Chicken with one leg

by Nanette Talbot
(Philadelphia)

Question

My Chicken with one leg. Why? because at 4 months old a cat attacked her.

She is now 15 months old and laying eggs, but with one leg the other 12 chickens peck her neck and she hides in a flower pot laying on her side to protect herself from the nasty pecking chickens.

Since she sits almost all day long, she also sits on her poop, and it gets caked on.

We put her in a bath of warm water once a week to get the cakes off, but noticed today that her area above her anus is bright red and is totally baron of down, it is raw, red skin and a patch the size of a baseball.

We are considering putting her is a separate coop to protect her from the other chickens. Any other suggestions are greatly appreciated as we love her stamina and don't want to see her suffer anymore than she already has.

I am especially concerned now that winter is setting into the Philadelphia suburbs and she is not as heavy as the other chickens.

Answer
I think your idea of separating her is the best thing. Chickens can be merciless to a weaker member of the flock.

If you can keep her dry and clean and happy she can be a good egg laying pet. You may want to consider if it is humane to allow her to continue in this state.

Her quality of life is in your hands. Keeping her with a flock that doesn’t want her around isn’t fair with her disability.

I would treat any open wounds with antibiotics. By separating her from the group, she should heal quickly and not be so stressed.

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One legged hen
by: sharon

It doesn't sound like your hen has a good quality of life, which should be more important than her will to live and human emotion. When faced with such decisions myself, I make a list.

If the list of suffering and negatives is longer than the list of benefits, then the answer is obvious. She should be humanely put down.

You can first make a list of anything you can do to relieve her alive in her struggle. If the list is doable, go for it!

She must be separated from the rest to prevent harm and stress. In her disabled & weakened condition she poses a threat to the safety of the flock, attracting possible predators or spreading disease.

This, being picked on, is a natural and healthy aspect of flock self-preservation. They are not being mean to her, just trying to cut her from the flock, one way or another. Chickens large and small will canabalize the sick, weak, dying or dead.

If you choose to "save" her she must be kept clean, to prevent unhealthy build up of feces and kept comfortable.

Isolation from the flock will prevent abuse from other birds and wounds just begging to become infected; not to mention freezing from lack of feathers in winter.

If you can keep her clean, warm and safe, she might just make a great brooding hen for future hens.

Not breeding her, but placing the fertile eggs of other hens under her, with food and water close. There is no better incubator than a hen!

Sounds like both of you are suffering and if you can't care for her humanely (no criticism intended), the kindest thing for both of you is to put an end to the suffering. If you can't do it, find someone who can.

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