There are some terrible people in the world; it's a fact that everyone knows. Chicken owners are not exempt from falling into this group. Last Tuesday I had an encounter with just such an individual. Not with the person themselves but with their chickens, whom they threw away like trash when they were no longer useful.
A coworker told me about a group of tiny chickens that had suddenly shown up on the property across from her house. They were left with no food, water, or protection from the cold, wind, snow and predators. In short, they were left to starve to death, die from exposure, or be eaten by predators by an owner who no longer had use for them.
When she asked me if I would take them, I said yes. I gave her some chicken feed and they were so hungry they were easy to lure into a crate. From there, she passed them off to me.
There are seven in all, and they are all OEGBs - Old English Game Bantams. There were two roosters and five hens. Upon examination their toenails were twisted and overgrown, as if they were never allowed on the ground to scratch and wear them down. One rooster had spurs that were about to grow back into his legs. They all had leg bands, as if they were a breeding group. And they all have a bad to severe case of scaly leg mites.
The bands prove that these birds at one time served a purpose for someone, and now that whatever that purpose was had come to an end, the owner opted not to try to give them away or even to cull them, but to dump them and let them die a horrible death.
I wasn't about to let that happen. I moved my old rabbit hutch out of storage and set it up for them. It's a little cramped, but it will have to do until spring as they need to be quarantined away from my flock until then in case they are harboring something more sinister than leg mites. I set them up a little roost and got them set with food and water.
Then I tackled the other problems. To treat the leg mites and any other parasites they may have I dosed them with Ivermectin. Then I set about taking care of their nails and the rooster's spurs. Here is a before shot of the rooster with the severely overgrown spurs:
As you can see his spurs and nails were very overgrown. The hens' nails were no better. You can also see the damage done by the scaly leg mites. Sadly, this case was not even the most severe out of all of them. After some quick work with pet nail trimmers this was the result:
After all my work with them I left them alone to settle in and enjoy their nails being trimmed and the wormer doing its work. It will take quite a while for their feet to return to normal, even after the mites die off. I will probably end up coating their feet and legs in Vaseline to help speed the healing process by softening things up and allowing the damaged scales to fall off. It seems my help has been appreciated, because two days ago I found this in the hutch:
They still have a long way to go, but this is a sure sign of recovery. If all goes well they will get their own coop in the spring and will be able to live out their lives in comfort and protection, a far cry from the death their former owner intended them.