Beginning A Rooster's Road to Recovery

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by islandgirl82, Jun 7, 2016.

  1. islandgirl82

    islandgirl82 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Last week, whilst on the phone with a friend who keeps a small flock of laying hens, she had a moment of confusion when she heard one of her girls crowing. I assured her that it's not unheard of for a hen in a flock without a rooster to adopt the traits of one, such as crowing or growing spurs.  I, myself have had two hens grow spurs, one a Silver Laced Wyandotte and the other a Golden Spangled Hamburg.  It didn't take her long, however to find the source.  A large rooster had found his way into her yard and was nestled down and hiding in the shrubs calling to her girls who eagerly huddled around him.

    She assumed he'd been dumped in a nearby quarry as animals often are there but decided to go door to door asking her neighbors if they'd lost a rooster before figuring out what to do with him. Keeping him was not an option for her after some issues with one neighbor and her last rooster so when she had no luck knocking on doors, she put him in a crate that night after he went to roost so she could take him to the local animal shelter the following day. 

    The next morning, I stopped by her house and my 11 year old daughter said she loved this rooster - he reminded her of our first rooster whom we all adored (lost to a fox years ago) and did that thing that children do - she gave me that sad, can-we-keep-him look. That very same expression I used to flash at my own parents whenever I found an animal in need. Having had one great and two far from great experiences with roosters, I wasn't so keen on the idea of bringing another home.  My girls are happy without one and when they're happy, I'm happy.  However, I do have a small isolation coop and he was clearly in need of some care so home with us it was. 

    During his first day here, he was very quiet and shaking a lot so I left him in the crate in a quiet area with some fermented feed with Echinacea drops in it (an herbal antibiotic/immune system support), apple slices and plenty of fresh water with RAW ACV in it while I prepared his new coop.  I would check on him occasionally and talk to him.  His eyes were clear and bright but he just seemed to be in a daze.  He was in shock.  That evening, I moved him to his coop and noticed he was having a very difficult time walking up the ramp from the run and he kept stumbling over the roosting bar inside.  When I saw that he was nestled down in the bedding instead of on the bar, I removed it to give him more room. I was able to get a much better idea the next morning of what I'd be dealing with.  His comb is covered in scabs, obviously from being pecked by his previous flock mates and half his tail feathers and a large amount of the fluffy feathers around his vent and between his legs have been ripped out.  He's still having trouble walking on the hard ramp and when he lays down, he moves very slowly.  This boy has been through quite an ordeal and one can only speculate the events. 

    Day two, he ate more apple and cucumber slices and three small bowls of fermented feed with Echinacea. Working from home has made it quite easy for me to be able to spend some time just sitting beside his little coop, talking to him and observing. I noticed that any time I would leave him for too long, he would crow until I would go sit beside him again although he would hide when he would see other people and either my dog (a very loving and protective Newfoundland) or cat (who keeps a very healthy distance from my flock) and chatter in distress.  As this behavior continued throughout the day, it seemed to me that he'd either had no exposure to chicken friendly dogs and/or cats or that his current condition could have been the result of an attack but such a predator.  Either way, it was disheartening and I was glad when my dog decided to lay beside the coop with his back to this frightened boy.  That's a dog's way of letting one know that they mean no harm and the rooster began to relax a little. 

    When my daughter came home from school she couldn't wait to see him and give him treats before my mum came by to take her to a horseback riding lesson.  No sooner did she leave then my phone rang. It was the friend whose house he'd made his way to.  She told me a man and his son had arrived at her house looking for their rooster.  My heart sank.  I was already growing quite fond of him and had begun looking forward to integrating him into my flock and my girls had taken an unusual interest in him from across the yard (they didn't like the last two roosters so much, so I found new homes for them). She put the gentleman on the phone and as it turns out, his son, my daughter and my friend's daughter are all in the same class at school.  He told me their rooster had been missing for days after an attack in their coop, either by a dog that has been a nuisance in that area or by a bobcat that has been sighted there many times recently.  They had lost 6 hens and one of their roosters and their flock is now down to 38 members. They were very eager to get him back.   

    They arrived at my house to collect him and as I was telling them about the condition he's in and how much better he was doing then than he was the previous day.  They told me some more about his history; they'd adopted him from the local animal shelter a couple of years ago after he'd been picked up as a stray rooster several towns away and how wonderful he is with their girls and that they're the reason his comb is so covered in scabs.  They also told me that one of their broody hens was sitting on 8 eggs all fertilized by him and how beautiful his offspring have all turned out to be.  They offered me a cockerel from the new hatchlings but I declined.  I explained how I'd had such a hard time seeing what my girls had gone through with my last adolescent male and I didn't want to put them through that again but if they ever decided to replace this sweet, beautiful boy with another, he would be welcome here.  In turn, they said if for whatever reason it wasn't working out here, to give them a call and they'll take him back.  I couldn't believe it what I was hearing! 

    So, this boy remains here and despite being in isolation, he seems to be recovering faster than expected.  I think the interest my girls have taken in that "handsome new fellow" who's saying all the right things to them from across the yard has far more to do with it than the TLC he's getting from me.  Even my eldest hen who has fought off the advances of all three of our previous roosters is climbing up to the highest branch in their run, clustered in with all the other girls to get a glimpse and swoon over him as he coos and flexes for them.   

    His constant flexing and stretching to impress my girls has been great for his sore muscles.  I wanted to give him a few days for his pain lessen before handling him too much but I think now he's ready so tonight he'll have a lovely warm Epsom salt soak to hopefully relieve his bare skin and tender feet and I should be able to examine them closely.  I'm not quite sure if the spots I'm seeing on his legs and feet are puncture wounds from the attack or whether it's a possible case of bumble-foot (staph infection). I'm also not sure how prepared I am for surgery, if that's what will be required but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. In the meantime, I'm grateful to have plenty of BYC threads to read through to prepare for such an event and to help see this guy on the road to wellness. 

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    Last edited: Jun 13, 2016
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  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

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    Very pretty rooster, I can see why the ladies like him. Hopefully he keeps improving.
     
  3. islandgirl82

    islandgirl82 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have to agree on his looks and he's sweet too. I figured wherever he'd come from, he wasn't top rooster but they said he was, he just let his ladies bully him. I think the girls in my flock are a lot more passive than what he's used to so hopefully he remains as gentle as they said he is. They also said when his tail is full, it doubles his size and is quite long. I have no doubt he'll recover well. His movements are increasingly more fluid so I know he's feeling much better.
     
  4. Kaylin

    Kaylin Out Of The Brooder

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    He's gorgeous! Whata nice rescue story. Hopefully he has found his dream home.
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Wow, well written and great story, was shocked when the owners let you keep him!
    Hope you will keep us updated here on his journey into your flock.

    Note: 'Bumble' foot does not always require the invasive 'surgery'.
     
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  6. islandgirl82

    islandgirl82 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you. You and me both! I'm not quite sure why they decided to let him stay but they said they'd been discussing it on the drive over.

    I'll be sure to post updates - his soak was skipped last night as I had someone planning on coming over to give a helping hand but she couldn't make it so it'll be tonight. He is a bit more steady on his feet today. He has quite the incentive to get well waiting for him across the yard.
     
  7. islandgirl82

    islandgirl82 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My isolation coop is just one of those small prefabricated coops that can barely hold 2 full sized hens even though they claim it holds some ridiculous number like 6-8. It's been great for chicks that were ready to go outside but not ready to mingle with the big girls yet and for this guy. This morning I've attached a portable puppy pen to the run with bird netting over the top to give him some more space to stretch his legs. Now that he's out and really stretching, I can see just how badly he's been chewed up; under his left wing in particular but his movements are not restricted at all anymore which is great. Tonight after his soak he'll get some salve on those bites. In the meantime, he's enjoying his extra space and less focused on getting the attention from the girls. He's also a lot more relaxed around my dog and cat than he was initially. It helps that they're out and about in the yard and completely ignoring him.
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  8. islandgirl82

    islandgirl82 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Last night was bath night for the rooster and I've learned a few things. I have bathed hens before and it's altogether, a different experience or at least the handling portion of it. I wasn't exactly looking forward to bath time, especially knowing what those spurs are capable of and the unpredictability of the fight or flight instinct. What I wasn't prepared for was a) how heavy he is compared to my girls and my last rooster and b) how STRONG an established and mature rooster is. I'm no string bean and handling a 180lb dog and horses and a mini donkey is nothing for me but this guy really took me by surprise.

    I prepared his bath with Epsom salt, a few drops of Lavender oil (a natural antiseptic), Calendula oil, which is marvelously soothing for sore or burned flesh and Hemp Seed oil which is also great for the skin and bonus, contains vitamin E prior to bringing him in from the coop.

    The friend who found him came over to lend a helping hand and she had a towel ready to cover his eyes/head to reduce stress. I knew the moment I picked him up that this wasn't going to be an easy task. I knew I had hurt him when I felt scabbing under my hands instead of feathers as I lifted him and he kicked his feet which caused him to slip from my grip a little and as he slipped, the tip of one of his spurs punctured my thigh but not too badly. I know it hurt him more as I had to adjust my hold on him but the towel went quickly over his head and he didn't panic anymore. I'm sure he was also experiencing some post traumatic stress but into the house and straight into his bath he went. He immediately laid down in the water but I had to cradle his head in my hand because he was so relaxed his head would have gone under otherwise.

    We quickly made a sling with the towel to keep his head up and turned out the kitchen light while he soaked. In the meantime, I dealt with the puncture I had gotten from his spur. He stayed soaking in his tub for 15 to 20 minutes before he decided bath time was over. I wasn't quite sure how to get him out of his tub without hurting him again so I stood petting him and talking to him while he was still in it before making sure I had a good grip without touching any of his wounds. He wanted no part of being examined so I dried him off as best I could before placing him in a crate in the kitchen for the night.

    I checked on him periodically up until 12:30 am, trying to get better views of the damage and despite being injured, carried around very ungracefully, bathed, stuck in a crate and having my hands reaching in and petting him and trying to lift his wings and all that, not once did he give me a dirty look, let alone make an aggressive move towards me nor would I have any reason to blame him if he had. He seemed to know that this is all new to me and showed me nothing but patience and would just move away when he'd had enough of my prodding.

    I suppose the joke is on me this morning though. I also learned that no matter how late I kept him up tending to him, that did not change his internal alarm clock AT ALL. He seemed nothing short of blissful to be waking me up at 4 am with his crowing. Touché my feathered friend. Touché.

    He's back outside in his quarantine coop and I was able to get a few photos of his bare backside and his legs, although he was happy to not let me get too close so the quality isn't great on the last photo. His legs and bottoms of his feet are awfully red. This has been concerning to me since I picked him up from my friend's house over the weekend. I'm not quite sure if this is due to injury/illness/infection or if it's just his natural coloring. If anyone has any thoughts on this, I'd love to know.


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    Last edited: Jun 9, 2016
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Red areas/lines on cocks legs are most often a hormonal thing, very normal. Freaked me out when I first saw it on my birds too.
    Not sure about bottoms of feet tho, never looked there.

    Although the essential oils maybe beneficial to human skin, that my not carry over to poultry.
    I would keep it simple...keep an eye on wounds for infection, better to keep him dry after the initial bath.
    Good old plain triple anti-biotic ointment.
    (tho DO NOT use anything with 'pain relief' ingredients [ -caine suffix]....it can be toxic to poultry)
    can help to fight off infection and keep healing skin moist if you really feel it's needed.
    If here is infection, ONE application of hydrogen peroxide can take care if it quick,
    only once tho as it can damage healthy new growing skin too.

    I've seen atrocious skin wounds/scalping on chickens heal up just fine with little to no treatment.
    Dry, calm, well fed is the key.
    Deep punctures are another story all together.

    Another great story told!
    It's funny how hard they fight, then usually after they realize your handling will not kill them, they settle right down.
     
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  10. islandgirl82

    islandgirl82 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh! I had no idea the red might have anything to do with hormones but his are certainly turning the heads of my hens. They eyeball him like they're groupies! His previous people also told me his legs have always been red like that.

    As for the Lavender essential oil, yes, too much will burn anyone's skin when it's pure but I just added a few drops to several gallons of water - far too diluted to burn. The Calendula oil is actually olive oil infused with calendula blossoms and the hemp seed oil is pressed oil. Typically used for cooking (it's delicious) but can be applied topically just like other plant oils.

    I think this may be a case when less is more as far as tending goes and from the impression his previous keepers gave me, this was far from his first dance with a predator.
     
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