Today was another one of those sad farm days. One of those days when you’re forced to say ‘goodbye’ before you really want to. Our favorite hen, Dovie, had to be euthanized today. She was born in March of 2009 in a hatchery and she was special ordered from a man who never went to collect her and her sister at a feed store. So, she and the sister came to live with us. Both were Old English Game bantams, in a color called Lemon Blue splash. We had her sister until last year, when she disappeared during egg-laying season. Dovie was always the sweeter of the two, and Jason actually had her trained to fly on his shoulder so he could feed her corn out of his hand.
You could do anything with Dovie…hold her practically upside down if you wanted to…and she didn’t care. There was only 2 times a year you couldn’t touch her, and that was when she laid her eggs. Dovie would go ‘missing’ for weeks at a time only to suddenly pop out behind a bush or patch of grass in 3 weeks with a full brood of baby chicks. And honey, you’d better not even think about coming near those chicks. Talk about a Jekyll and Hyde personality! My sweet little hen turned into a feathered, rabid attack dog that would take you on, no matter the size. She transformed into a huge, furious, puffy ball of grey feathers and increased her size by at least double. Then she would run and fly at you, dive bombing your feet and legs and screaming like a banshee the entire time. Other than those two times a year, she was her normal self.
What happened was that she prolapsed, which essentially means that her insides were now outside. More specifically, part of her intestines were protruding from her cloaca/vent (and, in layman’s terms….her butt. Not that chickens have an official ‘butt’, but anyway). Causes of this vary, but since she had been laying eggs, that is the most likely culprit. I already knew from past experience that this wasn’t a good thing, especially in an egg-laying bird. Yes, there are some treatments available, both surgical and non-surgical. However, the fact is, she is a chicken that is going to lay twice a year. This puts enormous strain on the area and can lead to another prolapse, even if repaired surgically. Plus, her prolapse was significant, especially for her size.
I called our veterinarian who told me the news that I knew I’d already hear. The outcome usually isn’t a good one; it’s a guarded prognosis. BUT, there was something I could try. He told me to pour table sugar on the protrusion. Yes, regular ol’ sugar. It pulls the fluid from the swollen tissues and allows them to retract to where you can reinsert the tissue to where it goes.
So, if you’re wondering:
Yes, I sugared a chicken’s butt
yes, I stuck my pinkie in a chicken’s butt.
With gloves, you should know.
So now, if I am on some kind of weird truth or dare game show where the host asks, “Have you ever poured sugar on a chicken’s anus*?” I can proudly answer, “Yes. Yes, I sure have.” Hopefully, that will win me some major points…perhaps even a chance at a new kitchen. Anyway….
Yes, the sugar does work! It takes time; maybe 30 minutes or so, and you have to keep on reapplying. It worked for a while, until she tried to go poop, and then it came back out again. In my mother’s words, she was just “wo’ out”. Her lady bits had too much abuse over the years.
I made the decision to euthanize. Were she not a bird that laid eggs a few times a year, the decision may have been different.
Jason and I both felt that it would be the best way to allow the vet to euthanize her. The idea of ending her life with a hatchet was just too morbid and disrespectful, we thought. So that’s what we did.
I am sad to see her go, but I am happy that I have both her daughter and her grandaughter, who has the exact same coloring that she had.
In the end, I am glad of two things.
1. I had several years of companionship with Dovie,
2. That humans don’t have to use the sugar remedy for hemmorhoids. So, very…very glad of that.
*I know, ‘anus’ is not the correct term, but let’s face it, it’s a funny word.
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