Sunday, October 6, 2013

Our First Chicken Injury

We scarcely know how much of our pleasure and interest in life comes to us through our eyes until we have to do without them; and part of that pleasure is that the eyes can choose where to look.  But the ears can't choose where to listen.       -- Ursula K. Le Guin 

Last Friday I learned that our hen Lady Mary is now blind in her right eye.  Chickens see different distances from each eye.  So, she has been limited in her overall ability to see. 

What happened?

I assumed she had debris in her eye from dust-bathing on a particularly windy day.  But, hens are good at hiding injuries and illness.  It's a skill called masking.  It helps them not appear weak for any predators who might want chicken for dinner.  However, based on the extent of the eye damage, our avian veterinarian indicated it was more likely a puncture wound from being pecked or clawed by one of the other hens.  Although we had been providing her with antibiotic drops from our general vet -- we were unable to save her sight.  We are still determining whether or not eye surgery is needed to remove the damaged eye.

What next?

Until next Friday, we continue to treat her eye with steroid and antibiotic drops.  She's been in a dog crate recovering in our home.  We have supervised free-range time to try to keep her brood remembering who she is.  Meanwhile, we have to watch out for the hens who want to peck at her injuries. 

We'll keep you updated on how our Mary is doing.  We told her she has now been promoted to the title of Queen.  She is an amazing little bird.