I don't think Chance is going to make it...

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by iamcuriositycat, Sep 20, 2009.

  1. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Songster

    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    I have a two-week-old duckling that I think I'm going to have to euthanize. When would you make that call?

    He had a hard time hatching--couldn't get the cap off after zipping--and I eventually helped by pushing the cap partway off with a chopstick (without opening the incubator!). He was all the way out a few hours later and I saw that he was crippled--both feet sticking out behind him, unable to get them under him--he had become trapped under the egg carton. I grabbed him out quickly and put him in the brooder for observation.

    I thought I'd have to euthanize him that first day, but a few hours later he had one leg under him and was pushing himself around the brooder, so I waited. I gave him egg yolk (cooked) and physical therapy. He got a little better each day. I thought he would make it.

    But he reached a certain point and never got any better. He is about half the size of the other two-week-olds, and has now developed a sore spot in the middle of his back--not sure why--the others don't seem to pick on him at all. His left leg turns inward so that his left foot is often on top of his right foot, making it hard for him to walk. He often turns over on his back and has to struggle to get upright again. Running is very challenging for him and he certainly can't keep up with the others.

    In the brooder he's fine, because there's not so much space to navigate. He can stand and wobble around the brooder. But outside he simply can't keep up. And he gets exhausted and seems miserable.

    Here's the thing: He's been so darn cheerful about the whole thing, I think he rather enjoys life. I'm reluctant to end it if he wants it. On the other hand, he has begun to seem a little less content lately--very tired after only a little exercise, and stressed when they're out of the brooder.

    At what point would you personally decide to euthanize? Or would you wait and let him pass on his own (as I have a feeling he will at some point--I can't imagine this going on indefinitely)?

    I know some folks would have culled him at birth, and I understand that. He would certainly never have been bred from even if he had eventually turned out to be basically normal. But I don't like to play god. I figure if the creature enjoys its life then who am I to take it away? I don't begrudge him a little extra food and water.

    But I also believe in death with dignity and don't want to prolong things if it would be better to end them.


  2. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    I guess it depends on if you're willing to baby him along for the rest of his life. And the quality of his life which from you say may be going downhill. Since he is not growing as well as the others it's more than likely only a matter of time before he passes on his own. I think a lot of times when there are defects we can see there are others that we can't which finally take too much of a toll on them.

    I do not like to cull chicks or ducklings either, but I've found it's much easier to do when they are newly hatched as opposed to down the road a couple of weeks.
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2009
  3. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Songster

    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    Thanks, Katy. I'm actually not willing to baby him for a long life, as cold as that may be. But I did want to give him a chance to get better and thrive if he could. He's not, so it may be time to let him go soon.

    I understand how it's easier, and probably more sensible, to cull soon after hatching (or even just to not help with hatching--in which case he probably would have died in his shell) for some folks. But it's actually easier for me now--even if I had to go do it right now, tonight--because I know I've given him a chance. If I had culled at birth, or if I had not helped him out of the shell, I would always have wondered if I had failed to save a creature who might have had a really lovely life if not for the lack of a little extra care on my part.

    But I can see now that Chance is never going to have a high quality of life. As long as he seems to be more or less enjoying himself, I will continue to let him be. I just don't know at what point to say, "Okay, he's not enjoying himself any more. Time to end it."

    Sigh. I know no one can answer that for me. I just appreciate the support. [​IMG] I really do appreciate your input. [​IMG]

    And, P.S., I remember that you knew this probably would not end happily when I first asked about helping him out of his shell. I wish you had been wrong. [​IMG] But I'm grateful for your expertise nonetheless.
  4. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    I wish I had been wrong too.
  5. carriehelene

    carriehelene Songster

    Feb 9, 2009
    Capital Region NY
    Oh Cat, I'm so sorry to hear about chance. [​IMG]
  6. What about NOT putting him out with the others and keep him in the brooder where he would have more room to roam without the others?

    The other option is trying to tape his little feet to small pieces of cardboard to help keep them flat. Give him a drop of polyvisol daily and watch for just a few more days.

    I agree that many times nothing works and euthanasia is the kindest thing we can do..and, like you, I try to give them some time if they seem to be otherwise happy.

    It's such a difficult decision...praying for wisdom for you...[​IMG]
  7. redhen

    redhen Kiss My Grits... Premium Member

    May 19, 2008
    Western MA
    Sorry that you have such a hard thing to deal with.. [​IMG] [​IMG]

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