Update on Lucy, the chicken with vertigo

Update on Lucy, the chicken with vertigo May 25, 2016
lucy in the corner smaller
Poor Lucy. Sitting in the corner with her head tucked between her legs was the only way she seemed to find relief.

Last week, I told you about my chicken Lucy, who was diagnosed by a vet with vestibular disturbance.

In other words, Lucy had vertigo.

I didn’t want to share the photo of her in the corner last Friday, because it upset me to see Lucy in such distress. But now that she’s on the mend you can see how sick she was. She’d tuck her head between her legs, and then shake her head vigorously on the ground, probably to try and make sense of her reeling world. Once we separated her from the flock, she tended to stay in the corner, head to the ground, not moving. From my own experience with vertigo, I assume that probably helped with the dizziness.

I wrote that the vet we saw had prescribed antibiotics and rest, and that apparently gave readers endless amusement. How do you put a chicken on bed rest?

A vet I know actually has a room in his house dedicated to chicken care. Yes, they bring the sick chickens inside. I don’t know if there’s cable TV in the room, or a bell the chicken can ring for room service. Over here, we just put Lucy in a large dog kennel inside the chicken run, set up a litter box filled with shavings so she had a cozy place to hunker down, and kept our fingers crossed.

Darling husband feared that she wasn’t showing any improvement, and I admited that I hadn’t seen much change in her behavior. She still seemed to be having trouble eating, owing to the fact that whenever she dipped her head to eat, she tumbled over. I tried raising her dish; she tipped sideways. But she tried and we managed to find a way for her to get some food.

Then yesterday, she wouldn’t let me hold her to give her the medicine, which I took as a good sign; until then, she’d simply gone limp when I picked her up, and let me squirt the grape flavored antibiotic into her mouth without much fuss. Yesterday, she was having none of it. I put the antibiotic on a piece of bread and put it in her food dish, and she managed to actually eat it without somersaulting head over heels. Small progress, but progress nonetheless.

Lucy, feeling much steadier on her feet.
Lucy, feeling much steadier on her feet.

And then today, when I went out to feed the hens, Lucy was up and about! Walking around on steady feet! No falling over! The last few days have taken their toll on her feathers; her head was wet because she tipped over the waterer  and then pecked in the water to find corn. She was covered in pine shavings, a result of rolling and tipping and toppling over. But today she’s on her feet! And when I gave her food, she dove into it like she was starving.

She didn’t somersault once.

I’m hesitantly hopeful she’s going to recover. I’m going to keep her in the kennel for another day or so, until I’m sure she can stand her ground with the other hens, who tend to push her around. But I’m so grateful that she seems to be on the mend. See, bed rest works. Even for a chicken.

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