Monday, March 12, 2012

playing chicken doctor

5:45 am on Thursday, I woke up to pee. I do this most mornings before the sun comes up. It's annoying. But I digress...

5:45am, I've stepped away from the sound machine which keeps me asleep all night. And then I heard it. The screams. Of chickens.

I ran stumbled down the stairs, Bella bounding after me. In the dim light of pre-dawn, I could see the chickens flying around the run, in a panic, and still screaming. As I rushed off the porch, I saw something prowling around the fence. Something that looked vaguely fox-sized and fox-colored.

By the time Bella and I even made it into the grass, it was gone. But there had clearly been a struggle. Feathers circled the grass around the fencing, indicating that there had been quite a fight. The girls were in a panic, but it was still too dark to see. I left Bella out to keep guard and, heart racing, went back in the house for proper clothes and to report to Able-Bodied Boy.

He left for work and I went out to assess damages. Holy crap. The animal must have raced around the outside of the fencing until it snagged one with a claw through the holes. Mac was moving slowly around, obviously in pain, and I could see a bit of blood on her chest. In the house, I texted Able-Bodied Boy, then called work, to say I'd be a little late after doing a little wound care. All fairly calm and glad that things weren't too bad.

But I went into a panic when I saw Mac's wound up close.

** Warning: Graphic Description ** You know what a raw whole chicken looks like, right? You're familiar with how the flesh and the skin look? You know that the skin is fairly loose and apt to slide around? Yeah. It's the same on a live bird too. The gash in her chest left her breast bone and muscle exposed, the skin around it bare from the de-feathering claw of our predator, and curling with fat. The exposed area, when she was standing (and the weight of her skin stretching it open) was about 3 inches long by 2 inches wide, or more. Of exposed flesh and bone. ** End Graphic Description **

I texted Barnhenge Mama, then called Able-Bodied Boy. Then I went online to look up advice, pretty much assuming the worst.

Surprisingly enough, I found one woman with a couple of articles that actually made it sound like we could handle this at home, without a vet (although vet care was also an option), and that Mac would heal up just fine. This one, and this one, both by Nathalie Ross if you're curious.

So, I called in to work for the day (yeah, have you ever called out of work because of a CHICKEN? me either, until now). I prepared a "hospital room" for Mac in the dog crate. I prepared a "surgical tray" of our medical supplies. And when Able-Bodied Boy arrived home from his short day of work, we retrieved Mac and set to work. We rinsed with Hydrogen Peroxide. We rinsed with Iodine. We smeared with Neosporin with Pain Relief. We kept her isolated and clean in a covered "room".

The next day, she was up and drinking water and eating food. Good signs. And by now, her wounds are scabbed over and she's definitely more alert and active during the day.

I'll keep you posted, but it looks like she's on the right track for making a full recovery... then we'll just have to worry about re-integrating her into the flock, where she'll start back down at the bottom of the pecking order (she and Ginger were definitely in charge, although Babs keeps thinking that all she needs to do is get the better of Bella).

Any scary close-calls for you lately?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl



  1. I'm so glad you had to get up, no telling what else may have happened! I'm glad she is ok. What mom's will do for their 'kids'.

    Can you put the smaller fencing/wire (forget what the heck it is called) like you have on the coop on the bottom foot or so of the run? Keep those paws out of there, but still allow chicken's visibility.

  2. our inner coop is predator-safe, so we've just been more diligent about locking them in from dusk until dawn. we won't have to worry as much as the weather improves and there are other food sources for the predators.