Mayflower the hen is on the mend


Laura in Oak Park contacted me via email at the end of July about a very sick hen named Mayflower. Laura wasn’t sure if the bird was going to make it: she was sleepy, lying down a lot, and drinking a lot of water – and perching on top of the waterer, which was very odd!

Not being well versed in chicken health issues, Laura wanted some advice from an expert. “I do need some guidance on caring for sick chickens because I feel like I am just sort of winging it,” she wrote to me.

I asked Laura to separate Mayflower from the other hens and put her in a cool, dark place in a box or carrier until I could make an emergency visit.

“It’s funny–the things you say you’ll never do,” Laura said. Not bringing chickens indoors was one of her rules.  But she made an exception for the hen, who means a lot to the family. “Chickens are like pets for my 13-year-old daughter–she loves them,” Laura told me.

I stopped by her home and examined Mayflower, who was indeed doing poorly. Her posture was droopy and her eyes were partially closed. She had lost some weight as well. Her droppings were runny and green. I assessed the health of her flockmates and showed Laura and her daughter Sadie how to do a physical check on the chickens; examined the coop, droppings, and the run; and asked Laura about the overall health of the flock and any observations she’d made since Mayflower got sick.

Based on my observations, my guess was that Mayflower had an intestinal infection or parasites. I recommended that Laura take Mayflower to an avian vet as soon as possible.

Laura saw Dr. Kline at Niles Animal Hospital. “The vet told me if we hadn’t brought her in, she wouldn’t have made it through the weekend, so we are really glad Jen could come! She’s very resourceful,” Laura said.

After two weeks of treatment and TLC from Laura’s daughter Sadie, Mayflower recovered from her bacterial infection and was able to rejoin the other hens in the outdoor coop. I advised Laura on how to clean up the droppings on Mayflower’s feathers, and she gave the lucky hen a mini-spa day, washing up her back end and drying her with the hair dryer! A happy ending!

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