When I interrupted a fox attacking for the second consecutive day (see story here), my Cuckoo Marans hen ran across the yard towards me. There was no sign of injury although her feathers looked ruffled. In any case, my focus was on getting rid of the problem so I didn’t have time to check on her. After the fox had been dispatched, I went looking and found her already starting to withdraw. There were 4 deep bite wounds on her back and, fearing infection, I squirted liberal quantities of Neosporin into each separate wound. I try to avoid segregating, since poultry are such social animals, so unless a bird is contagious or has a wound that will be pecked by the others, I treat and return to the flock. In this case, the hen’s wounds weren’t visible unless the feathers were spread and I didn’t think the others would mess with her. So, I returned her to the flock rather than adding to her stress by separating her from her mates.
Next morning she was completely withdrawn. She wouldn’t eat, drink, or even move out of the sun. I knew I was losing her. I moved her around all day to make sure she didn’t overheat, and dipped her beak in water often. At night I lifted her onto the roost and woke early so I could lift her down again next morning. I figured she was probably in pain from her injuries and getting on and off the roost might be more than she could take.
Three days went by. I didn’t see her eat or drink in spite of my best efforts, and, desperate to find some way to snap her out of it, I decided to offer her an egg. When I cracked the egg into a bowl, I saw her look towards the bowl with interest – the first interest she had shown in anything since the attack. Slowly she dipped her beak and started to eat. She didn’t eat much but that she ate at all gave me hope that she would make it. From that moment on, she never looked back, and a few weeks later started to lay again.
Since this happened I have noticed a change in her. Prior to the fox attack, she was an aloof hen, but has become more friendly, approaching me when I go out to the coop and often walking between my legs, letting her feathers brush against them on the way through. I don’t pretend to know what a chicken “thinks” but it really does feel that she understands how much I tried to help her.
It often feels hopeless nursing an injured animal who has given up, and I well know the frustration of trying, only to lose them anyway. I hope this survival story will provide hope to anyone with an injured bird, that, fragile as they sometimes seem, it IS possible for them to recover from a serious injury. At the time of writing, it has been 16 months since she was attacked, and she is now almost three years old, but this hen is still a part of my flock, who lays a lovely dark brown egg 3-4 times a week.