Ways (not) to spend a Sunday morning
Last week I had a poorly chicken. I had noticed that she seemed to have a touch of diarrhoea for a couple of days but otherwise she seemed fine, but suddenly by Friday it was worse and she had a very dirty bottom. On Saturday I put her in a little pen of her own away from the others for a bit of a rest and we went out for the day, but when we got back in the evening I found something really horrible (don’t read this bit if you are squeamish)…
I don’t know whether the dirt had attracted flies, or whether the accumulation of uric acid had damaged her skin causing a sore which had attracted flies, but either way the flies had laid eggs and in no time (it only takes a day or less) they had hatched into maggots. I didn’t know what to do and I was pushed for time as I had to get the girls to bed, so I bathed her with warm water and antiseptic and put her to bed in a box in the shed.
Later I had a bit of time to look for advice so in the morning I was ready with a plan. While my partner entertained the girls (they wanted to know how Daisy was, but I didn’t think they needed to see that) I prepared to treat her. When I opened the shed door the smell of decomposition was quite horrible and the newspaper in the bottom of the box was soaked in a bloody discharge which was dripping from her. When I picked her up I found she had a large open sore crawling with dozens of maggots, I had never seen anything like it; I wasn’t sure she could survive. I prepared a bucket of warm salty water and stood her in it. I don’t know whether she found the bath soothing, or whether she was past caring, but she stood quite quietly while I bathed the sore area and started on the long process of picking out the maggots. It was a horrible thought but a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do… Some way into this procedure I almost started laughing to myself as I thought that there must be about a hundred ways I would rather spend a Sunday morning than picking maggots out of a chicken’s bottom. After a while my partner came out to see how I was getting on and when I told him this he accused me of a distinct lack of imagination. ‘Only a hundred ways?’ he asked. ‘I can think of at least a thousand’.
It took four buckets of salty water followed by a long session with the hair drier (now I know why chickens dislike rain; their feathers really soak up water!) before she was clean, dry and maggot-free. I gave her a good spray with some hypochlorous wound spray and left her in a clean comfortable box in a quiet place while we went out. She was standing quietly not taking much interest in anything and I was afraid I would find the worst when I came back in the evening.
Well to cut a long story a bit shorter, it’s now a week later and although Daisy still has a bare patch she has made a great recovery and is now out with her friends scratching about under the berry bushes as usual. It was a gruesome experience for me, but I’d do it all over again if I could make a sick animal well again. And I told my partner; ‘At least you know that if you ever need any leeches picking off you in the jungle or anything like that, I’m your woman!’
Image Credit » copyright Fleur 2015