Summer, I think, is going to be a time when I don’t post very much. I will warn you in advance: for the next several months, every spare moment will be spent in the garden or sewing clothing for the Renaissance Festival (where I work in the fall, selling the aforementioned clothing).
The recent consumer of my time has been my poor rooster. This past weekend he fell ill. Really ill. I’ve been worried about him for a while- while I was doing endless reading trying to figure out why one of my hens is still not laying (over a month now), I came across the little tidbit that one of the first signs of illness is a discolored or grayish comb (the bright red bit on the top of a chicken’s head). I started thinking the rooster’s comb was a little off color, but was hoping I was imagining it. And then Sunday morning he didn’t come out of the house. After a while he finally stumbled out, toppled over, and flopped down in a corner, where he remained for the better portion of the day, until I finally moved him into the shed.
He’s been there ever since. Regardless of what’s wrong with a chicken, step one is always to isolate them from the healthy chickens, to hopefully prevent contamination. We also followed up by moving the coop to new grass (grass that didn’t have his droppings on it) and cleaning out the house. So far so good as far as the hens are concerned.
Not so good with the rooster. The unfortunate thing with chickens is that there’s about a million things that can go wrong with them. And almost no one has any clue what the vast majority of them are. Some are obvious- if you find mites or lice that’s pretty straight on. But pale comb, lethargy, and watery diarrhea? Um, that describes just about everything that could ever go wrong with a chicken.
The handsome fella and I talked it over. We decided that we wouldn’t medicate, especially if we couldn’t clearly identify some kind of specific problem. And we haven’t been able to, despite me asking everyone who might have the slightest clue. I’m not going to go spend a lot of money on medication for a chicken, especially when it might just make things worse.
So we’ve been trying home remedies. I tried to give him some yogurt but he wouldn’t eat it. Someone on an online forum suggested sugar water or electrolytes- something about restoring the internal balance of his digestive system. He drank plenty of sugar water, to no avail, and so last night when the handsome fella was leaving to take a walk up to the store I yelled after him, “get me a bottle of Gatorade for the rooster!” He yelled back (I was in the garden, he at the other end of the yard), “what flavor?” I paused for a minute and finally yelled, “what flavor do you think the rooster would like?”
He brought me back orange. And the rooster does in fact like it. He’s been drinking a ton of it. Every time I go in there he’s standing there drinking Gatorade. Standing! This I’m hoping is an improvement. He’s still looking droopy and pale and his droppings haven’t improved at all, but maybe the Gatorade will work a magic cure and in a few days he’ll be better? Otherwise, I need to start researching humane methods of putting roosters down. Does anyone know how you know it’s time to put a sick bird down?
In other news, the non-laying hen is still non-laying, but she seems to be growing her feathers back, so here’s hoping that once she has feathers again she’ll return to egg laying. And that the rooster will recover and we’ll get another hen and have a happy little family.