Treating Illness/Disease - How Much?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by CoopedUpChicken, Jan 4, 2016.

  1. CoopedUpChicken

    CoopedUpChicken Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 20, 2015
    One of our chickens started with a tiny limp which got just a tiny bit worse the following day and now it seems to be getting better. I did check her for bumblefoot and she didn't have it.

    If she had bumblefoot - I don't know if I could even treat it. I'm not good with blood, etc..
    I guess how we manage disease for our chickens is a personal thing - but I'm used to paying vet bills for dogs/cats - so it's weird not to do the same for a chicken that I see as a pet... at the same time, I would feel silly for taking a chicken to a vet...

    1. How did each of you determine what your chicken treatment limits were?

    2. Where or how can I learn how to properly cull a chicken if the time comes...and how do I become brave enough to do it!

    Thanks :)
  2. lovemy6hens

    lovemy6hens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 4, 2013
    Central Texas
    I agree. It definitely varies from person to person. For my flock:
    1. The same level of care from the vet that my dog gets.
    2. Take the chicken to the vet to be put to sleep, just like the dog.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2016
  3. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Chicken tender Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    I grew up on a farm and have owned livestock for most of my life, you would have a hard time finding a vet that would see a chicken around here, it's just not practical, we practice culling for injuries too bad to heal, or too painful to not cull, and for any that can't recover from an illness on its own, to foster a healthy flock. It's not that a chickens life is less valuable, it just is that chickens most often are healthy until they are dead, if kept properly there's not a lot of in between, most don't respond well to intervention or treatments and will often die within a few months even if they appear to get better. I haven't personally culled any of my birds, I am lucky to have a husband who will do the deed.
  4. FridayYet

    FridayYet Innocent Bystander

    Mar 3, 2011
    The Land of Enchantment
    Depends on what your chicken-keeping goals are. If they are pets, you might treat them as lovemy6hens does. If you are in it for production, you might cull layers after 2 years to keep hens with maximum production.

    Each person finds their own comfort zone depending on their needs or goals.

    I started with pets, but then had an egg-bound hen that was suffering. Warm baths didn't work. I searched the internet and learned how to cull her. Hardest thing I ever did, the first one is the worst.

    Now I am starting to breed chickens. Since 50% of hatch will be cockerels that nobody wants, I learned how to cull them and do a partial processing. Still hits me really hard, and I cry, but I make it quick and painless as possible. (Usually the hardest methods for the human are the most humane for the chicken)

    My husband won't do the deed because I won't ask him to. He's a city boy and the chickens are my adventure. Sometimes I just have to pull up my big girl panties and do the hard things.

    But each of us has to decide what level of intervention is best.
    1 person likes this.
  5. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    No need to add my opinion as the above threads cover my sentiments. You can find culling videos on utube and I'm sure there are threads here on byc on the topic. Speed is the name of the game in order to minimise pain and suffering regardless of how you do it. It's never pleasant, but it gets less alarming over time.

  6. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Chicken Obsessed

    Mar 19, 2011
    NW Oregon
    x3 on Oldhenslikedogs and FridayYet, and friendly nod out to lovemy6hens.

    It really is your mindset and what you are comfortable with. Decide where you want to be, and be that no matter what other folks say or think.

    As for me, I enjoy my chickens, even give most of them names, take the best care I can of them, but I honestly raise them for the eggs, and a fun hobby farm.

    I grew up in ranching daddy was a cowboy, horse shoer and gentleman rancher. My grandma owned a chicken I've got Ag thinking in my blood (all that 4H as a kid). I still think of my chickens first as livestock...with a few as pets....but none I am willing to pay the $$$$ at the vet....seriously vet prices are so expensive now, even for dog shots (which I now do with farm store vaccines for pennies compared to the vet).

    I live in semi-suburbs that is a mix of city and country. There's old type farmers, and local, sustainable, organic folk with backyard chickens, and those who keep chickens purely as pets with diapers in the house. Even in my relatively well vetted area, it is hard to find an avian vet, IF I were willing to take a bird to one....which honestly I am not. (I'm still paying off the $900 bill for the beloved family dog, sniff, sniff, which I still had to put down for cancer). Most vets won't or can't treat chickens, and there isn't a lot of science for chickens as they have traditionally been thought of as livestock...a lot of the answer is still farm products or culling.

    I had the luxury of having my oldest daughter go through a lot of 4H science and become a Vet Tech, and I learned everything I could as she did so (we homeschooled and did 4H together). I therefore try to take care of my birds myself, and if I can't, I do choose to cull (spelled kill) them if they have an illness that is not treatable by me.

    For personal reasons ( I have a bum shoulder that can't swing an axe, my city boy hubby will not be partner to any deed, and my vet-tech daughter has "selfishly" left me for her dream man and a farm in Tennesee), I have chosen to do the deed by a 5 gallon bucket, lid, and dry ice. The Veterinary Association designates CO2 as a humane way to dispose of animals, if done properly.

    So, I nurse as best I can for those things that may recover and use the "orange bucket" for those that can't or for whom I know treatment is really futile. I agree that usually a bird is either well or is dead...there aren't too many things they recover from and live to squawk about it for any length of time, and most birds once their body systems are compromised become vectors of illness for the flock...they will be the ones that catch something that spreads to the whole flock that can wipe you out. The reputable breeders around here know it is best to cull than treat most things if you value your flock.

    There are those who scream evil at the CO2 method, but the nasty research out there is for slowly raised levels in large arenas where whole flocks are dispersed through slow, painful suffocation because to create an immediate cloud would also eliminate all human workers on site. My method is similar to fire expulsion. I create a large cloud of CO2 by placing about 1/8 lb dry ice in the bottom of the bucket, add a styrofoam insert, pour warm water, place lid, let cloud build nice and big, then open lid, lower chicken, close lid (with a side to vent), wait until all fluttering is done...usually 30 to 40 seconds....wait another minute...appropriately dispose of body, with the garbage bag enclosure if you place one in the bucket first. No blood, no mess, easy disposal...and the added benefit that no disease pathogens were spread in the process.

    I've done my research and am confident that with deep immersion CO2, the bird takes a gulp, becomes unconscious, then is dead within 30 seconds to a minute with post-mortem fluttering from involuntary muscular spasm. That honestly is almost as fast as the axe (immediate unconsciousness) and a lot less tramatic than slitting the throat and letting them bleed out (which takes several minutes).

    Just what I've decided to do.

    Last edited: Jan 5, 2016
  7. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Chicken tender Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    To me that sounds nice and peaceful, thank you for the information, I may need to know one day.

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