Dave and Phil Herriot were called into service for the first time this week. The Welsummer chickens have stopped laying for the moment, but the Rhode Island Reds have been merrily popping out one a day since they started laying back in February.
Then Athena stopped laying and we noticed a large object hanging from her rear end. We were concerned that she may have had a prolapse (inside out vent - nasty). This could mean that she wouldn’t survive, so we donned our veterinary gear and attempted to examine her. The first stage involved Phil herding the chickens towards me, and then I tried to throw a blanket over Athena. Sounds straight forward enough, but for the fact that chickens are surprisingly speedy, especially as they are free range and not used to being handled. This went on for a while and turned into a bit of a farce, more Tristan Farnham than James Herriot!
I eventually caught her, and she remained quite calm so we whisked her into the clinic (the utility room in disguise), and ran her a warm bath. She appeared to have a huge hard growth on the exterior which was blocking her vent (the egg exit hole next to the poo exit hole, for those not familiar with a chicken's rear end). After 5 minutes in the bath and some careful massaging, the lump started breaking up, and an unpleasant aroma filled the air. The good news was that it wasn’t a prolapse, but several days worth of solidified chicken poo! It was so hard that Phil had to cut away her feathers to get the last bit off.
On returning her to the run (after a liberal application of Anusol to her sore behind - no really, that's what the poultry forum recommended - it works for piles so it works for sore chicken bums), she immediately went off and layed an egg. I can only imagine how eye watering it must have been hanging on to that poo rock for 2 days!