Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Call Me Doctor Doolittle

Yesterday afternoon as I was herding the uppity chickens back into the coop I noticed something was wrong. One of my Dominique hens had a big old mass of ick* hanging out of her backside. Now for those of you who don't know about chicken physiology please understand that a chicken has just one orifice for the all bodily functions. One little hole called the vent is where chicken poop and eggs come out (I hope I haven't put you off of the incredible, edible egg forever...). Oh, and in case you're wondering, chickens don't pee. Sorry, I'm getting away from the story.

My little hen had a prolapsed vent. That is, her insides were on her outside and need to go back where they belonged. Action was needed. So I brought her inside. But, before I brought her inside, I needed a place to keep her. I had to carry her around as I looked for the cat carrier. I couldn't find the cat carrier in the garage or the shed, so I had to settle for a dog crate. All of this searching was going on while the little hen was carried around like a football under my arm. (I know, I should have found the cat carrier first and then brought her inside, but my brain was in crisis mode.) After setting up the crate here is what I had to do according to my research.

I gave her a bath of warm water and in the sink. I cleaned out the vent (very nasty job, that was...) wearing gloves, of course. I manipulated the prolapsed vent (ehwww....), gave her a good lube up with some bag balm and then plopped her down in the dog crate in the kitchen. I gave her some water and a little feed, covered the crate, and left her alone.

This morning things seem to be, eh hem, going back to their proper places. I've been advised to give her some electrolytes, cut back her feed, and keep her isolated in a warm, dark place for a few days. I'll probably move her to my studio today. It's cooler than the house, but warmer than the coop and she can rest and recover. And, I don't think the kitchen is the proper place for a chicken. I've also been advised to apply some hemorrhoid cream to the area to reduce swelling. I'll probably head out to the drug store later to pick some up as it's not something we have had any need for. Also, I plan to talk to the other hens and tell them this sort of behavior is not acceptable and to please keep their insides to themselves from now on.

*I don't believe this is a technical veterinary term, but if I were one, I'd use it quite frequently.


  1. Well done! Isn't it such a good feeling to be able to help these animals that we choose to keep?

  2. You're so capable, putting that big mass of ick back where it belongs. I'm very impressed.

  3. Eek! I am very impressed at your ick-putting-back skills. When I get chickens, can you talk to them, too, and let them know that it's not acceptable? I don't think I want to have to "manipulate" anything.

  4. Wow. I think I learned something today. We have this sort of thing happen with our finches... but their vents are much too small to manipulate.