The one good thing about having such a small flock of chickens and spending so much time with them is that you notice when something is off rather quickly. Although, I'm kind of kicking myself for not catching this sooner than I did.
About two weeks ago, I notice a much smaller dropping pile under where one of the Bunkies was sleeping. I was quite certain that it was Sugar. And while I meant to go out at night to see where she was roosting, I never got around to it. She was eating and drinking so I just thought it would pass.
Last week, I noticed her panting when the others were not. It really hasn't been that warm here so I just dismissed it as her getting used to the warmer days and all those feathers. But Tuesday night she was panting again and I sat down and picked her up and set her in my lap facing me and immediately noticed how hot her breath was and I could hear her wheezing. Oh, the panic that immediately set in.
Fortunately, it was only 5:30pm and my favorite feed store would be open till 7pm so I fought the traffic and got to the store before they closed. There are a number of different antibiotics out there for fowl and different ways to administer.
I chose to buy powdered antibiotic for respiratory infections and treat all five girls. A teaspoon in a gallon of water and you are good to go. You need to remove your other water sources to force them all to drink the medicated water. And you'll need to mix up a fresh batch every 24 hours as the formula is only stable for that long.
But this guarantees that if she's shared her bug with her sisters, which she probably has, everyone gets some medicine and hopefully we knock out this bug for good.
The bad news, is that all eggs must be tossed during treatment and for at least 21, preferably 28 days, post treatment. And they mean tossed. Don't feed them back to the hens or you are just re-introducing antibiotics back into them. Don't feed the eggs to other animals or THEY will be receiving antibiotics. I wouldn't trust putting them into the compost bin either.
At first, I was devastated. But after giving it some thought, I figured out a way to turn a negative into a positive. I'm going to blow out (well, suction out) the tainted eggs and make ornaments out of them. And I'm kind of excited about this project.
I used to blow out and paint eggs as a child. I remember taking third place one year at the Saks Fifth Avenue Easter Egg decorating contest. But shoot, when you have a goose, a chicken that lays green eggs and a bunch of Japanese Quail, I was kind of a ringer. ;-)
24 hour into treatment and Sugar is no longer panting. But I can still hear her wheeze if I put my ear up to her breast. But at least she's not worse. And her appetite is hardy. She ate all the meal worms I could find out of my farm and a whole hard boiled egg last night.
And I've got four eggs sitting in the garage for me to practice emptying this weekend.