Sunday, November 20, 2011

Help With Chicken Thoughts, Please?

Danni the hen with the bad leg is still hanging in there.  I keep her separate from the other birds, in the infirmary coop.  I feed her plenty of treats - veggies and fruits and grains and oatmeal - basically, she gets whatever she wants.  Plus she gets enough chicken feed to feed the entire flock.  During the day, if I'm home, I take her out for "walks" - I call it physical therapy for her.  I attempt to force her to use her bad leg a little.  She doesn't do well with walking or standing and prefers to sit.  She comes into the house every night and hangs with me in the kitchen while I prepare her dinner and the family dinner.  After we all eat, she goes back into her coop for the night, where she has her own heat lamp.  Every night another hen named Jade spends the night with her, and they talk all night about girl things.  Jade fills her in on what happened that day with the flock.  Danni tells Jade about her adventures in the house.   

Last night Danni actually hobbled across my kitchen floor on her own.  She really doesn't use her right leg much, she sticks it out in front of her mostly.  She balances on her left leg with both wings sticking out.  To walk she sometimes ambles awkwardly on the right leg, but it still sticks out straight.  Mostly she moves by using her wings to make her fly along the ground.  Last night in the coop with Jade, Danni actually stood for a while on her good leg, right leg sticking straight out.  But after a few minutes her good leg gets tired of balancing her, and she sits again.

I don't know how long this can go on.  I have gotten very attached to Danni and it would break my heart to put her down.  She cannot go back out in the flock with a bad leg.  She would freeze just laying on the ground, as she can't walk.  The roosters would hurt her trying to mount her.  The other hens would pick on her.  Randy tells me if she's not attempting to use the bad leg, then, well, it's time...  She did make an attempt yesterday to use the leg, but she doesn't hold it properly.  I always position the right leg back where it belongs underneath her during our therapy sessions, but if she controls the leg, it's sticking straight out in front.

So, what are your thoughts on this?  I'm struggling.  Is she going to get better?  This week it will be 2 weeks since whatever happened to Danni to make her right leg stick straight out.  She is eating fine, her spirits are good, the leg is not cold, so it's still getting blood to it.  I just don't know... My brain tells me we can't keep a bird like this, but my heart tells me to give her more time.



John Gray said...

put her in a run of her own.. just a small one in full view of the hens... and leave her.
my lame beatrice is happy enough, is eating well, but is hardly walking,
she is now officially retired..
she is useless to me.. but will be kept in her own run...until she dies

decision made!

Farm Girl said...

Okay, since I am go with the heart kind of person I would say wait. I never can put my hens down even if I know it would be best. I mean is she suffering? The suffering thing is when I think it is time. I think it comes down to how much are you willing to do for her?
I know it isn't much help, your hen won't ever be able to go back into the population because she will be too different and you know how chickens hate someone different.
I had a sick hen who was sick from spring until she passed away in October. I fooled with her but I am glad I did it and even though she never got better, she would still sing every time she saw me and I was glad I went to the trouble.
Sorry I am so wishy washy. It is so hard to decide what to do.My thoughts and prayers are with you.

JosephAlsarraf said...

I'm sorry, I don't know much about chickens but, i'd wait and see a couple more weeks. Go with your heart! : )

CaliforniaGrammy said...

Go with your heart. I like John Gray's response. As long as she doesn't appear to be suffering and as long as you have the heart and patience to care for Danni, I say go with your heart. I'm so sorry she doesn't appear to be healing back to "normalcy" I just wouldn't be able to "pull the plug" either.

Kessie said...

I had a hen who was crippled in both feet, with her toes all curled up. I kept her in a coop of her own and pampered her for about a year, I think. She even laid eggs for me. She finally died the next summer when it was too hot.

I think it just comes down to how much you're willing to fool with her. The only time I've ever heard of chickens' legs sticking out like that are when baby chicks get "spraddle leg", when their tendons get so warped that their legs stick out. I have read about this being fixed with "physical therapy", though, with the people being willing to work their legs until they heal.

Mary Ann said...

This exact thing happened with one of our hens because of being left out all night in a storm... she became caught in some poultry wire, and her leg never did operate right again. She lived two more years, went out with the flock, but always had a difficult time hopping around, and then resting by balancing on her stiff leg. Finally, it got to be too much for her (could not get away from the roos, etc) and we ended up putting her down, but got many eggs and we thought she was a very plucky girl!

Dog Trot Farm said...

Lately, I have not done well in the chicken department but, I would continue to care for Danni. I brought my chicken Iris inside to the "chicken hospital" to care for her. Eventually she learned to come and go on her own and was able to return to the coop. All but one of the girls accepted her return, but finally that was resolved. Unfortunately a fox got Iris, I was heartbroken. You will know in your heart what the right thing is for Danni. Good luck, keep us updated. Blessings, Julie.

Knatolee said...

I was going to tell you to ask John Gray for advice, so I'm glad he chimed in first! I'm with him and FarmGirl. She might surprise you. Or you might have a pet chicken in the kitchen. Regardless, I am sending her and you many good thoughts!!

Robin said...

Depends on how much longer you want to baby her. If she is not getting better... If you want to wait a little longer or you feel it's time then by all means go with what you want. She already made it for much longer then what she would have been able to if you hadn't intervened I thinking.