Amazingly, things are looking up! After not much change from the attack around 3pm until I went to be around 11pm last night, I woke up this morning to a much-improved Lady B. This was her, yesterday (pic below), on my lap as I wrote the beginning of the last post.
I was too concerned with keeping her still, comforted, and warm to put her down, so I spent eight hours in bloody clothes (yes, Dad – that’s the sweater you gave me – it’ll wash out, I hope). Doing the best I could with one hand, I posted for help on the Backyard Chickens forum. Everyone was wonderful and offered support and what advice they could, which wasn’t much – I mean, what can you do but keep her safe and warm and hope? People advised sugar or electrolytes in water (wouldn’t you know I ran out of the chick electrolytes I’d been giving them just a couple of days ago and figured I didn’t need any more), and to give it to her through an eye dropper by putting drops on the edge of her beak, which should make her take a sip.
After I moved her upstairs, she started to wheeze/whistle/pop with each breath. I couldn’t help but think of waht people call the “death rattle” – it sounded like she had fluid in her lungs or airway. It seemed like a change for the worst. I tried to put drops of water on her beak with my fingertips, but she just let them run off. Then Brian went and got an eye dropper and I tried with that, with the same result. I dipped her beak in water, which triggers a reflex in healthy chickens to take a gulp. Nothing. Eventually, her breathing went back to normal, though. So, until I went to bed, I just sat with her and kept her warm and still. She did stand up sometimes and then would stand there and go right back to sleep, standing up.
When I went to bed, I put her in a deep cardboard box with her towel and a baby waterer and some food and yogurt. I closed her in the guest room and left a small reading light on in the corner so it wouldn’t be totally dark (she’s never been in the total dark before and apparently it can scare them at first). I then went to bed and did my best to sleep. I got up and checked on her a couple of times during the night and she was just snuggled down in the towel, asleep, but breathing. This morning the dogs got up for breakfast before dawn (such a lovely habit) and I was about to check on her again when I had a thought – if she’s in there, dead, I can’t change that, but it will upset me and I won’t get anymore sleep. If she’s alive, I won’t do anything either because it’s still dark out and she’ll want to sleep more. So, I skipped shecking her and went back to bed to sleep a little longer. Yeah right. As soon as it started lightening up outside, I got up from not sleeping more and went in to see her. When I opened the door and said, “Hi, Lady B,” she replied with a couple of quiet little peeps. YAY!!
She was still lying down and didn’t seem to have moved, so I picked up her food (in the lid of a tea tin) then scooped her up, put her on the bed, then I sat down on the bed and arranged her towel on my lap. I picked her up onto my lap and offered her the food. Standing there, she suddenly let out a huge poop. Even though she had pooped several times the night before when I was holding her, it didn’t look like she had gone at all throughout the night. That had to make her feel better. Soon after, she started pecking at the food, slowly at first, and then more. She was eating! She quite happily munched on the chicken feed and yogurt for a bit and then WALKED (for the first time since the attack) up my arm onto my shoulder and settled down for a nap. I will mention that during her eating and again while she was on my shoulder, I again tried to get her to drink – eye dropper, beak dipping, I even put some water in a shiny metal teaspoon because chickens love shiny things and I thought she might peck at it. Nada. That worried me, but at least the yogurt has some good water content. Eventually I put her back in her box with her water and food and went to take a shower. When I came back to check on her, she was standing up, peeping and eating. She was also looking up with her neck outstretched, which means she’s thinking about hopping/flying up and out. These are all good and exciting things! I left her again and came back to take pics for this post, and I found her standing up DRINKING! Success!!
So, that’s the update for now. Things are looking good. I wouldn’t say she’s totally out of the woods yet, but all signs thus far point to a recovery. I will keep you posted. If she keeps improving, the next thing to think about is how and when to reintroduce her to the coop. A weakened chicken can often be pecked to death and since she’s been gone, she’ll be the focus of some attention when she gets back. We’ll have to strike a balance between waiting until she gets her strength back and not keeping her away too long.