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Monday, February 1, 2010

Another Vet Visit - Pepper Update

Pepper had one round worm egg in her stool, so the vet wanted to check more chickens out to see if they were sick. To save money we did a group stool sample (instead of 11 more individual samples). He also wanted to get weight on two of the pullets and "the heaviest rooster." The (un)lucky trio was Tammy Fae Baker, Hawn (as in Goldie), and Sampson. Sampson got his own cage since he tried stomping the girls when they were in the same one. I think the vet techs got a kick out of the group. It is certain most people don't take chickens to the vet. I get it now.

All three were weighed. Sampson was the ringmaster.
Hawn will perch wherever looks good. She scared the tech who wasn't watching when she picked her arm to fly onto but the tech ended up loving Hawn.

Good news - the vet called the next day and all tests were negative. The flock is healthy and fine. The vet recommended we treat them anyways as a precaution. But you have to be careful with chickens and meds. Since we're treating Pepper with a drug untested on poultry we can never sell her eggs (though the USDA vet assured me it was safe to eat her eggs after 10 days). It seemed silly to treat the rest of the flock for something they don't have considering it mars their eggs for life. Pepper's medication and bills cost over $270 and the trio's check up was $134. The vets still wanted to run more tests and see Pepper for checkups, but I felt sort of taken by the bills (after all, you can get new, healthy hens already laying eggs for $20 or less each). These birds are somewhere between livestock and pets and I want to stay reasonable about them. After all, we have backyard hens so that we aren't contributing to the cruel and unethical system of battery hens where each animal is reduced to a cog in a machine. These chickens will have good lives, in a healthy flock, free-ranging on grass and eating bugs. We want to be responsible about our food. On the other hand we don't want a dozen pet birds who don't lay eggs.

I understand now why most vets won't see chickens. I'm sick we spent $400+ After a few hundred dollars in vet bills, these birds will have the advise of the USDA vets and we'll avoid the in-person vets. If one gets sick, we will immediately separate them and hope they can ride it out. They're more like us - completely uninsured!

Update on Pepper - She has completed her drugs and is in quarantine until this Friday (more than 2 weeks of separation). I couldn't get a rooster to stay with her - they became neurotic and acted like they were going to ram through the wire. She paces back and forth all day but looks and acts very healthy and is rapidly putting on weight. We'll re-integrate  her at the end of the week and disinfect her area. I'm sure she's looking forward to being out of prison!

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