Neroli – the drama continues

August 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

Oh boy, this has turned into something of an epic.

I’ve held off on making this post out of a superstitious dread of causing things to go even more haywire. I posted a month or so ago about Neroli’s egg-binding adventure. She seemed to bounce back from it pretty well, and got used to having her crop squeezed first thing in the morning. (Only every couple of days. Ish.)

We’d moved Poppy, Olivia, Adelaide and Dorothy in to the end of the Chateau not long before Neroli’s drama, and had begun to give them supervised mingling early this month. As usual, the worst issues were between Poppy and Neroli, and Poppy and Lily. But mainly Poppy and Neroli. Poppy doesn’t start it – but she won’t back down either. Claire and Ella hate that sort of thing, and wade in, hauling participants apart by the comb or wattles, whatever they can grab. (Poppy has lost a lobe of her comb this way …) Anyway, it’s been bad enough so that we were despairing of them ever settling down, and had put such sessions on hold unless we were both there to supervise. Sheesh!

I came home one afternoon (Monday 13/8/12) and found Neroli looking pretty uncomfortable. Couldn’t see any discharge, but something wasn’t right. I took the torch out when I went out after dark to shut them in, and Neroli had passed a membrane-only egg from the perch. She seemed fine then, and the next day, so I relaxed.

Then on the Friday (17/8/12) she was really unhappy. Wing tips down, hunched, and when I picked her up I could see egg membrane protruding. We brought her in, eased the egg out (a small amount of calcification of the membrane but no shell) cleaned her up as best we could, and made an appointment to see Susan again the next morning.

Once again Neroli’s crop was like rock, and so once again she was put on apple sauce and crop massage. Worryingly, her abdomen felt distended – Susan thought it was peritonitis, triggered by mislaying or egg not being laid properly. We discussed options – I had tentatively suggested X-raying her to see if there was an egg broken inside her, causing the problems, but Susan couldn’t see any indications of it, so we left it at that. I took her home to treat with antibiotics and apple sauce, and Susan went to do some research on hysterectomies in chooks.

By Sunday morning, Neroli’s crop was absolutely fine, so that was one huge weight off my mind. She looked pretty much her old self, so we decided to keep her with the flock and just keep giving her the antibiotics until we heard back from Susan.

The next day I spoke to Susan, who was not at all confident about our next course of action. Apparently hysterectomies in chooks are often not effective at preventing peritonitis – the ovary can still sometimes release an egg, which then has nowhere to go. Removal of the ovaries is apparently not an option. And given that Neroli seems perfectly normal right now, surgery is something that we can (at least for now) put out of our minds.

One thing that came up was the fight/s between Poppy and Neroli. Apparently that stress could have been the initial trigger for the problem. So we decided to just keep treating the symptoms, but to separate Neroli from Poppy properly. So we switched Poppy and her three girls into the main run with the rest of the flock, and installed Neroli and Lily in the small end, with the intention of moving everyone down the back into the paddock as soon as we could, to try and make sure they were all getting plenty of sunshine (so hopefully sorting out the calcium metabolism issues).

To cut a long story short – Neroli seems completely back to normal. Susan is happy that the peritonitis has cleared up, and that Neroli is essentially ok. We’ll just keep an eye on her, give them all heaps of eggshell powder in their feed, and treat Neroli’s symptoms if they recur. If we need to keep Poppy and Neroli permanently separated, then we will. We have the room. (Lily might not thank us though – Neroli is such a toad to her aunt! Poor Lily.) Neroli has laid a couple of membrane-only eggs since the move, but hasn’t seemed at all unwell.

So there we are. Fingers crossed.

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