Sunday, April 11, 2010

Chicken Surgery

I can now add the category of "Chicken Surgeon" to my list of skills.  This skill came by necessity when our guinea hens attacked and nearly killed a favorite chicken.  When I realized she was missing, I searched the pine trees for her, and found her badly mutilated.  A patch of skin over 2 inches long and a half inch wide was missing from the top of her head and extending down her neck.
I realized that the only chance of saving her was to stitch the wound closed.  Unfortunately, so much was missing that I couldn't stretch the skin that far. So, I did the best I could.

Remarkably, she flinched only a few times as I stretched the skin and sewed her head back together.
The first couple of days were difficult for her, and I wasn't sure she was going to pull through.  Large areas of the surrounding skin turned an awful blue-green color.  But she recovered and is doing well.

Five days later, she is happy and active, and her skin is now a healthy pink.  There is much healing yet to come, and for now she must be segregated from the other chickens, who readily attacked wounded members of the flock.  
    Only 12 days later, new feathers began to grow, replacing the ones plucked in the attack.
A month later, feathers continue to fill in nicely, but the hole in her head remains.

 10 weeks later, the scars are nearly gone.  Only a thin spot in her feathers is still visible.  She is now her old self again, and back on the job, laying eggs.

Update:  It is now over a year since the attack and surgery.  She remains healthy, and it is now impossible to see any scar tissue anywhere.  Remarkably, she appears to have either grown feathers in the scar tissue, or somehow shrunk the scarred area.