Thursday, January 19, 2012

Laboring Triplets

PHEW!  Pearl gave us a scare tonight.  Shawn went out to shut them up for the night to find her looking sick.  She had her feathers all puffed up and she wasn't excited about the scratch that he threw down for them.  He put her up on her roost under the head lamp and she kind of hunkered down and closed her eyes.  Last time we saw a chicken doing this, it was Mabel and she was dead 8 hours later.

So of course, I freaked out.  When I went out to check on her I found her just the way Shawn reported her.  As I was petting her and wondering whether I would have to say goodbye, I noticed an egg under her.  It had a soft shell like the one I reported on last week, and warm.  (So now I'm thinking it was Pearl that laid the first one.  But I'll talk about that later.)  Nonetheless, even after this discovery, I was still scared that Pearl wouldn't be with us for long.

So I stopped cooking dinner and started the usual Google search for magical answers.  I found an "emergency room" forum where questions can be posted with a guarantee that they'd be answered quickly.  So I signed up and posted my question.  I also came a across a website that suggested force feeding olive oil or Epsom salts dissolved in warm water.  We decided that it would be a good idea to bring her inside to keep her warm and keep an eye on her.  We could monitor her poops and see if we needed to fix a crop blockage with the olive oil or salt.

After setting her up in a pet carrier with some straw, she seemed comfortable.  I made her a small portion of oatmeal and cornmeal mash and when I brought it to her, there was another soft-shelled egg under her!  WTF!?  (That makes three eggs for her today, including the normal one she laid earlier in the day.)  She immediately started eating and drinking and just looked better.  We monitored her for an hour and then put her back outside where she joined her sisters in bed.

I updated my question on the poultry forum with the new developments and I just got a response from someone.  She said: "It is very painful for a hen to pass a soft shelled egg, hence the "puffed up looking sick" It sounds as if she ovulated too many yolks at once and the shell gland hasn't been able to cope with the extras. Normally it takes 26 hours between eggs. In the mean time, give her a little cod-liver oil if you have it, in her feed and make sure she has free access to oyster shell grit. Don't add that to her feed, just have it handy. She will take what she needs. The cod-liver-oil will help her to better utilize the shell grit in case her shell gland has a glitch. If she's had an infection however, time will be the best thing for that. You might not get any eggs from her for some days."

I love getting straight answers!  I also love it when my ladies aren't on the verge of death.  It makes total sense that she was the one that laid the first soft egg just because she's still young and figuring out how her lady parts work.  I just hope she gets it straightened out so she doesn't have to deal with multiple painful egg deliveries.

Here is a cute picture of her sitting in her hospital bed:


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