Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have nearly four acres of garden and woodland, all managed organically and to Permaculture principles, which we share with Chickens, Cats and assorted wildlife. We also grow a lot of our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and make a lot of compost!

I am a Master Composter and have spent more than a decade as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council.
I'm a self employed Environmental Educator so I run workshops and events where I talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. I also run crafts workshops and Forest School/outdoor play sessions in our wood.

We try to live a more self sufficient lifestyle here, as best we can, while still having a comfortable life and lots of fun.

To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!

Thursday 25 June 2009

Update on poor old Ginger

As I detailed in late night fox activities, on Sunday I went out to shut the chickens in the Orchard, but there was no sign of Ginger, Capt Flint, no Henny and no Long John Silver.

The other hens were all very agitated and I finally found Ginger, unhurt but shaking, inside the Eglu, where she hasn't lived for 1 1/2 years. Henny and Long John Silver turned up OK late that night and Capt Flint was there the next morning. Capt Flint, especially, seems to have had a near miraculous escape as he was definately grabbed by the Fox on Sunday night and his neck looked very badly cricked....!

So all was well first thing Monday I thought, until I realised Ginger hadn't come out with the other girls....She was still inside Peckingham Palace, didn't look very happy, a bit miserable, a bit hunched up and she didn't lay an egg. I checked her over, she had no obvious injury and seemed ok, and she settled down to her usual routine in the Orchard that day. She was a bit quiet but eating and drinking OK so I assummed she was upset by the fox incident and the lack of an egg was because she was due her 6 weekly day off laying ( seriously, she lays continuously in the summer for 42 days then has a day off!)

But Tues morning there was no egg, when I would have expected her to lay very early on and she seemed even more hunched up and withdrawn and worryingly I didn't see her do any droppings...this was serious as if there was an egg stuck in her enough to bung her up to that extent, she would rapidly die of the effects of not being able to pass out her waste products,

So...I had a gentle feel of her abdomen, it didn't seem unduely swollen BUT it wasn't "right" SO, as I had no medication to hand which might help, we used old fashioned methods. We filled a box with warm/hot water (body temp for a chicken) with some lavender essential oil and lavender soap added and I lowered her in. The idea beind this is the same as a soak in a hot bath when you have a back ache, it relaxes the muscles and hopefully would allow Ginger to expel any retained egg stuck inside her oviduct. It usually works well and quite quickly! ( and I would have gone to the vets asap if it hadn't!)

I let Ginger soak for about 20 mins while lovely Compostman got the Broody Ark out and put it in the sunshine for her. Ginger seemed to enjoy the unusual experience, well she crooned and purred a bit, anyway and nibbked at my hand.

I lifted her out, wrapped her in a towel and dried her gently and then put her in the Ark. She strained a bit

and then produced a misshapen egg shell and some egg white! and then a poo.....!

She perked up a lot after all this and ate and drank a bit, including a good portion of bread soaked in olive oil, (as I was a bit concerned about her crop feeling a bit impacted) and I left her to recover away from the other hens. Ginger perked up during the rest of the day and, although not right, was a lot improved by Tuesday evening.

BUT early on Wednesday morning she looked much worse again, hunched over, refusing to eat, and very wobbly. I rang the vet and took her straight down to see Tamsin the vet. She admitted her heart sank a bit when I walked in with ANOTHER ginger hen in a cat carrier, and when I said this was my best layer, most favourite hen and the matriarch of the flock she said "so, no pressure, then"

Ginger had no obvious retained egg stuck inside her BUT had a high temperature and a lot of albumen came out when Tamsin examined her, which was not good news. She had a shot of antibiotic, one of oxytocin ( yes, like some women have during labour to speed up contractions during childbirth!) and a dose of liquid calcium ( this helps smooth muscle movement, like the hot bath) I didn't have any liquid calcium at home so I got some to take away, and Tamsin was approving of the hot bath idea as a good one to try.

Ginger hasn't passed any egg products yesterday or today but IS looking brighter and has done some huge poos, so fingers crossed all will be well with my favourite hen.

BUT she does NOT like her daily syringe full of antibiotic OR calcium and I have a struggle to get them down her beak....

Please can I have lots of good thoughts for my hen? I know she is "only a chicken" but.....we are very fond of her and Henny, particularly, will be lost without her friend Ginger ( and YES hens DO have friends.....)


  1. Oh I do hope she gets better quickly, its awful when animals are ill. And no, she isnt 'just a chicken'.....

    Hugs to you and Ginger xxx

  2. She is sun bathing at the moment, enjoying the last hot rays from the West...

    I really really hope she will be OK, I don't want to lose ANOTHER chicken to egg peritonitis issues :-(

    Thanks for the good wishes, both of you.

  3. Very good report. You dont like to lose any animals..even when a wild one comes up missing...I wonder what happened. Good luck..hope she is fine.


  4. I'll say a little prayer for your sweet Ginger...Please keep us updated...

  5. Many warm, healing thoughts for Ginger. She definitely isn't just a chicken to your readers either.

  6. Ah thank you all for you kind words.

    Ginger looked better tonight and came out to see me and inspect the food I offered. She deemed it an acceptable offering and gobbled it up in her usual, greedy, manner.

    So we are hopeful she is on the mend...fingers crossed xx

  7. Ginger sending you lots of love and hoping you get well very soon!!
    Hugs for Henny and hoping she gets her friend back in peak condition as soon as possible!
    Thinking of you CW!
    Love Jane xxx

  8. Ah Jane thank you so much...I have just been out to say good night to hr and she is fast asleep...so hopefully is healing up......

  9. Hopeful thoughts for all your chickies. I know I worry about all of mine.

  10. Hope she's better this morning, keeping my fingers crossed.

  11. There's no such thing as "just a hen" when you have chickens. Hope she's better soon.

  12. Here's a {{{HUG}}} for Ginger and another {{{HUG}}} for you :-)

    Rosie x

  13. awww poor chicken. Get better soon chicky

  14. I hope shes brightening up now,ts horrible to see any living thing under the weather :o( It might be shock from all the kerfuffle the other night?
    GTM x

  15. Warms the heart to see such compassion. Great to see your bath technique, will have to remember that!


  16. Aw, poor Ginger, I hope she's on the mend by now.

    And NO they are never 'just chickens' and yes they do have friends, my Milly and Molly go everywhere new together for moral support!!

    Sue xx

  17. hello all :-)

    Ginger looks better today :-)

    But is still isolated in the Broody Ark so is not very happy about that

    @ GTM, She was very stressed by what happened, and we think that is what made her egg bound , or maybe even the developing Monday egg broke inside her which would cause the infection. Who knows wwhat she went through? If she was chased and got away, she may well have been batttered and bruised....

    Still, she is alive and improving at the moment, which is good!

  18. I am so glad your chicken is ok!

    I had them as a child and was devastated wheneer we lost any!

    Rose XXX

  19. No matter what the naysayers might preach.... there is no such thing as "only a chicken"..


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