Taking Care of a Sick Chicken: Clostridium Bacteria

Reader Contribution by Faithful Homesteader
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My chickens are my babies so when anything happens to them, it is hard on me. I have lost multiple chickens to illness so when our Andalusian chicken, Andie, showed signs of illness, it was a major stressor. 

My husband was the first to notice that she wasn’t herself. We usually give the girls some larvae, but when she didn’t go for the treat, it was definitely a bad sign. Seeing her just lay around while the other chickens were being active was another clue that something was not right.

We first noticed things were bad on a Saturday afternoon. My husband was convinced that she was going to die. I wanted to take her to the vet. Even if we could not save her, I wanted to know what was wrong and if we needed to be concerned about the other chickens.

First thing Monday morning, as soon as the vet office opened, I called for an appointment. We had brought Andie in the night before so we could observe and easily catch her to take her to her appointment. That morning her poo was water and a very disturbing yellow color. I gathered a sample to take with us for our vet visit.

When we made it to our appointment, the sample was analyzed and Andie was examined. She was alert and had some fight in her. Those were positive signs. The vet did mention that she was underweight. Just the week before she was sick, she actually felt a little heavy. The vet said that chickens can lose weight fast. 

The sample showed clostridium bacteria. The vet said that it is generally confined to only one chicken, so I was thankful for that. I asked about the recovery chances. He said they were generally good, but it was important that she eat. He also did not recommend keeping her isolated as it could just add more to her state of depression. I actually liked the concern for her mental well-being.

We decided that it was okay to bring her in at night so that we could easily give her the meds she needed, twice a day. We put her out in the morning. I tried to put her out a little before the other girls so that she would hopefully eat something, but initially she was not into eating too much. The main thing that she would eat was a little bit of millet. It did not look like she was drinking anything either. 

I was quite concerned that she was not eating much. The vet had suggested trying some grains like oats to help firm up the poo, but initially she was not going for it. We bought some baby food so that we could feed her with a syringe. The baby food also seems to be easier to eat for sick chickens, overall, and I was able to sprinkle probiotics with it easily. We also gave her water with the syringe. 

The challenging thing about trying to feed her with the rest of the girls was that the others wanted to eat all the food. After it didn’t seem like we were having much success with her eating, we put her in a crate with food and water, but outside with the rest of the girls for part of the day. It finally seemed like she was eating. We would let her out later in the day and I was so pleased to see that she actually went out in the yard and was foraging a bit. 

I was so happy to see Andie out in the garden after being sick. Photo by Faithful Homesteader

Little by little she was eating and started acting like herself again. Her poo started looking fine and her little personality started coming through again. My husband had written her off, but I was not ready to give up on her. I still worry about her, but she seems to be doing well. I will feel most hopeful when she starts laying again. She is our only full-size chicken and I sure do miss her eggs.

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