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Follow our adventures as we raise a tiny flock of chickens in suburban Bexley, Ohio.
Our chicken bloggers include Tami Taylor, a Welsummer, and Tyra, a Jersey Giant.
RIP, Betty, Joan, Sally & Peggy.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

and Peggy comes home...

After nearly a week at the vet, several kinds of antibiotics and a narcotic, and lots of hand wringing, Peggy has come home.

She's not looking so hot. And not feeling very good either, if her behavior is any indication. She seems to have suffered some brain damage -- at least that's what we're blaming for her change in behavior*. She doesn't seem quite sure how to eat and mostly sits in the corner. She could still be in shock. We rarely see her drinking, though she must be drinking some because it's been a week now & she's still alive. We're going to give her some time to bounce back and then consider whether or not she might do better in a big flock (we found someone with a big flock who has had success introducing lone chickens. He says with such a big flock, they always seem to find some buddies). I'm still not 100% sure she'll pull through, but she did show some interest in strawberries today. I'd figured that if she didn't even want strawberries, she was a goner.

Well see how this plays out...

For now, she's getting several hours of outside time a day (mostly hiding under a bush, but still...) and getting locked up tight in the garage at night...

Poor Peggy. I can't help but think that Joan & Sally had it better. And they didn't have it so good.

Regardless, we're looking at shoring up the coop. We're still not exactly sure how the raccoon got in, but we have a hunch that it was in a place where the hardware cloth had come a little loose. Maybe peggy will stay with us over the winter & be joined by some chicks in the spring.

There will probably be spring chicks, regardless.

*Someone on the backyardchickens discussion board said that seeming stunned for quite some time after an attack is perfectly normal. I'm still hoping she'll bounce back soon.

It's been a week...

I wanted to update the blog with our recent tragedy.

It's been a week now since a raccoon attacked the chickens. Joan & Sally are dead. Peggy is still hanging out. Andrew posted on Facebook about this, so I'm just going to cut/paste what he said in a few posts here.

The morning after the attack, we thought they were all dead or dying. Andrew posted this:
Sad news to report, friends: Our chickens were killed by a raccoon last night. It was horrible and brutal, but we are comforted by the fact that our ladies had a wonderful life--better than 99.9% of the chickens on the planet--even though their end was incredibly bad. RIP Sally, Joan, and Peggy.

Our friends & family were so very kind about this. The death of chickens is, shall we say, less universally grieved than that of a dog or a human. But people kept the snark to a minimum and were really nice.

The next morning we took Peggy, who had made it through the night, to the vet thinking that euthanasia was the best option. We didn't have the heart to do it ourselves.
Andrew posted:

Thanks to all for the kind words about our chickens. Seriously. Thank you. An update: Peggy is still alive. When I wrote the update this morning, we had dropped the seriously injured Peggy off at the vet's, assuming she would be euthanized. Turns out she was not as seriously injured as we thought. (Sally and Joan were definitely dead. No question.) This poses a serious problem for us, as we think Peggy's quality of life as an injured, single chicken facing the winter will be desperately poor. But nor do we want to euthanize a chicken who doesn't need it. Peggy is spending the night at the vet's, and we will see what's what tomorrow. We want to do what's right by Peggy, but the vet seems hesitant to euthanize her. The troubles continue...

Also, the raccoon came back tonight. Friggin' raccoon.

We were really at a loss. We talked a lot about how to be the kindest, most merciful pet stewards -- especially given whatever we could guess about a hen's perspective on the issue. I posted this on message board:

Hi All-
I'm hoping to get some helpful feedback regarding our hen Peggy who was attacked by a raccoon two days ago. We had three chickens, but Joan and Sally died at the hands of that rotten raccoon. We were able to save Peggy who is now at the vets. The vet is not a bird vet, but she's been very kind and has done quite a bit of research & called other vets. I love our vet. She thinks that Peggy can pull through (with several antibiotics and a pain killer). She still has both her eyes and most of her feathers. Her head is nearly bald and she has a few pretty deep puncture wounds on her neck. She was also molting at the time and so wasn't 100% to start with.
Here's the dilemma: We're not sure nursing her back to health is the right decision for Peggy.
She's now an only chicken which seems like a lonely life and we're also afraid she might freeze to death over the winter without anybody else's body heat
This could get expensive, but not too too expensive. We're really only talking about cheap drugs right now.
Peggy is 3 years old. We were committed to keeping them as pets until they died of natural causes -- but maybe that's what's happening here?
Our vet thinks she might be able to place her with a rescue, but, again, she doesn't really know chickens and we're pretty certain that Peggy would need to be completely well before she had any chance of surviving being introduced into a new brood. And here it is nearly October. So we'd be racing the weather to get her back in fighting shape. This is all assuming that someone is interested in adopting a 3 year old, beat up hen.
Our options now seem to be:
-nurse her back to health and keep her
-nurse her back to health and find someone who will adopt her

We would not be heartbroken by option #1, but don't want to go there just because it's most "convenient." Also, our vet said she's probably not comfortable putting down an "otherwise save-able" hen. Which means we'd have to bring her home and do it ourselves. :(
Does anybody have an advice for us? We're a little lost. :(
-Jessica & Andrew

We got some good advice which you can read here:

Again, people were so nice. Pragmatic, understanding, and kind. We're really thankful.

More in the next post.