Chicken survived a Heat Stroke

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by deannak, Aug 1, 2011.

  1. deannak

    deannak New Egg

    Jul 20, 2011
    I am posting this to give hope and encouragement to others with the same problem.

    On July 2, I found one of my hens down when I went to check on them. As my husband and I were approaching their run, she looked dead to both of us. The other 7 hens were panting and when we looked in their coop, we discovered that they had knocked their 3 gallon waterer over and it had drained completely. Then, I remembered something I had learned during our first winter with chickens and I was worried about them getting cold...chickens are more vulnerable to heat than cold and in southern Oklahoma in's hot.

    We realized that she was still breathing, so we picked her up and brought her into my husband's woodshop that is attached to our house. She felt very hot...especially under her wings. He put her in the shop sink and rinsed her with cool water while I got the cage that we use for a brooder ready for her. We thought that she would be dead in no time but wanted her to at least not be getting walked on by the other hens. She could not stand up, could barely make a sound and her comb looked faded and dry. We turned the a/c on in the shop so that she could continue to cool down.

    I went to the internet for answers and couldn't find much that seemed to help. Several people said to put a little sugar or electrolytes in her water and wait. From the information that I could find, it seemed that she would either be dead or better by morning, but I had zero hope of a recovery. I found one post from someone that had talked to a veterinatian that told them to be patient while the brained length of time given and no other instructions.

    My husband suggested that we flip her over every 30 minutes or so to help with circulation, so we started there. He didn't really think that it would work but he knew it was driving me crazy to do nothing for her. The next morning, when we went to check on her, she was still just laying there and unable to stand...but still alive. She has never really liked to be handled, but we continued flipping her over every little bit while trying not to stress her out too much. Occassionally, we would take her out of the cage and stand her up on the floor. If we held her up, she would go to the bathroom, but as soon as we would try to let her stand, she fell right over. We still felt we had a dying chicken on our hands.

    We went to the farm/ranch store and bought an electrolyte powder, especially for chickens, to mix with her water as well as two 1 gallon waterers to put in the run for the rest of the flock so that they could have electrolytes and additional water...just in case. By the next morning, I was expecting her to either be dead or completely better (based on what I had read online) but she was neither. A little better...she could cluck better and could stand for a second or two before falling down and flapping like crazy. She always fell on her right side with her right wing extended. We would set her back up and repeat the process. It was pitiful to watch.

    A day or so later, we decided to talk her outside in the grass under a shade tree for a little while. She could stand a little longer (5-10 seconds) in the grass than she could on the concrete floor in the shop. I would get her up and keep my hand on her right side. I would move her right foot and she would move her left. After four or five steps, she was tired and wanted to just sit, so that is what we did. We continued this for the next few days.

    After a week had passed, she could sit for quite a while, but her head and tail feathers were always to the right side of her body...she looked out of balance. She would still always fall to the right and would sometimes even tip over when she was just sitting. Her progress seemed to stall. I started calling local vets to see if anyone had any ideas and mailnly, because I felt like we were just prolonging the inevitable. The first two vets that I called didn't work with chickens. The third vet didn't work with chickens either, but the office manager must raise chickens because she seemed familiar with the breed (Salmon Faverolles) and at least listened to me, talked to me a little bit and told me to give it one more week before making any decisions. While we were sitting outside with her that evening, my husband said, "You do realize that we are going to have to put her down." It was like she heard him, because she stood up, walked very clumsily in a small the right, of course...and then fell down. This was the first time that she had even tried to walk on her own but more importantly, it was progress.

    The pattern seemed to be a little progress, followed by several days with no progress. Her circles to the right grew a little bigger and finally became arches instead of circles. I began to wonder if she would be able to figure out how to get where she meant to go by only turning to the right. After her short walks, she would always fall flat on her right side and flap like crazy until we picked her back up. She did enjoy her time outside and I learned that chickens make a purring sound when they are content.

    By this time, thanks to more internet research, we had added a tarp to reflect the sun and provide a little more shade to the run as well as water misters. We didn't want a second hen in this condition because we kenew we didn't have the time or space to take care of two at once. Their run is fairly shaded by surrounding trees, except on the south side, so that is where the tarp went. I HIGHLY recommend this for anyone on a hot climate. They LOVE the misters and it keeps them cool enough that they walk around their run instead of digging into a hole and just sitting there.

    We were still continuing with small amounts of progress followed by several days without progress. When she would try to walk, she would go way too fast and fall over. We discovered that if we laid her on her left side, she could stand herself up so now, when she fell over, we would flip her to her left and she could get up on her own...until the next time she fell.

    Two weeks had passed and I asked my mother to come have a look at her. My thought was that if she would come look at her one or two times a week, it would be easier to tell if there had been progress or not. Seeing her everyday, and wishful thinking, made it hard to evaluate her on my own. My mother (who doesn't really like chickens) felt bad for her when she first saw her fall and flap like me, this was normal by now. She felt like the chicken was "more dead than alive" and that we were close to torturing her to keep her around. All I could say was that she was "much better than she had been" and since she wasn't dead yet, we would keep trying a little longer.

    A few days later, my husband used a dog kennel (3'x6') to make her a run and put it adjacent to the run for the rest of the flock. Every morning, I would take the chicken to her run and every evening, I would put her back in the small cage in the shop. I would check on her constantly so that when she fell over, I could stand her back up. After a couple days of this routine, she had figured out that if she stood close enough to the cage on her right side that she could walk by herself and only needed to touch the tip of her wing to the side of the cage for balance/support. This is also how she learned to make a left turn! Several times each day, I would stand her up a little ways back in the run so that she could practice walking. Each day, we would start a little farther than the day before.

    Everyone that knows me knows that I have a sick chicken since that is just about all that I can talk about and when I'm not at home, I worry about her constantly. People at church even offered to pray for her. She wasn't officially on the prayer list, but one lady asked me if she had a name, so that she could pray for her by name. Truth be told, I was praying for her, too...and it worked.

    Within five days of being in her own run, she was getting brave enough to walk out in the middle without leaning on the cage for support. This new confidence meant that I had to keep an even closer eye on her, since she still couldn't get up from her right side.

    It has been 31 days since she had her stroke and 10 days since I last had to stand her back up. She is spending her first day back with the flock (minus one that was being aggressive towards her) and is now able to get up from her right side. She actually catches herself before she falls completely.

    Hopefully, in a couple more days, I can put the other chicken (that was being aggressive) back in and things will be back to "normal" again.
    4 people like this.
  2. Nicole01

    Nicole01 Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 28, 2011
    Awww... What a truly wonderful story![​IMG]. I would of done the same thing to save her life. I hope and pray everything goes well when she is returned to the flock.

    Our first heat wave, I found several chicks on the coop floor lethargic. It was temps over 100 and higher heat index temps. I was doing everything I could to keep them cool. Since it's already crazy humid here, misters do not work. I bring all 8 of my chickens in the basement where I have an enclosed set up for them. I free range in the basement or right outside the door about ever hour or two to stretch their legs. I clean up their area and any droppings on the floor. I disinfect the floor once they are put away.

    We have tried everything to keep them cool. We started with shade tarps, which is not good enough to regular tarps. I'm going to buy a reflective tarp no matter how silly it looks to the neighbors. I turn on the sprinkler in the run as well. Their coop is 100% insulated, so it holds the heat. The big fan just blows hot air on them. We will install 2 big metal fans next year. This summer has been the warmest I can ever remember.

    I really don't mind them inside and they like it too. The girls are very quiet in the house. Good luck and I'm so happy to hear you didn't lose your hen.[​IMG]
  3. tamdeva

    tamdeva Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 9, 2012
    Thank you for your post. I had a near heat stroke hen today. All was good this morning, except 2 newer hens were out of the pen, flew into the mules coral right next door, but stayed right next to the pen. I had to clime over the fence and get them, put them back into the pen! Had to go to town, was gone about 3 hours. When I came back one of the hens was back over there, laying next to the pens fence, but in the mule coral. She was moving, tried to get away from me, then just sat down. I got her then, she was not her usual self, very quiet and HOT. I dribbled water over her head to cool her brain, while also drizzling over her beak, so she would drink. Then took her to the doggie pool, and wet her all down, and sat with her in the shade until she seemed to be a little more alert. While I had her, I clipped her wings, so hope she won't make it over the fence and get "trapped" in the sun with no water! I need to clip her friends wings too! She is resting with her hen friend inside the coop, so the other hens and Roo won't bother her. So yes the heat is really bad for chickens, or anything without shade & water.
  4. chicksooner

    chicksooner Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 19, 2012
    My roo really suffered this afternoon. I went to check on everyone and he would not move. I cooled him off with the hose and got him to drink a little. He is now inside and working to get his feet back under him.
  5. ecariuss

    ecariuss New Egg

    Mar 19, 2013
    Hello, I know you posted this awhile ago, but I'm hoping you'll be able to help be. I believe my pullet had a heat stroke while bringing her home (just bought her today ). She can't hold her legs under her ans just flaps around at times. My question is what do I feed her, how much and how? Since you made it through this, I'm hoping you can help.
  6. chicksooner

    chicksooner Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 19, 2012
    did you find some help for your pullet? Is she doing better? I brought my rooster into the house and had to give him water to drink and I tried to feed him cold things like grapes and watermellon. I put him back in the coop that night and he was much better the next day.
  7. Godivanouveau60

    Godivanouveau60 New Egg

    Jul 4, 2013
    You have given me hope. I lost 14 chickens to a badger and gave 12 away for their safety in case it came back. It is 113 in the Mojave Desert, a heat save. My remaining chickens were hurt in the attack and I kept them, I called them my broken girls. I just fround 3 of the 6 dead due to the heat. Two have heat stroke, I have them in an inch of water in my bathtub, surrounded by damp towels. They are my babies, I am heart sick, just heart sick. One survived unskathed, but we just buried the others. I am hanging on to your luck.
  8. Dunrovin

    Dunrovin Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 22, 2013
    Glad to see this post - Thanks for sharing!

    "Cuddles" one of my favorite hens suffered a heat stroke earlier this week and I was starting to get discouraged as she is still not walking - But now I know that I just need to give her more time!


  9. mzkittyschicks

    mzkittyschicks New Egg

    Jun 10, 2013
    one of my hens had a heat stroke on a 121 degree day, after being in the shade plenty of water and spraying down the area surrounding to keep them cool, she is alive but not laying (sort of worried about that) and screams bloody murder if i even move to a place she cant see me. i think she might have brain damage but I'm hoping she just needs a little extra time to get normal-ed out.
  10. ten chicks

    ten chicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 9, 2013
    Heat is extremely hard on chickens,do not expect much in the way of eggs,and yes it might take her quite a while to get back to normal. I personally do not care if my girls lay in the extreme heat,my priority is keeping them healthy and alive.
    1 person likes this.

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