Monday, January 9, 2012

Pearl is on the mend...

Pearl, convalescing.
We've had a sick chicken in the downstairs bathtub all weekend. Pearl, L's favorite chicken, just wasn't herself Saturday morning when M went to let them out of the coop. She seemed to be having a hard time walking, and just wanted to roost on the ground. It wasn't too terribly cold, but she was fluffed up like it was sub-arctic out and she was trying to stay warm. Poor thing had the chills.

I scooped her up and took her into the house while M gathered some wood shavings and food. She almost seemed as if her legs were extremely weak or paralyzed. We gave her a bowl of yogurt, some water with vitamins and electrolytes (plus a splash of Bragg's apple cider) and her regular chicken feed. We have the heat lamp on in the coop, so I filled up a hot water bottle and settled it next to her.

All day long, she didn't really move much. I knew that she'd just laid an egg that morning, so she wasn't egg bound. Her crop was full, but not impacted. She was eating and drinking fairly well. But she clearly didn't feel well. I wondered if she had the same bug that Clover had back in November. Googling only added to my worry.

One very common chicken disease is Marek's--a virulent and highly contagious Herpes infection (it has a 100 percent mortality rate). Some chicks are vaccinated, but I didn't know if Pearl had been vaccinated or not since she came to us at about 15 weeks. One of the symptoms is paralysis, but she didn't seem to exhibit any of the other symptoms. And often the paralysis shows one leg stretched forward, and one leg back. This didn't seem to be the case either.

She had frequent visitors Saturday, checking to make sure she was warm enough and had food. By Sunday morning, she seemed to have improved and was gaining strength in her legs. Sunday night, she was clearly feeling better, and decided to roost on the side of the tub for the night.

Today, she looks good, but I'm keeping her quarantined a little bit longer, not wanting to expose the rest of the flock, and wanting to be sure she can hold her own out there with the big girls.

I had no idea chickens could be so fragile, but as I read about the various illnesses and diseases they can contract, I suddenly find myself behaving like a new mother, worried about the slightest oddity or deviation.

I cleaned out the coop this morning, adding fresh shavings. Violet and Mabel both wandered in to see what I was doing. Both were bright eyed, and the two Bantams and two Australorps both looked good, as well. I gave them fresh water, scattered some scratch grains, and watched them. It's supposed to be nice and warm today, and they are enjoying a day wandering in the yard.

Reading up on quarantines, I'm learning that Pearl may have to stay in isolation for awhile longer. Feeling bad that she's missing out on a good day in the yard, I take her a handful of mustard greens and a little more yogurt. Fingers crossed she'll be back with the other girls soon.

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