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.
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.