Caring for Copper

Copper in the hospital box

About once a year one of my hens gets sick. Sometimes it’s an actual injury, such as when Lacey discovered s/he was Luke and proceeded to mate enthusiastically with anything female within reach. Unfortunately for Cocoa, he was a big boy, and she suffered neurological damage that took months to heal.

Sometimes a hen will become eggbound, or unable to pass an egg, and the only cure is rest and quiet. Eventually things loosen up and she will pass the egg, though by that time it’s usually not edible. We coined a new word for this condition. The hen will just stand there, fluffed up and humped over, so we say she’s “flumped.”

And sometimes, a hen is just so old that things begin to shut down. I’ve noticed this in a number of birds … it starts with her legs and she loses the ability to walk. Then it progresses through the body and wings, until finally the only thing she can move is her head. At this point she falls asleep for good. Copper seems to be at the leg stage. Either that or she tore a tendon. I have her on cage rest at the moment, where she gets treats like Raisin Bran soaked in milk, and a spoonful of yogurt or scrambled egg. Only time will tell if she’ll recover.

One good sign: yesterday she called for her minions. If a girl still wants to show she’s boss, she can’t be on her last legs yet.

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