Performing an enema on a baby chick is not what I expected to be doing at 12:30am.
Let’s back up a few days. On Tuesday I picked up my 13 chicks (12 pullets and a cockerel) from the feed mill. Got them home, and then set the box they were in on my kitchen table while I got their new temporary home all set up – a huge cardboard box with wood shavings, food & water, and most importantly, a heat lamp. By the time I had it all ready for them, it had been over an hour since I had picked them up. When I started transferring them to their new home, I noticed that they had stopped peeping. They were all standing rock-still, and shivering violently.
Oh my god. I’ve killed all of them. They’ve all frozen to death! I got them all under the heat lamp, and was very relieved when, maybe 15 minutes later, the first one came back to life, found the water, and started drinking. Within half an hour they were all running around, pecking each other, eating & drinking, and up to normal chick antics.
They’ve been doing well since then, until yesterday morning, when I noticed one of them had poop crusted on her butt. That evening, I took them all out of their box to replace the soiled wood shavings. When I transferred them back to the big box afterwards, most of the chicks made a fuss about being picked up, and when put back into their home, they immediately began running around and eating—except for Miss Poopy-butt, who didn’t react at all to being picked up. When I set her back down, she just stood their with her eyes closed, gently wavering back and forth.
Clearly, time for action. Except I had no idea what to do. I went into town, and googled “How to cure an impacted baby chick.”
Armed with knowledge (some of it more graphic than I would have liked), I went home and soaked the chick in warm water for probably 15 minutes. She didn’t struggle at all while I held her in the water, and had her eyes closed the whole time. Then I used a Qtip to remove the crusty poop from her butt, including a rock-hard lump, maybe a couple millimeters in diameter. The whole process took at least half an hour, and she was soaking wet. With all her feathers wet and limp, she looked more like a velociraptor than a cute little fuzzball.
I put her inside a smaller cardboard box inside the normal box, directly under the heatlamp, to keep the other chicks from pecking her enflamed little butt (which they began doing, when I tried to put her back with the rest). She wasn’t moving much, but I gave her a little dish of food and some water with molasses mixed in (which apparently is a laxative, or something). Then I went to bed.
The next morning, she was all dried out and had eaten all the food I had given her—and she was pooping! Her butt is still pink and puffy though, so she’ll be in solitary confinement for a while longer.
I just noticed that another one has a smaller amount of poop crusted in his butt. I’m hoping—hoping—I don’t have to go through this all again tonight.
Categorised as: journal