2 weeks after severe injury hen still not drinking nor eating effectively.

Hi everyone. Will write an intro a little later but would appreciate timely insight/advice. 2 weeks ago MY dogs opened the gate to the chicken yard and went after the hens. Maisey who is about 6 months old was the only injury albeit severely; it's now two weeks post attack. My main concern is that she's not effectively eating or drinking. I didn't weigh her initially, but I estimated her pre-injury weight at approx 4# and she's now 3.5#. She pecks at the floor or feeder, but doesn't actually pick up very much, nor can I get her to drink on her own at all. We had a bout of severe respiratory problems starting on day 2 (guessing some aspiration due to me trying to give her fluids with an eye dropper) very noisy breathing, but have gotten past that, and her respiratory status appears to be normal.

No fractures, no crushed skull, but a couple of deep bites resulting from being carried by the head I presume. I think her neck is mostly ok, she does extend her neck, and carry her head normally, but probably has some degree of sprain/strain.

I've kept chickens for years and in various locations and have had my flock suffer predation in the past (not ever my own dogs though), and have never had a survivor before. Her left eye was closed but no apparent eye injury. Vetricin topically for wound care has produced very satisfactory healing of wounds, no infection.

I'm limited to doctoring her myself (we cant afford an expensive vet bill and they're always expensive). For the respiratory issue, she was on Amoxicillin, dose appropriate for her 3.5# weight (approximately 20 mg) x 5 days, and I had some Cipro which I was able to fairly accurately dose her with as well for 5 days (approx 60 mg q 12 hours). She had developed a respiratory infection by day 2 and her respirations were wet sounding and I feared the worst. After 24 hours of Cipro she sounded clear with breathing and finally seemed stable.

I was able to locate a silicone catheter (feeding tube). Unfortunately it is fairly small bore (#14 fr.) limiting me, even with Vitamix blender to how thick I can make her food. What I ended up with was raw and cooked egg, pumpkin seed, a dash of honey, a tiny pinch of himalayan salt, poultry vitamin - Poultry Cell per instructions, chick electrolytes added to water. All this in the blender and whirled around until it was as smooth as I could make it so that it would pass through the tiny lumen of the tube.

I also called round to the vet's and they sold me a #18 fr. catheter, but it was made of very stiff hard red rubber, and even soaking in hot water barely improved the flexibility so I stuck with the silicone flexible one for my hen's comfort.

Maisey pecks at the newspapered floor of the dog crate I have her in, She's indoors in heated quarters, and has freedom to stand under a lamp with a 75 watt bulb if she's cold or move away from it. I have a little hanging feeder with crumbles, scratch, few meal worms, and some crushed pumpkin seed and a tiny bit of peanut butter for her to peck at. I have a little fount that she used as a chick, as well as a dish of minced scrambled egg.

While it's been too cold to keep Maisey outdoors for very long I still take her for outings. She perks up outdoors, explores her surroundings, keeps both eyes open and actually gets a few pieces of scratch swallowed, but I've never observed her spontaneously drinking.

Even wrapped up like a burrito in a towel, she vigorously fights,vocalizes and opposes the tube, making it a real battle to get nutrition/fluids in her. Mostly she is somewhat listless, (I'm sure being borderline hydrated and nourished has something to do with this). Any ideas? Better homemade diet? A key missing ingredient? A super supplement? More time outdoors? Other ideas??

I give credit to God for us making it thus far, for without Him I couldn't have done it. I also give credit to some of the wonderful posts I've read here for inspiration, instruction, wisdom and reference to outside sources. In particular a most helpful entry from Kuntrygirl "My crop tube feeding journey with my bird" made this do-able for me. Thanks in advance for any other thoughts or ideas. Maisey and I really appreciate you all!
 

azygous

Crossing the Road
Dec 11, 2009
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Two things may be at issue and contributing to Maisey's lethargy.

Folks often forget a chicken needs grit for comfortable digestion during an extended recovery indoors. Lack of grit can cause a slow crop and the chicken's appetite usually suffers. The crop could progress to a yeast condition and that can affect her overall health, too. You might check on that. The crop should be flat and empty in the morning.

The other issue that could be dragging down Maisey is lack of companionship. A chicken does so much better, from my own experience, if it is kept with the flock during recovery. If your coop is roomy enough to accommodate the infirmary crate, I suggest you set it up in the coop or run so Maisey can have her flock around her.

If that isn't practical, perhaps you can find one of her mates that is compatible with Maisey and let her keep her company in her crate. I've found that chickens at any age that aren't eating will often eat when they have a companion to compete with for the food.
 
Two things may be at issue and contributing to Maisey's lethargy.

Folks often forget a chicken needs grit for comfortable digestion during an extended recovery indoors. Lack of grit can cause a slow crop and the chicken's appetite usually suffers. The crop could progress to a yeast condition and that can affect her overall health, too. You might check on that. The crop should be flat and empty in the morning.

The other issue that could be dragging down Maisey is lack of companionship. A chicken does so much better, from my own experience, if it is kept with the flock during recovery. If your coop is roomy enough to accommodate the infirmary crate, I suggest you set it up in the coop or run so Maisey can have her flock around her.

If that isn't practical, perhaps you can find one of her mates that is compatible with Maisey and let her keep her company in her crate. I've found that chickens at any age that aren't eating will often eat when they have a companion to compete with for the food.
Two things may be at issue and contributing to Maisey's lethargy.

Folks often forget a chicken needs grit for comfortable digestion during an extended recovery indoors. Lack of grit can cause a slow crop and the chicken's appetite usually suffers. The crop could progress to a yeast condition and that can affect her overall health, too. You might check on that. The crop should be flat and empty in the morning.

The other issue that could be dragging down Maisey is lack of companionship. A chicken does so much better, from my own experience, if it is kept with the flock during recovery. If your coop is roomy enough to accommodate the infirmary crate, I suggest you set it up in the coop or run so Maisey can have her flock around her.

If that isn't practical, perhaps you can find one of her mates that is compatible with Maisey and let her keep her company in her crate. I've found that chickens at any age that aren't eating will often eat when they have a companion to compete with for the food.
Two things may be at issue and contributing to Maisey's lethargy.

Folks often forget a chicken needs grit for comfortable digestion during an extended recovery indoors. Lack of grit can cause a slow crop and the chicken's appetite usually suffers. The crop could progress to a yeast condition and that can affect her overall health, too. You might check on that. The crop should be flat and empty in the morning.

The other issue that could be dragging down Maisey is lack of companionship. A chicken does so much better, from my own experience, if it is kept with the flock during recovery. If your coop is roomy enough to accommodate the infirmary crate, I suggest you set it up in the coop or run so Maisey can have her flock around her.

If that isn't practical, perhaps you can find one of her mates that is compatible with Maisey and let her keep her company in her crate. I've found that chickens at any age that aren't eating will often eat when they have a companion to compete with for the food.

Thank you for your advice. I didn't think of grit, but did see her pecking at the sandy soil today on our outing. I'll make sure she gets some. I've set up a separate, safe adjoining enclosure to the flock and tomorrow I'll look at the littlest hens and see who would be a good companion for her. Great idea! Thanks so much
 

Kathy Golla

Crowing
Jan 2, 2017
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You certainly sound like you’ve got it handled. Azygous' advice is very good and based on a lot of experience.
Im assuming you know she is not eating or drinking as you can see no food or water is gone and her crop is empty? Birds will eat when we arent watching.
At this point if you think she is not eating or drinking at all, I would first try to find what food she loves and give her some of that. Even if its scratch grain (plus grit). Just to get some energy in her. This can involve trial and error, sometimes also its not the most healthy foods for them, but it will give them energy to eat better. Some of my hens favorites are blueberries, canned cat food, canned mackerel, hard boiled eggs (either the yolk or white) and mealworms, dried or live (which it sounds like you have offered). I have some hens that only like one of the above. Cut things up so they are easy to eat. Try wetted down chicken crumbles if you havent already. Ive read stories that if the bird sees you pour some water into the feed in front of them to make mash they will possibly get interested.
With tube feeding, I would worry that if you think she has a neck strain thats still healing, that the invasiveness of tube feeding might be counterproductive.
I find that tube feeding is very invasive, but if you really feel that she is not eating at all, it is certainly an option to give her energy and fluids. Trying to manage any residual pain she has with aspirin may be a good option too, to see if that will help.
14fr catheter is small, but doable if the food is thin enough, I like the 16fr for food, 18fr is big to me, but if the hen is larger its OK, to me. But order a 16 and 18 now, so you will have them in the future. Sometimes they have them on Amazon, but check medical supply sites. It will say flexible red rubber catheter. Sometimes its hit or miss, you might get sent one of the hard rubber catheters.
My tip would be, if you can, make sure you have some help, someone else helping you. Even if its only once a day. Tube feeding is very hard with only one person. Also, make sure that you mark the tube where her beak ends up, so you dont go to far into the stomach.. Also, if you are administering the food too fast it can be uncomfortable. Oil the tube on the outside with some olive oil. And make sure the food/water is room temp. Those are some ideas that might make it more comfortable, but my biggest tip is if you can get another person to help you.
Are you using a 35ml syringe for food? Most people use Kaytee baby bird food as a all around effective feed option. If you tube feed, you have to watch the crop function and "output" as azygous mentions.
 

gtaus

Crowing
Mar 29, 2019
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Welcome to the BYC forums :welcome

Sorry to read about the attack, especially by your own dog. Sounds like you are taking very good care of your hen. She would not survive 2 weeks if she was not getting enough water. So many good comments already offered, but I too thought maybe a companion at this stage might perk her up.

Hope your hen recovers. Please update this thread with your progress. I am hoping for a happy ending on this one.
 

micstrachan

Free Ranging
Premium member
Apr 10, 2016
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Hi there,
I agree companionship may help. Also, I have had success syringe feeding a sick, lethargic hen when I was too afraid to tube feed and/or thought it would stress the bird out too much. If you can remain calm and soothing, that may help. If you are nervous and amped up, your little patient may sense that.

When I syringe feed, I wrap the bird in a towel, have her on my lap beak facing to my right, since I’m right handed. I use my left hand to grab the little head & neck from behind. Then pry the beak open and place no more than half a mL of feed on or under the tongue. Allow her to swallow on her own. If she’s really feisty, sometimes I need to pin her down a little with my left arm and/or torso. This method requires some time and patience, but has been effective. I usually reward her with something she loves, like raw, shelled sunflower seeds.

For the feed, I’ve used baby bird feed supplemented with honey, coconut oil, nutridrench and sometimes hemp protein.

I have also found live meal worms can really get an appetite going.

Good luck and please let us know how she does!
 
Thank you Kathy Golla. I think I have some canned mackerel in the pantry (I'm not a fan but my dogs sure are), will try that tomorrow. I was able to tube feed her tonight - about 40cc of blenderized eggs cooked and raw, greens, poultry cell, pumpkin seeds, water.

I do understand about trying to get some calories/energy into that little hen. She so strongly protested the tube a couple of days ago I let her go for about 18 hours on her own, but saw maybe a half teaspoon of crumbles/scratch were eaten but no water. I did have her on about 100mg of aspirin per day via eye dropper and she took in maybe 60 % of that, then switched to giving it in the tube with a feeding. It seems impossible to find baby asa that's not flavored. My online research indicated that the sweetener was ok for chickens., but I thought maybe the asa was irritating her digestive system so I stopped using it. May add that back in tomorrow as well.

I felt so encouraged when we turned the respiratory corner so to speak and the wounds are healing well, but her little chicken spirit seems weaker, her physical self as well. Since I didn't get a weight on her for a couple of days, I'm sure she has lost a significant percentage of body weight and is debilitated from that as well. I'm an RN, but as I've said, I've never had a survivor before so nursing a chicken is a new gig for me.

I had her outdoors yesterday and put her in the pen for a minute with her flock, 11 other hens, buff orpingtons and jersey giants, and not recognizing her, immediately came over and started picking on her, so I thought an adjacent run where they could see and hear each other might work. What's really interesting to me was this particular flock has two age groups of chicks about 2 weeks apart. When I combined them after I got the second batch of chicks, there were no problems at all assimilating all the chicks. I have never witnessed any pecking order per say, just an unusually congenial small flock of hens.

Maisey and I thank you for your sound advice and encouragement.
 

Bird-Whisperer

Chirping
Nov 13, 2019
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Fallbrook California
Oh my goodness! I'm sorry to hear about the attack.

It sounds like you are doing the best you can for her. Chickens are very social; she may just miss her flock mates as the others have suggested.

It definitely takes time for them to recover as well. A raccoon got into our duck house one night last summer and ate one hen and terribly injured a drake. It took about a month before he was really back into the swing of things. Those poor ducks were scared to go into their house for a while too!

Everyone's giving you some sound advice. I pray your girl makes a full recovery :hugs
 

Kathy Golla

Crowing
Jan 2, 2017
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San Francisco Bay Area
ReIntegrating is always a drama. Whether she’s sick or not, a reintegrated hen always signals a change in pecking order, which is an immediate threat. The longer a hen is gone, the more solid the new pecking order becomes.
Putting her friends in the adjacent pen with her slowly, away from the nasties may also help.
She will need all her strength to be fully reintegrated.
 
Wow. Thank you all for the wonderful outpouring of support and GREAT ideas. I'll have to get a small syringe, ditch the eyedropper and try your technique micstrachan. We kinda do that, beak facing right, gently pry open beak, try to get her to swallow.
gtaus, thanks for your encouragement. two of the buffs are a little smaller, either one would probably be a suitable companion. Will do our best, me and Miss Maisey and will keep you updated.
 

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