Since 2008, I have been advising people with sick hens how to use my Spa Treatment. The first time that I used epsom salts was to treat a skin problem on my hen Eleanor. After research and observation, I came up with a protocol that addresses far more than irritated red skin (although it’s good for that, too.) Numerous people have written to tell me that it has saved their chickens. I’ve recently updated the FAQ, and I thought this would be a good time to write a bit more about it.
You can divide chicken ailments into three categories: injuries, respiratory diseases and other. Treating wounds is straightforward. Identifying respiratory disease is obvious (wheezing, mucus discharge.) It’s the other category that is problematic. Chickens are not long-lived animals, so you will have hens become sick and die within a few years of starting your hobby. Most people come into backyard chicken keeping not from a practical, farming background, but from the perspective of a suburban pet owner, who, at the first sign of illness, hands the problem over to her vet who makes a clear diagnosis and provides a treatment plan. Going to the veterinarian is rarely an option for the backyard chicken keeper. I’ve written why here. Instead, you have to be able to observe your birds and make decisions on your own. The honest truth is that most of the time hens show signs of illness only when they are suffering from something fatal – cancer, peritonitis, internal laying, ascites, etc. In those cases, euthanasia is a kindness.
But, once in awhile, the hen has a problem that can be alleviated, and almost always, the cure is my Spa Treatment. Simply put, it is a warm epsom salt soak and a dose of olive oil. Read why and how it works on the Spa Treatment FAQ. Here’s the thing – you’ll know if it’s been effective. A hen that previously stood hunched over will walk normally. A dark comb will turn red again. A listless hen will get her appetite back. You’ll also know when it doesn’t work. The hen will not improve. It won’t help to keep bathing her. It won’t help to force fluids and food into her. You have to know when to let go.
It’s good to have the Spa Treatment option because either a) your hen will revive, or b) you’ll know that she is too sick to save. In either case, knowing exactly what ailment has plagued your chicken is impossible. After doing twenty necropsies on older and ill birds, it’s still guesswork for me until I look inside. Don’t believe anyone who gives you a diagnosis after just hearing a description of behavior and external symptoms. But – that doesn’t matter. What does is that you’ve done what you could, and that you have a way to decide the kindest option for your hen.
If you’ve had success with my Spa Treatment, please leave a comment!
Note – This treatment originated on my blog. I’ve since seen versions on other sites. Some of the info is good, but some has been altered in translation. Do share this advice, but please send people directly to my FAQ. Thanks.