Rescuing neglected chickens...help!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by 77horses, Jan 14, 2019.

  1. 77horses

    77horses ◊The Spontaneous Pullet!◊

    7,506
    506
    386
    Aug 19, 2008
    Maine
    Hey guys,
    I just had a coworker reach out to me asking for help with a situation. She has an older family member who has been sick for a long time, recently to the point where they're mostly housebound and unable to do much. I don't know them personally, but I do know they don't have a lot of family/support around and they have some mental condition going on...They have a flock of chickens that has been increasingly neglected since they became sick. My coworker knows that I used to raise chickens and that I was planning on picking the hobby back up this spring, and so they asked if I'd be willing to take on the remaining flock. I guess they don't want their family member to get in trouble with animal control services, so they told them they'd find them a new home.
    It's currently in the dead of winter where I am, with the average temps in the low 30's. It's not suppose to warm up for another 3-4 months from now. I have a shed that I got this past fall and was planning on converting into a coop this spring when the snow melted. It's built and all, but that's it- it's just an empty shed. I don't have a run set up, no roosts or nest boxes or anything. So, I should be declining to take them on. But she says the situation is pretty dire...Apparently the chickens have been dying left and right because they've stopped eating and don't have access to water because it keeps freezing over. Their coop situation is horrible as it's not maintained and they're essentially living in their own filth. I guarantee they have a whole host of health issues- lice, mites, worms, etc...all of which I know how to treat for the most part, but I also haven't done this in 6 or so years.
    I really should decline given the situation, but I don't think I can bring myself to. They don't know anyone else who would consider taking them and I fear they're all going to continue suffering and dying before another solution can be found. Some of you might suggest that culling is the most humane option, but they don't want to kill them (and neither will I). My heart breaks thinking about those poor chooks in their filthy, uninsulated coop with frozen water and no food. There's only 4 hens left, all around 4 years old. I think I can pull something together in the next few days, I already have a large (albeit empty) shed and a heated waterer that I used to use. I can easily run to the local tractor supply/feed store and pick up all the supplies I need.
    What do you guys think? I'm torn here. I really want to help, but I'm gonna need a lot of advice from y'all about treating these chooks for whatever health ailments they're bound to have...I would bet my life that they definitely have lice, mites, and roundworm at the least. If the plan is to go forward with this, what would be the best course of action? Best things to pick up? I have no idea what state they'll be in other than that they've been living in filth and have stopped eating. Sigh, why do people take on animals they can't properly care for... :(
     
  2. Kusanar

    Kusanar Crowing

    1,880
    3,271
    296
    Apr 30, 2014
    Roanoke area, Va.
    If I were you, I would get a few roosts up in that shed, even if they are just sawhorses that they can hop up on. Put some shavings down in the floor so they have a nice soft bed in case they are too weak to get up and down off the roosts, they can just hang out on the floor for a while. With the water being liquid that may actually help with the eating, could be they are having a hard time with digesting due to being dehydrated.

    Dust them either before you pick them up or before you put them in their shed so they don't take their little friends with them. Vasoline is supposed to be good for scaly leg mites and won't hurt anything if they don't have them, so I would coat legs before turning them back loose as well.

    If they have not been eating in a while, maybe getting a bag of the "chicken treats" from tractor supply that have yummy grains and meal worms in it would get their attention and get them eating, at this point junk food is better than nothing.

    At 4 years old they may not be laying much or at all, so I don't know that layer is the best for them, I would try to find a grower or starter (maybe even a medicated starter???) for them instead and give oyster shell on the side.
     
  3. christwodog

    christwodog Songster

    415
    684
    186
    Jan 16, 2017
    Wow, what a mess - sounds like anything you give them will be a great improvement over their current situation. As long as you can give them basic needs and go from there, I would give it a go - at least their last days will be comfortable, and we all know chickens can be surprisingly tough so you may be surprised how well they recover. Many ailments can be handled with good animal husbandry and some common sense.
    I would get them some Valbazen for worms, once they begin to eat. At least you don't already have chickens to worry about bio-security, so maybe this was meant to be!
    Best wishes on the rescue effort!
     
    MROO, townchicks, webbysmeme and 10 others like this.
  4. Cragg Klefor

    Cragg Klefor Crowing

    878
    1,583
    262
    Apr 14, 2017
    County Kilkenny, Ireland
    Wow. I don't know where to start, this gets me excited :D
    Take them, definitely, take them!! Trust me it will be sooo rewarding.
    I only have rescue hens. They are ex battery so not at all as badly off or neglected as your future flock sounds, but needing nursing all the same. No matter how bad one of them has turned out to be (meaning ill health) or what I have needed to do for any of them, I have never, not for a second, regretted taking any one of them. I currently have 19, had 21. This was from 3 separate rescues, and I am eagerly awaiting the next one.
    I am going to outline in detail what I do need to have on hand when receiving them, but I have no time right now so will be back on in a couple of hours and will do it then.
     
  5. 77horses

    77horses ◊The Spontaneous Pullet!◊

    7,506
    506
    386
    Aug 19, 2008
    Maine
    @chriswodog and @Kusanar - thank you both for the useful information!
    Any ideas for heating? The 6 x 7’ shed that I have now is not insulated, and temps get down to below freezing here at night. I do have a heat lamp but suspect that won’t be enough. Putting down pine shavings should definitely help but I worry it won’t be enough to keep them warm. Any suggestions?
    Also, I have an old container of DE that I’ve used in the past for dusting chicks with lice and mites. How effective might this be?
     
    MROO, townchicks, webbysmeme and 6 others like this.
  6. 77horses

    77horses ◊The Spontaneous Pullet!◊

    7,506
    506
    386
    Aug 19, 2008
    Maine
    @Cragg Klefor oh bless you for taking in ex-battery hens, it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while but never had the time. I would greatly appreciate any knowledge you can offer! Thank you!!
     
    MROO, townchicks, webbysmeme and 6 others like this.
  7. TropicalBabies

    TropicalBabies Songster

    513
    1,486
    247
    Jun 12, 2018
    Hawaii
    I agree, you should at least try. Sounds like you would probably regret NOT doing anything about them and the clock is ticking. Who better than you?!! Your basic shed and good health and resources is way better than what they have now. The only failure will be failure to act, and all you can do is try. Chances are they may surprise you and you them. One step at a time, one foot in front of the other always taking the next indicated step. I don't believe in coincidence ;). Please send us photos of your rescues, maybe even start a thread? :jumpy:thumbsup
     
  8. Brahma Chicken5000

    Brahma Chicken5000 Araucana Addict

    15,865
    37,133
    1,137
    Sep 26, 2017
    Central New Jersey
    If you take in these hens put them in your shed, put up some roosts for them and put down wood shavings for them to scratch around in while you wait to build your run in the spring. Pick up some nurti drench so you can give some orally to the hens when you get them home. Dust them with your choice of lice killer and put them on a balanced diet. Give them cooked eggs and scratch 30 minutes before roosting so they can have a full crop to help them stay warm during the night. As long as your shed is draft free the birds will be plenty warm.
    Good luck with your rescue hens! 6 months of caring can transform the birds you rescued.
    April 13th ED3AE028-98C4-4349-BD0E-11C866B310EA.jpeg November 25th 3058CF7C-16B8-44F4-B106-1146AEAA0662.jpeg
     
    townchicks, sumi, RodNTN and 9 others like this.
  9. TropicalBabies

    TropicalBabies Songster

    513
    1,486
    247
    Jun 12, 2018
    Hawaii
    PS. Different circumstances but my 2 rescues are my favorites. Their goodness surprises me every day. I puts some fertilized eggs under one and she hatched them out. She is the best mother I have ever seen. You never know, ya know. <3 Jan 11 19 011.jpg Jan 11 19 025.jpg
     
    MROO, townchicks, webbysmeme and 9 others like this.
  10. Shadrach

    Shadrach Roosterist

    5,516
    26,890
    1,042
    Jul 31, 2018
    Catalonia, Spain
    My Coop
    I wouldn't install the heat lamp they're a fire hazard. Not a lot of point in rescuing them if you cook them alive in a fire.
    I don't know how sick these poor chickens are but unless it gets extremely cold, they shouldn't need additional heat.
    Decent feeding should supply the calories they need to keep warm.
    Don't bother with the DE either. There is no evidence that it works. Seriously don't waste your time and money with it.
    Permethrin powder, or spray for the mites and lice.
    Nutri Drench or any vitamin supplement will help give them a bit of a boost.
    I would consider feeding them a mash. A feed at 20% protein and 1% calcium would be ideal. Make the mash by adding warm water until the feed is wet but not so wet that you can pour it.
    Tuna and even chopped meat is good.
    Plenty of straw or wood shaving on the floor in case as mentioned above they can't make the perches. Temporary nest type boxes with straw in, one big one , might be an idea.
    Lots of good advice in the posts above.
    Good luck.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: