Peepers has Pox

Peepers has fowl pox. Or so I believe.

He developed scabby lesions that look a lot like online photos of chickens with dry fowl pox. This is not really something to worry about; dry fowl pox generally clears up after a while.

Fowl pox doesn’t transfer to humans, but other chickens can get it, so I put Peepers in isolation. It’s a rather weak gesture because, in addition to spreading via direct contact, the virus transmits via mosquitoes. So I really need to vaccinate the hens before the mosquitoes start coming out, but the vaccine is difficult to find in my area. A feed store in a nearby town has me on a call list and I hope they will get the vaccine in the next day or so.

That extra dog kennel actually came in handy!

Peepers can still see his ladies through the chain link.

Peepers can still see his ladies through the chain link.

I made Byrd and Eddy whip up a chicken house for Peepers. They put together a great little hut in 20 minutes.

Peepers doesn't really like to roost, so the "perch" inside is a flat board that he can lay on.

Peepers doesn't really like to roost, so the "perch" inside is a flat board that he can lay on. Still, I usually see him sleeping in the grass.

Unfortunately, Peepers also started coughing and sneezing, which is not really an indication of fowl pox (at least, not the dry fowl pox), but more likely a secondary infection of some sort.

Infection requires antibiotics. Antibiotics require a vet visit. Off we went to the vet.

Peepers was cool as a cucumber, even though he was crammed in a cat carrier and bumped around in the car.

Peepers was cool as a cucumber, even though he was crammed in a cat carrier and bumped around in the car.

The trouble with chickens is that we only have one vet in the entire city who deals with them. And as would be expected, that vet considers chickens “exotic,” and charges insane rates for any sort of procedure.

I hate having to put a price on love. I love Peepers. But I can’t justify spending $500 (no joke) to officially diagnose his problem as fowl pox, run a bacterial culture to determine what type of secondary infection he’s dealing with, and get x-rays of his lungs.

Chillin' on the vet table.
Chillin’ on the vet table.

 

I felt really bad saying “Let’s just give him a general antibiotic and see if he gets better.” It’s not that we can’t afford to spend $500–we’re not choosing between food and vet bills or anything like that–but… geeze. Where do you draw the line? As it was, the vet visit and antibiotics cost me about $100.

His feathers got a little ruffled when the vet poked his butt (part of the checkup, I swear).

His feathers got a little ruffled when the vet poked his butt (part of the checkup, I swear).

Anyway, we got the antibiotic. Here’s hoping it helps. The good news is that other than a bit of sniffling, Peepers is still eating, drinking, crowing (sort of weirdly due to mucus in his throat), and strutting around like a normal rooster. So I’m thinking his infection can’t be so bad, and maybe the antibiotic will do the trick.

Interestingly, the vet said that Peepers had apparently regained sight in both his eyes. So the mystery of why he doesn’t fly, jump, or perch is left unexplained.

As for the other chickens, they are all doing fine. The ones with bald patches are growing their feathers back at last.

She's very proud of her single tail feather. I see some more feathers on the way, fortunately.

She's very proud of her single tail feather. I see some more feathers on the way, fortunately.

We are going to try trimming Crooksie’s beak ourselves this month, I think. We just have to find our old Dremel tool. I’ve been doing daily stretching exercises with her in the evenings to help her jaw re-align. She is not too bothered by it, but I don’t really know if it’s helping.

The beak looks almost normal.

The beak looks almost normal.

Star has improved greatly in her behavior around the chickens. This is a dog that used to run around and around the kennel, bark insanely, and pound her front feet against the chain link.

Star in a calm sit-stay right next to the kennel.

Star in a calm sit-stay right next to the kennel.

Make no mistake… I still don’t trust her around the chickens, but at least it’s not pure chaos anymore.

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Smart Move

The heat lamp was a smart move, and perfect timing. Almost immediately after we got it installed, we had a series of freezes and even some sleet.

The heat light stayed on for days. And Peepers stayed in the hen house most of the time.

Today I went out and gave Peepers some mealworms as a treat. She loved them, of course. But I tried to get her to fly up for them, and she just hopped a little and gave up. I wonder if it’s hard for her to fly because she can’t see out of one eye?

I held her for a while and picked at the feathers until she got tired of it. She fluttered, so I opened my hands to let her fly to the ground… and instead, she sort of plunged and face-planted in the dirt. Lack of depth perception?

Aside from her reluctance to move around a lot, she seems to be okay. Maybe hens slow down as they get older. Or maybe it’s because she’s visually challenged.

This weekend I’m going to take her out into the yard again so she can have some greens and do some exploring. I’m also going to get some hay to spread across the dirt in the chicken coop. I think I’ll put some rye seed under the hay so she’ll have some fresh grass to eat in a few weeks. (The grass here is completely dead because of drought.) I’ll probably grow some rye in a pot on the back porch, too, because I bet she’ll eat a lot of the rye seed in the coop.

I have a potential chicken friend in the works, a hen from a local farm. That might cheer her up a bit. Or it might piss her off… I dunno.

Pics of Peepers and the Hen House

Here are some updated pics of Peepers and the hen house.

We did not get the hen house finished this weekend, unfortunately. It is still missing trim and a perch. My husband is shifting to night work (extended hours to boot) for a while, starting tonight, so he had to spend this weekend resting and sleeping. And apparently “had” to buy an XBox 360 and a new flat screen TV in order to properly rest up. 🙂

 

Anyway, on to the pictures.

The hen house in the coop. We also added 2x4s across the bottom to discourage predators.

The hen house in the coop. We also added 2x4s across the bottom to discourage predators.

The interior of the hen house. Food and water dispensers are to the left, nesting box is to the right. I will probably make a temporary perch of some sort by myself, to shame my husband into making a "real" one.

The interior of the hen house. Food and water dispensers are to the left, nesting box is to the right. I will probably make a temporary perch of some sort by myself, to shame my husband into making a "real" one.

Turns out hubby was smart to make this cubby under the hen house. Peepers loves to sleep in this space.

Turns out hubby was smart to make this cubby under the hen house. Peepers loves to sleep in this space.

Here is Peepers sitting in my hand at arm's length.

Here is Peepers sitting in my hand at arm's length.

Peepers looks basically like a grown-up hen now (and her peeps have become more like clucks), but she’s still very small. I can hold her in my palm without a problem. The feral chicken that looks like her is a lot bigger, so I guess she’s not full grown yet.

The Vet Says…

Today Peepers went back for her ten day checkup to make sure she has recovered from the mysterious animal attack. Yes, I said “she”; the vet is fairly positive Peepers is a girl. That was the good news. That and the fact that Peepers is healthy and doing just fine.

But I mentioned to the vet that Peepers was still keeping her left eye closed occasionally and even when her eye was open, she seemed startled when I approached her from the left, as if she hadn’t seen me. The vet checked her eye and confirmed that Peepers is blind in the left eye. He says this probably happened when her head was grabbed by the animal; the thrashing detached her retina. It doesn’t hurt and it’s not infected, so no surgery is required (whew!), so the net result is that Peepers will live a normal chicken life sans vision in one eye.

After learning this, I could not help wondering where I could get a little pirate eye patch for Peepers to wear. Arrr.