Last Saturday I noticed Queen was sitting down. This was unusual for her, she is normally a high energy girl. She also is Not A Fan Of Humans, so when I approached her and she was unable to take off like she normally would, fleeing like I am a demon chasing her, I knew she was a sick girl. In fact my first thought was we should take her to the vet right away to be euthanased, because she must be very sick if she would not flee me.
The Other Half was a bit more optimistic than I was, so he suggested we isolate her, examine her to see if we can find anything wrong, dose her with Ivomec which kills worms and any nasties, and keep an eye on her. Sometimes a chook just needs a bit of time away from the flock if they are not feeling the best.
After 24 hours we had seen some signs of improvement but we really had no idea what might be the problem, so I called the vet on Sunday to see if our exotic vet might be available that week. Unfortunately she was on holiday, but the vet on call convinced me to bring her in for an exam as she did have some experience with chickens and wanted to feel her abdomen etc.
We’d already done all of that ourselves but I wanted to at least get an antibiotic for her. If we’d put BeeGee on an antibiotic right away we may have had a better chance of fighting her ear infection. Queen had a high temperature. We took an x-ray – the only thing being seen was slightly larger kidneys, which pointed to a possible kidney infection.
She was still eating and her poops were fine, so those are good signs. She was able to stand and move about. We decided we wanted to give her a chance to fight the infection, so the vet gave Queen a long lasting painkiller shot, an antibiotic shot, a vitamin shot, and some medication for the next few days.
We set her up with our chook cam, so we could watch her 24/7 without disturbing her, and gave her some time. We only disturbed her twice a day for medication, adding more food and changing the paper towel in her enclosure, and at night we settled her in our special towel setup. Healthy chickens are able to tuck their head under their wing to sleep – unwell chickens are sometimes unable to do that, so you want to give them somewhere for their head to rest.
After our experience with BeeGee, I struggled quite a bit because I had done a lot of work with her, trying to bring her back to health. I really missed her. I was very determined not to get my hopes up and not to get too attached to this gorgeous chicken who suddenly was not fleeing away from me. But I knew that was her personality, so she must not be feeling well to be compliant and allow us to handle her.
We did see some encouraging signs – usually at night right after we gave her the painkiller she was able to tuck her head under her wing for a while. By Wednesday all of the signs were bad, so we made the difficult decision to let her go. It was the right decision for her. By the time a chicken shows you that she is unwell, she is usually *very* unwell.
Queen was one of our new girls, so we really did not have as much time with her as we hoped to have. She was not a fan of humans at all, which made her difficult to get to know. She was very flighty and able to fly. Her greatest joy was to fly up onto the fence next to the man cave and consider escaping to the other side, but the one time she managed to do it she did not enjoy being returned to the yard by the humans, so she would just stand there and look around.
She loved all treats but her most favourite was yoghurt and mealworms. When we first got her it took a while for her to work out how to get into the coop at night, and she would often end up on the roof of it rather than inside it. Eventually she got the hang of how to go to bed.
As I always post when this happens – there are 6 other chickens in the yard for whom life continues. They live minute by minute, sucking the most joy out of each and every moment, whether it is a dirt bath, finding a bug, eating a treat from the humans.. all we can do is love them while they’re here, protect them the best we can from predators, know when it is time to let them go, and remember them when they are gone.
One night at chook pen lockup time, The Other Half startled our Queen as she was returning to the enclosure. She took off like a crazy thing, flying over the fence. The Other Half called me and we had to run around to the other side of the fence to retrieve her, but she’d gone to ground in some blackberry bushes. I was to guard one end of the escape route, and the other half tried to capture her, but she’d seen enough, so she flew up into the sky and did a complete circle over the top of our house.
She flew right over the top of me like a majestic 747. It was a sight to see, and if I close my eyes I can still see it now.
Fly high, my Queen. Until we meet again, but next time please do not be quite so scared of me. :)