Of the 7 hens we re-homed at the weekend most are doing fine and they’ve all been assessed and placed into appropriate coops in the barn. There are 2 (Honeysuckle and Marigold) that are in a sectioned off area and they appear to doing well. Petunia – that had a prolapse and was limping – is looking good and is in a hospital coop to recuperate and be monitored, and is on medication. Lavender is getting over her limp a little and moving around and sometimes standing up unaided, which is a good sign. Rose, who was in with Honeysuckle and Marigold is now in a small coop for monitoring as she seems a bit subdued, but it’s Lily and Jasmine that are of the most concern as they don’t appear to be showing signs of improvement.
Lily has damaged wing and leg and despite wrapping her wing to her body and anti-inflammatories (Inflacam) twice a day, is unable to stand. Jasmine’s legs appear damaged and she cannot stand or walk – she keeps her toes curled and puts one foot over the other when we try and help her walk and it’s now a trip to the vets to get these girls properly checked over. Prior to going we did some research and bandaged Lily’s wing with vet wrap as well as read the excellent article on the BHWT website that our vet, Richard Jones, wrote on Fracture Repair in Backyard Hens, so we were well prepared.
Lily was assessed and despite her right wing hanging downwards and her being unable to stand, she had no fractured bones, but there was tissue damage to her right wing and left leg. With medication for pain relief, a body wrap to support her wing, and physiotherapy from us, she should show signs of improvement over the course of several weeks but we were warned that this would a long, slow process and that it may take a few months for her to fully heal. Lily’s wing was re-strapped around her body and we were told to take of this dressing every 2 or 3 days and stretch and move her wing to exercise it. We were using a blanket to help support Lily and were told to carry on doing this so that her posture was as normal as possible.
Jasmine was next on the vet’s examination table and as with Lily, she found no broken bones, which was good. However, Jasmine’s problems were neurological and she had nerve damage to her legs, causing her toes to curl and for her to place her feet on top of each other, and therefore not be able to stand or walk. Again, this problem could be healed but it will take a few months and we warned not to expect a quick healing process. Jasmine’s curled toes and feet crossing are because the nerve damage means that she doesn’t know where to put her toes and feet and we’ll need to help her with massage and physiotherapy. There are several options that we will try; deep bedding so that her legs aren’t folder on the ground so much, and a sling that would force her legs downwards. These, along with stretching her legs a few times a day and not allowing her to sit still for too long should start to have a positive effect on her legs.
Overall this was a good trip to the vets! Too often we get a diagnosis, such as cancerous tumours, that neither we nor the vet can do anything about and at best the hen is given palliative care. This was different though, and we can actually do something about the care and recuperation of these hens. With the guidance and support of the vet and managed painkillers we’re hopeful that they will recover to have a good quality of life. These hens were the lucky ones to be saved from slaughter and we’re determined and willing to care for them through this period to ensure they have the best retirement they can.