ANZ's Farms

Monday, October 18, 2010

Animal Health

There is nothing more satisfying than seeing my goats happily lounging in the sun chewing their cud. All is well. Or hearing my chickens cluck and proudly announce a new egg in the nesting box. Life is as it should be. But then there are times the animals get sick. I guess it is inevitable, in spite of meticulous care to ensure a clean environment, clean water and nutritious feed.

My chickens are sick. This is the second time in two years of a backyard flock that I have encountered an illness. Blue got sick about a year ago. She had a fever and was listless. I didn't know exactly what was wrong, so I isolated her from the others and brought her inside where I could keep a close eye on her. I fed her molasses water and took her out for some sun and free-range fun each afternoon. After about three days, she seemed better and I re-introduced her to the flock. Love, prayer and tincture of time were all the cure she needed.

Now a problem is spreading through the flock and these same remedies are not working. The birds have respiratory symptoms; most noticeable is their rattling breathing and occasional sneeze. Two girls were listless, still roosting at 10 in the morning. It's hard to know if egg production is down since the new girls are starting to lay, but I guess I would add this to the list of symptoms. One had cold feet and another had nasal discharge. When I read the symptom of "pale", I confess I laughed. How do you tell when a chicken is pale?! Now I know, because one hen was pale. (The places that are supposed to be red, around their beak and eyes, aren't.)

Reading the books about poultry maladies is enough to scare a city girl like me. So, I have called my county extension agent. She recommended a treatment and referred me to the NC Department of Agriculture to have my birds swabbed ... to rule out bad diseases. Best case scenario is a course of treatment that will require wasting a month's worth of eggs. Worst case scenario is destruction of my whole flock. Neither is good, but the worst-case alternative makes throwing out eggs more palatable.

I'm waiting for a call back ... and a visit. I'll let you know how it goes.


  1. The girls at Hilton Head are enjoying your blog!! We are all so amazed at what you do and how you do it!! Praying for the girls - let me know how it goes! Love you!!!

  2. Oh, I'm so sorry the flock is sick. They are so beautiful! I am really looking forward to the eggs!