Welcome to the zoo.
I’ve been saying that for years with the kids but now that we have all these animals I feel that I am finally justified in making that statement to absolutely anyone who walks through our front door. (of course, at times, I’ve also said “Welcome to the insane asylum” but I think I’ll leave that one for another post.)
When you choose to have animals and kids in your life you choose to wear your heart on your sleeve. Last night when we were putting the chickens away we noticed one of our large black hens limping. Her foot was curled under her body and she couldn’t put any weight at all on it.
This is new behavior, we did not have a limping chicken the day before.
Here’s the thing. I’ve looked at her foot, there does not appear to be any infection, there’s nothing stuck in it, and, not being an orthopedist, I can’t tell if there is a break or not. Quite frankly it all looks pretty healthily gnarly to me (seriously, have you ever looked closely at a chicken’s foot?). What I do know is that time will tell. We’ll make sure she is comfortable and will just wait.
I’ve always said that I’ll take care of all of our pets until they are in intractable pain. That’s when it’s time to do something – the BIG something. (don’t even get me started thinking about doing this with Digger – don’t want to start crying.) I’m keeping an eye on this hen, but more than I don’t want her to be in pain, I want to give her a chance. She’s a fighter, this one is, as long as she can get around, I’ll let her get around.
A limp is just a limp, I’ve seen tons of animals handle limps like champions. Why, one of my best high school friends had a three legged dog and that dog led a great life. Animals are resilient, they don’t worry about things like not being able to play tennis anymore due to a bad leg, they just concern themselves with where the next bit of food is coming from.
Chickens don’t whine when they are in pain, they don’t make funny whimpering noises when they are asleep with discomfort (like our ancient dog does *sigh*), chickens just kind of carry on. This hen doesn’t have the use of one foot so she uses only one foot to get around. She’s got mother-blood. When I put the feed out, she hops over to get some food. When I put water in the bucket, she positions herself under the nipples to get a drink. She does what she has to do.
My gut feel? She may be permanently crippled, but I think she’ll be just fine, at least I hope she will be. Know that if she is in pain – if she can’t get her food and water, we’ll be figuring out what to do – the BIG what to do. Until then, though, we’ll all just gingerly carry on.