Written by Catherine Smith
One night in January the hen rescue team were liberating hens from a filthy battery shed. I was working with Sharron as she carefully selected hens by various factors such as whether they caught her eye, how they looked, their condition and who she saw first. This is the only way to do it. Trying to put any theory behind how you select hens will only drive you mad. They all deserve to get out and we have to leave nearly all of them behind.
The first girl Sharron selected was Maisie. “‘We have to get this girl’, she said. ‘I don’t know if her foot is stuck or not’. Sharron shone her torch to check the hen’s legs. Sharron could see she was not stuck, but it appeared that she could not stand up and her leg was out at a weird angle. As she lifted her she said to me, ‘Wow she’s really heavy..REALLY heavy! Make sure you get ready for some weight’
When I held her I saw what Sharron meant. Maisie was so swollen that trying to hold her was like trying to hold a very large, heavy jelly.
Back at NSW Hen Rescue I could have a better look at Maisie. She could not really walk because of her swelling, but she still had an amazing spirit, chatting happily to me and eating from my hand.
We went our local vets where she had fluid drained from her abdomen. The first time she was drained there was 1.5 litres of fluid, but they said there was not much more we could do to help her. We went to the vets daily until they showed us how to drain the fluid ourselves.
Maisie was already loving life. She was eating well and although she didn’t have good movement she loved sunbathing (see pic above) and spending time with us. She was also bonding with our permanent girls Iva, Louise and Grace.
We decided to take Maisie to Summer Hill Village Vets for a check up, as our regular vet was closed. There we saw the lovely Sandra who did an X-ray and after consulting with Sydney Uni exotic vet was able to see that Maisie had a calcified egg stuck and this was causing the swelling. Sandra recommended a Suprelorin implant to stop Maisie laying any more eggs.
It is very common for laying hens to suffer disorders of the reproductive system. They have been bred in such a way that they lay a huge amount of eggs and that puts an enormous strain on their little bodies. A suprelorin implant is one way we can help these girls and relieve them of having to lay eggs.
On Sandra’s advice we went to see Hamish, an amazing vet at Sydney Uni Exotic Pet Hospital. The amount of information Hamish could read from the X-ray was truly amazing. He could tell the egg had been stuck for a long time and said that Maisie would need surgery to remove the egg and then the implant to stop her producing more. Maisie went in to hospital the day before surgery and I felt nervous about her undergoing anesthetic, but knew she was in the best hands possible.
Amazingly I had a call the next morning to tell me that Maisie had laid the stuck egg! That meant that she did not need surgery after all. I was so relieved and couldn’t believe that after months of having a stuck egg she had managed to lay it at just the right moment. She had the implant and her health began to improve. Without the build up of fluid from trying to produce eggs Maisie was able to walk again. She started to enjoy dust baths (see pic above) and she became a beloved member of the permanent hen rescue family.
Around this time we were evicted from our rental property and had to find somewhere new to live. It was a stressful time and we were worried we could not continue the hen rescue. Eventually we found a new house to rent, but it only had one area for rescued hens, so we were unable to keep any permanent ladies if we were going to continue rescuing. We managed to find an amazing permanent foster carer for the girls, Charlotte Wellings. She invited the hens to live with her and be part of her family. She would stay in touch with me and hen rescue would cover all vet bills.
Charlotte is a very observant and loving foster mother to the hens. She noticed this week that Maisie
had a little swelling again. We arranged for Maisie to go back to see Hamish and he thought she was in fantastic condition. We had been warned over the phone that Maisie may need a hysterectomy, but when Hamish saw her he could see that she just needed a new implant. With a little local anesthetic and a new implant Maisie can continue to love her new life of freedom with her wonderful family. Thank you to our Hen Hero regular donors as well as those who have made one off donations. You have enabled us to give Maisie everything she needs to keep living and loving life.