had taken to the nesting box. So, to me it appeared that she had separated herself from the flock. Oh no!-- as a flocking animal that can only mean one thing, she was sick! Not wanting to jump headlong into the deep end of the pool of wrong conclusions, I picked her up and checked her vent, and what I saw didn't assuage my fears. There appeared to be a mixture of clear and cloudy discharge. Well, that can't be good! My heart sank all the way down to my bare feet as they hit the bottom of the pool of panic. Sorry, but no photo was taken of my hen's hiney, as that was the last thing on my mind at the moment. I had NO idea what this meant, and as a rookie chicken owner I did what most of us newbies do besides panic, I sat in front of my computer and consulted Google.
Looking For Help On The Web
Sour crop is a whole other story that I hope to avoid telling, but you can certainly research that on your own. Basically, if your chicken has a sour crop, chances are it also has vent gleet and that means you aren't taking proper care of your chickens dietary needs (face palm). I really had NO idea if she had any of this for sure, but I was for sure overwhelmed by the process of figuring it all out, and then all of the treatments seemed as varied as the symptoms, and some were even contradictory. MORE STRESS!
I mean come on - - earlier in the week I had to bury my beloved cat Pepper who was mowed down by an anonymous midnight motorist, I was in the process of preparing to cater a tea party with 36 guests, and now my favorite chicken was sick because of my possible dietary negligence. But rather than admit that, I was totally willing to think that I might possibly be cursed, yeah, or the old idiom of when it rains it pours was in effect also crossed my frantic mind. Anyway, in regards to Google searches, let me just say that it is very hard to diagnose a disease via Google searches. Do you know why? Because there are a lot of diseases that have the same symptoms, and an inexperienced person has no way of knowing other possible signs to look for, because not all of the symptoms apply, or some are not listed on the site, and the experts aren't there to see exactly what is going on.
And now my thoughts concerning chicken expert websites... dear reader, I don't know about you but I have found that a lot of these chicken experts are relatively difficult to get a hold of especially in the midst of your crisis, and they don't answer many of the questions they receive regardless of how frivolous, or serious they may be. Now why do you suppose that is? Because they are most likely busy with their own daily lives, or busy with their own chicken issues, or maybe they don't know the answer to your question so they ignore it, or maybe they are busy writing some more expert articles where they won't be answering many of your newbie questions any time soon due to the afore mentioned reasons. Sorry dear reader, but they simply don't have time to hold our hands through every one of our newbie chicken crises. I had to quickly come to grips with the reality that I was pretty much on my own-- *gasp* Poor Olive! More STRESS!
Unnecessary because I don't have a rooster to sire any chicks, so no matter how long Olive sits on those eggs, they won't be hatching any time soon.
Potentially harmful because a broody hen doesn't eat, drink, or subsequently poop hardly at all while sitting on a nest for up to three weeks. THREE WEEKS! That means no eggs are being laid, and harvesting eggs is the whole reason why I have chickens. And you know what all of that other stuff like not eating and drinking can lead too...a visit from the feathery Grim Reaper. And so, I had to get Olive to"snap out of it" and fast, because apparently, broodiness is also contagious. Contagious? Yes, contagious!
What To Do
So how long will it take for her to get over this? Your guess is as good as any chicken expert's. I have read estimates that range from a couple of days to never. NEVER! How's that for covering your bases? As for me, I'm just going to wait until I see an egg in the crate with Olive ignoring it, and then I'll know she's cured. Or until she stops ruffling her feathers at me when I come in the run. Until then, she's a jail bird like the Buff Orpington pictured below:
What I've Learned
Anyway, here are some broody symptoms that I've encountered plus some others that I've seen on chicken expert websites (including the thin-skinned Chicken Chick's® website) -
- the hen flattens herself and fluffs her feathers to make herself look big around you and other chickens
- other hens avoid her altogether, or attack and peck at her comb
- the broody hen pecks your hand when you try to collect her eggs
- she emits a strange and constant "raspy cooing" sound
- hisses at you like a velociraptor
- sits on her nest for extended periods, even if there are no eggs under her
- minimal eating, drinking, and pooping, or stops these activities all together
- bald breast (plucked out by the broody chicken for lining her nest)
- wipes her beak on the ground even if she hasn't been eating
P.P.S. To help me save time, it would be nice if you did the symbol thing for me, if you have a penchant for using those colorful metaphors ; )