On Thursday, our big red pyle rooster went down - laying on his side, peddaling his feet like he wanted to get up but could not. We have seen this before, on rare occasions - very discouraging, we hate to lose an animal, and once a chicken goes down, they usually die within 24 hours.

So Kevin said, "I'll check him in the morning, and remove him." Next morning, Kevin came in and said, "Well, he's still moving, so I left him there.". (He fed the animals before it got light because of his work schedule, so they were all bedded down still.)

That night, the roo had managed to move himself from where he had been before, to a spot near the water bucket, but he was still on his side, and his eyes were closed. We left him since he wasn't dead, he seemed to be able to move enough to get to the water and feed, and we had no place to isolate him (the other chickens were NOT messing with him, we watched for that, they just walked around him). Besides, the rest of the flock would have already been exposed anyway, no point in quarantine at that stage.

It did not look good, and we expected each time we went out, to find a dead rooster. I thought about just dispatching him, but we had no time! We had no way to obtain any medication, nor any idea what to administer if we could get it (isolated area), since he had no symptoms other than being down and unable to get up (antibiotics do more harm than good, and will actually worsen an illness if it is not a bacterial infection). All we really COULD do, is wait it out.

Monday we went out to feed in the evening, and the roo had moved himself again, and had taken up a spot under a support beam, where he was on his chest, upright (not standing yet), and no longer flopped over on his side. His head was up, and his eyes were open, and when Kevin tossed some feed over, he was eating.

Kevin came in the next morning, and said, "He's on his feet again."

I would never have thought he'd recover, since he was DOWN. I thought it was for sure, the end.

He's a good rooster, a gentleman, gets the eggs fertilized without abusing the hens. A little miracle that he also had the strength to recover - too often we just lose them and never know why. Losses have been very low to illness, but when it hits, they usually just go down and never get up again.

So that was our blessing for the day. A rooster that got back up again when we did not expect him to do so.

UPDATE: The roo would periodically stumble and fall down for several more days, and then progressed to where he just got wobbly on his feet now and again, to where he was just slower than he used to be, and gradually improved day by day. We are hoping he is fertile, and able to father more chicks, because the ability to survive serious illness is a desirable trait in breeding stock.


Note: For those who think it was terrible that we let the rooster wait it out.

We posted this story on FaceBook, and were "scolded" for not having brought the rooster into the house, or taken it to the vet, or having given it SOMETHING to treat it, or just ANYTHING other than waiting it out. While those courses of action may have helped other people feel better themselves, it would have done NOTHING helpful for the rooster. The rest of this is my original reply to them - it is quite energetic, so proceed with caution!

Bringing him in the house would not have changed anything in any positive way. All it would have done is cause him to overheat (he's acclimatized to the cooler coop, NOT to the house that is overheated and humid from canning), he would be terrorized, and it might also expose him to something else in a different environment!

He's a CHICKEN, for pity's sake! He's not a PERSON! He lives in a coop, with other chickens! That is where he feels comfortable! Moving him from one place to another would NOT have helped! Putting him in the house would have made it HARDER for him! That is what people do to make THEMSELVES feel better, NOT to make the animal feel better!

Sometimes there IS no diagnosis on an animal, and giving them the WRONG medicine is WORSE than giving them none at all! He was GETTING water, and he was right by the food. He's NOT used to being handled, and messing with him would cause more trauma than just letting him alone! He's not a pet, he's a farm animal!

I intervene when it has a chance of HELPING. This time, it did not! So I left him alone because HE knew what he needed and I did not!

If you feel the need to "scold" us for not having done whatever it is you think we should have done that would not have helped in any meaningful way, please stop judging, and just celebrate the fact that this rooster LIVED, when every other chicken I've seen on our farm or anyone else's that did this has DIED, REGARDLESS of what measures were taken to treat it.

(I apologize to the kind people who understood this story for what it is in the first place.)

Coddiwomple Farm is located the United States.