Poultry zest

Its day twelve of the tylan and the first day of the poultry zest. I had asked for something that didn’t need to be administered to their beaks as getting anything in to all four little girls’ beaks would be a stressful task for them and me.

The poultry zest is in pellet form and it says to put a heaped spoon (measuring spoon enclosed) into the food for ten hens. We have six and four of them are very small so I guessed a slightly less than level spoon would do.

Poultry zest

I had a feeling that I would need to disguise it but as it smelt quite sweet (aniseed), I decided to try it, as it is first, and see and if they would go for it. I sprinkled it with some sunflower hearts on to the girls’ patio area.

As I expected they all picked out the sunflower hearts first. After they had gone the two bigger girls, Emerald and Speckles, hoovered up all the pellets and the little girls ignored them. Well that went well!

On to plan B. I then measured out another small spoon and put them on top of their mash, made with the tylan water and mixed them a bit. The little girls tried to avoid the poultry zest pellets. I can tell because they are yellow (turmeric) compared to the brown of their normal pellets. I’m not sure if it’s just because they look and smell different.

By the end of the day they had eaten nearly all of the mash so I was happy that they had had enough of the poultry zest. Tomorrow I will grind the poultry zest pellets to powder with my pestle and mortar and mix them into the mash made with tylan water. Hopefully that way they won’t notice them.

The girls seemed about the same as yesterday. They are still sneezing, Freckles the most, but I haven’t seen any bubbles in the eyes and I can only hear a very tiny whisper to Freckles breathing when she eats. They seem generally brighter. I think they are very slowly improving.

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A bit more hopeful

Yesterday I was feeling down as the girls seemed worse but today I am feeling more hopeful again. It has been much warmer today but wet. It has rained all day.

A wet day has all the girls in the big shelter

I left the girls with two dishes of mash with the tylan water by the shelter and one on their patio.

I was out for longer today as work was busier so I didn’t get to check on the girls until after lunch time. When I did check on them they looked brighter. They were scratching and pecking around and had eaten twice as much mash as the day before. This means they will have had twice as much of the tylan water, hurrah!

I couldn’t hear any wheezing in their breathing and they seemed to be sneezing less and there were no bubbles in their eyes.

I rang the vets and the poultry zest they had ordered for me was ready for me to collect. When I went to collect it I got the chance to talk to my lovely vet and she is going to order the denaguard for me.

So tomorrow I will start the girls on the poultry zest along with the tylan and as soon as the denaguard comes in I will switch to that. I don’t want to get too carried away but I am feeling much more hopeful today.

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Still bouncing up and down

I am afraid everyone will get tired of me bouncing up and down with this but I just can’t help it. It almost seems like one step forward and two steps backward all the time. Every time I think I see a bit of improvement things seem to get a little worse again.

The last two days have been dull, almost dark in fact, miserable and wet. The girls spent most of the two days in the big shelter. Today was colder than it has been but it was dry, bright and sunny.

Mid morning the girls returned to their favourite spot in the sun.

The girls sit in the sun

On closer inspection I could see that Dandelion had bubbles in her eyes again.

Dandelion has bubbles in her eyes

Once the sun had moved from this spot the little girls returned to the small shelter. I bought the dishes of mash with the tylan water to the small shelter to encourage them to eat some.

I bring mash to the small shelter

Speckles decides to join in

Both Dandelion and Freckles have bubbles in their eyes again

This is worse today

I am seeing these two with bubbles in their eyes more frequently and the the wheezing sound has come back to their breathing.

I am on day ten of the planned twelve days of tylan so I will keep going for a few more days but I am constantly wrangling with how long I go on with this.

This has now been three weeks since the first signs of this and in my heart I know that the longer this goes on the less chance there is of a happy outcome. Freckles and Dandelion are just not shifting this and after moments of slight improvement they seem to worsen again. The bubbles in their eyes are now appearing more often but they are managing to blink them clear again. They seem to hit a low point in the afternoons.

I will call the local vets tomorrow to see if the vitamins have come in yet. My husband also suggested to give them their daily spinach once more as it contains vitamins and iron. I had stopped giving it to encourage them to eat the mash but now agree that it would be a good idea to go back to giving them some each day.

I hand fed the girls some spinach leaves dipped in the tylan water to try to get a bit more into them.

When I give them the bedtime corn you wouldn’t think there was anything wrong. They are at their most lively when scratching for every last bit of corn and digesting the corn helps them keep a bit of warmth at night.

Bedtime corn

Another couple of days of the tylan regime and then I will assess the situation again. I keep feeling my hopefulness waxing and waning but I am trying not to give up yet.

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Still hanging in there

The snow seems to have changed the girls’ habit from hanging out in the small shelter to hanging out in the big shelter. I’m not sure if it’s because the entire run is darker than usual meaning the big shelter doesn’t seem so dark in comparison or if it’s because there is more space for the bigger girls to join the little girls.

At times the whole flock were in this shelter. I am so glad we built these shelters as they are really proving useful now.

The big shelter has become the shelter of choice

The girls seemed a little brighter in the first half of the day (both yesterday and today) but always seem to look a bit worse in the afternoons. Freckles and Dandelion had bubbles in their eyes again in the afternoon but were able to blink them away.

They were all in the chicken shed by four o’clock yesterday and all snuggled up tightly together.

Night time view from our front window with Christmas lights opposite

More snow had been forecast for today but it turned out to be sleet so at least it didn’t settle. By the afternoon the snow was beginning to disappear.

The girls haven’t wanted to come to the patio so much while it was darker so both yesterday and today I made up little dishes of mash with tylan water and put one on the patio, one inside the big shelter and one outside of the big shelter. This seems to encourage the girls to eat the mash.

This morning most of the girls are in the big shelter

Apricot is eating from one of the dishes that I have put around the shelter

Cinnamon is the most well and is busy digging and pecking

My vet called this morning to see how the girls were getting on. She had asked advice from the other vets. Another vet suggested vitamin drops to help to boost their immune system. I said that I had looked for them at my pet store but they didn’t have any. I asked if they could order some in for me and she said that wouldn’t be a problem.

She said the other vet had said that sinulox was her second medication to try after tylan. We discussed researching it first to make sure it isn’t a medication that means you can’t eat the eggs. Baytril means you can never eat the eggs again and I am now wary of checking this. This was what I used for Caramel and Pebbles and I had no idea at the time that it meant you couldn’t ever eat their eggs again. I am much hotter on doing my own research now.

She also said it has to be administered to the girls beaks. I said that would be quite stressful to the girls and I would prefer to go for something else that could go in the water such as denaguard. She said she would look into the possibility of gettng that.

We discussed that I am now on day nine of the tylan and we are intending to go for twelve days so she said to continue as I am for now. I have to say that I am very impressed with these vets. They seem to be trying to do their very best for me and she has taken the time to call me.

At the end of the day I thought the girls were sneezing a bit less so I  think we are hanging in there.

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We have snow

When I opened the bedroom curtains this morning this was what greeted me.

The scene from our bedroom window this morning

I opened the sitting room curtains to this

The back garden at eight o’clock this morning

The same scene a few hours later

I have been opening the chicken shed door at around eight o’clock with the automatic door opening about fifteen minutes later. This morning however at eight o’clock the chicken run and patio were in complete darkness due to the snow on the roof.

I decided there was no point letting the girls out into the dark and they would be better staying in the shed for a bit longer. I left them their new daily mix of tylan water and big dish of mash made with tylan water and decided to return later.

At nine o’clock I returned and the automatic door still hadn’t opened. I decided it was light enough to let the girls out of the main door. They looked a little surprised by how dim it was.

I checked Freckles and Dandelion’s eyes and they were clear which is good.

Emerald, Freckles and Cinnamon had a drink of the tylan water

Dandelion has a drink of water

After we had breakfast we tried to clear as much snow from the chicken’s patio roof as possible to let more light in. The automatic door was now open. The snow looks amazing but to be honest we could really do without this right now.

It is forecast to snow even more tomorrow. With the whole of the chicken run roofed, that is a lot of snow blocking out the light. It isn’t quite so cold though.

After talking to the vet yesterday I feel that I must just keep up what I am doing for the girls. I was afraid that she might say bubbly eyes was the point of no return but she didn’t. She said it was good that they were able to blink them clear and I haven’t seen bubbles this morning.

I have read that rattly breathing is the point of no return as you can’t them back from that point. I know that I have to steel myself towards the possibility of making a decision if this worsens to a point where I know they won’t get better. I am aware that there may be a possibility of having to have Freckles and Dandelion put to sleep to possibly save Apricot and Cinnamon rather than risk losing all four.

This a horrible thing to have to think about but I know I have to be prepared. However, all is not lost yet. They are no worse and in fact I think perhaps they are a little brighter today. There is still time for improvement so I must stay positive and carry on doing what I am doing and watching them very closely.

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Still bouncing me up and down

This morning I did the same as yesterday and used a bigger dose of tylan. One heaped teaspoon in a litre of water and then used some to make a big dish of mash once more.

It was very frosty this morning and for the first time this year the metal drinker was frozen. I had to bring it in under the hot tap to be able to untwist it apart. I returned it with the tylan water and tylan mash.

The girls were all perched on the ladder and the branch perch above the ladder while the morning sun was on it. Freckles gave an enormous sneeze and in the sunlight I could see the droplets fly from her. I winced as these droplets are contagious.

Once the sun had left the ladder the little girls went to the small shelter.

The little girls spend time in the small shelter

Freckles still doesn’t look good.

Freckles and Dandelion stayed in there when the other girls had left

I can’t hear their breathing so I have to hope that there is improvement but Freckles is still sneezing the most and looking the most poorly.

I checked on them a bit later and was horrified to see that both Dandelion and Freckles had bubbles in their eyes. Foamy eyes is one of the symptoms of mycoplasma.

Oh no, this is not good

Dandelion and Freckles have bubbles in their eyes

I felt quite panicked. My first instinct was to separate Freckles and Dandelion from the flock by bringing them indoors in the cat box.

I came indoors and told my husband and we both went back to check on them. Their eyes were now clear and they were pecking about in the run. My husband said that had I not gone out when I did I would never have known.

I decided to ring the vet for advice. My local vet was closed but I was put through to the sister vet. The receptionist wrote down everything I told her and said that she would get the vet to call me back.

The vet called me back and we went through everything. She said that I was doing all the right things and that I should carry on with the tylan which is the medication that every article recommends. She said that it was a good sign that they could clear their eyes. She agreed putting the tylan in the water and the mash was a good idea and that one teaspoon of powder to one litre of water was the correct dose.

She suggested that I disinfect the chicken shed. I told her about the droplets from Freckles sneeze in the run and said that the run is not possible to disinfect but she said that it was still worth disinfecting the chicken shed to keep the microbes as low as possible.

I had planned to clean out the chicken shed tomorrow so will disinfect at the same time. She said that I am doing all the right things and that I need to keep on going with it. She said she will talk to the other vets and if they can think of anything else I could do she will call me.

She said to continue the tylan for twelve days and see how they go and to call again early next week and give her a progress report.

I keep getting a bit of hope then losing it again. At the moment there is nothing more I can do but continue as I am doing. It is so worrying.

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Dare I to think that this is getting better!

I checked in on the “Down The Lane” chicken forum, this morning and there were a few more messages. One lady said that she had treated with tylan for as long as twelve days but was not always successful. This depressed me a bit. She also asked if I was using the right strength as she said the dose could be fiddly.

It is not an exact science by any means and dropping to half a teaspoon was probably less accurate than a whole teaspoon.  Now that I have a bigger supply of tylan I can be more generous. This morning I mixed a heaped teaspoon with a litre of water to give a bit more strength. This also means there is plenty of water to drink and also enough for a huge dish of mash that will last all day.

Every time I went in to see the girls I used a teaspoon to take tylan water from the drinker and top up the mash keeping it wet. This is incorporating as much tylan into the mash as possible.

First thing this morning Freckles and Speckles were at the mash and Dandelion was at the water

Then Cinnamon was at the water

Freckles, Dandelion and Cinnamon were at the mash but Apricot wasn’t joining in

Apricot is so timid but having a much bigger dish of mash meant that there would still be plenty left when the other girls had had their fill. In between I dipped a few spinach leaves in the tylan water and hand fed them to Apricot.

At last Apricot was having some mash

What were they looking at in the big shelter!

I listened to the girls breathing while they were having the mash and for the first time in days I couldn’t hear any sound to their breathing. I also think they are sneezing less and I haven’t seen any dozing.

Freckles and Dandelion in the small shelter but looking brighter

I hardly dare to say it, in case I jinx it, but I think things are getting better. I wonder if it is coincidence or if it is due to a bigger dose of tylan. I will do the same tomorrow.

Cinnamon getting ready to lay her egg

Cinnamon is now laying every three days so I think that she is okay. She has always drank the most water and along with Freckles she has always eaten the most mash. She is the only one of the little girls that didn’t have a sound to her breathing, just sneezing.

It is surprising being the tiniest girl that she has remained the most robust. I wonder if it is because despite her small size she is always eating. Her crop is always huge by bedtime.

At last I think that maybe we are turning the corner. I am keeping everything crossed.

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I now have more tylan

A few days ago my vet said that she had measured out a larger bottle of tylan for me. The stock was at my local vet’s sister practice which is half an hours drive from me whereas my local practice is five to ten minutes away.

As I still had enough for several more days she said that she would get it transferred to my local vet as the vets do shifts at both practices. Today it was ready for me to collect from my local vets. The bottle is twice the size of my last bottle.

I now have a larger bottle of tylan

To eek out my diminishing supply of tylan I have been mixing half a teaspoon with half a litre of water. This has meant that I could only make tiny amounts of mash with it throughout the day as I didn’t want the drinking water to run out. I had to tip the metal drinking water up with a wedge to make it easier for the girls to drink as it was so shallow.

Now that I am confident that I have a good supply I am going to mix a full teaspoon of powder with a litre of water for the next couple of days. This means I can mix up a big dish of mash with the extra water that will last the girls the whole day. They can fill their boots and I hope that will mean they will consume a larger dose of the tylan.

They are still sneezing and I can still hear a whisper to their breathing. I haven’t seen them dozing as I was out in the afternoon.

Just before bedtime Apricot decided to have a dust bath. This is a good sign that she isn’t feeling too bad. However she did start to nod off her in her dust bath. For a moment I thought she had decided to sleep there but once the other girls started going in she stood up and shook herself off.

Just before bedtime Apricot has a dust bath

She was dozing in her dust bath

I feel happier now that I have a good supply of tylan and can mix up as much as the girls can eat. I hope this will help them.

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I wish this would turn a corner

When I have used tylan before there has been an instant improvement in the girls but then they weren’t sneezing before. I think that takes much longer to shift. I am disappointed that there doesn’t seem to be any improvement and if anything Apricot now looks worse.

This started in Freckles then moved to Dandelion and then in the last few days has moved to Apricot. All three spent part of the afternoon in the small shelter, wheezing, sneezing and dozing.

I took dishes of mash mixed with tylan water to the shelter to try to encourage them to have some more.

The three amigos are in small shelter and Apricot is dozing

Apricot dozing

Freckles joins them

Speckles joins them

Emerald looks on but there isn’t room for her to join them

I bring dishes of mash to the shelter

Apricot has some

Dandelion and Freckles snooze together

This is not looking good

Freckles head was bobbing up and down as she snoozed. This is just so frustrating but there is nothing else I can do but carry on with the tylan and hope in time this improves.

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Continuing with tylan

I had a couple more replies from the “Down The Lane” forum today. One said he had had his girls on tylan for a long period of time to shift the illness which reassured me that it is okay to continue. The other agreed that I needed to keep treating.

I got the call from my vet this morning and I explained all the information that I had gathered. She agreed to give me some more tylan and to make it a larger amount so that I can keep going as long as I need to.

I asked her if it was okay to mix the tylan water into a mash to encourage the girls to have more of it. She said that was fine. She said it goes in the water to make sure all the girls get some but any means of getting more of it into them can only be a good thing.

Once she had reassured me of that I mixed up a little mash and will continue to do this along side the water.

All four little girls are sneezing but Freckles and Dandelion are sneezing the most and Cinnamon the least. Freckles, Dandelion and Apricot have a slight wheeze to their breathing. Cinnamon drinks the most water and eats plenty of the mash and seems the most well of the little girls. She also laid again today which is only two days after her last egg. She is the only girl laying and is the most active.

Freckles sneezes the most but does seem much improved which is probably helped by the fact that she isn’t dropping many feathers now. She also eats the most mash. Dandelion is dropping a few long feathers and goes to the water and the mash the least. She is the least active but there again she has always been less active than the other girls.

Apricot also doesn’t have much water but I encourage her to the mash whenever the other girls aren’t nearby. She is also not as active as usual.

Emerald and Speckles seem not to be effected, thank goodness. I think the little girls are more delicate and more vulnerable.

Cinnamon getting ready to lay her egg

This is Cinnamon’s favourite spot to lay her egg. She doesn’t use the nest boxes, preferring this corner of the chicken shed, under the perches.

Speckles and Emerald perch here, together, before bedtime

Tonight’s bedtime line up

Emerald always faces front and the other girls, randomly, face either way. Tonight they are facing the back of the shed together.

I will just have to keep going with this and hope for the best, keeping everything crossed.

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