January 15, 2007

A sickly chicky


Both Conchita and Carmen have been acting mopey and not eating much since they went broody. I take them out of their respective nesting areas several times a day and try to feed them a little. They have both stopped laying eggs.

I began to notice that Carmen would just sort of lay wherever I put her and she wasn't eating at all that I could see. Saturday, I left her by the food and a little later noticed she was still where I left her, but not eating.

I went to get her and saw that fire ants were carrying the food away. The ants were on Carmen, too, and she wasn't even trying to get away. Then I became really worried! If you don't know about fire ants, consider yourself lucky. They give a painful sting and can even kill if an animal gets enough stings.

Carmen has had another problem for a few days. She has been holding one eye closed most of the time. I've looked and looked and I can't see anything wrong with her eye. It's not swollen, it's not red, there is no discharge, I can't see anything in it, and the inner eyelid looks fine, too.

So, being as worried as I am, this morning El Jefe took her to the
agropecuaria (similar to a feed store). The "veterinarian" sold him an antibiotic, an anti-parasite medicine for all the chicks, and a vitamin-electrolyte powder that is mixed with water. He also said to separate her from the others.

I put veterinarian in quotes because I'm not really sure of the qualifications of the people called veterinarians in these stores. I know from prior research we've been given some bad, and possibly even dangerous information, about products for our dogs.

I spent a lot of time researching chicken illnesses on the internet this weekend, and I saw that the vitamin-electrolyte powder is often recommended for chickens who aren't eating and/or are sick. So I mixed some of that up and she is drinking quite a bit, but only when I give it to her.

I looked up the anti-parasite pill on the internet and found that it should not be given to a sick bird and that based on their size, our birds should be getting somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 tablet, not the entire tablet like the man told us.

In the corner of the box is a 1 1/2 by 3 1/4 inch tuna can (3.8 x 8.3 cm.)
to give you an idea of her size.

I've just started looking up the antibiotic Enrofloxacin. I've found that the dosage he suggested is wrong here, too. One tablet is for a 5-6 pound bird. Ours are closer to one pound. I really wanted to avoid using antibiotics, but ....

I don't know many people who raise chickens here. Many people seem to have the attitude that chickens get sick and then they die, and I guess that is often true.

(Later ....) It's been a busy day and I didn't get a chance to finish this article. I've been giving Carmen the electrolyte water every hour or so in between making soup and homemade bread (and washing my hands 100 times). I even got her to eat a tiny bit of banana (their favorite food) but nothing else.

Click to enlarge to see how pretty her feathers are.

She is acting a little less morose and even opening her eye occasionally. She must have been really dehydrated. I smashed 1/4 of the antibiotic tablet in a drop of water and administered it by squeezing a syringe with no needle into her mouth.

We'll see how it goes.
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