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Rescue Chicken

Excerpts from the Awesome Silkie Bantam Chat
Laura B

This isn't about a Silkie, but maybe someone can give me some advice.

I have 2 Silkie roos and a big queen-bee barred rock hen. I live in Georgia and poultry farms are big here. We have these poultry trucks that take the birds to be slaughtered, cages all stacked up with birds crammed in, exposed to the wind. Feathers everywhere. We call it a Georgia snowstorm. Occasionally you see a dead bird on the side of the highway. I have no idea how they get loose. The whole thing is horribly sad.

Well, here's the point of this story: yesterday I went to the coop to feed them some clover, and my birds came running like they usually do. Feeding away, I looked up and saw this white bird peeking around from the Silkies' doghouse. I have no idea how it got in there. I assume a friend found it and put it in, but no one will own up to it.

So, this bird is in rough shape. Feathers are dirty; some are plucked out in the front. Under it's little tail there is a bloody spot the size of a quarter (not the vent). It won't come out from behind the Silkies bedroom on its own, because Gladys (the queen-bee rock) gives it the what-for. I assume she's not letting it eat and drink. Being a meat bird, the poor dear looks like a bowling ball with a neck.

What should I do for this poor thing? I'm asking friends to try to borrow an old wire dog cage for now, so that it can get its bearings and Gladys can get used to its presence. I figure the feathers will grow back. Should I just put Neosporin on the sore? Will this thing eat layer pellets? I don't know if it even knows what they are. It wouldn't eat birdseed (my birdies favorite thing) out of my hand. Would it drink out of a dish? I don't know if it was a battery cage bird or one of the ones that walks around in a huge barn (I really don't know much about chicken farming). It *does* have a whole beak, so that's one thing going for it.

Anybody have any experience with keeping ex-con eating birds?

William Smith

I too am from Georgia, and have a rescue from the poultry truck. Her name is Grace and I found her this past spring, and your description is very on target, "A bowling ball with a head on it." I started her on Chick Starter feed, but she had horrible diarrhea, so I switched her to an all-natural diet after a few days of eating dry oatmeal. This seemed to firm up her stools.

Grace at 8 Weeks Old

I cannot attest to this as fact, but was told they were given salt water before sending them off to the processing plant "to clean out their systems". You will also notice that the upper beak is trimmed in order to keep them from pecking one another, so even though they seem full grown, you need to keep them away from older, aggressive birds as they are only six weeks old. By twelve weeks Grace started laying. I am sure this is due to hormones that are fed them, and with laying came the horrible diarrhea again. I have found that by letting Grace free range as much as possible, that the combination of exercise and eating naturally has really done a lot to keep her weight down and keep her very mobile. I was very worried that her joints would give out, but she seems to be doing very well.

Grace at 8 Weeks with a 12 Week Old Silkie

One word of warning, you may stop eating processed chicken after falling in love with your rescue, when you realize that the large chicken you see in front of you is six weeks old. It really puts into perspective just how grotesque it is what has been done to them. I can no longer look at a truckload of chickens going down the road any longer. So if you are driving in north Georgia and see one, make sure I am nowhere around. Because I am either driving with my eyes closed or turning my head in the other direction.


I adopted a meat bird that fell off a chicken truck. Betty is a very sweet girl, and actually quite bright. I found out that she would eat herself sick as long as food was available, even if other non-meat chickens surrounded her. I tried keeping her in a separate yard so I could control her food intake and she just ate dirt instead of food. Betty is now a full-time housechicken on a fairly strict diet. She eats layer pellets, and gets very small low-fat treats every now and then. The best advice I got was from Suze on the Amazing Silkie Bantam Chat - to let her eat as much as she can in 10 minutes in the morning, and 5 minutes in the evening. As Betty got older I had to cut her rations even more, but she still gained weight. It's true Betty looks like a very large bowling ball on legs, but I estimate she is 19 months old now, and she can still walk. She is prone to episodes of shortness of breath and she cannot handle the heat, but she is worth every inconvenience - she is friendly, talkative, even has a sense of humor. She is also a very big reason why I do not eat supermarket chicken anymore.


The Cornish x Rocks are bred to grow fast so they can be butchered at an early age. The sooner they are butchered the less money they have to spend on feed and care. This breed was developed so the chicken industry can make more money.

Eggnus as a Chick with Emma

I bought some chicks from a feed store and one was suppose to be a white rock. She was the Cornish x Rock and I didn't find out for sure until she was about 4 months old. She grew at an alarming rate even though she free ranged with the other chicks. None of my other chickens were overweight but she was obese weighing 10 pounds at 4 months old. I took her to a vet because she went lame. She seemed to think that Eggnus had injured her back and that was causing her leg problems. She advised me to cut down on her food intake and she was given pills to help with her inflammation and calcium. Eggnus never regained her full mobility but she would walk a short ways and lay down and then try again. In the summer months she had to live in the house because the heat was a major problem with her breathing. She would go outside in the mornings and be with the flock then I would bring her inside to the air conditioning.

See Tribute to Eggnus

She passed away when she was 9 months old. She died of the flip over disease, which is due to the growth of these chickens, and the organs cannot keep up with the body mass. This breed of chicken is not bred to have a life past the age of butchering. She was a very special chicken and she always remained bonded to the little Silkie hen who raised her all throughout her life. I loved her very much and still miss her.

My advice would be to encourage the exercise outside as much as possible. Do not let her overeat and make sure there is nothing she can jump down from to injure herself on. Enjoy each day you have with her because it will truly be a blessing.


I'm not the original poster but, in regards to this, is it possible to teach them it's ok to be out more? Or will birds like this always prefer smaller quarters?

William Smith

They are raised in chicken "houses", the houses are quite large, but it is just that they pack them in very tightly. Grace adjusted to being out of those environs very quickly. I put her with my young chicks, even though she was ten times their size, and they got along very well. These were chicks that I started in my house and had just moved to outside quarters. Now if you were to come across a battery hen, a layer, that would be a different story altogether.

She's used to not have even enough room to spread her wings so a wire dog cage will seem like heaven to her.

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