Hi BYC folks,
I know that you do not know me yet. I am new here, but I have had chickens, and other birds, since 1978. Yes, I know, “Pre-Internet”. Yes, I am old. My kids told me that in 1999! So, not new info.
Why am I here? When I should be just moldering in my grave?
I have retired and moved to Prescott, AZ. Now, I want chickens again! I went from chickens to parrots, size limits and the HOA will allow a parrot. Please don’t tell the HOA that a chicken is a lot quieter than an African Grey, or even a little Cockatiel! I had 10 Cockatiels in my mobile home, no problem. Chickens would have been far quieter!
My last little Cockatiel died a couple of years ago, age of 24. I was so sad I did not get another pet for a couple of years. To those of you who have had a much loved friend die, I know you understand. Let’s not dwell on the past.
I found Dylan on Craig’s List after months of watching. (A little like I lurked here for a while).
Here is the deal on Craig’s List: believe nothing, trust no one: Dylan was advertised as a male, 9 years old. She, according to her leg band, was hatched in ‘94. Lets see, 2016-1994=22 years old, according to first grade math. If you can read a strange parrot’s leg band – you are hired. The Craig’s Listers told me her papers were lost. She was beautiful, I bit. I love my 23 year old hen, even if she was supposed to be a 9 year old male. For the chicken people who are trying to give away roosters, in parrots, males are the most desirable. Since an African Grey could live into their 80’s, I am not bothered by the age discrepancy. I wanted an older bird. Dylan is far better than a chick would have been, she has personality!
But, thinking she was male, and wanting to tame her, I hand-fed her. With the wrong things for a hen – nuts, chicken, egg, high protein but low calcium. (Dylan loves chicken and their eggs). Males do not need calcium! Long story short, she became egg-bound. Totally my fault! She quit talking, huddled, and quit eating. She threw-up the food she had eaten, I know because I had clean paper in her cage. Chickens -- even my Cockatiels--would never have had this level of care! From having had egg bound chickens die, I knew that she was in mortal danger; she was not eating or drinking or talking like usual. She was straining, I could feel the bulging egg when I gently stroked her belly.
I put her in her small travel carrier and kept her 80 degrees+ in my bedroom all night. I got up every 2 hours to feed her gator-aide with a lid, like she loves. She barely drank any, and sometimes I could hear her making little sounds, sounds I had never heard before. Barely any, runny poop. I knew she was in trouble! In the morning, still no egg. I called the local vet in Prescott, but they said they were not able to take a parrot that was so sick. They referred me to AZ Exotic Animal Hospital. When I called them, they were great. The tech discussed my bird’s problem and got me an emergency appt. I drove 2 hours from Prescott to Phoenix to get Dylan there by 11:00 a.m. They took her in right away, not a minute in the waiting room. The vet took some x-rays, and showed them to me. You could see the huge egg blocking the vent. Dr. Lamb was very kind, and answered all my questions. She put Dylan in an ICU for birds, and gave her IV fluids. She told me Dylan was dehydrated, and that I did the right thing to push the fluids all night. She kept Dylan in the incubator another day, still no egg. So, Dylan was anesthetized and Dr. Lamb was able to manually get the egg out. If that had not been possible the only option would have been to break the egg and try to remove all the pieces of shell, something even a vet does not want to try.
Three days and $800.00 later, Dylan came home with calcium drops, pain killer drops, and a huge appetite. All Better, Like Magic! If I had not had chickens get egg bound and die, I would not have realized how serious it was when it happened again. I learned a lot from the vet about this problem, and Dylan's second egg slid out over-night with no symptoms at all. Just an egg in the cage in the morning like any hen!
Now, I feed her oyster shell (whole -- she likes to chew it) and a high calcium bird kibble. No more seed, just one peanut a day and I keep Calcium Gluconate on hand. It is cheap on Amazon, and it is the same strength the vet gave me. It is listed for cows for "milk fever" which is a calcium shortage after the cow calves.
I hope, after reading this story, you will be able to skip the $800.00 vet visit if your chicken shows signs of being egg-bound!
If you would like more info on this topic, here is a link to a technical article from Avigen, written by a vet, discussing the problem in professional breeder houses for broilers: http://en.aviagen.com/assets/Tech_C.../English/AviagenBrief_CalciumTetany_Apr09.pdf