Orchid’s Ordeal

Orchid’s crop seemed to be on the mend but after being relatively okay on Tuesday she took a significant dip by Wednesday morning and was taken to the vet for life saving treatment.

As part of the care for Orchid we gave her 3ml of brandy on Monday 18th and withdrew food and water for that day. Her crop cleared and then we slowly introduced food and water to ensure that she could process the smaller amounts, before she could have normal quantities a few days later.

However, I found her in a very bad way on the morning of Wednesday 20th. She was cold, hunched, shivering, she couldn’t really stand properly and she wouldn’t take any food or water from me – her body was shutting down. I wrapped a blanket over her and brought her inside to make up some critical care formula. We use this when a hen isn’t drinking or eating and will give us some time before we can get her to a vet. I mixed up a cup of water, a teaspoon of sugar and a pinch of salt and tried to syringe some into her, but she didn’t take it and wouldn’t respond. I then phoned the vets and because of her symptoms, they said to bring her straight up.

Orchid sat in a box in the passenger’s seat, wrapped in a blanket for the journey – which felt a lot longer than the hour it took – her eyes remained closed and her head kept falling downwards and all I could do was get there as quickly as I could, stroking her cold body occasionally.

The vet saw her right away and she was put in a warm incubator and was given injections of fluids, antibiotics, pain relief and a thorough examination that revealed a large lump in her oviduct – a lump the size of an egg that was probably the cause of the sour crop and meant her long term outlook wasn’t good. I left and waited anxiously for a few hours before I could phone for an update. The update at noon wasn’t good; fluids weren’t being processed and there was the fear that her kidneys weren’t functioning normally. Thankfully though, I got a text mid-afternoon to say that she was starting to produce urine!

Orchid has only been with us a month, and whilst there were some good days for her in that month, there was so much more that we could give her – we willed her to get better and start to recover. The next day, Thursday 21st, we phoned the vets and got a good update – Orchid was tucking into her breakfast and was looking a lot better! A further update at 1pm was encouraging but she would benefit from another night being observed and cared for by the vets, and all being well we should be able to pick her up on Friday.

The long term outlook for Orchid isn’t good, the effects of her previous life are causing strains on her reproductive system, and whilst some of the other hens may have similar problems that we are currently unaware of, this is a reminder that we want to give these hens as good a retirement as we possibly can and all being well, Orchid will be a very spoilt hen.

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