Monday, October 29, 2012

The Fate of the Indoor Chicken

Ya'll, this post sucks. I'm just gonna tell you that right now.

PegLeg's condition worsened, and despite my best efforts, continued to deteriorate.

I tried moving her into a different room, tried to set her up in a chicken sling, bought & set up a cage that could help support her weight, but all to no avail. She could no longer walk at all. She started losing weight because she couldn't get to her food. She would sleep on her back or her side. Feathers started breaking off of her wings in her efforts to get around.

To her credit, she managed really well. Nothing was gonna stop this chicken. The chicken sling didn't work, because she would fling her weight around until she managed to fling herself out of it, which usually resulted in her falling the 10 inches or so to the ground. If she wanted to get somewhere, she would just fling her body in that direction, and she usually made it, if unceremoniously.

Chickens being the dirty creatures that they are, relieving themselves wherever they happen to be, this also meant that she was covered in poop almost constantly.

Have you ever tried to wash a chicken?

I have. Repeatedly. It's not pretty.

Neither were the sores that were starting to form on Peg's poor little wings from rubbing on the ground.

After a lot of discussion, and a lot of tears, the decision was made that we needed to end her suffering. It was obvious that her condition was painful, probably excruciating. She had lost a lot of weight. Her sores were at risk of infection from the feces.

We tried. I tried. Hard. To rehabilitate her. Our vision at first was that she would become healed enough to reintroduce to the flock. When it became apparent that that probably wouldn't happen, it was that she would maintain her current state and live out her days as a pet, as PegLeg.

Unforunately it was to no avail. Maybe someone with more chicken experience would have had more luck. Or maybe not. From what I've read many chicken enthusiasts don't even recommend trying to heal a chicken with a broken leg, much less one with the injuries she had when we brought her in.

And so the heartbreaking decision was for her to go "live" on one of the neighbors' farms. And as far as FireGirl is concerned, that's exactly where she is.


'Yellow Rose' Jasmine said...

Oh, I can tell from this post how valiantly you tried to make the best of this situation. It is always so hard to make any such tough choice about an animal that we have loved and cared for and you should really have no guilt whatsoever, but I know that's harder done than said.
I can completely understand how much work goes into something like this and how it sneaks up on us over time. I'm sorry you didn't get the gift of nature intervening. (With my own recent experience I was ever so grateful for that.)
BTW: You are totally correct in informing FireGirl of the indoor chicken's wonderful new digs on your neighbors farm. We all deserve to be innocent of the pain of life when we are kids.

Mackenzies Momma said...

You did the right thing. As an "experienced" chicken farmer (I've raised them for 13 years now) broken legs are one of the most difficult injuries to heal in a chicken. If you find them soon enough AND can get them into a splint (which is nearly impossible) then sometimes you can manage to save them.

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