Well, despite a week of intensive nursing...nose, eye and rear-end cleaning, applications of VetRx, several doses of antibiotics...this poor little baby passed away last night. I do describe details of this kind of chicken care on my blog, so that those of you who are either new chicken keepers, or are thinking about it, get a broader perspective of the things you'll have to deal with once you own a backyard flock.
For those of you not in the loop, this was the box of baby silkies dropped off at the garden center a week ago, that I've taken home to foster. This particular bird was already sick when they were left with us. It wasn't severe yet, but I could tell just by the way it hung back from the rest of the birds, and was a little "crusty" around the nostrils, that something was going on. I had to separate him/her immediately.
It's not ideal to have to isolate a young bird like this. They are social, and rely on eachother's body warmth for good health and vigor. But you can't risk the rest of the flock with any kind of respitory condition, like this baby had. After the first night we had him, he took a nosedive. Poor thing was barely able to breathe and you could tell there was probably fluid in the lungs. Based on symptoms, I figure this was probably CRD (chronic respiratory disease) or penumonia. It did not appear to be coryza, and it has as of yet not shown up in the remaining birds, thankfully.
It took me a couple of days to get the antibiotics, so there's no telling that if I'd been able to administer them earlier if it would have helped. He may have just been too sick from the get go. I cleaned his nostrils and eyes daily with VetRx, an herbal oil...and had to do some extensive vent (rear-end) cleaning due to build up. Now look, unless you are prepared to clean chicken butt...which is a pretty nasty thing, you shouldn't get chickens, lol. I even trimmed the feathers around his rump so that no more would get caught up in them. Poor, poor baby. Yesterday, I started administering a .1 ml dose of Tylan 200 (antibiotics). He got 3 doses, and appeared like he just might be improving last night...only for us to find him gone this morning. Now, you take a risk treating any bird with antibiotics, as it's hard on their liver, etc. Some birds can be allergic to them, although its rare. It's hard to know if he was just too far gone, or if the Tylan put him over the edge. Normally, this antibiotic is administered via needle, but this bird was just too tiny, too thin, and without enough breast muscle to support repeated injections. While oral doses aren't as effective as injections, they can still be effective.
All I can say is I tried my best. We even kept him inside in our warm office, where he at least had company and someone to chat at him in his/her last few days. What a heart breaker.
Bon voyage little birdie!
Now, the rest of the gals/guys are trotting along just fine. They are putting on weight and fluffing out. They've also gone crazy for the dried mealworms I've started feeding them (thinking about carrying those up at the garden center). I'll post some video of them tomorrow... :)