A Tale of Survival and Loss

As a owner of chickens and ducks I have come to understand that sometimes things happen that are completely out of my control.  No matter how hard I try to protect and care for my feathered friends, sometimes weird things happen.  On November 2 one of those weird things happened.  I went out to let the chickens and ducks out around 6:30 AM, which is my normal routine.  Upon reaching the chicken run, where the two boy ducks slept at night, I saw that Duncan was laying on his back and his best friend Grant was standing right next to him.  I quickly picked Duncan up to see what was wrong with him.  I realized he had a broken wing and wasn’t sure what else was wrong.  I quickly went inside the house and called my partner to come help.  The previous night it had been raining and storming so Duncan was wet and dirty.  We tried to clean him up but he walked away from us over to his pool and got in.  We knew we had to stabalize his wing so we got him out of the pool and wrapped his wing.

poor duncan

Duncan with his wing wrapped.

 

In all of the craziness of trying to attend to Duncan I hadn’t realized that one of my chickens looked as if she had been in a boxing match.

BB beat up

Poor BB really looked rough.

I get very queasy at the sight of blood so it was tough getting BB cleaned up.  I set up a hospital area in my back room and that is where she went.  While we were inside getting BB settled in, Duncan had laid down with his head on the ground.  I ran out to check on him and got there moments before he drew his final breath.  I was very upset, he was my favorite duck.

duncan

RIP Mr. Duncan

To this day I do not know what happened that night. The boy ducks slept in the chicken run ever since the bear attack the previous year.  After that attack I had made them go into thier own coop for a few nights but they were terrified.  I felt sorry for them, relented and let them stay in the chicken run at night.  I have an electric fence all around the chicken and duck area and we have not had any bear problems since the fence has been installed, so I felt confident they were safe.  My best guess as to what happened that night is that something spooked the boys.  I do not think it was a predator or they would have been eaten, or at least been beat up.  Out in the chicken run there is a doorway leading from one section of the run to the other and I think when the boys got spooked they tried to get from one section to the other.  Duncan somehow hit and broke his wing on the doorway.  The chickens in the coop hearing all the upheaval must have started flapping around and BB decided it was best to get out of the coop and go into the run. When she went out into the run she must have gotten hit by one of the boys and was thrown into the side of the coop, crushing her beak.  Who knows if that’s actually what happened but it’s the best guess I have.

I had BB in the house but she couldn’t eat or drink on her own.  I mixed up electrolytes and ground up baby chicken food and fed her threw a syringe for almost three weeks.  I was certain that she wasn’t going to make it, she couldn’t breathe through her nostrils and eyes were swollen shut.  I hoped that once the swelling went down she would be able to see and once the scabs fell off she would be able to breathe through her nostrils and then she could learn to eat with a broken beak.  I know it seemed like a huge hill for the poor baby to climb but I was going to do whatever I could to help her.  After about a week and a half I began taking BB out to be with the other chickens for short periods of time before and after work, and was continuing to give her electrolytes and food with the syringe.  I had to keep a close eye on her when she was out with the others, as she looked funny to them, and they would peck and chase her.  But then I saw her fight back when one of the others pecked at her and I knew she had a fighter spirit,  if she could only learn to eat on her own.  After a few days of in and out,  I made a pen in the chicken area so she could be around the other chickens, chickens get depressed by themselves.  I was still taking her in at night, feeding and giving her electrolytes.  One day I let her out to move around with everyone else and she was fine, none of the other chickens bothered her, but she still came in at night and I still fed and gave her electrolytes.  About three weeks from her injury I got home late one day and she had made her way into the coop with everyone else.  I decided the rest was up to her.  She was either going to learn to eat on her own or she would not.  A few days later I saw her scooping food into her bottom beak and moving her neck to help throw it down her throat.  The poor girl was so hungry she ate and ate, her crop was the size of a softball and so it was for the next few days.  She had missed a lot of meals and was making up for it.  It was a very long three weeks for BB but she is a survivor.

A picture of BB almost 7 weeks after her injury. I am not sure she will ever be the same but she is a survivor.

A picture of BB almost 7 weeks after her injury. I am not sure she will ever be the same but she is a survivor.

I have made some changes to ensure that never happens again.  The 5 girl ducks are big, and they go into the duck coop.  They were not here last year and so are not afraid of it.  I let Grant decide whether he wanted to be with the girls or the chickens, and big surprise he chose the girl ducks.  So the ducks are closed up safe and sound each night and now the chicks also get the door of their coop closed each night too.  I think this was a freak accident, but I never want to go through that again.  I feel so sad for my poor Mr. Duncan.

The girls are getting big.

The girls are getting big.


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