I Have Done Something…..
I looked at all the caged animals in the barn...the cast-offs of human society.
I saw in their eyes love and hope, fear and dread, sadness, and betrayal. And I was angry.
"God," I said, "this is terrible! Why don't you do something?"
God was silent for a moment, and then He spoke softly, "I have done something," he replied.
"I created you."-- Author Unknown
Written by Dee Waters aka Fishnet1971
"Saving the life of one animal may not change the world, but the world will surely change for that one animal"
So you have found yourself in a predicament. You have had your heart captured by an innocent bird that wants nothing better
than to lay her egg, cluck happily, run through the meadows chasing grasshoppers, and have good dreams from her roost at
night. Unfortunately, this young innocent thing has been caged in a small In-hospitable dirty place with no food and water (or very little). She has been pecked beyond recognition by her cage mates and has no ventilation. She is on her last few minutes of life’s clock before the timer goes off and she expires. You know you cannot let her leave this earth on that note, you will not let her suffering and pain go in vain. You can tell there once was a spark in her eyes that was so VERY special and you heart just breaks as a tear runs down your cheeks. For one brief moment you contemplate leaving her there - in that place. Who knows what kind of issues she may have? Maybe she would be better off dying than the pain of what it would take to make her whole again? It sure would be easier for you to leave her than to take her in. Then you turn and scoop her up in your arms and promise to make her world a better place for as long as she lives. Both of you exit that barn for the last time with your heads held high. You and your new rescue chicken- together.
This is the constant battle that goes on in your mind when you find yourself bringing home a rescued chicken. More than once now I have found myself in this exact scenario and each time I think to myself “HOW do I get myself into these situations?” Well, folks, I am here to tell you – I am put into these situations, not gotten into them. I have had 6 or so rescues now over the last couple of years. I never expected this, never in a million years thought I would be doing this, but the job was given to me and I am SO glad. My coop will always be open to the unfortunate ones.
So now that you have gotten your new hen out of that unwanted place, and home. What do you do? How do you rehabilitate her? Here are a few things I have learned over the years bringing home rescues, unwanted, or homeless chickens.
- First and foremost – quiet, calm and simple. I bring my new one inside the moment I get her home. I will check her over from head to toe. Every part of her body is inspected for lice, mites, scars, scrapes, infection, disease, rash, and so on. This is SO important to do - especially if you have your own flock. You do not want to risk spreading anything to them. If there is something that needs immediate attention I do that now. Cuts get cleaned, infections treated, mites treated, and a bath if needed. All this happens inside with a very quiet background and a soothing voice. You would be surprised how well they can read your emotions. They know if you are scared, mad, excited, or happy from the tone of your voice.
MayMay gets a bath on day 1!
- If all is well in that area, I will offer supervised food and water immediately . My last rescue had not eaten in so long that when I offered her some crumbles she ate until the sun went down. I bet if I wouldn’t have taken it away from her she would still be eating to this day! Do not let them over do.
I don't think Hope would have stopped eating had I not removed the bowl from her!
- If I haven’t already, I will set up a dog crate that I have purchased over the years and line it with soft clean towels, put in a water and food dish and cover it with more towels on 3 of the 4 sides. In she will go to settle down and have some quiet time to adjust. This has all been a total shock to her. I cover the 3 sides to let her have a ‘closed’ in area to feel safe. I will check on her about every hour or so for the first day and speak to her and make her comfortable. Your rescue may be very jumpy and shy- may even peck at you. How would you feel if you were in this scenario? If you were the chicken and had never been given attention and affection? Give her time. Work with her constantly. This is also a good time to add any nutritional supplements that she may need. Get started on the probiotics, vitamins, electrolytes, etc. She may be so grateful to you that she even leaves you an egg!
- Keep monitoring for any signs of disease, sickness, disabilities and so on. If there are any be prepared to treat them. If you find that she is beyond your help, and you can not go to a vet for care you may have to put the girl down. Sometimes it’s better that than to let them suffer a losing battle. You do not always know the best path to take in these instances, but don’t beat yourself up over your decisions. You do what you think is right. I have struggled with this decision more than once and I never know if what I did was right or not. It has taken me years and years to finally come to grips with it and know that what I did is done, and I did it for the right reasons.
I kept checking Hope over while she was inside for everything imaginable
- If all goes well, she is healthy and after a week or so of close monitoring and nursing her I will put her out in a sectioned off part of my coop. She is not able to be with the rest of my flock and is still in a quarantine period, but the others know of her presence.
Even through everything, they will show you their love. Hope leaves me an egg!
Hope in her own part of my coop with her cute home made PJ's to keep her warm
- If all is still going well at that point - she is eating, drinking and he overall health has improved, begin the integration process as you would if she was just a new hen you just purchased.
Hope getting to know everyone under supervision for the first few days.
My latest rescue hen ‘Hope’ was without 80% of her feathers the day I brought her home to live with me. I had made her a coat of felt and kept her in an indoor part of my coop with lots of light and ventilation.She was kept separated for 2 months so that the others would not pick at her naked skin causing injury and infection. I have worked with my little Hope for over 9 months now, and she just recently has grown her feathers back and is ‘on her own’ with the rest of my flock (9). I was very fortunate that she did not have any disabilities.
Hope and I on the way home from the horrible farm she called home.
Another rescue that I had brought home from the Buffalo SPCA in 2010 had only the lower portion of her beak. I knew that going into it and was prepared to be able to give her the extra help she would need to eat every day.
My rescue MayMay with a beak disability
These are the kind of things that you must be aware of before you decide to bring a new rescue home. Realize that you are agreeing to do whatever is necessary to give this bird the best chance to survive until it either expires or comes back to health. There is no bringing it home and putting it in your coop and hoping for the best. You are agreeing to help this little innocent being and will need to put in extra time and lots of extra effort.
I have found that the best reward from this whole thing is seeing their eyes light up when I walk into the room or open the coop door in the morning. Seeing them run to me when I walk down to the pen with my morning coffee and their daily treats just makes my heart melt every single day. When you sit down and have a rescued hen that is back to 100% jump up onto your lap and purr to you is when you know you have done a good job, when you know you have done what God has meant for you to do.
Go forth and rescue my friends. It will have good days and bad, sadness and warmth. But they will also be the most rewarding and remembered days of your life.
Written in memory of: Elly, MayMay, & Gracie and written for: Hope, Maggie & Midge.
Here are a few shots of my last rescues. Some still with me today, some not.
Here is MayMay's story:https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/408778/my-heart-swells-for-my-two-new-ladies-updates
MayMay the day I brought her home:
and 2 years later... RIP my sweety. I miss you!
Gracie, who was egg bound and I lost 2 days after I got her home.
Gracie's sisters Maggie and Midge who I went back to get two months later. This is the day I brought them home. They were in pretty good shape.
And of course, here is the link to 'Hopes Story'. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed bringing this little girl back to her self!
Hope last week. Since I have written this article, Hope has since passed away. RIP my little girl. We had a good 9 month fight.
So you want to rescue a chicken... Now what?
So you have found yourself in a predicament. You have had your heart captured by an innocent bird that wants nothing better than to lay her egg,...