Friday, January 31, 2014

Minerva the Hen at Midway Veterinary Hospital

Minerva the Buff Orpington checks out her veterinarian's office

Minerva, one of two Buff Orpington hens in our mixed flock of five backyard layers, has developed redness on her feet and legs for a few weeks now. My husband Don and I tried to treat her ourselves, first using petroleum jelly, and when that seemed to make things worse, we tried Bag Balm. The latter seemed to help a little for a while, but it made her feathers around her legs very greasy and dirty looking, and I was afraid she would have trouble keeping her feet warm with the extremely cold weather we've been having. And she certainly wasn't healing up to my liking.

Minerva's red legs caused us concerned. The dirty feathers were caused by our attempts to treat her.

Nights have dropped into the teens for several nights in a row and remained freezing even during the day, a rarity for this corner of Virginia. Most recently we had about 8" of snow, also a rare event.

Don and I had reached the end of our limited ability to treat Minverva, so we took her to Dr. Tony Poutous at Midway Veterinary Hospital in Chesapeake, VA. We have had positive experiences bringing our hens to visit Dr. Poutous before as evidenced in my earlier post about our visit with Athena, our Delaware hen. Here are highlights from Minerva's visit:

Minerva was weighed in, of course!

Dr. Poutous gave Minerva a through physical--maybe more thorough than she liked at times! Say Aaah!

Other parts of the exam were less objectionable. Dr. Poutous listened to her heart and respiratory system.
Overall, Dr. Poutous found Minerva to be in good health, which was a relief. He took scrapings of her legs to check for bacteria or fungal infections or even signs of mites. But he found nothing significant. We decided it was best not to treat her further and to keep an eye on her legs. I will definitely give our vet a call if Minerva's signs change or worsen at all. He said if areas turn black, that could mean frostbite, and to bring her back in right away. He said he was willing to treat for mites, even though he hadn't found any, just in case, but I said it was probably best to wait.

I was so relieved she wasn't developing an infection, which had been my fear!

Don asked about continuing with the Bag Balm treatment. Dr. Poutous said that he was concerned the Bag Balm might continue to mess up Minerva's feathers. Considering the cold weather, she might have trouble regulating her body temperature with dirty feathers. She needs clean feathers to keep her legs and feet warm. Without them, she has the potential of coming down with frostbite on her feet. It's not worth the risk.

Minerva the Buff Orpington looks ready to go back to the hen house!

Minerva had taken a much-needed break from laying this fall and early winter, but she already is back to laying an egg almost every day. She is a very reliable layer in spring and early summer, but she has a tendency to go broody after that. She very much would like to be a mother, I think! But that's not manageable under Chesapeake's backyard hen ordinance.

If there are any questions about the ordinance, my own understanding of it is listed here. You are also welcome to like our Facebook page, 4 Chesapeake Hens.

Update: Minerva's legs improved with the spring weather for no apparent reason. In the late spring she went broody again, so I sold her to a local farmer that needed a broody hen to hatch chicks. I get occasional reports that she is loved and doing well.

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