We were supposed to go away for an extended long weekend's cycling this past weekend, but we didn't. Instead, on Thursday, we noticed that one of the chickens was opening her beak and straining on each outbreath. You can see her pose in the photo below - head back, beak open, a faint wheeze on the outbreath.
Some diagnosis suggested either a respiratory infection (less likely) or gapeworm, a parasitic nematode which infects the trachea of birds. Gapeworm isn't all that common, but her symptoms were classic - and there are a lot of wild birds on our property and she's been doing a lot of scratching around compost for slugs and worms lately - they're both carriers. We've been watching her anyway, as she has been a good couple of weeks behind the other two developmentally, so on the Friday morning a trip to the vet was in order.
For a bird who doesn't really like being picked up, she was remarkably patient and well beahved at the vet. I was expecting WWIII, but she sat quietly and calmly on my hand for a good 3/4 of an hour, protesting remarkably little even as the vet palpitated her and placed a stethoscope on her breast. The vet suggested worming all the chickens and putting Lavender on daily antibiotics for 5 days - forget that weekend cycling in Wales!
Worming them was easy, as they were all to eat that and have a 'treat bowl' from which everything is gobbled. I mixed the worming powder with some moistened chicken crumbs and a very old and squishy banana. Fortunately I have greedy chickens who will eat out of my hands. So the antibiotics were placed on one piece of bread, and I'd hold one laced piece and one 'clean' piece, swapping hands according to whoever was eating.
Lavender has definitely improved, and is breathing more easily now - and has caught up on one of those two weeks of developmental delay she had. She grew a tail in just three days.
And we got to spend a couple of days playing with our new 'farm'!