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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Story of "Chicken-with-lips"

I was enjoying my chickens this morning and had my camera in my coat pocket so I took a few pictures.  We have a variety of breeds, French Maran, Chanteclar, Arucana, some crosses, and one very unique girl.......Chicken-with-lips.

Chicken-with-lips is our best broodie hen.  She would hatch out anything you put under her, and then some.   She has raised many, many chicks for us.  She isn't a big hen but she's spunky, to say the least.  

Last year I was away up at our new farm and left my chickens in the care of a neighbour.  I often take them to the farm with me as I have built a new chicken house for them and they love to wander around the new property but this time I left them at home as I was only going to be gone a few days.  One evening I received a phone call from my neighbour telling me that something had killed one of my chickens.  I drove home the next morning to find 5 dead chickens, 3 of which were my prize Chanteclars, as well as two injured chickens.  It looked like either a fox or a raccoon had cause this massacre.  

The two injured chickens were a  young Chanteclar hen and my little black broodie hen who had been broodie and sitting on an imaginary clutch of eggs.  The Chanteclar hen had half the side of her head quite damaged and my little black hen had the end of her beak chewed off causing it to split apart.  She also sustained a little damage to her head but nothing life-threatening. 

I brought the two hens into the house to keep them extra warm and to watch them while they recover.  My young Chanteclar was in shock.  She had a lot of damage to her skull and one eye so I gave her some water with a syringe and slathered her skull with neosporin (antibacterial gel) daily.  My little black hen, although having the damage to her beak, seemed to be more upset because I had taken her off her brooding nest.  I also gave her some water and stuffed some mash down her crop.  The next day the Chanteclar was still in shock and would not eat or drink anything so I started to force feed her as well. This nursing continued on for five days and then I saw the Chanteclar hen take some water on her own.  She couldn't see out of one eye and so found it difficult to get her aim on the food but at least she was eating and drinking on her own so she was on the road to recovery.  The little black hen still could not eat or drink on her own so I continued to assist her.  This continued for 3 weeks and then the Chanteclar was healed enough to go back with the other hens.  Surprisingly, the skin seemed to be growing back over her skull and her eye seemed to be repairing as well! 

Our little black hen was feeling well as I continued to feed her but she still could not grasp the food.  She would only peck the food as though she still had a long beak so she never actually 'hit' the food.  So I had to still shove food down her throat daily.  Finally, after 3 weeks of holding handfuls of fine grain up to her mouth and pouring it in she started to grab at it herself.  I guess it took this long for her brain to retrain the distance from the end of her beak to the food!  Then just when I think all is going well, the little that was left of her beak seemed to just dry up and fall off completely so she had no beak at all.  But, by then she was eating and drinking on her own. 

Hopefully she'll hatch out many more baby chicks for us all to enjoy in the future.

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