One Sick Chicken

We have been lucky in that our six chickens have been pretty healthy up to this point. But at the end of July (a week before we left for the beach) one of our chickens injured her left leg. She is one of the three that we can’t tell apart, so Barry has decided she’s Lady. We noticed that she was not walking on her leg and was using her wing to try and balance herself. When we picked her up her leg just hung limp. We thought she might have broken it or torn a ligament possibly by landing funny when jumping down from their roosting poles. Luckily, we caught it right around the time it happened.

The other chickens started pecking Lady, as they often will when one amongst them becomes sick or injured. That’s something you have to watch out for with a flock of chickens. When that happens, it’s best to remove the sick/injured chicken so she can heal. And that’s what we did.

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For the first few days we kept Lady in an old dog crate in the garage. This kept her safe from the rest of the chickens while allowing her to rest. It also allowed us to keep a close eye on her. We lined the crate with newspaper and then put shavings on top of that. We still have the chick feeder and waterer we used when they were in their brooder box . This gave her easy access to food and water without having to move around much.

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During the first few days Lady wasn’t walking at all and would just kind of shuffle herself around the cage. She did, however, continue to lay an egg a day during this time. Towards the end of the week we moved the dog crate into the chicken coop. Chickens don’t do well by themselves, so if you’re able to have them around their flock-mates that’s best. We still kept her in the dog crate, though, because she still needed to be protected from them. Barry put the crate up in the air, so that the other chickens wouldn’t be able to roost on top of it (and drop droppings on her in the process…).

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As you can see in the above picture, Lady was standing up a bit by the end of the week. She was still not using her leg at all to support herself, though. But when you held her up in the air she would pull it up against her body. That showed signs of improvement since she wasn’t moving her leg at all earlier in the week. She stayed in the crate in the chicken coop while we were gone at the beach, and Kim looked after her and the rest of the chickens. During this time she stopped laying eggs and lost a lot of weight, probably due to the stress of the injury.

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Since we returned home from vacation, Lady has continued to improve very slowly. She will now stand on her leg but mostly does not walk on it. It’s almost like she can’t feel it, as she sometimes stands on her left foot with her right.

Hard to see, but she's standing on her left foot with her right.

Hard to see, but she’s standing on her left foot with her right.

We have been taking her out a few times a day to allow her to walk around in the yard. Hopefully it will help her regain strength and she’ll continue to heal.

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She still has to be separated from the other chickens for now, though. Meaning she is still staying in the dog crate in the chicken coop when she’s not out in the yard. Three of the other chickens ignore her when everyone is in the yard, but the other two have attacked her once. We are hopeful that they will stop doing this as she continues to heal.

Using her wing to help balance while trying to walk.

Using her wing to help balance while trying to walk.

I’ll do another update at some point when there is more to share. For now, we plan to continue to work with Lady a few times a day to get her moving around. We are also planning to give her extra food, like meal worms and a chicken treat I found that has a higher ratio of protein and fat, to help her gain some weight.

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  1. Poor Lady! I had no idea that chickens would attach each other when they were sick/hurt…is that more of like a Darwinism “don’t get the flock sick” kind of thing, or what?

    Looks like you guys are taking great care of her! I hope she feels better soon! Has she started laying eggs again yet?
    Logan @ Mountains and Miles recently posted…Goodbye Colorado – Huron PeakMy Profile

    1. It could be a way of the others protecting themselves from catching an illness, or it may just be some kind of get rid of the weakest so that it doesn’t affect the flock thing. She hasn’t started laying eggs, yet. But she has put on some weight!

  2. Oh no, poor girl! How weird that they all pick on the injured chicken. What the heck!? Is that survival of the fittest or something? I hope Lady is fully healed soon!
    jan recently posted…Random Wednesday UpdateMy Profile

    1. I think it is a survival of the fittest thing – they don’t want weaklings in the flock. She is on the mend, though, and continues to show improvement each day!

  3. Poor Lady. I hope she continues to improve daily and is back to her old self soon! She looks like she’s put a little weight back on when looking at the pictures of her in the yard vs. the crate. Has she, or does she just have her feathers fluffed more in the later pictures?
    Debbie @ Deb Runs recently posted…The Rehearsal Dinner, Our Best Anniversary Ever!My Profile

    1. She has continued to improve each day this week, so hopefully she’s on the mend! I think she just had her feathers more fluffed in the yard than she did in the crate. But she has since put on a bit of weight thanks to extra treats (sweet potato wedges!) in addition to her regular food.

  4. Poor Lady. We are all cheering for you, Miss Lady! When I worked on a farm one summer, we had over 50 chicks and during the summer only one got sick, which we thought was great!
    Amy recently posted…QuittingMy Profile

    1. That’s awesome that only one got sick out of fifty! Chicks are so fragile and susceptible to everything. We had to be really careful with ours when they were babies and keep a close watch for any signs of illness. Lady continues to make improvements each day and has put on some weight and is walking around more.

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