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Treat Heat Stroke

By Suze Scott
Edited by Alan Stanford, Ph.D.

I just got off the phone with the vet. Getting hold of a vet today was a real effort. My regular chicken vet was booked solid. He did get back to me with a message through the front office folks that it was heat and he'd see Stormy tomorrow if he was still having problems. They gave me the name for another vet, who wasn't in today, for someone who doesn't treat chickens, and that office gave me some other names, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. No one was available or would treat chickens. I finally got a return call from one of the vets where I left voice mail. We had a long discusion. 

Yes, it is heat stroke. The real clue is the neon/lime (his words) "irridescent green" poop, which means there's a lot of bile in it, which the liver releases under stress. 

I'm to give him 1/2 ounce of gaterade 4 times per day, yogurt, and B-complex vitimins (not more than 10 mg of B1). 

I should have given him a cold bath; I thought about doing it, but was concerned that I would stress him more. Vet said this is a good, fast cool-off, and will sometimes bring back a chicken who is almost gone. 1/2 of a baby aspirin (or 1/4 of an adult one) once will help bring down the temperature rapidly.

Editor's note: Valerie Hirvela has reported losing a bird with too fast a cool off. I recommend a bath at a temperature near the normal temperature of the bird. A bath will quickly drop the bird's temperature to the bath's temperature. We want to restore the bird's normal body temperature, not to make it cold. A bath near or just below that temperature will be best and won't shock the bird. 

Other facts: mornings, with their higher humidity can be more stressful than the higher temps (with lower humidify) from later in the day. Adding the temperature to the humidity gives a number to judge how stressful it is. For example, 100 degrees + 50% = 150, a very stressful number; more stressfull than 110 degrees + 20%. 

Recovery can take quite a bit longer than it takes to over heat. Sounds like Stormy's in for at least 2 or 3 days of recovery, but it could be longer. I expect that Daphne will be pretty much back to normal tomorrow. If chickens are overheated too heavily, or for too long, their internal thermostat can get fried and they'll NEVER be able to regulate their temperature. This is very bad. 

One thing that I'm really greatful for is that I now have a quantity of liquid to aim for getting into him. That was one of my real concerns. The yogurt should help his appetite, as should the B-complex. 

Well, I'm off to play nurse, 
Suze 

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