Is my roommates chicken going to die!?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by johnconner, Jan 4, 2013.

  1. johnconner

    johnconner New Egg

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    Long story short my roommate "rescued" a chicken late this summer, neither my roommate or I have ever cared for a chicken, or know anything about chickens other than they are wonderful baked with butter and rosemary. The problems abounded from day one, the landlord is furious (roommate didn't feel the need to mention her new pet until after neighbors started complaining) as are the neighbors ( well the ones who haven't made bets on how long the poor thing will live) did I mention we live in an apartment with a small shared yard. So the other tenants began confronting my roommate about the chicken who is running around the yard (no coop, no shelter from rain/elements) turns out my roommate is impossible to reason with, so neighbors and landlord begin to talk to me, threatening to take our security deposit, begin eviction process, ect. My roommate failed to even attempt to make living arrangements for the hen (ie. build or buy a coop) and was furious when I told her that the hen could not live in a cardboard box. Since I am an animal lover it was eating away at me having this animal suffering in my yard for 2 months with no enclosure, so me and my boyfriend decide to build the animal a make shift coop and pen in a last ditch effort to appease the neighbors and landlord. one can only put up with so many calls starting with "what's being done about the chicken?" Before you break down and spend 16 hours in the hot sun doing manual labor for a pet that's not yours. Anyways I don't know the first thing about coops, so we essentially turned a cabinet into the coop, adding a vent for air, and a bar for her to sit on at night. And got chicken wire for a pen.

    Landlord and neighbors end their grumbling, no word on eviction, I'm not holding out hope for ever seeing my security deposit again though

    We have tried to convince my roommate to find a new home for the chicken, we are met with hostility and anger, and can't get a word in when we bring up the subject. My roommate is convinced that the chicken who she has been feeding cooked white rice and apples is an organic free range hen and is producing eggs that are far superior than anyone could ever purchase at the grocery store.

    I was under the impression organic chickens need an organic diet, and free range chickens need to get their diet completely from scavenged bugs, grasses, and seeds they find on their own... I may be wrong though as I honestly don't know much about chickens.

    Anyways, so since we live in colorado I was worried about the cold temperatures, it is not uncommon for temperatures to drop well below 0 degrees F on a nightly basis. The chicken is living in what is essentially a bookshelf with a door (no insulation, and drafty) I convinced the roommate to dull out the cash for a heat lamp (met with much complaining on how expensive the chicken is, but it is apparently too dear to her to part with). Temps have been the lowest thus far this week (roommates out of town, guess who is stuck watching the chicken?) the chicken screams at night (I know because its coop is right outside my bedroom window) I'm guessing this is for the cold, but would appreciate some insight.

    And now for the kicker, the chicken was bald on its back when my roommate first got it in late summer. It's feathers regrew in the fall, but over the last few days she has been pulling them out again, this time it's the feathers around her wings. She screams at night BAAAAAAAWWWWWWW WWWWWWK BRRRRAAAAAAAAAWK. And she is currently eating a diet that is 99% white rice, plus whatever table scraps I throw in for her ( vegi tops, fruit peels and stuff) the white rice is not my idea, my roommate insisted that it was "chicken food"

    My question is, can this solitary chicken who lives in a bookshelf on a sheet of ice and eats a diet of white rice possibly survive?

    Are the loss/plucking of feathers a sign of disease? Lice or dietary problems? I know the coop has not been cleaned out once since it was built. And she has only laid one tiny egg since October. She is a few years old I believe.

    And does anyone know if the same animal abuse laws that apply to pets like cats and dogs also apply to chickens? I've heard from various people that because they are livestock they don't have the same rules.

    Also if there are any chicken lovers in the northern colorado area who would not be opposed to rescuing a needy chicken in the dead of night while my roommate sleeps I would love to get in touch with you.

    Any advice at all on this situation would be greatly appreciated, I don't think my heart can take watching this animal slowly die. Since it is not my animal i can't legally surrender it to the animal shelter. I'm getting weary of taking care of a pet that's not mine, but I don't have the heart to kill and eat it.
     
  2. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    I once read a study where they fed chickens all white rice and they died from malnutrition. When fed brown rice they lived in the short term.

    White rice is only a treat. Brown rice has its nutrition intact.

    Any single grain isn't really sufficient. And chickens cannot live on grains alone. They need protein.

    Honestly I feel the chicken is protein-starved and is eating its feathers as a source of protein. It needs to eat chicken food. A balanced ration would be (if you must go homemade) something like the following:

    meat scraps
    oyster shell for calcium
    grit (sharp gravel for digesting whole grains) or getting gravel from soil is ok
    wheat
    oats
    corn
    black oil sunflower seeds
    split peas
    barley
    millet
    anything like quinoa, brown rice, etc. is good

    BUT you really need the meat scraps OR roasted soy (really this chicken needs a nice chicken feed from the feed store). If you don't supply calcium the hen might start laying weak-shelled eggs and it might kill her.

    If she has a heat lamp and is out of the wind she should be ok but if there is a breeze on her then she will be cold.

    In terms of the coop not being cleaned out that is a severe problem. Gotta get that puppy cleaned!
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2013
  3. johnconner

    johnconner New Egg

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    I have brought the idea of buying organic chicken feed up to my roommate before, since we have several feed and farm supply stores in the area, but she insists she can make better food, I will discuss protein and calcium requirements with her. So the feather plucking is most likely diet related?

    It's good to hear the chickens not cold, any idea if the noises she makes at night are due to diet as well? Or maybe lonlieness since she is the only chicken?
     
  4. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Feather plucking can be from lice/mites as well as stress/boredom, or protein deficiency.

    I am not sure why she is making noises at night. My hens are quiet at night. Yes they do get INCREDIBLY lonely. They are herd animals. (Well, flock animals.)
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2013
  5. farmtotable

    farmtotable Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I hope I don't come off too strongly in this post, and if I do I apologize but people who do this type of things to animals make me sick. First of all, what your roommate is doing is animal abuse. And even though chickens can be considered "livestock", it's against the law to intentionally be cruel to any animal. (Even a squirrel is protected by animal cruelty laws). I'm not even sure where to start with this one, but here goes:

    1) Chickens are flock animals. They will not be happy or healthy alone.
    2) What you are describing is NOT adequate shelter for a chicken, not even close.
    3) That diet is nowhere near what a chicken should be eating. (Ask your roommate if a "wild" chicken would have access to cooked rice). Chickens require a nutritionally balanced feed, and/or access to grass, insects, plants, etc. (Not possible during your weather). White rice is refined to the point that there is very little nutritional value left in it.
    4) The fact that the chicken is screaming at night and plucking her feathers shows she is under tremendous stress, both psychologically and nutritionally. Neither of those behaviors is normal, and if your roommate can't see and understand that than she's a .... sorry. Your roommate is making me very angry.
    5) The plucking could be from the mites and lice I'm sure she has from living in squalid conditions, it could also be from the crappy diet she is getting.
    6) I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Your roommate has no right to "rescue" a chicken and then put it through hell. From what you say she can't be bothered to provide the basic needs (shelter, adequate diet, etc...), and that's against the law.

    In my opinion, you have a few options. I'm not sure what the laws in your state are, but I'm retired law enforcement, and where I'm from, knowingly allowing this abuse to continue while doing nothing to stop it makes you just as guilty of animal cruelty as your roommate is. It's great (and thank you!) for doing what you can for the poor bird, but you wouldn't be posting on this forum if you didn't think there was a problem. You know the chicken is living in horrid conditions, and since your roommate is a ----- it's up to you to give this chicken a life free of abuse. I would have a talk with your roommate, and tell her if she doesn't surrender the animal to a shelter within 24 hours, you will call the police and report her. Alternatively, it doesn't sound like she's home a lot, so you could take the chicken to a shelter, and tell them you found it wandering around. Leave your roommate completely out of it, and tell her later that the chicken must have wandered off, or someone stole it. For that matter, just tell her the chicken died. That's what's going to happen if things continue as they are, just with a lot of suffering first.

    The important thing here is the chicken's health and wellbeing; no creature deserves to live like that. Personally, I wouldn't be with a roommate who is capable of treating any sort of pet like that, but that's just me. There are plenty of sources of free range, organic eggs that I'm sure she could buy without having to inflict this type of cruelty on a creature just to get free breakfast.

    Please, please, stand up to your roommate and do the right thing.
     
  6. johnconner

    johnconner New Egg

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    Also the chicken has been sleeping on the ice in its pen, flat on its stomach neck outstretched. It's about 5 degrees outside. I will probably end up going to the tractor supply store for some feed so the hen doesn't die of malnutrition. I'm not gonna count on getting repayed for feed, and will probably get chewed out for interfering with the chickens "organic free range" diet.

    Do you know how soon I should see improvements if it is just the diet? I'm worried she is diseased due to the state of her coop, I will clean tomorrow. Can chickens get intestinal worms and stuff from living in their filth? I'm pet sitting the chicken while my roommate is out of town and did not realize she was feeding the thing garbage and not cleaning until I went out this morning to care for the poor thing. Honestly after I built the coop I washed my hands of the chicken until now. Currently I'm wishing I hadn't assumed my roommate could handle caring for an animal on her own, any ideas on how to legally (or simi-legally) find a new home for this animal?
     
  7. farmtotable

    farmtotable Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Seriously, tell her the chicken died and take her to a shelter. Sleeping on ice with her neck outstretched???? She's probably not gonna make it long. They don't sleep like that unless they're seriously ill. At a minimum, get a cardboard box, put some shavings or something soft in the bottom, put some decent food and water in it, and bring her inside your apartment. Put her in the bathtub or something. If she's sleeping on ice in five degree weather she's going to get frostbite. What your roommate is doing is ABUSE and it's wrong.

    And yes, she probably has worms from living in filth.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2013
  8. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Sleeping on ice with its neck outstretched- I agree with farmtotable! She is NEAR DEATH and needs to be rescued.
     
  9. johnconner

    johnconner New Egg

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    Thank you farmtotable, I will be taking you up on your reccomendation of using reporting her as leverage to get her to surrender the chicken. Honestly if I had known it was this bad I would have acted sooner. I've been having problems with this roommate from day one, was a good friend who turned out to just be a crazy person, you think you know someone.... my theory is she is a text book sociopath, but I'm not a doctor so take it with a grain of salt. I've been concentrating on trying to get the landlord to let me break my lease with her.

    Would getting some good quality feed in this chicken, and some clean bedding (currently there is no bedding, just pooped on floors) be enough to keep it alive till Sunday when she gets back in town?
     
  10. farmtotable

    farmtotable Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop
    Honestly I'm not sure. Chickens really don't sleep like that unless they're near death. That's why you absolutely have to get her somewhere warm and dry tonight. The food, although vitally important, is a secondary concern to dryness and warmth at this point. But yes, hopefully if you get her "real" food and clean water, she might make it. If you are serious about reporting your roommate, then photograph everything about the chicken that is wrong. Take pictures of the dirty coop, the food she is giving it, the lack of space, the chicken lying on top of ice, all of it. There's a saying in law enforcement - if there's no pictures, it didn't happen.

    Although I can only form an opinion from what you've posted, it does sound like your roommate is mentally ill. I don't know what else could possibly justify her treatment of that poor bird.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2013

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