Chicken The chicken I wrote about over a month ago, who appeared to have had her foot crushed, is finally on the mend. It took much longer than I anticipated.

The foot appeared to be healing the first week, but then turned a nasty shade of green. So I put antibiotics in her water for a week, and that seemed to settle the infection down. I have a foil bag of powdered tetracycline that I keep on hand to treat lamb scours. It is apparently mostly intended for large livestock or poultry operations with a lot of birds. It’s portion sizes went by dry weight in grams, and assume you will be dumping the teeny bag into a 50+ gallon watering tank. So what if I want to just mix up a cup of water for one chicken?

Hrm. I had to do a bunch of conversions, by weighing a tablespoon on my postal scale, going from ounces to grams and tablespoons to teaspoons, fifty gallons to one, and finally concluded: 1/6 of a teaspoon per gallon of water, for poultry treatment. Of course, kitchen measuring spoons don’t come in a 1/6th size, so I have to eyeball it using a 1/4 tsp measure. Since it would be hard to measure anything smaller, and the instructions say that the drug breaks down in 24 hours, I had to mix her a fresh gallon of drinking water each day, even though she probably only drank a tablespoon. 😛 But, anyway, it worked, after a week of antibiotic treatment, at least the chicken’s foot wasn’t green anymore!

The damage to the foot turned out to be severe. The bottom of the foot was intact, but the destruction occurred at the flexion point of her foot, and I think her toes weren’t getting much circulation. Much of the top layer didn’t want to mend and had to heal from the outside in. I honestly considered amputation of two of her toes (Kirk suggested using rose pruners, and I imagine, sterilized, they would have worked well), but in the end I left it alone because it seemed to be filling in and the bottom of the foot looked healthy.

CHIckenFeet She’s been holed up in the chicken A-frame most of this time. For a while I locked her in her own house, to protect her from the other chicken ladies, who hassled her because they knew she was weak. But she’s been itching to be outside and re-join the group (and the rooster!), so I let her out the last few weeks. Now she’s finally feeling good enough to wander a bit outside and peck for things to eat. Her foot is still swollen, crooked and bum. She walks in big bicycle steps on that foot and still favors it. I think what she needs most now is physical therapy, to recover the leg she hasn’t been using for six weeks!

Some people butcher severely injured animals, and there is merit to that decision, to relieve them their suffering. But, I am a bit of a softie, if the animal seems to have a will to live, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and treat them. And I never doubted her spunk, she must have been in pain, but she handled it with aplomb. Maybe a part of me wishes I’d been a veterinarian, I don’t know; but I enjoy watching the amazing ability of animals to heal. This chicken is only a yearling and she has some laying years left, so she was certainly worth a few pennies in antibiotics.

Here is what the foot looked like right after it was squished, or whatever it was that happened to it:

ChickenFoot

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