Poppy goes broody … with a dash of drama

December 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

Did someone say … broody?Well it has finally happened – Poppy has gone broody. I thought on Monday that she might be heading a bit that way, but I wasn’t sure until Wednesday. The broody was ready to go (having been cleaned, de-mited, disinfected and completely refurbished after Mirri died), so on Wednesday afternoon I gave Poppy a bit of an examination to see if she had any lice or mites or anything else, and to see how mucky her bottom fluff was.

And found the lump.

She had a quite nasty, cherry-sized, infected lump, a wee way below her cloaca. Imagine a really nasty looking pimple,and then scale it up. (And put feathers around it.) It was hard, so definitely not something I could squeeze the pus out of. So first thing yesterday morning, with a sinking heart,  I took her in to see Aunty Pauline.

There were a couple of concerns. First of all, and most of all, Poppy’s wellbeing. A localised infection can spread, and given all the weird things that happen to a hen’s metabolism when she’s broody … not good. So ‘doing nothing, and hoping’ was never an option. The second concern is quite selfish – would treatment, or even the act of taking her in to the vet, break her broodiness? With every day that goes by, Poppy and Lily’s fertility is diminishing. This is already the latest we’ve ever set eggs, by a good month. So our desire to do nothing to risk her broodiness was quite pressing. And third, would Pauline think it was a bad idea to let Poppy be broody, given the circumstances? WOuld it be possible, or advisable, given the location of the lump? (Trying to keep the fourth possibility – that this could be the tip of a terminal iceberg – well out of our heads.)

Poor Poppy: no dignity. After a quick examination, Pauline thought she’d see what we could evacuate with a syringe. Then decided no, given everything (including how solid the lump felt) the simplest thing would be to use a decent amount of local anesthetic in the surrounding tissue, and to cut the lump away completely. So that’s what we did. With Poppy on her back with a towel over her head (note to self: make a chicken hood for these sorts of events!), and a student vet and I attempting to hold Poppy there and keep the fluff out of Pauline’s way. Of course the feathers continually slipped back out of our grasp, but Pauline was extremely patient, and did everything quite neatly and efficiently, despite the feathers. And speaking of feathers, it was an ingrown feather which was the cause of it all. Poppy’s a little prone to having ingrowing feathers on her bottom. I usually just gently pull them out when I see them, but of course that requires them to have something poking out of the skin. (And for me to see them. I don’t spend all my time examining bottoms, despite how it sometimes looks.)

So that was that done – three neat (soluble) stitches, and a course of synermox to shove down her throat. BUT … would she still be broody?

Yes. Yes she is. Copiously so. About a minute to nibble some grass, then a huge broody poo and straight in to the broody house, bok-bokking. So it looks like she’s still keen to be a mum again. The twice-daily medication is a bit rough – she has absolutely no interest in mince (or much food), so I have to make a small bolus and force feed it to her. And obviously I need to keep an eye on things, and make sure there’s no sign of infection despite the drugs. But her broodiness may actually help with the healing here – the once-a-day poo tends not to soil her feathers (thank god, because it absolutely reeks), and her elevated body temperature should actually speed healing.

So this afternoon’s job is to look at the stash of eggs we’ve collected under our new toy, and pick the dozen that I reckon have the best chance of making it. (I’ll do a post on that, hopefully tomorrow. You know, for the records.) Ideally six Poppy/Lola and six Lily/Patrick. I’m pretty confident that Poppy’s eggs are fertile, but a little less certain about Lily.

I guess we’ll have an idea of that just after Christmas …

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