Near disaster - chicken in the duck pool!


Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers
10 Years
Sep 22, 2009
My slice of heaven in Somerset, CA
This morning, I heard a lot of splashing and thought, "Good, the ducks have finally learned how to get INTO their pool (stock tank) without my assistance!" WRONG!

When I got up off my fat butt to go watch the ducks in the pool, I discovered a chicken's body floating in the stock tank. Oh NO! There hadn't been any CLUCKING or chicken hysteria, or I'd have gone out right away! Unfortunately, it was one of the two Lakenvelders, who are notoriously quiet girls. I couldn't tell if it was Millicent or Minerva.

Once or twice, other chickens have slipped off the edge of the tank, into the water, but they've been able to flap - and squawk! - their way out of it. I think, because she has a clipped wing from her former owner, she couldn't get enough lift to get out.

OMG, OMG, OMG. I snatched her out of that water and she was SO cold, and stiff. She'd been floating almost like a compass needle, with her head and beak pointed due north and her legs stretched out behind her. But when I lifted her water-soaked body up, her legs contracted up against her body and she opened her beak just a tiny bit.

You never saw a chunky woman in a long nightshirt move so fast, getting into the house to find the biggest, thickest towel in which to wrap a sopping, near dead chicken. I didn't have that much hope for her, figuring the spasms were her final movements, or seizures signifying impending death. She was SO COLD.

First, I just sat on the toilet lid, hugging her in that towel, thinking, thinking, crying, thinking what can I do to ease her suffering, or maybe, could I save her?? It seemed stupid to tip her forward, beak down, to see if water would come out of her beak, hopefully from her lungs if she had any in them. I did it anyway, briefly, before hugging her back to my chest. How would I perform poultry CPR? That would break her ribs! Or mouth to beak resusitation? Yes, I considered that.

Her eyes flickered open then closed, and she opened her beak again. She was still jerking.

Hair dryer! Low setting! Get her warm!

My bathroom is also my Nursery, with a brooder holding four chicks about 5 weeks old. They were pretty agitated, peeping at my sudden, frantic entrance and odd behavior. They got more agitated when I turned on the hair dryer.

So I'm sitting on the toilet lid, hunched over a towel-wrapped, soaking wet, frigid hen, playing the lowest heat setting under Minerva's wings, across her chest and tummy, over her back, over and over again. Tears running down my face as I plead for her not to die. (Although I thought she WAS probably dead, just exhibiting post-mortum reflex movement.)

After a few minutes of this, she lifted her head, then dropped it again. WAIT! That's a different motion - perhaps it's not just reflex!!

I kept up the hair dryer warming procedure for quite a long time. Once or twice, she actually shook her head. She was still twitching, and mostly kept her eyes closed, now and then opening her beak. Sometimes she moved her feet.

Worried that the noise of the hair dryer might be a real scary thing as I played it under her wings and over her chilled chest and tummy, as it appeared she might actually be recovering, I shut it off. Actually, I didn't know if the diminishing seizure-like activity meant she was recovering or finally dying.....

But I pushed the brooder bin away from the heat lamp (the kids hardly need it now, anyway, it's only pointed over one part in case they feel they need the heat), lowered the lamp, got a smaller Rubbermaid bin, and set Minerva in her towel down into it directly under the infrared lamp. She didn't move at all, and her neck was very limp.

I had to take a break and leave the bathroom, fully expecting her to have passed away when I came back in about 15 minutes.

Her eyes were open. She hadn't changed position much, except for tilting her head. It was NOT laying the way it had been, when I'd left the bathroom. So I put my hands under her and she WAS warmer, and she moved one of her feet, spreading her toes.

So I crouched next to the bin and patted her, urging her to get better. She shook her head and lifted it, then let it fall back.

Okay, I had to leave the bathroom again, wanting to let her recover without me sobbing and putting my hands all over her too much.


And she's so much better now! I've checked on her a few times, put the currently un-used chick waterer in the bin with her (the chicks are using a nipple waterer),

and once she gets active enough to want to get out of that bin, I guess she'll be totally out of the proverbial woods.

I saved my chicken's life. I can hardly believe it.

Millicent won't be the only Lakenvelder after all - and my broody BO Buffy will still have her nightly "roommate" in the A-Frame coop.


Dense Egg Goo
9 Years
Mar 22, 2010
Sacramento CA
Oh my gosh!! I am so sorry I would have freaked out as well but you did what needed to be done. Took charge in spite of the whirlwind of panic you must have felt.. Your chicken couldn't ask for a better owner!! This is the first time I have heard something like this, but it is good to know what can happen, and what people do in that situation. Thank gosh for hair dryers! I hope the little girl feels better tell her Kalie is sending her WARM thoughts of Bahama and Guam with sunny beaches! oh and
to you!

Buff Hooligans

12 Years
Jun 11, 2007
My gosh, what a story. And that you saved her life in the midst of freaking out and feeling so bad. Well done!!!!!!!!!!


Rest in Peace 1956-2011
11 Years
Aug 25, 2008
Me too. I have done it on just hatched chicks, too.

Good job saving your hen!


Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers
10 Years
Sep 22, 2009
My slice of heaven in Somerset, CA
Oh, THANK YOU! I did some googling and found this handbook
INSTRUCTIONS inside on how to make such a ramp.

Minerva has joined the rest of the flock. She got rid of some really nasty, watery poo on the back porch, trotted down the path to the shade where everybody else was snoozing, and started to scratch in the pile o' used pine shavings next to the composter.

I'm gonna start calling around to see where I can find some "expanded metal" to make a grate Wildlife Escape Ramp.

Thanks AGAIN!!

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