Saturday, 21 February 2009

The sickly hen

Had a bit of a shock yesterday afternoon when I went to give the hens their corn (they get this an hour or two before bedtime). Pandora, the Sussex, emerged from the stable with the remains of soft-shelled eggs hanging down, and a prolapsed oviduct.

What, my husband asked later, did I do? First I went and fetched a helpful child. Then I fetched another helpful but less squeamish child - son, who did an excellent job of holding and soothing hen. He really is very good with animals. Just think, I muttered, as I cleaned Pandora's back end up, how this will sound at medical school interviews, for son wants to be a doctor. Son replied that he didn't quite see his future in terms of hens.

I managed to remove the remains of the egg, at which point the prolapse went back of its own accord but today poor Pandora is still not quite the thing. She is isolated from the others in a darkened stable, and is drinking but not eating more than a peck or too. Fingers crossed. I'll post updates on Twitter, I think, as it will be quicker. Do hope I do not have to dispatch her, as I haven't done this before but I can't leave her to go on more than a couple of days if she doesn't perk up.

12 comments:

Val said...

I thought it was definately curtains for the poor bird when I read this but went to look in my poultry books to see if they could be helpful and they don't imply that it is.. There is an entry for "Proalpsus of the oviduct" in both W. Powell Owens book and also the Smallholder's Encyclopedia..they describe two diff methods of getting everything back in place then "Give a tonic keep isolated and quiet, feed a non stimulating diet" ..I'll go look up tonic and non stimulating diet and brb

Val said...

"Tonic suggestions...1/2 teaspoon epsom salts in an egg cup full of warm water ...give some witth a pen dropper" (or similar)


they also mention

"sulphate of sodium" [4 oz dissolved in a pint of warm water makes a stock solution add 1 dessert spoonful of this to 1 pint of drinking water twice a month]

and sulphate of iron" [add a crystal the size of a pea to a pint of drinking water]

getting skunked on non stimulating sorry but I'll have another look up later...
make it yourself tempting spice seems to include powdered ginger, liquorice and aniseed in small quantities also codliver oil, and olive oil get the thumbs up as do sprouted grains and seeds

wishing her luck!
If the worst befalls I'd try and find someone who has dispatched a hen before as there is definately a knack to that job :(
But hopefully it won't be necessary

Jane Badger said...

Thanks Val. It hasn't happened to my hens before, but Pandora seems to lay ginormous eggs and that's one of the things that can do it. She's eaten a little porridge and bio yoghurt - I guess that's non stimulating. I've put cider vinegar in her water as that's supposed to be a pick-me-up for them. The tempting spice sounds a good idea (though have tried Marmite and that was a no go.) She is at least drinking. Might bring her inside and pop her next to the Aga if she's no better tomorrow. She's not totally sunk in gloom - is still talking to me when I go in. As far as dispatching, I have several friends who can. I know it can go wrong - my grandfather when he was a boy was sent to dispatch a chicken. "Why didn't you do it?" asked my great-grandfather. He had, protested grandfather. "Why's it still running around then?" asked ggf. Hadn't pulled as well as twisted, apparently!

Juxtabook said...

Poor Pandora. I notice the explanatory link you gave in the post recommended preparation H. i can imagine buying ot from the chemsist and saying it was for your hen - novel excuse!

Hope she is better soon.

Val said...

Glad to here she's sounding perkier, I'll keep my fingers crossed, it's amazing what miracles a bit of light and warmth can do isn't it.
My Gramps (who was a farmer) had that useful skill, my father did not..his only attempt was found making a rapid escape. A friend at farm college was so determined to be swift and humane found herself holding a ducks head in her hand..it was swift and humane but the poor girl swore never ever to try that again...why do animals and basic humour (sometimes very black)go together so well

Jane Badger said...

Juxtabook - yes, I can just see the pharmacist's face.

Val - that duck. It made me laugh - your poor friend.

Frances said...

Goodness I checked out that link, how distressing for poor Pandora! And for you to discover that not knowing what it was.

I'm glad to read your Twitter update that she's feeling much better, hope she continues to improve!!

Jane Badger said...

Thanks Frances - she seems much better today, so I'm hoping all will be well. Alas there doesn't seem to be anything I can do to get her to lay smaller eggs.

Vanessa said...

How vile! Maybe it's a good job I didn't succumb to an Eglu and a couple of hens. Really don't think I'd manage with this and Malcolm would moan if he got lumbered with another of life's icky jobs.

Jane Badger said...

Vanessa - it's amazing what you can do when you have to! It really wasn't that bad. Did read somewhere on the net that the old James Herriot trick of using sugar on the prolapse is good. Thankfully I didn't need to use that, but it is filed away in my brain for future use! As far as I know, prolapse isn't hugely common. None of my hen-owning friends have ever known it, though a pigeon keeper has (bird did not survive, alas).

Frances said...

Hi Jane,
If she can't lay smaller eggs does that mean it could happen again...and again? Hope not for both of you!
Frances

Jane Badger said...

Well it could in theory, yes. I think if it happens again that might be it - can't have her going through all that over and over. She hasn't laid anything since Friday, thank goodness, which I hope is her system recovering itself and getting stronger. She's certainly eating better now.