The Dark Side of Chicken Keeping

I enjoy keeping chickens (most of the time), and I’m a sucker for ex battery hens. They are affectionate and comical creatures, the eggs are just a bonus. However, keeping chickens can sometimes be a sad affair too, prompting you to question yourself – why on earth put yourself through it?

Ex battery hens can come with their health problems it’s true, but is it any wonder? Even before they’re hatched their health is at risk due to bad breeding, their miserable existence in caged farms certainly weakens them even further. Many ex battery hens lead long, trouble-free and happy lives after rescue, I guess it’s the luck of the draw or conditions of the particular farm from which they came. If I have an ex battery girl for just a short time, I know that she experienced so much more than those that never got the chance. I do take comfort in that. In any case, regardless of type or breed of chicken you keep, problems can occur from time to time.

On Sunday I found top hen of the flock ‘Lizzie’ hunched and scared, covered in blood round her rear end. After the initial shock of finding her in that state my first fear was that she had prolapsed. After checking her over it became clear that she had been subjected to a rather nasty vent pecking session. I cleaned her up and gave her some sugared water to help combat shock, then I promptly got her to an emergency vet. Goodness knows why chickens can do this sort of thing to each other, it’s just beyond me, but it can happen to any chicken regardless of breed or history. It’s what I call ‘the dark side of chicken keeping’.

At the moment I’m cleaning Lizzie’s wounds twice a day with a veterinary antiseptic and giving her pain relief liquid and antibiotics. She’s doing OK but I’m not 100% happy with her progress so I have made another vet appointment, for peace of mind if anything. I will update about her again once I know more.

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