Charlie is the latest addition to our flock.
We are teaching at the local community garden when a gardener asked if one of us knows anything about chickens. I raise my hand. There is a little coop in the garden with 5 hens. She explains me that one of the hens has an irritated vent and the others keep pecking at her. She needs to apply some antiseptic to the wound. Can I help her? Yes, of course! I go in the coop and look at the hen. Her vent is perfectly fine. But there is a huge wound just below, a little bit on the right. It's horrible! The muscle is black, the skin is torn and hard like leather. She is rotting and it stinks like death! I tell her that she needs to isolate the hen from the others and to bring her to the vet. She is not the person in charge of the coop, and that person is not reachable till later in the evening. I decide to take the hen home so she isn't pecked at anymore. I leave a message to the coop manager, and wait for her to call back. Charlie is stable, she drinks, eats, and walks around so there is no emergency.
I finally talk to the person in charge. She thought that the hen was egg-bound and her vent was a bit torn. I tell her that her vent is fine and it's more serious. The hen must go to the vet. She explains that the hen is quite old, and that they don't have a budget to really take care of the hen. Charlie's destiny is now in my hands, and we decide to adopt her.
I go to the vet the next day. She confirms my diagnostic and gives 3 options: 1) x-ray and surgery, 2) antibiotics and pain med while keeping her in isolation, 3) euthanasia. I hesitate between 2 and 3. Is Charlie suffering? She walks, drinks, and eats. She looks quite alert. I decide to try option 2 for a month. We installed a coop in the garage to nurse her back to health. If she makes it, she will join our flock outside.
To be continued... Update 10 days later: I euthanized Charlie this morning. She did fine for a week on the medication, but started deteriorating rapidly over the weekend. It was a tough decision, much harder than I thought.