Rooster Is Sick

Day 218 of 365

In the last week or so, for morning chores, Ron has been doing the chickens while I do the ducks. Then, he’s been putting the chickens up at night as well, as he’s checking for rats. We had a big hole in the coop last week that he had to repair. I still deliver treats to the chickens and collect eggs, but I haven’t been seeing them as much as usual. Tonight, while Ron was burning tree branches (there is a lot of burning that has to happen in the woods of Maine, but that’s another story), I decided to go ahead and put the chickens to bed. I couldn’t believe what I heard. It sounded almost like a bear growling!

It was my sweet Rooster, rattling from a respiratory infection! In 2019, our entire flock came down with an epic respiratory infection. And I mean epic. I was a nurse for months. Everyone lived, but Rooster has always had struggles with relapses, especially when it gets cold. I should have known to check on him more when it got so cold this week, but I didn’t. And our boy sounded terrible.

Rooster doesn’t like to be touched, so I generally try to respect this. Plus, I have to admit that I am a little afraid of his spurs. We do not trim them unless they get too long for him to get around because his spurs are his weapons should he have to fight a predator. Also, he’s really big, so much bigger than the hens, so that makes me a little nervous too. But when I heard him rattling so terrible, I went over and scooped him up.

He didn’t protest very much. I told him what I was going to do, and, thankfully, he seemed to understand and settled down. I brought him into the guest bathroom, which is also our animal care center, and I got out the good stuff–the antibiotics for respiratory illnesses. I try to never use antibiotics. I know they are VERY much overused in general, but he sounded really, really terrible. I didn’t want to waste any time getting him better. Hopefully, it will work quickly.

He was a very good patient. I put the medicine in the syringe and leaned down in his face. I tapped the syringe on his beak and told him I needed to put this in his beak. He opened a little; I squirted it in; he swallowed. I don’t know how smart this bird is, but I wish a scientist could study him. He has to be way up there in the range. It was like he understood exactly what I was going to do and was very helpful. I will wonder forever how much language that boy understands.

Anyway, I took the opportunity to just check him everywhere. Thankfully, he has no mites, but he has a little wound on his comb, so I treated that and gave his feet and legs a good rub with moisturizer and rubbed some Vet RX (kind of like Vicks Vapor Rub for chickens) around his little nostrils. I also just treasured the opportunity to touch his feathers and admire the beauty of this animal. I never get to see him up so close. He’s magnificent. His tail feathers are shiny green/black, and I was reminded of how roosters really are just beautiful creatures.

We wrapped it up with some treats, which he ate from my hand. He never gets a chance to do this when I feed treats to the whole flock because some of the hens are just too bossy and take it right away from him. It was really cool getting to hang out with him some, and I wished he could just stay inside until he got better. But can you imagine a puppy and rooster in the house?

I went to check on him just a few minutes ago, and he sounds a little better already. I hope he gets better soon, but I am looking forward to spending the next several days giving him medicine and treats every night. It will be great to spend some one-on-one time with such a magnificent creature.

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