A few weeks ago the garden smallholding gate swung open to welcome two very dehydrated and extremely hungry hens. They were purchased by some morons who thought it would be really funny to use them as part of a prank and then dump them by the side of a road, luckily this was stopped before it happened and they were brought straight here by people close to me.
Both were absolutely riddled with roundworm (passing live adults regularly) and feather lice, they also have scaly leg mite which I’m still treating them for. I don’t know much about their history and I’m guessing wildly when I say they’re around 12 – 15 months old, but I do know that wherever they came from originally they weren’t looked after there either, it seems.
After a spell in quarantine they now occupy one of the coops and will remain here, they’re yet to meet the other girls, but I’m sure that won’t be long now that I’m satisfied with test results from my vet to determine if they’re carrying any contagious poultry diseases.
They’re both incredibly sweet-natured and seem quite at home here.
Yesterday I lost one of my beautiful ex-caged hens. Honey was rescued and spared slaughter last August by a wonderful hen rescue organisation called Little Hen Rescue. She came to our garden smallholding with 2 other rescued hens and spent the rest of her time as free as a bird. She was quite a character, quickly securing position as top hen within the little flock, even trying her best to intimidate my Coral hen housed next to them, through the wire.
A couple of weeks ago I noticed Honey had problems with her crop emptying properly, I kept an eye on the situation and helped her by massaging the crop contents and administering an oil to lubricate (suitable for poultry), to move the blockage along. This is important to prevent the crop contents from souring, or, becoming completely impacted. Usually this is enough to remedy the problem and for a few days it seemed to be working.
Honey started to withdraw from the flock again and the crop felt doughy on inspection, I checked her over and discovered a hard lump or mass underneath her which felt a bit like an egg (although she wasn’t displaying any signs of being egg-bound). I took her to see an avian vet to be examined, the hard mass that I felt was her gizzard which was now completely blocked. We agreed to see if we could try to shift the crop and gizzard contents along by giving her Metoclopramide injections, along with a probiotic and medication to prevent sour crop. I was told that it was most likely a tumour rather than infection or any other factor causing the blockage but I wanted to try a bit longer to see if we could turn the situation around. I brought her inside permanently to keep her warm, looked after her and prayed for a miracle.
Despite my best efforts of nursing Honey, she deteriorated very quickly within a few days. Her crop and gizzard contents had not responded to treatment and she was frightfully thin and very weak. Another appointment to see the vet was made, after seeing and examining her again the mutual decision was made to give her sleep to end any suffering, allowing her to pass away peacefully and humanely.
I’m comforted by the fact that she escaped the egg industry and a grisly ending, that she free-ranged and felt the sun on her back and grass between her toes. Anyone who gives a home to these girls knows they have unique personalities, you want them to live an unusually long and happy life.
Goodbye Honey, thank you for the laughs and cuddles. You were one funny, feisty little hen. Fly free x
To find out more about Little Hen Rescue, forthcoming rescue dates or how to donate to help fund rescue running costs, please visit their website: http://littlehenrescue.co.uk