I've recently had a streak of bad chicken experiences. The first bad thing was that one of the four chicks that I recently hatched in the incubator died. The chick in the photo above is Beardy, who is doing fine, as is Curly, below. The chick that died was the one I was calling Muppet, because she had sort of blank stupid look that made her seem like a silly puppet. I'm not sure why she died. I came home from a long day away, and went to check on the chicks and noticed that she was shaking and couldn't stand up, and that all the chicks seemed wobbly and weak. I picked poor Muppet up, because she had some poo stuck to her back side and I thought maybe she had a blocked vent. She started convulsing and died as soon as I set her on the ground.
I immediately thought that my decision to not buy packaged chick feed was the problem, and that they were deficient in some essential mineral or vitamin. Brandon thought they seemed poisoned, or overheated and suggested I take them out of the plastic tub that I had them in. They had been in the tub for several days, but that day, for some reason, I closed the door to the room they are in. Toxic plastic fumes from the heat lamp in the plastic tub? Well, I thought they were all doomed and was very disappointed and feeling guilty that I shouldn't have tried to make their food. I took them out of the tub and put them back in cardboard, and coaxed them to eat some packaged chicken feed that I feed Helen and Mrs. Hall. Then I bought them some chick starter from Tractor Supply. So far, the other three are doing well.
Then, just when I was recovering from losing Muppet, I notice that Mrs. Hall has a messy looking backside, which isn't normal. She normally takes a bit of pride in her appearance and spends much time grooming her feathers and strutting like she's hot stuff. I thought maybe she had just gotten wet with all the recent rain and had something stuck in her feathers that she couldn't reach. So, before work one morning I took a bucket of soapy water outside to give my chicken a bath. Well, upon closer inspection I realized that she wasn't just dirty, but that she had prolapsed tissue coming from her you know what. It had poo stuck on it, and when I tried to wash it off it bled a little. She was very calm while I held her upside down and poked around on her backside. I cleaned the protrusion up the best I could then pushed it back in. Yes, I poked my chicken's butt hole back inside. I'm still coming to grips with this myself.
I did some quick internet research about the problem, and read that I had done the right thing, but that it was a good idea to reduce her feed to keep her from laying an egg, to keep her separate from other chickens that might pick at it, and to put some hemorrhoid cream on it to reduce swelling.
I fixed up a dog crate with some water and wood shavings, and caught Mrs. Hall again. Unfortunately, the prolapse was sticking back out. So, yeah, I poked it back in and smeared some antibiotic ointment on (and in!) it. The things I do for eggs.
I was late for work, as is expected when you start your morning with a chicken bath and end up with your finger in places you never thought it would go, and was explaining to a teasing coworker about my traumatic morning of chicken butt ministrations, and he suggested that I kill her now and eat her while the meat is still good. Not Mrs. Hall! He wants to know why not, it's not like she's my dog. Well, I've decided that when you have only two chickens, and you've had them for over five years, and you have recently un-lapsed a prolapse, which you have never done for any one else you know, then the chicken is very much like your dog and either it's awful to consider eating her, or when my dog dies we're going to have a barbeque. BYOB.
So, after work I stopped by the Dollar General to buy some hemorrhoid cream. I wanted to yell at the sixteen year old girl who was my cashier "You, too, will get old some day, missy!" as she eyed my generic preparation H. But then I remembered it wasn't for me, but for my chicken's butt, so I deserve strange looks from living Barbie dolls.
Fortunately Mrs. Hall's prolapse wasn't protruding, but I put the cream on anyway. Just for fun, really.