Traumatised? - heat? electrical storm? and then a hail storm (within 20hrs)


10 Years
Oct 18, 2011
Australia - Southern Victoria
Hi good folks,

Questions that have arisen for me to ask others, resulting from my long day today, see how it unfolded (in details below):
Has anyone used a method of stopping their hen from flapping??? during times like this?
What is your safest and non-upheaval way to quarantine a chicken until sure something is not infectious?
How would you/ have you contain/ed or manage/d a traumatised hen and why?

Its been a long day.... AND I started this entry some many hours ago!!! with lots of stops and starts from interruptions with caring for my hen. And the situation now at 830pm on the same day, seems to confirm that my hen was traumatised and is trying to process all that happened. But traumatised by what exactly? Well, its seems from numerous sounds, and experiences in the last 24hrs.

One thing I forgot to mention below is that this FEAR, or PANIC mode I first witnessed about 7pm last night, when was trying to get them inside their pen, as it was starting to rain, ready for a storm. They were not all together, two came as I called across the garden, then out of the corner of my eye Speckles (Specs) was in mid-air coming from WHERE I have no idea. The trajectory and path her body took would make sense if she had been on the roof of the house!!!! but I strongly doubt that. But somehow she managed to be in the air for about 5 meters (x3 for ft) and then land the other side of the driveway fence. All this activity was quite unusual and I was dumbfounded as to where she was and what happened to propel her to go so far without landing. So I opened the gate to the driveway expecting to see her walking to eat some grass by the driveway or such, as they do if I am putting the bins our (and I am with them). But she was in the utmost crouched position, in another state of mind, at the gate and MY FEET, as I opened the gate. That too did not make sense in the timing of where she landed and from the fright-flight etc.
I could see this was all strange, but she seemed glad to be picked up, and as I was in a rush to keep them dry and fed before bed, I scooped her up and called the others to follow us in the hen pen. As I had a meeting off site, I did not hang around to see if she was REALLY okay, because obviously something happened, but what and where did she fly from e.g. an immature fig tree? or a shelf at the front door? But what frightened her, or was she just responding to my call and the landing frightened her / stunned her? And that set her up to be hyper sensitive to the electrical storm that outplayed last night? Since she was/is the only one that was affected this morning as per my observations since opening up their pen.

Well, with all the unknowns and how the day panned out, (if you are so interested to read all about it below), I can inform you, I chose not to quarantine her overnight after all, as one of the other hens was being noisy coming towards their bed time e.g. can we have a treat please? or such talk like that (LOL) And at the time I had Specs on my lap as I was typing the commentary below, as I was still worried about her. She was wrapped lonely in a towel, so if she dirtied I would catch it and see it, but also to hold her wings in and her body for when she started the 'panic attack' flapping and flurry motions. She was mostly settled on my lap at various times in the late afternoon, with two bouts of yard time separate from the other two in-between showers. This time on my lap near twice she seemed to leap off if a panic attack was on the verge of taking over. I soothed her and she resettled. Then when I heard her later, responding vocally but not loud enough to her sister hen who was saying night time treat LOL, I thought right she is pecking up. So I thought I would see how she responds, taking her to them, and it was starting to rain again, so that would test to see if that rain sound in her hen pen would trigger her or not etc.

Well...... before we even started to walk from the computer table, I am so glad I picked up the bottom end of the towel that was wrapped around her. As, I felt this lump, and I thought GOOD CATCH. But was about to shake it out of the towel enroute/outside, and it was stuck to the towel in some strange way, to the point I had to unwrap the towel in that corner, and WHO'd GUESSED IT???? it was an egg. LOL LOL LOL. Any wonder she was feeling more perky and saying, now that's out of the way lets play with my sisters please. She lasted laid yesterday morning, but with all this trauma type interruptions any wonder she hadn't gotten around to it. Yet i had felt down near the vent earlier thinking there was some complication of sorts, but there was no evidence of any lumps or bumps etc at all.

SO, we continued to the call the others to the hen pen with her, and she leaped out to the ground among them, got her bearings, remained vigilant, and had the start of a panic attack before eating with her sisters, and then afterwards was about to start another (I was learning the signs by now), so there was something still happening, and it was related to the sounds and heightened listening on her behalf it seemed. A storm like last night, can surely do that. I picked her up both times so she would not go fully into her uncontrollable flutter and flee mode in a circular manner and potentially scare the others or damage herself in the pen. She calmed eventually but proved that she would not be safe on her perch overnight, although she flew up their with her sisters.

A brain wave came to me. So I created a containment area, with dark fabric around the legs of a bench I have in the pen.Underneath is their large indoor dust bath. That was the perfect SAFE place for her overnight incase she was triggered and needed to flap and do circles. There was space eg height for heat and for her wings and startled flight to not do her harm, and air gaps were created top and below the fabric for flow, some moist food so she can indulge but not be tipping water in her bed if she is triggered and it goes everywhere etc.

So she is with her sisters overnight. Its a nice calm night in comparison todays hail stone storm and last nights electrical storm, for a potential recallibration of her senses through a restful sleep.

I pray and trust she will recover WELL and as soon as she is able. Tomorrow is another day, and what she will be like I dont know. I can keep you posted.
Would you like me to keep you posted?

For now, tonight, (of the same day this all happened) Specs is safe, and was traumatised in the last 26hrs, but originally by what? I wonder. Which brings me to my FINAL Question - Any mystery trauma stories you would like to share readers and fellow chicken parents? Not for gore, but for learning how the mystery unfolded, hopefully for the better.

See the commentary below if you choose to. Or need to, to make sense of the above (post scriptI entry. LOL.

I originally started my entry with the following towards seeking help with desperation to know the best care model for my hen:
I am traumatised that 1 of 3 first year (only) ladies is behaving rather strange today. This Isa Brown's name is Speckles.

Background 20+ hrs:
- We have had about 10 days or more of summer heat bouncing up and down around 30C+ / 86F+
- They usually have coped as free ranging, finding their best deep dust bath and sleeping in the sunken hole of cool soil in the shade.
= They are not big drinkers anyway but they seem to know when to drink. They have three bowls and another couple of sources or the saucers of my pot plants are frequented as they meander past on any day.
- And three nights ago was their first night in their hoop coup.
- Last night from about 630pm a storm was brewing and turned into an electrical storm - lightning and thunder for hours - unfortunately I was at a meeting off site so I could not observe nor comfort them in their new dwelling that has two open side walls so the visual impact of the electrical storm would have been huge to a mind (in a new setting) that may not have ever observed such activity.
- Then from 3pm today a hail storm let loose, although it was brewing since this morning - I was not planning on being home but when Specs was not okay I stayed with her all day (although feeling quite hopeless and helpless).

What I Observed and Wondered, Did or Did Not Do!!!! and Did not know what to do!!!!
Strange and Other Behaviours
Today constantly panting with beak open, (as they do if they are warm), more than usual - even though it was humid and needing a good down pour to drop the temp.

- standing still and appearing spaced out (inside or outside the hen pen - their pen is a hoop coup/pen all in one with tarpaulin overhead and another couple of layers for heat and sound management) just stands staring vacant /eyes peeled. Yet other times her eyes appear very sleepy (exhausted from not sleeping soundly during the storm overnight??. But she will not lay down or sleep or rest. Does not drink. Panting from her chin and her under (rear) vent feathers are panting with that. So deeply affected.

- without warning, just looks instantly terrified and runs in circles while fluttering with utter panic or as if 'possessed' (has anyone watched at least one horror movie in their life). Cannot be held or stopped easily, just shear out of control, flutter and erratic circling, as if it is not her, but it happening to her.

On seeing this two or three times, and earlier, seeing how
- Ultra SUPER vigilent/alert to sounds in particularly or she getting spooked by not seeing it coming to her (because she was so occupied with ?? traumatic emotions?? internally, whether she was in and outside the pen. Car sounds, lawn mower starting, etc which are routine neighbourhood sounds that are tempororary and commonly identifiable as not a threat, appeared to heighten her vigilence.

So as you can imagine I became very concerned.

Intake, output and other observations today:
She has been vague most of morning and no foraging, nor interest in looking for water or food, but when physically relocated back into the pen where food, nest, etc all are, I saw her eating normally for a reasonable time.

I thought with some food on board, she might feel more likely to catch up on sleep IF that was part of the issue. I relocated her nothing changed, and carried/nursed her etc to support her security and safety levels, but did not rest or could not rest. One positive when I put her back down on the ground she spotted a ?drowned? worm that a ?dozen ants were carrying away across the cement. She perservered with three shakes to get the ants off and ate it without missing a beat, but resumed her vague, motionless, staring state of being.

I have not seen her drink since I have been seriously observing from ? mid morning today (Friday)
I have tried to give her water by dropper, with some success. But she does not like any more 'force'/trauma e.g anything against her will e.g. opening her mouth, even though she is dropping it open with panting. As soon as the dropper is near it she CLAMPS up. So it has been difficult for both of us.

Heat management attempts::
Her feet are/were hot and comb is upright ( its taken several hours with interruptions to get this post finished. At the moment I returned her to the empty bath after a bout outside in-between rain showers, and her feet were not as hot, the air has cleared greatly too - thank God.

With her hot feet and hot comb, and those red skins under her chin, I did not know what to do regarding heat or heat stroke but merely ran the bath inside to the heigh of her 'knees' and stood her in that to see if that was helpful for cooling her body or vitals. I also sprinkled cold water on her, she did not super object (not like the water dropper).
She did not get out or try to get out so I figured that was a good sign.
NB with all that water around her little body in that big human bath, and not once did she drink any!!! Whats that all about?

(YAY - at 7pm her comb and feet are cooler temperatures. occasional panting but not of constant concern, although no longer hot, due to the rain and storms clearing the air).

Regarding a cause:
I wondered if she had been frightened by the storm, as mentioned, and therefore traumatised, by not being able to escape it.
I wondered if she had eaten something she shouldn't have. I explored the garden and the only thing that seemed different or new was that the
'fruit salad' plant's 'flower head, which apparently is eatable, but I have never researched it to know if raw is safe or what to do with it so I have left them alone. Never have I seen anything eat the outer skin, and go for the many hexagonal shaped segments inside. She may have done that but I doubt she did all of that on her own. But none of the other 2 ladies are any different so I don't think it was her and that plant that is the cause.
I wondered - what if she has eaten a mouse that has been poisoned etc, but no bleeding or sleeping, unconsciousness etc

I wondered 'how do I care and help a young hen recover her safety, wellbeing and appetite'..

I thought to quarantine her from the others until I knew what was the cause. That maans she will be in my bath overnight.
I am not set up with another option e.g. a CRATE would be a great option. But concerned she will have a panic attack or whatever it is and injure hers wings in the flurry, or worse.

Has anyone used a safe method of stopping their hen from flapping e.g.during times like this of intermittent panic and non-sensical flurry.
What method is/was best for you and your hen?
If in a crate, I could safely bind her wings she would still try and RUN AWAY if/ when triggered from the emotional trauma (if that is what is happening) but she would not get her wings caught and damaged etc.
Putting her with the other hens in my opinion would be the best idea. She is less likely to be stressed if she knows where she is and has her flock around her.

If she really isn’t coping with being with the other hens keep her in a quiet dark room.

How I am keeping my hens cool in this temperature is using a standing fan and just holding them in front of it (about 1-2 meters away from it).

Perhaps try and just keep them in the run to see if that can calm her nerves a bit.

My hens were all a little bit shaken by the storms today but no where near as much as yours.

I hope she gets better. Stay safe and watch for flash flooding :)
Putting her with the other hens in my opinion would be the best idea. She is less likely to be stressed if she knows where she is and has her flock around her.

If she really isn’t coping with being with the other hens keep her in a quiet dark room.

How I am keeping my hens cool in this temperature is using a standing fan and just holding them in front of it (about 1-2 meters away from it).

Perhaps try and just keep them in the run to see if that can calm her nerves a bit.

My hens were all a little bit shaken by the storms today but no where near as much as yours.

I hope she gets better. Stay safe and watch for flash flooding :)
Thank you so much for your considerate reply.
Yes the morning will tell.

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