When we moved the chickens to the outdoor coop on 21 February, we made the sad discovery that one of our little Welsummer hens had injured her leg and was limping around pitifully. We kept her in the brooder cage in order to allow her to recuperate, as we suspect it is a sprain, and those can take several weeks to heal.
We believe she was standing on the metal reel feeder, got startled, caught her leg on the reel, and that’s what caused the injury. Her leg was pretty scraped up when we found her limping, but those cuts have since healed up. She’s still limping, though, albeit very determined to move around on her own! The metal reel feeder will not be used again with any future chicks – we simply won’t take the risk, and will stick with a plastic feeder.
As a result of her being here in the house “in hospital,” this little chicken and I have formed quite the bond. The brooder cage is down in our (heated) basement, and when she hears me walking around upstairs, she will call to me in a manner not unlike my parents parrot used to call to them. She gets lonely, poor little thing. I visit with her frequently, insuring that she’s getting food and water, and helping her with those things as needed. She likes to be petted, and to lay on my lap. She’ll actually try to get out of the cage to come and see me. She peeps contentedly when I’m around. In fact, my husband observed the other day that she sounds more like a cockatiel than a chicken! I try to bring her upstairs once a day, particularly if there is sunshine coming through the window. She likes to lounge in it, usually taking a little nap in my hand on the dining room table.(Please excuse the mess on my table behind her.)
I’ve noticed that she likes to dangle the injured leg when she’s laying in my hand, so I tried to think of something she could use while in the cage to take some of the weight off of that gimpy leg of hers. I used some scrap corduroy fabric I had to sew her a little pillow and put it under the leg as she held it up, and she immediately relaxed and let the pillow bear the weight. I’m hoping it’s providing her with some relief. She also gets Poly-Vi-Sol liquid vitamins and a small dose of baby aspirin crushed into her water to help with her healing.
I’m really hoping that she heals up completely, but even if she doesn’t, we have decided to keep her as long as she is having a happy life and can eat, drink, and poop. I am concerned about integrating her back into the flock; whether they will accept her or not weighs heavily on my mind. If she can’t move around well, running away from bullies is not going to be possible! I’ve been told to get her into the coop so that she will be accepted by the others, even if it’s in a separate cage, but the brooder cage is too large to do that, and we don’t have another. It might be time to look on craigslist to see if I can find someone getting rid of a smaller cage, but I’m going to worry about her, even if a cage is protecting her from the rest of those rambunctious peepers.
Have you ever nursed an injured chicken back to health? If you have any tips, I’d be happy to hear them!