Poor Ethel. I noticed she was looking a bit poorly yesterday. But I thought maybe the other hens had been picking on her (as they do).
Today, though, it was obvious something was wrong. She could barely be moved to stir, and when she did, she waddled with a tail-down posture (called “penguin stance”) that means she is probably egg-bound.
Hens get egg-bound for a lot of reasons. It’s like chicken constipation. But if she doesn’t crap out that stuck egg within a day or so… well, let us not discuss it. Let us think soothing, relaxing thoughts. Pooping thoughts.
What do you do for an egg-bound hen? Some people advise you try to break the egg. This is almost certainly a bad idea, and likely to turn fatal for the hen. Others advise you try to work your finger “up there” with some lubricant and try to ease the egg out. (I note that no one ever said that doing this had worked for them.)
The most common – and probably best – recommendation is to give them a nice, hot bath. Soak your chicken for 20 minutes in a sink full of warm-but-not-super-hot water, then put them in a warm dark place and hope for the best. So that is what I have done.
I know you won’t believe that she just sat there in the hot water for almost half an hour. Everyone said that would happen, but I didn’t believe them either. So I took some video for you.
In the background we are listening to a This American Life podcast episode. Because how else are you supposed to kill 20 minutes while you stand in the kitchen partially submerging a live chicken under warm-but-not-hot-water?
(My kitchen sink leaks at the seal – so Ethel is standing in my small Coleman cooler. It has the added advantage of keeping the water warmer longer.)
And now she is ensconced in a small dog carrier with a towel draped over it. And… I don’t really know what to do from here. I guess I can try to give her another bath later tonight. The cats are madly curious, and I don’t know if she can spend the night inside, much as I think it would be good for her.