Today was more than I signed up for.

And, yes, I do know that my participle is dangling, thank you.

Having not heard back from the vet I had called (and I was none too impressed about that, I can tell you), I decided to a) put the flock on oral antibiotics, and b) do something about Coraline’s feet. She’s the only chicken limping, and only on one foot, so I’m planning to allow the antibiotics work for a few days on the rest of the girls before taking more drastic measures, if necessary.

I prepped the kitchen, having said goodbye to the last of our overnight guests. Oh, did I fail to mention that the Stepdaughters had a sum of five friends sleeping over last night? (That’s a grand total of seven girls between the ages of eight and ten, for those of you keeping score at home.)

And did I fail to mention that Billie had explosive diarrhea in her crate last night, necessitating not only an emergency walk but an emergency cleaning of…everything?! At 4am??!!

What better conditions could I possibly want in preparation for my maiden chicken operation? Huh??!! Fresh as a daisy, was I.

I prepped the kitchen with all I would need, and brought a nervous Coraline from the crate in the lodge. I stood her in the epsom salt water (both feet) for about five minutes. It should have been longer, I’m sure, but she was very fidgety, and, frankly, so was I. Stepdaughter the Elder was to have been my assistant, but she elected to go to the house of her friend who had slept over for a morning playdate, on some kind of kid exchange program. I was, therefore, left to manage on my own. Not that I’m bitter.

Once Coraline’s feet had soaked, I wrapped her firmly in a hand towel, swaddled, really, and fastened the wrapping with a clothespin. It was important she be restrained from flapping or moving in any way.

I placed her on her back and took a look at the feet:

Yes, she did stay in this position, for the most part. It was quite remarkable.

You can see the black scab on the bottom of her left foot in the pic above, but that’s not the one she’s favouring.

It was my intention to eschew the blade and remove the scab with only a pair of tweezers, working out any infected matter that might come out reasonably easily. I didn’t quite trust myself with the whole surgery. My intention was to open up the wound, get infected bits out, if possible, drain it, and pack with antibiotic ointment and wrap.

Here’s the thing. Turns out chickens’ feet are tough. The tweezers just weren’t doing the job, or else I hadn’t soaked the feet long enough. It became clear very early on that I would need to work with a blade.

I asked The Man to prep a blade with betadyne solution, and began working my way around the black scab on Coraline’s right foot. The swollen area is quite solid, and there was very little to come out that was liquid. I was able to pull out some stringy white bits that I’m really hoping were meant to come out. It’s not quite as straight-forward as it seems in the pics, at least, not to me.

When I felt done, the opening on the right foot looked like this:

(I apologise for any lack of focus in these pics; I was taking them myself, and holding the chicken. She was shaking, I was shaking…you get the picture.)

This little hole doesn’t look like much, but it made me woozy to do it. Hell, I’m getting woozy writing about it. I’m guessing I didn’t go far enough, but it was as much as I could muster on the first go. I may not have gotten all the infected matter out (I certainly didn’t get out anything that might be called a “kernel”), but I opened the infected area, drained it, and packed it with antibiotic cream before wrapping it. That has to be better than nothing, right?

Here’s Coraline’s right foot wrapped in vet tape:

I have no idea how to wrap a chicken’s foot; I hope I did okay.

I repeated the procedure for the left foot, and here Coraline began to resist me. She’d had enough. Once both feet were wrapped, I stood her up to be sure her feet and toes could still function:

And this is the least blurry shot of the four I took. She wanted outta there.

Coraline is now ensconced in the crate. She gobbled up a large number of mealworms, so I can assume she’s not irretrievably traumatised. I will unwrap the bandages and reapply antibiotic ointment once a day; after three days, I’ll decide if further action is required.

I continue to give Coraline oral antibiotics, but she isn’t drinking enough to satisfy me. My girls will do anything for bits of bread, so I’ve taken to soaking bread chunks in the antibiotic water to give them. Works like a charm.

As for the outside girls, they got two big dishes of uncooked oatmeal and bread chunks soaked in the antibiotic water. They ate every morsel, I could be sure that everyone was present and got at least a few pieces.

And I began throwing out eggs today. Man, that hurts.


10 thoughts on “Today was more than I signed up for.

  1. You did great! She looks to be standing well. Where did you get the vet wrap? I would like to have everything necessary to do what you just did. Just in case.

    I have a hen that is badly injured from a flipping rooster, who is now confined. Molting girls + roosters is not a good combination :( Penny is everyone’s favourite here as well. I will do anything for her. Her would is the worst I’ve ever seen, and she continues to be chipper and lays an egg every single day (WHILE MOLTING!)

    Oh and did I mention that she is 3 years old? Yeah.. Super chicken..

    I should get some of that Blue Kyote for her.. Right? I only have chicken antibiotic ointment, and I’ve been applying that for now. You can’t see the would unless you lift her wing. That’s gotta be a plus.

    • I get all my chicken supplies from Chicken Debbie, the Oracle of Agway. She has Blu-Kote and the vet wrap, which was in the horse section. It only comes in a 4″ width there, so I had to cut strips. The stuff is great! It should be in the house for everyone, including humans. It’s stretchy and tough, but only sticks to itself, not to skin or fur or feathers. It’s also cheap. Get some!

      The Blu-Kote is good for hiding a wound from other chickens, but it has its drawbacks. It’s very drying, and I had to coat Buffy’s wound with Vaseline petroleum jelly after using it, or the scab would contract too much.

      • Thanks for the details. Penny still seems to not notice she is injured at all, but the gash is an inch wide and probably four inches long. I’ve separated all the roosters, and I’ve been applying that ointment for poultry every day. She does’t even notice if I touch her. It looks way worse than it is apparently.

  2. Wow. I’m impressed. Could you post a list of must have items for newbie chicken owners. For instance, I don’t know antibiotic water? Also, how did you make the foot dressing? It’s awesome!! Sending healing wishes to your chickens!!

    • Oh, great googly-moogly, thank you! But I am no expert, just a newbie fumbling my way through this mess. I will do a post on the medical kits subject, and also some resources, advice provided by people MUCH smarter than me!

      The “antibiotic water” is tetracycline powder dissolved in water. I’ll give more specifics when I post about a medical kit. Also available at my Agway.

    • I have very long fingers. Unfortunately, I have zero coordination, rendering me useless as a pianist (or harpist, right, Mom?). Very sad.

      • And here I had thought that you had soothed the beast (chicken on its back) with a little harp playing pre-photoshoot (:

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