I am as of this exact moment, writing these words sitting in the hallway outside our bathroom listening to a chicken scream. Have you ever heard a chicken scream? It’s a pretty debilitating sound. It sort of makes me feel … small, and regretful.
Yesterday we found one perfectly fine egg, and then a busted egg with nothing but one pinky sized amount of shell to be found. If there was a yolk I couldn’t recognize it. I imagined the egg crushing in the chicken and this oozing out. I frantically tried to flip each chicken and see if I could see anything. And the damnedest thing happened. I couldn’t find Chicki Minaj’s um… hole. Vent. Vent is one word for it. We’ll go with that. I had to leave in 30 minutes to go to my husbands work for a show they are producing so I.had.to.leave. I left them all hoping for the best.
Whiskey hasn’t had a walk in two days so he’s a bit..off the dog deep end with pent up energy and theres no way I’m fitting in a walk tonight so that will be make three days. I’ve had to lock him up while I tend to the chicken vent because I don’t trust him not to chase the chicken and make this worse for all of us.
And this is probably one of the wost days of my chicken raising career which isn’t even a year old yet (will be in April). The other worst day was when I found Chicki Minaj (see a trend here) hanging upside down and BACKWARDS from one toe in the chicken coop. Yeah. She’s that good. It’s a terrible pity she’s my favorite because if she’s in line with the cat for nine lives…she’s using them up pretty darn quick. She’s also the chicken whose vents got pasted when I first got her home. Nice. Thanks Chicki.
So back to the screaming chicken and how we got here. So I couldn’t find the vent and I let them go on about their chicken way. Then this morning I opened up the coop and it was…disgusting. I mean really gross. I let them out and had to clean out all the paper for the 2nd time in less than about 14 hours and then had to rush off to work. When I finally got home tonight and could check them again it was dark and they were all on their perch. By the way, this is the perfect time to do things to them. They are half sedated by the darkness and easy to control. I looked and was horrified. Her vent seemed to be surrounded by dried egg. I went inside and frantically looked up all the advice I could find.
Apparently there is a school of thought that these are chickens and there’s not a lot you can do and this is nature. Just let it ride out its course, give antibiotics if you need to (one of the BIG things we were trying to avoid!) and watch the bird for sluggishness. Try to make her comfortable etc. These people see them more as farm animals and not as pets. Their would not consider a vet.
Then there is this middle road kind of people who have a laundry list of how to help loosen things up: warm bath, which is what we just finished, oiling her up around her vent which I found a few people to say is about as useful as oiling your left ear. Funny stuff. Others said warm heating pads, and extricating the broken egg with your finger. Flushing her hoohoo with a syringe of water and vinegar which left me running around the house frantically looking for one, bemoaning loudly the whole time “How could I not buy a syringe! I’m a horrible chicken parent! A syringe! If I could just find a syringe!”
This second group sees the chickens as pets but recognizes that vets may not be able to help and you should learn to do all your vet fixin’ of the chickens at home. I do tend to swing towards this group for various reasons. Sometimes for these people distance to a vet is a factor as they are really on farms, isolated from their neighbors. Sometimes it’s money (it’s a $3 bird they reason- are you going to run up a couple hundred $ vet bill when you could do the vet care at home yourself?). There are other reasons. Some people don’t have a vet that will see chickens for example.
The last group is probably the most hardcore to me. But in a different way. They will not do any work on their chickens themselves and pay their vet to do everything. This person would have not gone to the performance last night and would have had the chicken x-rayed at the vet this morning.
While I may not know exactly where I fit in, I certainly don’t feel confident to stick a finger where the sun don’t shine so without a syringe I was dead in the water. Which leads us to the bath bit. After I gathered her up and got her inside successfully (No small task!) I set her down in a bath of warm water which she tolerated at first. I was able to clear off all the stuff and get her to submerge her vent for a while but not a full 30 minutes. This supposedly loosens up the vent muscles which will help things…pass. And pass they began to. But it was chicken poop. Not chicken eggs. I began to believe that like humans, chickens might have stress poop. Because the more stressed she became and the more she screaming she did the looser and more utterly disgusting her poop got.
Lets just say I had to change my clothes.
She also got an apple, bread, and fresh water. She seemed to dig the apple and not competing for food but this isn’t to say our bathroom trip was easy going. She jumped onto and fell off of the toilet, loosing her grip on the seat and banging her head and body violently on the way down. I began to worry if she were better off alone in the coop instead of in here with me.
And when I exited to do something the screaming began. From her and her nest mates. When I re-entered the bathroom it intensified. I imagine now as I sit on the other side of the door listening to her, that she’s cursing me in chicken. Great violent bursts of cursing that would make a sailor blush.
Lastly, I read that trying to free an egg when it’s not really stuck can break the egg waiting to come out that’s fine. Everyone seems to use how the bird is displaying itself as a good predictor. She seems fine if you overlook the chicken gypsy curses being hurled through the door.
I eventually pulled myself off the floor and took her outside. I put her back and everyone seemed happy. I’m going to have to keep a close eye on her but I’m not entirely sure how this will go. If I wake up tomorrow and she’s perky and chipper for the entire day then I think we are in the clear. If she’s droopy then I’m going to have to decide what to do…
Thanks to everyone on fb for your concerns. I promise to keep you updated as the weekend goes on.