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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sick chicken...

Pepper is sick.

I'm trying to be "sensible" about the girls. They're somewhere between pets and livestock. After all, we have them for eggs but we also want them to have rich happy lives (unlike battery hens). Pepper has been lethargic for a few days and doesn't look well. Yesterday everyone else seemed sluggish. I don't want to spend hundreds of dollars on vet bills for a $10 chicken, but I'd be so upset if we lost our flock over something we could have prevented. So the adventure
continues (and so does the learning curve!)

Finding a vet that will see a chicken was surprisingly difficult. I called six clinics before finding an animal and bird clinic in Dallas that would see a chicken. Normally Pepper is way too quick for me to catch, but not today. She was pretty terrified in the car and, admittedly, I am a total pushover. So she rode on my lap in the car, looking out the window. We must have looked so ridiculous. At a light a car one lane over kept honking and waving. Don't mind me I thought. Just me and my pet chicken riding in my lap.

The news isn't good. She weighed in at about 2.5 lbs (she weighed more than double that a month ago). The vet said she'll probably die before the test results come back in a week. They took a blood sample and a stool sample. I almost fell over when the receptionist charged my card - to the tune of $225. Yikes!

According to the vet, if it winds up being a couple of things (like worms), the medications to get the birds well mean we could not eat their eggs. Ever. This is one of the perils of backyard chickens he said. Generally when chickens get sick they are culled. Which is probably why it was so hard to find a vet to see poultry.

So Pepper is separated in the yard with medicated water, heat lamp, and a bed (made from a re-purposed cat litter box). She panics when she can't get out of the run to be with everyone else, so Frank (our free rare (sucker!) rooster) is staying with her.

We are keeping our fingers crossed and hoping for the best...


  1. what happened to Pepper?? Today I just noticed Dog, one of my barred rocks, is sick (that's her name because she's friendly and follows people around a lot). I'm really upset about this. I knew I might lose an occasional chicken to a fox or hawk, but I never expected illness. Dog's symptoms sound very much like Pepper's.

  2. oops - ignore that question. I see how this works now, with the 'older post' and 'newer post'. I got to this page searching for 'sick chicken'. Anyway, I'm enjoying your blog and appreciate the information for the USDA. I will call them tomorrow.