This sad (true) tale is about some badly neglected sick chicks. BUT! it has a happy ending. I thought I’d tell you that right off the bat. It did start out a bit shaky though.
About a month ago, my neighbor- friend, Audrey, drove up with a cardboard box full of the saddest looking chicks I’ve ever seen. These poor babes reeked like rotten road kill. They tottered when they tried to walk because their crops were so swollen and disfigured they couldn’t keep their balance. All of them had droopy wings that dragged on the ground. None of them made any sort of happy chirpy chick noises. They mostly just stood still or toppled over or lay on the ground without moving.
(There are obviously people in the world that should never own animals. This is a good example of some of them.)
My friend asked for advice on how to help heal these little birds. I wasn’t sure what to tell her. So, I did what I often do: I guessed.
First, I helped her set up a temporary chicken coop in my carport. I wasn’t sure if these chicks were in this terrible condition purely from their poor treatment, or if they were also sick. I didn’t want my hens to catch anything that might have just arrived with these babies. I also wanted to keep them safe from my full-sized flock. They were already very weak and didn’t need to be bullied.
Next, I suggested a bath. So Audrey took them into her house and bathed them with soap and water with a rinse in apple cider vinegar in water (to kill potential germs and bugs). She kept them in her bathroom overnight with a heater going and a diffuser wafting On Guard essential oil blend (to build immunity and kill potential germy things they might be battling).
Next, we needed to deal with their over bulging crop issues (Dolly Parton had nothing on these poor girls). I suggested a syringe and gently (and in small doses) feeding them drops of water and of oil mixed with wine. Audrey also massaged the crops to help pass whatever it was that had clogged them up so terribly.
Six pathetic chicks arrived on the property and two didn’t make it. Honestly, I figured the numbers (at best) would be the other way around so we were all happy at their progress.
Then the person who had the chicks to begin with called asking Audrey to come pick up two more chicks. MORE? She had MORE?? Two very sick girls from the same flock were added to the chick hospital. One of these looked as close to death as you could possibly be while still being alive. But Audrey, empowered at their survival rate, determined to save this little one.
This chick couldn’t even lift her head. Audrey fed her little drops of water from a syringe. She did all the other things from above, too, that she’d done for the other chicks, but this one made no progress. She lay so still and lifeless she already seemed gone.
So, on a whim and with nothing to lose, I suggested she try feeding this baby a very watered down solution of my cat’s liver pate in a syringe in addition to the other things she was doing for her. Apparently that stinky cat food was the ticket for this chick as within just a couple hours she went from pretty much dead to roosting on Audrey’s finger.
Now these chicks (whom I affectionately call ‘The Littles’) are making up for lost time. They’re growing like weeds and constantly chirping and eating and pooping and exploring, just like happy, healthy chicks do. One of the places they LOVE to explore is my art studio. If I leave the door open, even for a moment, they all charge in like a herd of rambunctious children. I spend lots of time shooing them out (and yes, occasionally picking up poop after them).
The Littles have had a few recess times in an enclosed fence so my hens could get to know them safely and the last few days they’ve been running around free ranging with the established flock. All is well in the chicken kingdom.
Except of course that they can’t stay forever in my carport and need a new coop built for them (the one my current flock lives in is too small for 5 more birds). But I’m so happy to have new babes on the property. And Audrey wanted to get chickens anyway, so it’s all working out.
And I’m happy, too, that they’re no longer suffering at the place they were before (although truthfully I’m sure they’d all be dead by now). Like I said, some people should never have animals. In this situation it mostly turned out positively in the end. We are happy they joined us. Even my old hens don’t seem to mind.
Yep, when life gives you sick chicks, create a new flock. After all, one can never have too many chickens. (Unless, of course, you’re one of those people that shouldn’t have any animals at all.)
PS: Always remember I’m not a vet and am not advocating anything I’ve said in this post. I’m just sharing my personal story. If you need medical advice for your animals, please seek the help of a professional.