Waiting Game

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It has been a terrible few days here – especially if you are a chicken. The respiratory issue continues on…

Since I last stopped to write a post I have had to put down Lily, Audrey and Charlie. They were after I had to put down Lindy and Agatha. FIVE … lost to whatever this turns out to be. I came out Wednesday morning to find Inky dead on her back in the coop. She hadn’t even been showing any symptoms. That was six.

I decided to track down a local chicken veterinarian. Turns out our regular Vet Services has a chicken vet – but she is on maternity leave. Rumour is she may be back this winter. They referred me to Lane Veterinary Services in a nearby village. They were awfully kind in taking time to talk with me. In the end I took Lily’s and Inky’s carcasses to an Animal Testing Lab in Kemptville.

Turned out Inky had somehow ingested a piece of metal? Perhaps a screw … or a staple? (This is why I don’t use staples out back any more …) So she had not succumbed to the same virus or bacteria that is creeping through the rest of her flock mates.

In order to know what happened to Lily the lab sent samples off for PCR testing. Sound familiar? That is the kind of testing process also used to identify COVID. We will likely not hear back until next Wednesday what the conclusive result is.

Just to clarify – they are not testing Lily’s remains for COVID. Although … you can excuse me for finding that was the first thing that coursed through my mind when I realized we were coping with an illness that was racing through the group – causing terrible breathing and coughing problems!

In the meantime I’ve continued to quarantine three groups – each in their own quarters. I put the Orpingtons back into the Palace. That’s the big coop – converted from a fancy dancy shed – with lots of windows. I figured if they were going to have to stay inside for … perhaps quite a while … they needed room and comfort. I’ve been treating them with TLC. Extra warmth, fresh fruit, some nuts, fresh water numerous times a day, and have been scooping up every poop I can see each time I stop in. There were twelve Orpingtons … we are now down to six. I expect they are noticing their buddies are missing.

Paddy and his girls; the five Red Sex Links (aka the ‘Aunties’), Sophie (oldest hen now – a Maran) and Oprah (Orpington who is too in love with Paddy to put her with the others) are having a blast in the Clubhouse. The switch (moving them from the Palace) turned out to be just what they wanted.

The Brahmas have always been separate from the other two groups. I’ve kept them apart from the ducks now. The Brahmas are not that interested in wandering much farther than their coop. The other night I found them all stranded at the top of their hillside. The snow was now crusty and when they attempted to walk back they were sliding … downhill. I ended up crunching through the snow to make a path for them. Twig braved the route on her own. The others … waited patiently for me to carry them.

This may be how we manage through the winter. I can see it working for them – and for me. Both the Orpingtons and Paddy’s group are quite happy with their spaces. As are the ducks and the Brahmas. I can easily clean the four rooms – and still enjoy sitting with them. I now have four happy places to stop and chill. I’m expecting I will need to totally clear out the Palace and wash down into the corners. I will likely change the wood used for their perches – painting the new ones before I install them. I don’t want to do that until I find out what exactly we are dealing with – and find a way to help the current six recover.

This experience gets added to the new to us list. And hopefully something experienced only once. It did motivate me to get some testing done ASAP. It would not sit well with me to have some kind of contagion here knowing that there are wild birds flying between my place and neighbours.

It also gave me the courage to put Audrey and Charlie down – just yesterday – as they were both showing severe symptoms. I wasn’t sure I could do that on my own. Turns out I could … I have seen what happened to the other chickens who got that sick… and have seen how quickly that then spread. This morning the remaining six seemed to be holding their own. Princess had some gurgling in her throat … the others – none. But they are all alert, hungry, thirsty and active.

Wish us luck!

3 comments on “Waiting Game”

  1. Of course I don’t like this at all, but I clicked on “like” so you’d know I had read this. I agree you need answers to protect your neighbors from spread. I send my condolences for those who’ve been lost, & my high hopes for the remaining characters of your flock. You are a good chicken Mama, faithful Shepherd & Caregiver. My wish is for a better, healthier, happier New Year to You & Your’s.

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