RIP Saphira, Jersey Giant
We lost the queen of our flock. Our curious, lovable, chatty girl stood tall next to our king cockerel. She was always the first to come running anytime she saw me or heard my voice. Our Saphira girl was a charmer. She was actually my husband’s chicken. He named her after the magnificent blue dragon in one of his favorite books, Eragon. We gave her a mini chicken funeral and buried her. She was a hard loss.
A Prolapsed Vent
This is a serious health condition in which a chicken’s oviduct has slipped out of place and protrudes through the vent. The vent is the opening where all eggs, urine and fecal matter are released from the body.
Sadly, I noticed our chicken acting strangely and withdrawn from her typical perky behaviors. For some reason, I didn’t think much of it and we left for a mini weekend vacation, only to come back to see her extremely infected and swollen.
Please do not rely on this post for complete treatment details. I can only tell you the information I gathered from my homesteading group (full of experienced chicken owners) and some advice from friends who went through veterinary medicine schooling. My chicken did not survive but we spent numerous hours caring for her in her last 24 hours. If you have a veterinarian with experience in caring for chickens, call them! I do not have one but will soon be looking into it.
- Immediately separate your ill chicken from the rest of the flock.
- Soak your chicken’s bottom in warm water with epsom salts for 20-30 minutes.
- Gently wash the wound and make sure it’s thoroughly clean. Our poor girl had maggots in her wound. I did my best to get all of them off.
- Dry her off with a towel. We were treating her past midnight and it was getting chilly. She was shaking, so I gently blow dried her using the lowest heat setting until she was completely dry.
- Use a saline solution to rinse the infection again & gently pat dry with a towel.
- Apply hemorrhoid cream on the wound.
- Gently push the prolapsed tissue back into the vent. I was told that it would help some birds but not others. We did not have any luck because she just kept pushing it back out.
- Keep your chicken hydrated! I used an eye dropped to force feed her fresh water.
- Give probiotics. We bought plain Greek yogurt (higher in probiotics than regular yogurt) to give her but she was too weak and in too much pain to eat.
If caught early and properly care for, your chicken can make a full recovery. However, I’ve been told that they will be prone to having them again so they will need to be regularly monitored. Read this article by The Chicken Chick for more treatment information.
Lessons & Future Prevention
After we spent hours and hours caring for her, we ultimately let her rest in a large cage inside our home. We woke up the next morning to find she had died from her infected prolapsed vent. I blame myself for unsatisfactory chicken care and a lack of experience. We show our chickens A LOT of love but somehow I managed to overlook the fact that she wasn’t acting her normal self. I am sad that I had to learn the hard way because it costed her her life.
We are taking the following steps to ensure the remainder of our flock remains healthy.
- Replacing wood chips with a new bedding material. I thought the wood chips worked okay but they don’t dry out quick when water is spilled, which attracts mold and flies. We will be using straw or pine shavings and replacing it more frequently to ensure a cleaner coop.
- New water system. I hate admitting this but we have a poor watering system. We thoroughly cleaned out a large bin, filled it with water, and have been using that same water source for a solid month without treating it. It has been in the back of our minds for a couple weeks as something to change, but we’ve been busy. The past week we switched to fresh hose water (the spicket and barn are on opposite sides of yard), but will be figuring out an easier solution soon.
- Regularly chicken inspections. The moment I notice a change in my chicken’s personality, I will inspect them. I am also going to routinely check all my chickens for prolapsed vents, bumblefoot and anything out of the ordinary.
- Homemade or higher quality food. I am guilty of occasionally buying Purina chick feed to cut costs. However, giving them high quality feed is important not only for their health, but for superior egg nutrition for our health as well. (Note: I am no longer able to eat eggs after this experience, but I imagine I may return to eating them in the future.) I’ve also heard that if you feed your chickens superior quality feed, typically a homemade mix, they will lay more eggs into old age and live longer.
- DE in the chicken coop. I’ve been applying DE under the bedding to help eliminate flies and mosquito larvae. I will continue doing this but I will increase the amount.
The whole goal of this is to keep happy & healthy chickens so they can live a long, natural lifespan pecking around our yards for bugs. There’s nothing better than being greeted by a dozen chickens the moment you walk out your door.
I keep telling myself this quote because losing pets is NOT fun. But it doesn’t mean I won’t keep getting more chickens or animals to have around. I connect much better with animals than most people. I respect them and seriously see into their beautiful souls. Sounds silly, but I don’t know how else to put it.
My chicken was loved immensely and cared for but there are BILLIONS of chickens living in factory farms who are culled immediately or left to rot in a cage while many other chickens lay eggs around their decaying carcasses just so we can eat CHEAP eggs. This is animal cruelty in its worst form and we support this EVERY time we buy anything containing eggs. PLEASE DON’T BUY STORE BOUGHT EGGS. Only buy from a trusted farmer or backyard chicken owner.