Phew, ten days of hauling elderly ex-batt Sumo indoors at bedtime to have some additional sustenance “offered” to her seems to have helped. She was barely eating enough to keep going and had started sleeping in the nestbox at night, and moping around by day.
The vet could find nothing obviously wrong, apart from some abdominal swelling, which might or might not be the cause of her poor appetite. Armed only with some supplements for her water, I continued with the child-like practice of rolling dampened Allen and Page ex-batt crumbs into tiny balls resembling plasticine peas. Sumo was the perfect patient, tolerating me squeezing her beak open to pop in the “peas” one by one. She didn’t try to flap my eyes out, nor to leap off my lap onto our aged cat, who looked on with obvious incredulity. OK, she did peck dementedly on my finger at each offering, but this didn’t hurt me at all, and if it let Sumo vent some of her annoyance, that’s fine. After all, I wouldn’t much care for someone shoving balls of sandwich down my throat, especially when accompanied by squirts of energy drink to wash it all down.
I still need to keep an eye on her food intake, but she is much more interested in food again, which is good, and she is also resuming her role as Top Chicken with some gusto. By which I mean that she is once more able to peck poor Araminta (Minty for short) who as bottom hen, was starting to enjoy the reprieve caused by Sumo’s illness, and in particular getting a space at the food bowl. So whilst Sumo’s waistline decreased, Minty’s burgeoned, as she spent the whole ten days of Sumo’s malaise eating from dawn to dusk and well into hen-night. Ah well, it had to end some time…..we wouldn’t want Minty exploding in a burst of white feathers now, would we?