When we imported our last lot of eggs from Australia to establish a few egg-layer breeds in Tuvalu as part of the Six Chix Project we set to incubating the eggs, fingers crossed. The eggs were from Poultry Australia who were amazing with helping us meet the biosecurity requirements. That batch of 12 beautiful blue eggs was mailed from Tasmania to Sydney, then loaded in my suitcase for the flight to Fiji. On arrival in Fiji, it was a biosecurity requirement that I give up the eggs overnight for safe-keeping till the morning’s flight to Tuvalu. Unfortunately the total time taken to get the eggs home before incubation was almost 2 weeks and despite my best care, turning the eggs faithfully and keeping them in a cool place, only 1 chick hatched: Bluey shown above right.
Those of you who have raised chicks would know that you can’t raise just one… A chick on its own rapidly becomes needy and stressed and a human just can’t spend enough time with it to keep it happy. It needs to imprint on at least one other chick, in addition to you and the brooding box.
So the day after Bluey hatched, I set out in the neighbourhood searching for a newly-hatched local chick I could raise with the one I had. I knew the local chick would be a bantam of indeterminate heritage, but what I was not sure of was how healthy it would be. I worried about bringing disease into my carefully selected, expanding and healthy flock of chickens which now included a new Easter Egger.
Enter Sneeze. He was not in a good state, and I was very concerned he would make Bluey sick, and maybe all the others. He was sneezing, had a prolapsed vent (bottom), poo caked around his vent, diarrhoea, and was covered in lice ! So this is what I did.
1. Diet: I guessed that Sneeze’s diet was not great. Although he was only a few days old, he was already running around in the rain trying to keep up with his mother feeding on whatever could be found around the houses. So I started him on Starter Crumbles from Pacific Feeds (Fiji) which I mixed with a bit of water into a mash to stabilise his digestion and nutrition.
2. Probiotic: To the mash I also added half a capsule of probiotic powder (yoghurt-like organisms) each day to inoculate his gut and help him get over the diarrhoea.
3. Colloidal Silver: I added colloidal silver to his drinking water just for a day or two in case he had any infections he may have needed help with. This is not the first time colloidal silver has been used to fix chickens – see here.
4. Vent cleaning: I started gently cleaning his vent with a piece of cotton wool soaked in colloidal silver. When all the caked material was cleaned off, I gently dabbed his vent with diluted Lugol’s Iodine. This was needed only for 2-3 days, and after that his prolapse withdrew and he started evacuating normally.
5. Diatomaceous Earth (DE): This was gently rubbed into his fluff feathers all over his body to kill the lice. I did this several times, and soon I could not see lice crawling through his feathers any more. See here, here and here for information on DE.
How did we go?
Today Sneeze is a healthy and extremely lovable adolescent chicken. He whistles when he wants attention and loves to sit on my shoulder. Bluey did not become sick from him, and although his sneezes persisted for about 2 weeks, slowly tailing off, the other problems disappeared in a few days. Fixing a sick chick couldn’t be easier – though it does require a few home remedies on hand that are pretty useful for humans too !