keeping chicken hydrated

Sep 20, 2017
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Washington State
I have an older, sick girl, named ChronoHen, who I know is declining... I've posted about her in another thread. Our vet did an exam and an x-ray on her at the beginning of this week and said she had pneumonia, an egg (likely without shell) that she can't pass, and digestive issues including reduced motility and accumulation of fluid in her belly that may be caused by a tumor or another underlying issue.

The vet sent us home with some pain meds, and said the best thing we can do to keep ChronoHen comfortable in her last days is to keep her hydrated. However, this has been a challenge. ChronoHen refuses to drink from a bowl. She also barely swallows any water when I use a syringe (needle-less) to place droplets on the side of her beak; she shakes most of the water off. The only way that she will drink is when I put her outside on the lawn where she will proceed to spend hours drinking small droplets of water that are dripping from the hose spigot or have collected in the grass. If anyone has any thoughts as far as why she will drink this water, but not water from a bowl or from a dropper, I'd love to hear.

Another way that ChronoHen is hopefully staying somewhat hydrated is through food. She eats very small amounts of chick starter, which I make into a mash for her with water. She has no interest in protein treats like eggs or ground beef that could give her energy, but she willingly eats cooked green beans and especially apples, probably at the rate of an apple a day. So I know she is taking in some fluid through the mash, the veggies and the fruit, but she still appears somewhat dehydrated. Her comb is pale, deflated, and flopped over to the side, which is not normal for her. It could just be because she is so sick, but I figure dehydration is playing into it.

Is there anything else we can do to keep our girl hydrated? I'm reluctant to force water down her throat. I've never been successful at giving water or meds this way, and don't want to cause her any extra stress, let alone squirt it down her trachea.
 
Sep 20, 2017
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Washington State
Oh, I'm totally fine with her drinking from the spigot! And, I do actually make it drip extra. I just worry that it's not enough b/c it seems like such a small amount of water and I read somewhere that a chicken needs to drink about a cup of water a day. Also we can only have her out by the spigot for a few hours a day at most b/c we also need to let our other chickens out, and they are too much for her right now. She tries to hide from them, or asks to be let back into the house (she is in the house now when not out on the lawn).
 

humblehillsfarm

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Oh, I'm totally fine with her drinking from the spigot! And, I do actually make it drip extra. I just worry that it's not enough b/c it seems like such a small amount of water and I read somewhere that a chicken needs to drink about a cup of water a day. Also we can only have her out by the spigot for a few hours a day at most b/c we also need to let our other chickens out, and they are too much for her right now. She tries to hide from them, or asks to be let back into the house (she is in the house now when not out on the lawn).
Has she ever used a nipple waterer? Would you be willing to let her try that?
 
Sep 20, 2017
276
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156
Washington State
Oh, good idea, thanks! We've never used one with chickens but we had something similar back when we had pet mice. There is a chance that the people that had ChronoHen before we got her (she was dumped at the local cemetery last summer along with her flock mates) had nipple waterers, and now that she is sick, she is defaulting to what she's used to and what's easier for her. I'll see if our feed store has one.
 
Sep 20, 2017
276
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Washington State
Her droppings are actually very wet. She is not digesting properly so the poop has recognizable pieces of fruit and veggies in it, swimming in a lot of clear, whitish, greenish or yellowish fluid. Sometimes all she passes is fluid, with no solids.
 

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