Gregory our rooster has settled in well. You may remember that first day when all of our girls (and me) went into hiding behind the coop so Gregory couldn’t find us. Now the girls clamour around him like he is a rock star. So I was very concerned when we discovered a large abscess had formed on his foot. A quick review of our ‘chicken keeping made easy’ book revealed the problem to be ‘bumblefoot’! Apparently it could go systemic and without antibiotics it kill him so we made an urgent call to the vets.
Foolishly our young vet insisted he must see him if he was to prescribe medication. I reasoned that my new beekeeping gloves which reach my elbows might fend off the worst of Gregory’s famous ‘pecks’. So with some trepidation I set off for a showdown. It was a brief but intense battle. His adoring girls were incensed that their hero should be treated in this way and one even threw herself on the electric fence in the manner of a suffragette but luckily for her the fence was turned off. As the feathers floated back to earth I trudged off triumphantly with the stunned cockerel under my arm. We trapped him under a large wicker laundry basket wedged into an old dog basket and set off to the surgery
It was a bit of a surreal experience sitting among normal dog and cat owners with a rooster in a laundry basket. I elected to avoid catching people’s eyes and act like it was perfectly normal to take a rooster to the vets. In any case, I was deep in thought wondering how I would lift the basket lid without Greg flying around the room and trashing the surgery. I needn’t have worried. He was a different bird for the vet. Butter wouldn’t melt! The vet discovered that Greg had stood on a thorn and he agreed that antibiotics were needed but had no idea how we could get him to take the medicine. He considered droppers but after great deliberation, settled for tablets to be added to his feed.
The next morning, I dutifully chopped the enormous tablet into four so the pieces were the same size as his pellets. They were even the same colour. “This should be easy” I mused and it started well. He quickly gulped down his breakfast but when I inspected the bowl I discovered he had picked out all the pellets leaving the tablets untouched! So I made him a mash and hid them again but he had become suspicious and showed little interest. In fact he was so suspicious he steadfastly refused to eat anything at all for the rest of the day. That evening I placed him in solitary confinement in the small coop but I went to bed worrying that with no food inside him we might have a very sick bird on our hands the next day.
The next morning I opened the front door and was greeted by a very loud “cock-a-doodle-do”. Clearly Greg was not yet at death’s door and was really keen to meet up with his harem. Liz and I had determined that we would have to hand feed the tablets to him one way or another. I opened the coop and after another violent struggle he was marched off to the cover of the summerhouse where Liz was waiting. It may be hard to believe but despite fighting to his last to avoid being caught, Greg calms down completely once he knows he has lost the battle for his freedom. He has never once tried to peck either of us.
After some trial and error we found that the secret was to place half a tablet on top of his tongue (put it under and as you will see, he throws it out). Once he has it on his tongue he will happily hold it and will swallow it eventually provided you allow his neck free movement as you can see in this video. I am happy to report Greg’s foot is now well on the mend. The swelling has gone down and he is back with his fanbase.