Vera the Cochin and what we learned from her

Discussion in 'Pictures & Stories of My Chickens' started by hannahgiselle, Feb 26, 2013.

  1. hannahgiselle

    hannahgiselle Out Of The Brooder

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    Hello everybody. I just wanted to take a minute to tell you guys about a hen we had named Vera, who sadly passed away recently due to something that we could have prevented. It was something completely unexpected, and I feel that I should warn other chicken owners of what caused her untimely death so no one else has to see one of their beloved pets suffer.

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    Above is a picture of Vera. She was a very funny and sweet hen. She loved being cuddled, petted (especially on her belly, hence the picture) and generally babied. We got her after our neighbor's dogs attacked and killed two of our original chickens. She was about 8 weeks old at the time of her introduction to our small flock.

    Although Vera was a very good bird, she was extremely dim. She was always very slow to figure certain things out, always lagged behind the other girls, and just did generally dumb things. We loved her very much despite this; her stupidity was rather endearing.

    Ever since we got her, her comb and wattles seemed much paler than those of her sisters. Since they were light from the time we got her, we didn't think anything of it and just attributed it to a pigment issue. She seemed healthy and robust so we didn't have any concerns. However, about a month and a half ago, as many Cochins do, she went broody. She was EXTREMELY hard to break. We tried several different tactics before we noticed any improvement. During the course of her breaking, we noticed she had become very lethargic, lost weight, her comb started to wilt and she just wasn't her usual self. I had just finished treating her for scaly leg mites, so I thought maybe she was just stressed out from the frequent bath times and ointment application. After she seemed to be broken and cured of her mites, I put her back outside with her sisters. I expected her to perk up and resume her normal behavior but she did not. She would fall asleep standing up in the middle of the yard in broad daylight, wander off by herself to remote areas of the yard and skip meals. I brought this to the attention of my mom, who then decided a vet appointment was in order.

    I had to leave the house for the week to babysit, so I was unable to take her to the vet. My mom took her instead. I was very worried all day what the diagnosis would be; I just had a gut feeling something was terribly wrong with my sweet bird. Her appointment was scheduled for 3:00 pm, so I called my mom around 4 to see how things went. I could tell as soon as she answered the phone that something wasn't right. I asked her how Vera was and what the vet said was wrong. She was silent for a minute, which confirmed my fears: Vera had to be put to sleep. We cried for a few minutes and I finally was able to compose myself to ask her, "why?"

    What she told me caught me completely off guard. She said the vet diagnosed her with something called Hardware Syndrome. Hardware Syndrome is when a bird ingests non-food items that would ordinarily be used for yard work, construction, or gardening purposes. Most of the time the bird cannot pass these objects and they become lodged somewhere in their digestive system. In Vera's case, she had found construction staples somewhere in the yard, eaten them, and could not pass them. They had lodged themselves in her ventricular, causing her great pain and her slow decline. The vet decided the best thing we could do for her at this point was to put her to sleep and end her suffering. She was given a shot to make her fall asleep and the technician carried her off to the gas chamber they commonly use to euthanize birds. She passed peacefully and painlessly.


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    The photo above is an x-ray of Vera. You can see the staples mixed in with regular feed at the bottom of her gut. She had eaten quite a few of them. We don't know where exactly she found them because we have never used construction staples in our yard for anything. It is possible she ingested them as a pullet at the farm we got her from and it took this long to cause her problems. The vet we took her to said that birds, especially ones that aren't very smart, are attracted to shiny objects and will often try to eat them. Vera, being as simple as she was, did this exact thing. She told us when we returned home to check the yard for small metal/plastic/wooden objects that a chicken would not be able to digest and throw them away.

    Soon after her death, I made a post to a Facebook page of a woman who cares for chickens and has a rather large following, telling the other users of Vera's death, what caused it, and how to prevent it. I got a great response and hopefully Vera was able to save other chickens' lives. I hope somebody here can benefit from this information and use it to keep their birds safe.

    Thank you for reading!
     
  2. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

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    Poor Vera. I have to say tho her "slowness," didn't precipitate her passing. Lots of' alert' chickens swallow bad things all the time - earrings, rings, pins, tacks ,screws etc. Some live to cluck about it, some do not.
     
  3. redsoxs

    redsoxs Chicken Obsessed

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    Thanks for sharing the story of the life and times of Vera. Sorry for your loss!
     
  4. scratch'n'peck

    scratch'n'peck Overrun With Chickens

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    I'm sorry you lost Vera. She sounded so sweet. I have never seen a chicken who laid on the back to get the belly rubbed. Hopefully we will be extra vigilant about what we drop in the yard around out chickens after reading her story. I have heard of hardware disease, and a little reminder to be careful is helpful.
     
  5. UrbanChickenSF

    UrbanChickenSF Chillin' With My Peeps

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    San Francisco, CA
    I'm so sorry for your loss! Vera seemed like a wonderful bird. I am glad we were all able to learn a lesson from her sad story. Thank you for taking the time to share it with us!
     

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