Say a prayer for Ernest


7 Years
Aug 24, 2012
Morganton, NC
We had to euthanize our rooster today. We only got him 2 months ago to replace an insanely aggressive rooster. He was three years old. From the moment he arrived, Ernest was like a room mate. He wasn't interested in the ladies for romance, he crowed occasionally, he was super docile. About 3 weeks ago, we noticed he was favoring a leg so we removed his flexible wrist band. There was no indication of a wound or abcess, but I wasn't the one to remove the band so I cannot be sure. Today, he was limping again so we picked him up to cut another wrist band off and notice a quarter-sized scab on his left foot pad. We called the avian vet at NC State and she described how to treat for bumblefoot. So, we filled a small bucket with warm water and epsom salt and soaked his leg and foot for ~10 mins.
When we got him out of the water, there was a wretched rotten smell and that's when we noticed that his hock joint on his left leg had swollen to the size of a golf ball, burst and was an infected wound about 1/2 inch deep. We doctored the wound, treated it with antibiotic ointments and bandaged him up. We put him in a dog crate because he could not walk. This time we called the avian vet at NCDA because they are within driving distance. We described what had happened and the vet said that the infection had likely been present when we got Ernest 2 mths ago, that it had started in his foot (thus the scab) and moved through his leg and burst from the weak point of his hock joint. Based on some additional question and answer, we were able to ascertain that the wound had gone septic and the infection had spread. While we could treat with IM injections of penicillin, the NCDA vet said that there was a very low rate of success and that we could not insure quality of life (walking, scratching, mating etc.) even if he did recover.
We all talked and consulted with our breeding coach and decided that the best course of action would be to euthanize Ernest. The docility that he was selected for in the beginning was likely the result of the infection and fever and he had gone (that we know of) at least two months without treatment. In my lifetime working with livestock, I have never seen a wound that infected on an animal that was still standing. So, around lunch time today, we ended Ernest's life. I dug his grave and we buried him on the farm at the edge of the woods.
It makes me sad that we didn't catch this sooner. Since we didn't know him from birth, we had no way of telling that the docility was illness vs. temperament. The breeder we got him from selected him for us based on breed standard and temperament, so we assumed that they knew him well enough to judge. He was eating, walking and socializing but wouldn't mate. He also laid with his left leg (the infected leg) straight out behind him, which we thought was one more quirk of a generally quirky rooster. If it weren't for the exaggerated limp today, he would have gone without treatment even longer.
Please say a prayer for Ernest.

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