My flock has survived their bout with the respiratory infection. However, a side-effect of antibiotics is that the treated hens lays thin-shelled eggs. I knew that some of the girls were laying such eggs when broody Betsy broke the eggs she was sitting on, ate what she could, and got coated with the rest. I’ve also noticed sticky wet spots in the shavings – likely thin eggs that the other hens noticed and ate.
Thin-shelled eggs are a messy, wasteful problem, but they’re also a health risk. They’re more likely to break inside of the hen. A couple of days ago Maizie, uncharacteristically, sat all day on the dirt floor of the pen. I picked her up and felt her abdomen. It was filled with fluid, which could indicate many things, none good. My heart sank. I put her in the isolation coop to check on her manure production. After a day it was clear that her appetite was gone and that she had greenish/white diarrhea. My best guess is that an egg has broken inside of her and that she has peritonitis. I don’t think that she can handle another dose of strong antibiotics. I think it’s just a matter of time until she is gone.
Today I found a thin, empty, bloodied shell on the floor of the outdoor run. Agnes had just finished eating the yolk from inside of it. It was a medium-sized white egg, so I knew it was laid by one of the Polish hens. I picked them up and looked at their vents. Siouxsie’s was bloody. At least her eggs are coming out whole.
The two hens laying the soft eggs are the ones treated with doxycycline. The hens that were treated with just Tylan are fine; I collected three sturdy eggs from them today. I don’t know if I’d use doxycycline again. It saved Maizie and Siouxsie, but also might, in the end, kill them. It’s never easy, is it?
To end on a more optimistic note, the new chicks are looking like chickens, not Easter toys. They’re learning to roost. Here are three on the the outside roost, quite pleased with themselves.