We had to do one of those difficult things tonight. They are a cross between pets and livestock, our chicken friends. I’ve heard that we shouldn’t name them, because the favorites always die. Her name was Sleepy, actually Sleepy II. The first sleepy was a sleek black Americana chicken who earned her name because she was always dozing off in the corner of the coop and occasionally missed last call on the automatic coop door. One night we forgot to do a chicken head count before we went to bed, and she was left outside of the coop. She had fallen asleep in the back corner and a critter tunneled under the coop to snatch her. We found the feathers the next morning. We were down to 11. The other sleek black Americana grew up to be quite the character. We called her Sleepy also, because she also tended to doze off in the corner of the coop. We bring the gals leftover fruit from the B&B every morning. They see Jeff carrying the container and start squawking and flapping in anticipation of the tasty cut up cantaloupe, blueberries and strawberries.
We noticed Sleepy II stayed in the coop one morning last week, she was on the floor and her head was sort of flopped over to the side. I snapped her picture and sought the advice of my chicken friends on FaceBook, they quickly diagnosed her with Wry Neck. A deficiency of Vitamin E and Selenium they said, and advised us to get some supplements at the local Tractor Supply. We brought her into the house and put her in a dog crate, fed her with a syringe several times a day.
She bounced back pretty fast and we let her join the flock a few days later when she seemed ok. A day later she was in the coop again, head flopped over. We brought her in again, and I held her and fed her a slurry of supplements and chicken feed with a syringe. I learned about poultry lice that day. Itchy hair, and itchy skin, a closer look I was covered in little bugs. Fast forward after a hot shower and burning of all clothes, I was back to feeding her with a syringe, but not in my lap.
A few days later, she is still hanging on, but looking pretty bad. I consulted my chicken friends again, and asked about a humane way of quickly dispatching our chicken friend to end her suffering and slow starvation. A walk in the woods and a .22 was the answer. We did just that, it was sad. Farewell Sleepy II. I’m sorry I couldn’t fix you…