March 5, 2010

A terrible thing happened last Wednesday

bantam rooster, La Ceiba,HondurasPancho, 2 years ago

A terrible thing happened last Wednesday.

We didn't find out until Thursday afternoon. I was feeding the chickens chopped up boiled egg (their favorite) and I noticed that Pancho, our main rooster wasn't with the hens. I panicked because he's always with at least one of the hens and they were all there.

He's a gentleman and will stand guard while they eat. If I throw him some egg, he'll check it out, then cluck for a hen to come and get this treat that he has for her. If a hen doesn't come, he'll pick it up in his beak, toss it down, and cluck some more until he attracts one of the hens.

We had some workers coming in and out of the gate spreading mulch and I was afraid that he had wandered out and had been stolen or run over by a car. We searched the yard, and El Jefe finally found him. He called me and gave me the sad look, saying, "Pancho is dead".

"Oh, no! Did he get run over?", I asked. "No, he's over there," pointing to an area near the front porch. I went toward him and just then Chloe the Rottweiler came running over to sniff Pancho. Pancho squawked and weakly flapped his wings.

"He's not dead!" I screamed. I ran over to get him. He was soaking wet and cold and his eyes were rolling back into his head. It had been very cold the day and night before and we had 3.5 inches of rain (9 cm.). Not only did we have that much rain, but he was in a spot where roofs on three sides poor rain into that area. He was probably floating in cold water at least part of the time.

(Sorry, but this is pretty graphic....)

bantam rooster, La Ceiba,HondurasI found that his ankle had gotten tangled up in some roots. The worst part is that he apparently tried to chew his foot off to free himself. Chickens have three long toes facing front and a small one facing back. He had chewed off the small back toe and the other three were were bleeding badly. We could see the bone and tendons on the bottom of his foot. Two of his front toes appear to be broken or maybe just inoperable because he had chewed the tendons or nerves or something.

We felt so badly that we hadn't found him sooner. I can't imagine why he or the hens wouldn't have squawked to alert us, but maybe they were afraid to attract the dogs. I felt so guilty that I hadn't noticed him missing.

bantam rooster, La Ceiba,HondurasI took Pancho inside and washed him up with some warm water, then blow dried him and wrapped him in a towel to try to warm him up. I slathered an antibiotic ointment all over his foot and loosely bandaged it. I didn't know what else to do. In this photo, you can see how pale his comb and wattles are.

bantam rooster, La Ceiba,HondurasThe first few days, I really didn't think that he was going to make it. He was so weak and wouldn't eat at all for the first day. I started feeding him yogurt (which is another chicken favorite) thinking that would at least get some liquid and some protein in him. He wouldn't eat much. This photo is from Saturday. His foot it covered with cream.

bantam rooster, La Ceiba,HondurasGradually he has improved somewhat and is even doing a weak crow reply a couple of times a day when he hears the teenage roosters crow outside. I roll a towel around and under his chest to keep him propped up a little. He can't stand and it isn't looking like his injured foot is going to be functional, though it is healing and there is no infection.

He's living in a big box in a closet and I feed him several times a day. He does occasionally help himself to the yogurt and cracked corn and scoot around the box on his chest a little. I can tell when he eats because it leaves a dried 'Got Milk?' residue on his beak. When he eats the corn, he ends up with a corn crust stuck to the yogurt on his beak.

Here is a video of his pitiful crowing.

But now I don't know what to do! I'm wondering if trying to save him was the right thing to do? If he won't be able to walk, there is no way that he can survive. It's not the first time I've done something like this. I once kept a blind chicken in a box in the studio for seven months, at night anyway.

bantam rooster, La Ceiba,Honduras

Update: Pancho the Rooster recovered fully! He limped for a long time but now walks and runs completely normally and is back to ruling the roost.
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