Life and Death on the Farm


| 6/18/2014 8:21:00 AM


Tags: Pastured Poultry, Hypothermia In Chickens, Broilers, Mobile Chicken Tractor, Farm On The Hill, Chickens, Lori Havens,

Lori HavensStrong storms moved through most of Wisconsin last night. Though we had quite the lightning show and heavy wind and rain, we were spared the structural damage that seems to have hit farther east, in the Madison area. Nonetheless, the wind and soaking rains did lead to the loss of three of our young chickens.  It would have been four, had it not been for Farmer Bryan’s quick actions, which saved a hypothermic bird.

She is one who doesn’t yet have her full feathers. Most of them do, but a few are a bit “behind” their pasture-mates. Bryan ran her into the house, into the basement where the brooder used to be. I ran to the barn to grab a chain from which Bryan then suspended one of the heat lamps we use for the baby chicks. Our bird was dropping her head down to the ground. Her eyes were closed, and she was shaking quite hard. We set her down in the little child’s pool we keep as a “hospital pen” for sick chicks. We tossed a couple of towels into the microwave to heat them up, then wrapped our little patient in two of them, and placed her under the heat lamp. It wasn’t looking good.

HypothChickPool

HypothChick1

There were still the other birds outside who needed food, water, and freedom from their nighttime confines, so Bryan headed up and out to finish chores while I sat with our shivering bird. I remembered my experience, back in high school, with a November canoe trip in Michigan. A classmate who was goofing around (foolishly so) in her canoe lost her balance and fell into the cold river. We spent hours with her, battling hypothermia. I remember distinctly being told, “Whatever you do, don’t let her fall asleep. Keep her awake. Talk to her, sing to her, rub her skin, just don’t let her fall asleep.” So I figured I’d do the same thing with the chicken. I talked to her, sang to her, petted her head and neck … which were the only parts sticking out of the towel-wrap. Then I finally turned on the radio, so she could hear music. I carefully lifted the waterer to her beak, and tried to coax her to take a drop. I had filled the jar with very warm water, and added just a dash of “Save-A-Chick,” which is an electrolyte powder. It looks and smells like orange Gatorade. She only took one drop. I prayed …

HypothChick2




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