Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Chicken doctorin'

My hard-earned title of Dr. Mom gets some good use every once in a while. At least when it comes to doctoring chickens. I'm torn between considering them life stock or pets - ours have names, but I don't think I'd take one to a vet. I realize this is very personal! I just don't think they'd do well with all the stress plus vets may not have much chicken experience anyway. So what I do instead is study the allknowing interwebs for chicken advice.

I have learned a few things, one of the most useful skills was how to dose a chicken with medication or olive oil orally. So I'll try to explain that today. I had first learned this when I had a GL Wyandotte with an impacted crop. The girl couldn't eat, or even get up, because her crop was so swollen. I dosed her with 5ml of olive oil daily, and massaged her crop. She led a long, productive laying life after a few days of that cure, though she always looked a little worse for the wear.
I have since read several times that one should not attempt to orally dose a chicken, lest it can suffocate. This is true, but I also know that I have saved one hen from surgery (for impacted crop) and/or death by doing it anyway. So judge for yourself, take what I say with a grain of salt.

The trick about dosing a chicken is knowing that you have to put a blunt syringe an ungodly distance down the chicken's throat, to make sure not to inject into the airhole that chickens inconveniently have at the base of their tongue. I use one of the little syringes that came with baby tylenol or advil. Using the syringe in the right picture, you'd aim to shove it far enough into the chicken so you wouldn't see the markings at all. You'll have to forgive the picture quality, I'm working solo with a phone here.
Today's case was made more complicated by the fact that Spotty's throat is partially obstructed due to some serious swelling. I'm working on the theory that she got herself hurt in the side of her beak, and the wound got infected. I'm more and more seeing the wisdom of keeping a jar of antibiotic handy for such cases. I decided for 30mg of Tylan for 7-10 days, pending seeing some improvement. I can only hope this isn't some crappy tumor? This whole attempt may not work at all, but I'll try what I can reasonably try before cutting my losses.

This picture is 24h after the first dose, and it already looks less swollen (believe it or not, she looked worse yesterday). Some color has returned to her wattle and eye area, too.


So back to the procedure. Armed with my best bleach-stained and holey old towel, I snatched her from the coop, and wrapped her up tightly, like a swaddle for a baby. This has two benefits. One, the chicken doesn't struggle near as much if she can't move her wings or claws. Second, she might poop, like this one did, out of sheer fear. Poor thing, but at least my running pants stayed clean :-) So you sit down, and stick the wrapped chicken under your left elbow, her feet on your lap, and hold her pretty tight. Hold her head with the left hand. Insert the syringe with your right, from the side of her mouth which forces her to open up. The chicken will struggle, but you can use the motion to your advantage. The syringe will go in if she straightens her neck for just a moment. Remember - it needs to go FAR in. I doubt you can go too far, so be determined, but don't use force. If things are aligned, it slides in quickly and easily. Then - PUSH the plunger in one quick, determined motion. The chicken will likely shake her head and expel the syringe quickly (unless she's so weak you'll have to do that yourself). Try not to keep it in there for long! I have no picture for that reason.

After giving her the dose, let her loose (if she's strong enough) and observe for a good 15 minutes. Just to be sure she can breathe. I ended up picking her up a little while later, and dug a whole bunch of scab and other disgusting matter out of her mouth and throat, basically picking away at dead skin/flesh until I saw blood. I dabbed on some peroxide solution, followed by a generous dose of antibtiotic ointment. She's itching at it today, and put up much more of a fight while being medicated, hopefully that's a good sign. I'll keep you posted on her progress!

Definite sign of an ill hen.... nothing to eat for a while plus yesterday's dose of antibiotics = diarrhea.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a vet, not even a vet tech, and any advice I give is stuff that worked for me, but I didn't acquire it in any formal fashion, so confirm anything I say through other sources.

The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing this. I'm going to pin it in case I need the info for my chickens. I hope you'll join us at the HomeAcre Hop again this Thursday and check out our Autumn Giveaway.