Possible Heat Stroke...with a happy ending (so far)

peeping toone

Chirping
5 Years
May 30, 2014
10
9
52
SE Oklahoma
So yesterday evening I went to check on my chickens as I normally do when I get home. I opened the coop door and there, laying on the floor, was my 1 1/2 year old red hen. I instantly think she's dead because she's laying on her side in the same position I've seen with the few other chickens we have lost to various ailments. Thankfully, she was still alive. But, she's burning up, her comb and waddle are red hot, and her breathing is labored and sporadic, and she's completely limp. We brought her inside the house in the a/c and my brain went to work pulling up all the information I have ever read on BYC (couldn't google, I had my hands full with chicken). I remembered that the condition of the comb is an indication of their blood circulation. I know with humans in a heat stroke you cool them down slowly, as not to cause shock. So, I used a cup of cool water and soft cloth and started wiping her comb and trying to make her drink drops of water, don't need her aspirating on the water creating another set of problems. She kept closing her eyes and leaning her head back, and I am like, "not today Pumpkin Spice, not on my watch." So I would kind of rustle her around a bit wipe her comb, waddle, and feet...not sure why I did the feet, other than when I feel like I am a hundred-and-hades degrees, dipping my feet in cool water feels amazing...of course I am a human and not a chicken, but gave it a shot anyway. I worked on her for about 45 minutes, placed her in a metal dog crate we use for small chickens, with access to fresh water, and just kept an eye on her. At this point, she was still listless, but breathing and alert. After about an hour, her breathing finally regulated, and she started moving her head around a bit, instead of it just being floppy. About 3-4 hours after bringing her inside she was sitting up, and looking around. She would stand for just a second to reposition herself then sit back down. This morning, about 12 hours since finding her, she's standing, and walking around some, but still appears weak. She even fussed at me when I changed her bedding. I made her scrambled eggs for breakfast, and left her in the dark cool quiet of the house. So we'll see how she's doing this evening. But now my question is will she be more prone to heat stroke, similar to humans? I am honestly about tired of chicken raising. I can't deal with the circle of life.
 

Wyorp Rock

🐓 ❤ 🐛
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Sep 20, 2015
37,226
52,553
1,332
Southern N.C. Mountains
Hi @peeping toone

It sounds like you are doing very well taking care of her. Heat stroke can take a while to recover from. If you have them give her some poultry vitamins to see if they will give her a boost.

Some other things, that come to mind with the lethargy and heavy breathing could be she may be having some laying issues(?) Do you know when she last laid an egg?

It's possible she may be a bit more prone to heat stroke since she succumbed to heat. She may also not be drinking like she should. Try to get her back outside as soon as you can, being in A/C it will be harder to re-acclimate. Take her out early in the morning when it's cool so she can gradually heat up during the day, then if you can keep watch on her during the day (it's hard to do if you are working/at school, etc.).

Hopefully this is a one time thing for her. Heat is much worse on chickens than cold. I don't know your set-up, but having some extra shade and changing the water to keep it cool a couple of times a day may help (or place some frozen water bottles in the water founts). A watery treat like melon is usually welcomed to.

I'm sorry to hear you are struggling with chicken raising :hugs It can be hard to watch them go up and down, we do get attached. I hope she recovers soon, please keep us posted.
 

peeping toone

Chirping
5 Years
May 30, 2014
10
9
52
SE Oklahoma
She laid an egg that morning. She is prone to laying rather large, odd shaped eggs with huge yolks. We only have two ladies that are old enough to lay and they both paid rent that day. Yesterday evening, after everyone was up for the night, we put her back outside. This morning she was one of the last ones out after I opened their door, but seemed fine. But I think I discovered what happened. We have a young rooster that quite fancies her, and was a little too persistent, and she overheated trying to get away. We are in southeastern oklahoma, and it's already a million degrees here. Unfortunately I can't free-range here, but they have a large covered run with shade and their coop. Their coop is a "remodeled" metal shed...it was free. We have vent holes and a fan going 24/7. It's partially shaded, and the lower part stays cool, unlike the top that gets really warm in the middle of the day. This morning I put thick cardboard and over the part that stays in the sun all afternoon to see if that would help. I'm limited as to what I can do, so redneck engineering comes in handy. Hopefully that will cool it off some. If not, I'm going to have to sell them. :hit But, all that to say I think Pumpkin Spice is going to make it. Thank you for the feedback, and of course the :hugs
:)
 

Wyorp Rock

🐓 ❤ 🐛
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Sep 20, 2015
37,226
52,553
1,332
Southern N.C. Mountains
We have a young rooster that quite fancies her, and was a little too persistent, and she overheated trying to get away.
Their coop is a "remodeled" metal shed...it was free. We have vent holes and a fan going 24/7.unlike the top that gets really warm in the middle of the day.

A young rooster can add some stress to the mix for sure. Keep watch on him, it may be best to separate him, if need be, they can be quite persistent.

I'm all for remodeling, repurposing, using what you have on hand! A metal shed does make a fine coop. I would love to see some photos. Depending on how it's set up you may need to add more ventilation or place cardboard on the ceilings and walls to help block some of the heat. Metal can get quite hot and radiate - the cardboard may help.

My coop has a metal roof which would radiate heat downward, so I found some pink accordion insulation I had tucked away and put against the roof (inside) made a huge difference. My ceiling is pink, but the chickens don't mind:lol: I also use fans to circulate air - one in the coop window and 2 in the runs (under cover).

I do hope she recovers and everything goes fine for you - improvise shade where you can and see that she is drinking. Keep us posted.
 

peeping toone

Chirping
5 Years
May 30, 2014
10
9
52
SE Oklahoma
Update....I truly think chickens are more succeptible to heat strokes after suffering from one...if they live through the first one of course. It was really humid and hot here today, after a week or so of cooler weather. The ladies and gent had fresh clean water, shade, and a fan. I found her on the shelf by the nesting boxes, not on the ground this time. I thought this attack was it. She was making a gurgling sound, liquid was coming from her beak, her legs were stiff, but she was still breathing (barely), and her eyes were open. So, once again, I start the whole cool-down process. At one point she had what I would call a seizure. Then she closed her eyes. So I just laid her in the chicken hospital and waited. Lo and behold, a few hours later she's standing and totally alert. She's still quite weak, but her breathing is normal and her comb is not red hot. None of my other chickens do this. Only her. So is it possible to keep a chicken in the house as a pet? :lau:lau
Just kidding. But don't think it hasn't crossed my mind.
But I have decided to sell the others and their current set up and buy Pumpkin Spice an efficiency and keep her as a pet. We have kind of bonded over these near death experiences. And I don't even eat eggs...I give them away.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom