The weather is glorious here at the moment. Usually, the hens would be out from sun up to sun down, rearranging my planting schemes and sunbathing. Not this week, though. Because Doris is coughing.
After last nights human meal, I had some mashed potatoes and noodles left over. This is a feast for the chooks, who go absolutely crackers for mash. They bury their entire heads in it, and when the dish has been picked clean, nibble it from each other. It is always a joyous occassion. So, the eldest child took the treat bowl outside, and sat down to watch the show. After a few minutes, I was called outside because Doris was coughing. And she was. She was gobbling down pulverised spud at a rate of knotts, and then occassionally hacking as if she was on forty a day. At first I assumed pure chickenny greed, and that the daft bird was gorging herself and was going to be sick. However, I've never seen a chicken vomit. In fact, I'm not sure that they can.
Grabbing hold of her for a closer look, I could hear her wheezing. She was breathing heavily with her beak open, and when I put my ear to her back I could hear the tell tale 'clicking' that suggests respiratory infection. Looking her in the eye, I noticed some slight bubbling. All classic signs of a mild mycoplasma infection. Arse.
With a heavy heart, I plonked the poorly girl back on to the lawn. She let out a hoarse 'bok-ARK' just to show her displeasure, and I trudged back to the house to root out the Tylan. Doris is the eldest child's hen, and understandably he is anxious. Since the sad loss of Mini back in January, the girls have been hale and hearty. This is a disappointing set back. However, we have had mild myco outbreaks before that have responded well to Tylan, so my fingers are crossed. The hens are relegated to the Palace for the next few days, to avoid them slurping out of puddles. They aren't overly keen on the Tylanised water, but if all other options are removed, they have to drink it.
This morning, Doris is not wheezing. She is eating, reluctantly drinking, preening and dust bathing. All in all, she seems in good health. None of the other hens are showing obvious signs. With a bit of luck, by the weekend, everyone will be infection free.
Much hand washing is occurring before I go near the chicks.