It all started 2 weeks ago. I noticed that my Buff Orpington hen was lying on her side. I remarked to my husband how strange it seemed to have a chicken resting that way. When approached, she got up and walked away, so appeared to be ok, just possibly lazy?
The next evening, she was doing it again. This time I examined her more carefully and found to my dismay a black, foul discharge at her vent area. The smell was incredibly foul and I regretted that I hadn’t noticed it the day before. Because she lays jumbo eggs, I immediately suspected that she was egg-bound, so hopped in the internet to see what to do. “Let her soak in warm, soapy water for 30 minutes.” Got a big tub with a lid and put the poor girl in to soak. When I took her out I discovered that she actually had a large wound below the vent crawling with maggots. Really gross! Back to the internet. “Betadine kills maggots.” Didn’t have any betadine, but did have some iodine shampoo from a previous horse skin therapy, so washed her with that. I gently rubbed the area to remove the maggots and found that not only was there a large abscess, I could actually get my finger all the way into her abdominal cavity! How this hen could still be alive, was hard to imagine. I debated about putting her out of her misery, but she seemed alert, her eyes were bright, her comb still bright red and amazingly, she didn’t seem to be in great distress. So I decided to rinse her off, dab her dry, smeared some triple antibiotic on and put some Swat ointment around the periphery to keep any further maggots from visiting. I put her in a box under a heat lamp to dry and decided to wait until morning to see what would unfold.
Next morning, she was still alive in the box! I thought if she were going to survive, she really needed some systemic antibiotic; topicals weren’t going to take care of such an extensive infection. Back to the internet. Never thought of giving a chicken an injection, but there it was: “.25 cc penicillin in the breast muscle for 4 days.” So I proceeded to the local TSC store and bought the smallest vial…100 cc (that’s 400 chicken doses, lol). That evening I rinsed her butt again, gave her a shot, and put her back in the box with the heat lamp. I also called a friend who used to raise 500 chickens at a time. She said that occasionally a hen would get an abscess with maggots and they would just kill and bury it because there was no cure. She thought it was perhaps due to the chicken being really heavy and overweight.
The following morning, still alive! It said to give the penicillin once a day, but I decided to give her an extra dose for an initial boost. That evening, she actually seemed a bit more alert and active. I was a bit concerned that she didn’t seem to be eating or drinking and wondered how to force-feed a chicken? Gave her the evening injection and put her back in her box.
Next morning, definitely better and I watched her drink some water. Progress. I remembered that I had some Granulex spray (great for wounds with necrotic tissue). Cleaned her off and gave her a good spritz.
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Each day she seemed a bit better, more active, eating a bit. I decided to give her a full 7 days of antibiotic therapy. I sprayed her with Granulex each evening as well. By the end of the week she actually started to interact a bit with the other hens when I let them out in the evening, but she still chose to sleep separately in the barn. It had become her new home.
It has now been 2 weeks. She has decided to re-join her fellow hens and was in the coop on the roost last night. There is still a wound, but it appears to be healing well. How she lived through this is a miracle, but I am thankful for her recovery! I wish that I had taken pictures because it is truly unbelievable.
Meantime I have done some further reading and I am wondering if chicken mites might have caused the original wound which then got infected? I am going to get some diatomaceous earth for the hens to take dust baths in after the wound is fully closed. I would welcome any comments or insights.
Thanks to Tom and Carol
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Update: She continues to thrive and is alive and well. We call her “Miracle Chicken.” Unfortunately, she is now a stranger to her flockmates and they no longer accept her so she has taken up residence in my barn, ranges at will, and follows me around whenever I’m outside. She has basically become a pet.