Pin It

Friday, September 24, 2010

Salt -n- Pepa Together Again: Marek's Disease Sucks

Salt passed away, and we found out that the reason is Marek's, meaning that . . . most likely, the whole flock is or will be infected. I am feeling pretty sorry for myself, so this blog entry will pretty much be a pity party. If you're not in the mood for that, feel free to skip this entry.

Salt began exhibiting Pepa's symptoms the day Pepa died. When Salt got to the point of not being able to breathe well, we took her to the Emergency Clinic for Animals in Madison. Dr. Mark Koeppl (who also took care of our late beloved cat, Riley) handled Salt with care. He kept her overnight, and in the morning, recommended that we put her down. He sent her little chicken body off to the State Lab, and today the results came back: we've been dealing with Marek's this whole time.

This is devastating news. Since Marley was put down, we've been waiting for results from the state lab to no avail. We're not really sure why that has taken so long, but the turnaround time on Salt was only three days. Shouldas, wouldas, and couldas are running rampant through my mind: we shouldn't have put all the chicks together, we should have waited until we got the State Lab results for Marley, we could have gotten another coop so the chicks could be separated until we knew, etc., etc. Ani is currently limping around the run, and I'm sick with worry about her. She is the chicken version of the love of my life.

We're waiting for answers as to how to proceed. I want our chickens to live. I don't even care about eggs. I love those little birds. Luckily, I have a super compassionate and empathetic husband who consoles me with back rubs, tears up with me, and has a deep fondness for our feathery friends. Thank goodness for soul mates.

Back to Salt, the main reason for this post . . . she started off as little "Blackie." All of a sudden, in a matter of days, she turned white, and we started calling her "Whitie." When we realized how terrible referring to this little chick as Little Blackie and/or Little Whitie sounded, we came up with the names Salt and Pepa, because Salt had, in effect, been sort of both at one point or another. The names fit in brilliantly with our musical theme.

Salt was the most affectionate of the babies. Ever since she was one-day old, she'd snuggle her little head between my arm pit and chest. She did that to Andy too. It was like she couldn't get close enough to her human parents. She imprinted on us early on. It was very hard to watch our "little" chick go from our little pet to a sick birdie with no chance of survival.

Salt as a baby, with our only Easter Egger left, Spinderella

Andy with his favorite baby chick
P.S. We don't normally add face photos, but this one really shows Salt's personality.
 Salt, Pepa, and Spinderella were the first chickens to fly onto the weeping pea shrub we planted for the chickens. They'd all share the space and perch on that for hours. Poor Spinderella misses her chicken friends and hasn't been up there since they've both mysteriously disappeared from her life. She's really lonely. Janis and Ella are friends. Ani and Zappa are friends. Poor Spinderella is all alone and often bullied. What can we do? Not purchase any more chicks with Marek's here.

We've learned quite a bit from this ordeal, including:
1. Get all of our chickens from one source. Purchasing from multiple places was our mistake in this situation.
2. Marek's is rare, the second rarest chicken disease after Newcastle Disease. (We're unlucky!?!)
3. Marek's shows up through so many symptoms. The "respiratory symptoms" were Marek's. The limp was Marek's. The empty crop= Marek's.
4. If chickens are pets, culling them seems impossible. To us, it would be like hitting our cats over the head to put them to sleep. We'll be taking all of our chickens to the vet to say good-bye when the time arises just like we would our cats. We seem crazy. We know it, and we're okay with it.

Please send our chicks: Ani, Zappa, Janis, Ella, and Spinderella your most optimistic vibes ...

No comments:

Post a Comment