Friday 1 February 2013

Choking Chicken

Choking Chicken - Plaque on Throat

Wow, okay.  Been a bit difficult to maintain enthusiasm for writing about the girls for a few weeks now.  With Amelia so sick for weeks on end and finally ending in her being put to sleep, I thought I could get back on the wagon and get on to the business of glorifying my baby girls in a public forum.  Unfortunately Amelia's passing has been the launching pad for a whole new run of Vet visits.

Sunday 20th January I thought Holly was a bit odd.  Bit down, bit withdrawn.  I love my Holly but she is a simple hen with simple needs and when she's not stuffing herself full of food or flying on top of the sleeping hutch to check out the literally birds eye view from the open rooftop, she's probably not doing anything good.  I found her on the nest in the morning and then still there hours later.  I picked her up and she immediately started to struggle.  Her breathing croaked out wet, stuttered, hard and strained.  I brought her inside and made her some mashed food to get her interest.  Holly was ravenous but at the same time she was coughing and struggling to eat.  
Finally I decided to crop feed her instead.  She was clearly begging to eat and her crop was empty.  I loaded up the crop feeding syringe but could not get the tube down her throat.  When I tried to insert the tube Holly became very distressed and her breathing was inhibited.  Eventually I thought I would shine a light down her throat to see if I could locate an obstruction.  Sitting like a snake, wrapped around the lowest, visible point of her throat, I could see a rancid, yellow ring of infected material.  My Vet would call it a plaque.  This is the same type of structure which sat behind Amelia's tongue and ruined and eventually ended her life. 
I was fearful for Holly at this point.  She could not eat and her breathing was severely hampered.  I decided to do what I had never done before.  I had a Vet attend to Holly at emergency rates in the middle of the night.  Yep, I'd stepped even further into crazy chicken mother wonderland.  Seemed a bit dramatic I admit.  Cruising down the highway for 45 minutes, singing encouraging radio tunes to Holly and calling my boss to say I may be too tired to come in to work the next day.  
But crazy love led to the saving of a life that night.  Holly may have died had I not taken her.  
After three stints under anaesthesia the emergency Vet located the infected mass and cleared it, scoped beyond it to confirm it was an isolated build up and after about 2 hours I was able to take my droopy, intoxicated little hen home once again.  There was suggestion of leaving her overnight and I think the Vet thought me a bit odd as I pushed and pushed not to wait until the morning to do the various procedures to test Holly's condition and viability.  By the time we were home again, Holly was back on her feet and at midnight I sat with her whilst she loaded her belly with mouthfuls of mashed food.  Bless her piggish appetite.  I then stubbornly slept by her hutch on the carpet to make sure I didn't miss it if she starting having trouble breathing again.  
That was 28 days ago and she is fat, happy, cramming in food all day and cute as a button.  So, so cute.  
I think this is the best outcome I could have hoped for.  I was able to save my girl which was a great lift to my spirits after the difficult run with Amelia.  But there was more to come, three more sick girls so far, in only 5 days.  
Here is Holly this afternoon. She is laying again and massive, gorgeously plump.

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