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Sick chicken and ethics question

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Hey guys,


I've been meaning to put this up for a while, but kept losing the timing.  My light brahma chick has been sick for over two weeks now.  I noticed the issue the first time I opened the coop door, and she was the last one left.  She was stretching out her leg to try and get to the door sill to get out, but kept bringing it back as if she was unsure of herself.  When I took her out and set her down, she immediately closed her eyes and did not move.  I immediately brought her into our ICU inside the house, and spike her water with Tylan and put powdered Corid into her food (based on symptom search).


Two weeks later, there is no change to her countenance.  She is constantly perched with her eyes closed all the time.  The only time she opens them if if she hears me come into the ICU and then immediately goes to sleep again.   Would not eat or drink.  I feel the only time she does eat and drink is when I take her out, then spray a few syringes full of medicated water into her drink.  To make her eat, I hold the bowl of crumble in front of me.  To elicit some kind of action from her, I would gently pull at her feathers, or softly tap on her sides.  She quickly opens her eyes, closes them, then cranes her neck and tries to get at the food.  However, because she keeps doing that with her eyes closed, she misses a lot and so I literally have to shove the food in her face and follow her head bobs to make sure that when she lunges, she gets something.


Just two days ago, I got super frustrated and yelled at her and my boyfriend because I just felt so helpless.  I don't see any change in her behavior at all, and she is only getting skinnier because she's not ingesting nearly as much food as she should.  I can't sit there for hours to try and get her to eat, and at the same time, she clearly makes motions to go back into the ICU to roost, so I put her back and that's that.


I did put vitamins into her water, but as she doesn't drink, moot point that I do, essentially.  Due to so many chickens deaths to this point, I simply cannot justify spending $65 at a vet just for an inspection of what the cause could be.  Reading all the symptoms online point to no less than a dozen reasons as to why this may be happening.


So, my main questions to you guys are ethics based: at what point do you feel it's okay to give up and give the chicken a mercy killing?  I'm wrestling with myself because my heart says keep it going as much as you can, hoping that there will be light at the end of the tunnel, but my mind says that all I am doing is just keeping her on life support and causing her to suffer.  I don't know what to do.  I'm trying what I can, but nothing is working and I'm getting majorly frustrated.  Some advice on this would be great.


Thank you for reading.

post #2 of 6

It sounds as though something is seriously wrong with her. It could be many things, but some things to check her for are a sour or impacted crop, an internal laying or peritonitis problem, or other diseases. The crop should be empty by early morning, and since she is not eating, it probably is empty now. I would either put her down humanely, or bring her inside for warnth in a cage or basket, and let her be comfortable until she dies. Check her for lice and mites (tiny bugs around the vent or elsewhere.) Tube feeding 2-3 times daily can be done to keep her alive if you are willing to learn how. Unfortunately many of us have had a hen or two with these symptoms of an unknown illness. You can seek a necropsy on her body by the state vet which could give a cause of her illness or death.  Here is some reading for you:

post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 

Oh yeah, I forgot to add that I checked her for external lesions and mites, as we've had those before and the thing first thing we do with chickens is that.  We don't have any big syringes, but I think I do have a tube.  I'll see if I can get a big syringe somewhere...I just don't know if that will help at this point.

post #4 of 6

Go to the search box at the top of this page and enter "Go team tube feeding" for a how to thread by Casportpony. Or Google it.

post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thank you for your advice, Eggcessive.  I have decided to put her down because at this point, I feel that continuing to try and feed her is only prolonging her suffering.  This thread can now be closed.

post #6 of 6

Sorry about your chicken. I just put one of mine down yesterday morning due to her suffering, but I feel that is the best to do for them sometimes. Doing a necropsy to look at the internal organs can sometimes give some insight on a cause of illness. Most state vets will do a thorough necropsy for a fee.

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