My hens kept me on my toes last week. I went into the coop last Wednesday and I noticed there was what looked like bloody poop below the roosting bars. I wasn’t entirely sure that once of them didn’t just eat something that made it look like that so I kept an eye on all of them. They all looked and acted fine. The next morning, I noticed the same thing. I wondered if maybe they had Coccidiosis so I started them all on Corid (3 tsps. per gallon of water).
On Sunday, I went out to the run and all of the hens ran to the door. Except Poptart. Poptart is always the first one to the run door when I go out. She is constantly talking in her high-pitched voice and she generally paces back and forth in front of the door as if to say “hurry up and get in here”. On Sunday, she was just standing back and watching. I keep snacks in a Vitals container in the run. When I opened the container again Poptart stayed back. She was acting more like one of my other hens, Buttercup who has always just patiently waited while I opened the container. For Poptart to not be pushing her way in between me and the container was extremely unusual and she wasn’t talking as she usually does. I put some snacks in my hand and Poptart did come to take some but she took a little bit and then walked off. Her movements were much slower and her lack of interest in the snacks was alarming. She looked ok but her movements were slower and she was not acting like herself. She seemed a little dazed to me but that may be because I knew something was wrong by the way she was acting. In all other respects she looked ok. Her comb was bright red and no discharge coming from her eyes.
I stayed in the run with them all for a while so that I could keep an eye on her. Twice I noticed a hen peck her butt. A different hen each time. I picked up Poptart and checked her out. It looked like egg white was coming from her vent.
I took her into the house and set her in an Epsom Salts bath and I fed her Tums while she sat in the water. I didn’t know if she was egg bound or if it was something else. I contacted a chicken person that I know and she helped me through the whole process. Thank goodness there are others out there who have dealt with sick chickens before. Only once, when my hens were young did I ever have a sick chicken. That time I called a vet. I have learned some things since that time but reading and talking to people about how to handle chicken related issues isn’t the same as actually dealing with something. The extent of my knowledge about egg bound chickens was that Epsom Salts helps to relax the muscles and Tums gives extra calcium which can help with contractions.
I’ve never tasted Tums. They are in the house as part of my medical kit that I have for the chickens. The bottle has many colored Tums and I always assumed they all tasted the same. I learned that wasn’t so. Poptart turned her head any time I tried to give her a piece of a yellow Tum but she always willingly took the pink ones. It’s just like her to be like that. She is the queen of my coop and she knows it. She’s always been my most energetic and feisty hen. She is loud and pushy and she thinks the world revolves around her. On Sunday, as she sat in the basin of water and Epsom Salts the world really was revolving around her. I was happy to oblige her with the pink Tums if that is what she wanted. My goal was to get her better. It hurt me to know that she wasn’t feeling well.
After 20 minutes nothing had changed. She still had something coming out of her vent. I know when chickens lay eggs their intestines do come out and I was concerned what I thought was egg white was perhaps her intestine. I was advised by the woman helping me, through texting, to gently pull it out. That was the scary part. I had no idea if it was going to hurt her or make her feel better. It came out easily and it was odorless. As soon as it was removed, she made her usual high pitched Poptart sound.
Dusk was approaching and I knew that the other hens would be going to bed soon. I wanted her to sleep outside with the others. She needed rest and I thought she may actually feel more comfortable with the others rather than staying indoors. I dried her off and put her down with some yogurt. She loves yogurt and I wondered if she was feeling well enough to eat it. She ate it quickly, probably quite happy that she had it all to herself. She seemed ok and was a bit more lively so I took her back out to the run.
When I put her down in the run, I noticed that she was still walking slowly. She was lifting her feet quite high as she walked but I wasn’t sure if that was because she was still hurting or that her butt was still a bit damp. Since it was so late, she pretty much went right into the coop as did all the others.
My other hen, Buttercup seemed to be watching over Poptart all day. She stayed by her side. Usually Poptart sleeps right against the window in the front of the coop and Buttercup is next to her. Dumpling sleeps there as well but she’s been broody so lately she spends all of her time in the nest box. The four younger hens seem to change up their sleeping arrangements every night. At least one or two share the same roosting bars with the bigger hens. Every night when I lock up the coop at night I check in the windows. I was surprised when I looked in and saw Poptart against the inner wall of the coop and Buttercup standing right against her. All four of the younger hens were on the opposite side of the coop.
On Monday morning, Poptart seemed a little better but I continued to watch her. Buttercup was still staying close and the younger hens were staying away from them. I had stopped the Corid since the issue seemed to be from Poptart and not Coccidiosis like I had thought originally. I began to put Rooster Booster and some Vitamin D3 into the water to ensure that Poptart got some extra vitamins, probiotics. The Vitamin D3 would help her process calcium in the oyster shell they have available in the run. By Monday after noon Poptart seemed even better and by Tuesday morning she was back to her old self.
It’s been several days since Poptart has laid an egg but after all she went through, I’m not surprised. I am so relieved to see her run and talk when I go out to the run. I’ve never been so happy to have a hen be pushy about getting treats before any of the others or yelling at me for not opening the run door quickly enough.
I believe that it’s really important to spend time with chickens so that you can tell if there is an issue. Getting to know each one can really make a huge difference when it comes to any health issues they may have. Originally when I saw blood in the poop, I had no idea which hen was having an issue. They spent three days on Corid and through that time they all seemed fine. It was on Sunday that things changed and because I know each of them and how they act I knew who needed the help. Just bringing chickens food and occasionally glancing into the run while walking by it can be easy to miss something. If I did that, I wouldn’t have known that Poptart wasn’t feeling well. Her change in personality is what alerted me to a problem. Chickens will let you know if they don’t feel well but in order to do so you must know them well.