old, the vet suggested we put her down.

I just couldn't do this. My barred rock was too alert and happy to be "talking" with everyone. So the vet suggested that maybe antibiotics would help. He admitted he doesn't see many chickens, so why not give it a last ditch effort. He also suggested that we draw some fluid from her abdomen to relieve her discomfort and to see if it would give us a clue about her condition. The tech held her and the vet was able to draw three of the shots, that you see below, full of fluid. The fluid was inconclusive, but it did give the "barty" immediate relief.

So, for now, my barred rock is home and recuperating well. She's got an outdoor run for the days and an indoor run in the garage for the nights. She's eating and drinking. And, if you didn't know better, you'd have no idea anything was wrong.

I'm crossing my fingers and hoping for a recovery, but she is an old girl, so only time will tell.

Catching Up...

I apologize. It's been a while since my last post. Somehow with summer and back-to-school, my postings took a back seat.

I was just in the back yard feeding my flock some treats and thought this overcast, blustery day would be the perfect time to catch up.

Considering the extreme heat and drought, my chickens fared well this summer. Once the heat got going, we moved them to a deeper part of the woods during the day. This kept them a little cooler and happier. Nonetheless, we did lose one barred rock. I think her death was heat related although I'm not sure. It was actually bizarre. My husband and I took the chickens some cool fresh water late in the afternoon. (In the heat, the chickens loved this treat.) They were all gathered around the bowl drinking when my barred rock fell over and died. The whole thing took about 30 seconds and left me shocked by its suddenness. The only good I can find is that our barred rock didn't suffer.

Beyond that bizarre death, lots of good things happened late in the summer. Rupert, our unexpected buff orpington rooster, grew into a gorgeous mature bird. He is beloved by everyone. He's not cuddly like our hens, but he's really cool. He keeps track of all the hens. He inspects all new visitors. And, he keeps our hens safe. If there's a hawk in the sky, Rupert will let you know.

Also, our spring hens have grown into beautiful mature birds. I like to marvel at all the color combinations that come from one breed - red sex links. They've all started laying and are giving me lots of eggs to sell to my customers.

Overall, things are good here at Elm Ridge Farm and my chickens are happily enjoying the cooler days of late summer/early fall.
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