Folk Medicine Cure?

Betsy Ross should have been a goner. She had a prolapsed vent that stuck out of her butt a pink inch. You can’t leave a bird like that in with the flock, or they’ll peck her to death. Even in isolation, it is likely to swell and get infected. And, if you do manage to push it back in, the hen will proplapse again the next time she lays an egg. The books and the university extension Web sites tell you to cut your losses and cull.

Despite the doom and gloom I wanted to try and save Betsy. I washed her vent clean, trimmed the surrounding feathers (carefully, with scissors), and smeared the prolapse with Preparation H and pushed it back in. I put Betsy in a small dog crate with food and water and lined with clean newspaper. The vent soon prolapsed again. I repeated the Preparation H treatment. She showed no signs of distress or discomfort, but that prolapse wasn’t going away.

Then I read on the Backyard Chickens forum, that someone had success with an old folk remedy – honey. I didn’t have much to lose, so I got some from the kitchen and spread about a teaspoon’s worth on the prolapse, then I pushed the flesh back in where it belonged. It stayed!

Now, I don’t know if the the honey was the cure. But, honey is hygroscopic (it absorbs moisture from the air) and perhaps it helped to dry out, but at the same time, protect the prolapse. Or, perhaps the stickiness of the honey helped keep the proplapse in place. Or, maybe it was a combination of everything; the Preparation H reduced the swelling, the rest and clean environment allowed for healing, and the honey did the rest.

Yesterday, Betsy Ross rejoined her flock. Egger had missed her and is very happy to have her friend back. I’ll keep a watchful eye on Betsy. Once a hen prolapses, it’s likely to happen again. But for now, it looks like that sure goner is here to stay.

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