Chicken keeping is a fickle mistress.

One minute there are six happy and well chickens. The next minute, one becomes very out of sorts, and Short Tony is forced to dip his finger in olive oil in order to stick it up its jacksy.

“I’ve done the olive-oiled finger thing,” he tells me. I swear that there is an aggrieved tone in his voice, if it is possible to have an aggrieved tone in his voice via SMS message. Clearly, I have picked a good time to visit my parents for the day.

We have a short telephone conversation, mainly about the process and results of him having to stick his finger up its jacksy. My mother and father look on, oddly. “Are you SURE you didn’t try to have sex with it?” asks Short Tony. I look around the living room, and decide that it is best just to reply with a ‘no’.

Booooooo – there is a chicken with chicken problems. We were all excited the previous night, as we thought that it was about to lay an egg. It was sitting down a lot, and then sort of bouncing awkwardly on both legs, as if it were on an invisible chicken spacehopper that was ever so slightly too big for it. However, no egg appeared and now it does not seem to be able to stand or move at all.

“I’ll give Len the Fish a ring,” sighs Short Tony. Len the Fish knows all about farming stuff. He turns up later on, out of the goodness of his heart. Short Tony passes him the olive oil.

There is apparently a condition called an ‘Egg Bound Hen’ which is very rare and unlikely to happen, but involves the egg getting stuck on the way out. Clearly its rarity works proportionately to the fuckwitteddom of the person to which the chicken belongs. I try to envisage what the symptoms would be if I had an egg stuck on the way out, using role play, and it seems to fit the chicken’s behaviour.

I receive another communication. There is definitely no egg up there. I get some advice to feed it some olive oil. Short Tony feeds it some olive oil. Different olive oil.

We are a bit stumped now. The chicken is in the emergency isolation ward (Short Tony’s conservatory) and has been given a hot bath and stuff. It does not seem to be able to walkat all, but also does not seem to be particularly distressed; its eyes are bright and it is pecking at food. I do not think that it is just a lazy chicken, though. Perhaps it has had some form of stroke. It is not bird flu. Poor chicken. Can anybody help?

79 thoughts on “There is a chicken emergency.

  1. Hamish says:

    This chicken is too comfortable. Shake him from his lethargy by choking the chicken. Yes, choke that chiken! Then fist the chicken! Choke and fist! Choke and fist!

  2. Damian says:

    This might help. Common poultry diseases:

    I had a quick read through for the potential symptoms and have concluded that your hen is suffering from:
    – Newcastle Disease
    – Mycoplasma Synoviae
    – Marek’s Disease
    – Equine Encephalitis
    – Avian Encephalomyelitis
    – Infections Tenosynovitis

    I’m not normally the praying kind, but I’ve just said a little prayer for your hen!

  3. Damian says:

    Of course you could just creep up behind her and shout “Boo!!”

  4. JoAnne says:

    First off – Hamish, you made me have a tiny accident. Naughty man!

    Second off…forgive me, but I don’t remember if you mentioned whether you’d sequestered the bird, Jonny. I know she’s in a box but where is the box?

    Don’t want to see other chickens flopping about, after all.

    And friends, if one must stick a finger up a chicken’s bum, I know it’s polite to oil the finger for the chicken’s comfort…but one COULD put on a latex glove and oil THAT just as easily. Did this not occur to you EVER, Jonny?

  5. sooz says:

    Hamish – if the chicken was a ‘him’ he’d be a cock.

  6. Indigo says:

    You could do worse than totter over to the Omlet forum, to the Chicken Clinic bit, and search on “egg bound” and “lameness” etc.

    From the very little information you have given us (!), it might be not enough grit in the hen’s diet.

  7. JonnyB says:

    Ah – yes – the omlet forum was brilliant. I think she was OK for grit, as she ate chicken feed with it in, had extra grit, and free-ranged in a large area so there is loads of natural stuff around also.

    Past tense, I’m afraid.

  8. Nooooo- it died! So sorry. Will you bury it?

  9. Dave says:

    So sad. Would you like me to conduct the burial service, or are you going for cremation?

  10. Richard says:

    Very unfortunate indeed. This is something you will have to get used to but the first one is always the worst. You did your best.

  11. ganching says:

    As they say where I come from, sorry for your trouble.

  12. Mr Angry says:

    When is the public enquiry?

  13. Jonners says:


    (I think that’s what the “yoof” say under such circumstances?)

  14. Indigo says:

    Sorry to hear about your chook, JonnyB. At least she had had a nice life. Please don’t let this knock your self-confidence, with respect to chook-keeping.

  15. M. Al-Fayed says:

    It was the Duke of fuggin’ Edinburgh

  16. JonnyB says:


    Thank you, esp Mr Al-Fayed. Sorry about your son an’ that. Give my regards to the editor of the Express.

  17. Jules Ritter says:

    Cheer up there is always Renée zellweger.
    PS How is Short Tony taking it?

  18. AndyB says:

    Still, on the bright side, that’s Sunday sorted.

  19. Blazing says:

    It’s pining for the fjords…

    Sorry Jonny. Must be a difficult time…

  20. pengwenn says:

    Dear Jonny,
    I am so very sorry as it seems you have had the most foul day. My condolences on the loss of Chicken # Four.

  21. Pat says:

    I do hope it isn’t as painful as losing a dog. Don’t be too sad; you did the best you could.

  22. NAGA says:

    Oh dear. Sorry to hear that chook.

    Did you have to put her out of her misery?

    “Short Tony places his long heavy Ace into my unsteady hand. I close my eyes and think of the wood pile. There is a loud swishing of air followed quickly by, the scream of a Short Tony”

  23. kermit says:

    aww, sorry about the chicken.

    if it died within two weeks of you purchasing it from the chicken lady, shouldn’t you be eligible for a refund of some kind or a replacement chicken, say one that’s not ill?

  24. gargravarr says:

    chicken #4? was that it’s name or are you counting them down?

  25. spazmo says:

    oh no. Bad luck, Jonny.
    You and Short Tony’s finger tried your best.

  26. Keith says:

    I am greatly saddened. The demise of Chicken Four is announced in the thread after this one. Although termed as being an Epitaph, no epitaph is provided. Nor is the ability allowed for your readership to add theirs.

    Everything deserves a proper epitaph. Yes, even a chicken. If this one had not yet given service to you, who knows what secret hopes, ambitions and trust she had that one day she would achieve just that and present you with a truly golden sunny side up of a breakfast? She might well have been the Barak Obama of chickens.

    Perhaps you thought we would be disrespectful in our comments? Perhaps you thought we would not share your grief and try and help you achieve closure? Please do not under-rate our concern for you, for chickens and for the commonwealth of human compassion for each other.

    Besides, it saved you wringing its neck.

    So please write a decent epitaph for the poor ex-chicken.

  27. Bryn says:

    “Here lie the bones of Chicken 4 – died just in time for a weekend roast….”
    /gets coat, leaves quietly – thinking of chestnut stuffing & yorkshire pudding….

  28. guyana gyal says:

    Keith [comment 76] has said it all for me.

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