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. Fowl developments at Chez Jonny, o my!

  2. JonnyB says:

    And just to head one particular thread off at the pass: no – it wasn’t ‘Eggstra Virgin’.

  3. Richard says:

    Might be an answer here, Jonny. Have to say that most enquiries regarding chicken illness regard culling as a cure.

  4. JonnyB says:

    Hm. That looks familiar.

    I like the answer on that thread from the person who doesn’t know anything about chickens, but has answered anyway, just to be nice.

  5. Jules Ritter says:

    You would wouldn’t you? I have just written a blog about you and how although you write about CHICKENS it is some of the best writing on the net – Guardian’s top 50 etc. etc. and over they will come in droves to read lines such as “stick it up its jacksy” “fuckwitteddom” and an implication of animal buggery!
    I have just committed the equivalent of blogger’s suicide.

  6. Richard says:

    But she was going to pray, which is very sweet. The fun one could have with Yahoo Answers by just being thoroughly inappropriate.

  7. Mr Wibble says:

    Lots of fruit fibre, and a jog around the cricket pitch should sort it. Jonny B and a chicken, running around a cricket pitch – now there’s an image..

  8. mb says:

    maybe it’s taking part in a sit down protest against tibet, iraq or post office closures

  9. You think you’ve got problems – there’s a chicken-owning bloke in Somerset whose chickens have just landed him with an ASBO! Is this the future for you and Short Tony?

  10. Clunky says:

    Maybe you just have a chicken that has a pencant for having blokes stick their finger up its arse?………..I had a girlfrind like that once…….

  11. Pat says:

    Might I just ask something ? Does Jacksy refer to front or back and which one does the egg emerge from? Sorry to seem so ignorant but I’ve never really thought about it before.
    I really hope that Short Tony wore gloves.

  12. If the the fuckwitteddom of the person to whom the chicken belongs is truly the deciding factor, you’d better go buy a barrel of olive oil. And get some thinner fingers.

  13. Sheppitsgal says:

    Short Tony asks “Are you SURE you didn’t try to have sex with it?” and you answered “No”.

    As in, “No, I am not sure that I didn’t try to have sex with it” ???????????

    I think we now know the culprit.

  14. Damian says:

    Have they been vaccinated? Often in the weeks after they are vaccinated – and generally before they start laying – they are a bit out of sorts. You may remember Andre’s 40th birthday party where I gave him an egg from Basil the narcoleptic hen. It turns out that Basil wasn’t narcoleptic. She was falling asleep a lot because one of her vaccinations was making her feel a bit viral.

    To eliminate any digestive cause, feed her a little quantity of her normal chicken food with some good acidophilus yoghurt mixed in – it will help balance her gut.

    Or she may be broody – is she a bit aggressive, pecking at people and such?

    The bad news and good news all rolled into one is that if she really is sick she’ll die in a couple of days, so you’ll know your answer. If she’s still alive on the weekend she’s probably OK.

    (And just to help Pat, chickens only have one hole. It’s called a vent and it’s their multi-purpose orifice. Clever design that.)

  15. Phil says:

    Clever design that.

    I think you can take economising too far.

  16. guyana gyal says:

    I don’t know if this will help but…my mamma’s always telling me that when she was a young girl and the chickens all got sick – looking as though they had the flu, could hardly walk – her mother would feed the chickens [in their mouths] a teaspoonful of coconut oil with a sprinkle of salt and crushed garlic.

    In no time at all, the chickens were up and about.

    Olive oil, coconut oil…same difference.

  17. Damian says:

    Some useful info here:

    Also you can buy some Citricidal from them, which is an organic antibiotic, made from grapefruit seeds. (I don’t know if grapefruit seeds fed directly to the chicken will have an impact.)

  18. AndyB says:

    Front or back?
    Did your parents never have “that” talk with you?

  19. JonnyB says:

    Hm (again).

    Hullo Clunky and welcome. Perhaps she could help? Could you send me her phone number?

    Sheppitsgirl – no, that is not it. The same sort of waddling thing never happened to my other girlfriends (at least not after).

    Everyone else: it seems neurological or muscular. If that helps. Otherwise, she is reasonably happy.

  20. Pat says:

    Damian: thank you so much. I’m almost speechless. I can’t believe I have lived the life I’ve led and not known that. And we had an incubator in my brother’s bedroom. It was so wonderful to see the baby chickens pop out of the eggs.

    AndyB: it was birds and bees – never chickens. I bet I’m not the only one who didn’t know that.

  21. Sheppitsgal says:

    I notice there was still no denial. In fact, an admission!!! “Other girlfriends” indeed!!

  22. Hamish says:

    Perhaps there is an egg up there, it’s just stuck too far up for your fingers to reach.

    What you really need to do here is stick you whole hand up there, up to about the wrist. Fist the chicken, basically.

  23. jennifer in sf says:

    I think if you posted a video of your “role play” it would really help diagnose the problem.

  24. GingerBollox says:

    Hamish, wasn’t that in that film by George Orwell. I seem to remember seeing it at school.

  25. Megan says:

    She sounds like every chicken I’ve ever had and her behaviour is perfectly normal. Mind, the only two chickens I’ve had were luridly coloured plastic and did their bobbly dance on a spring. Have you checked her for springs?

  26. Jayne says:

    Just eat her. And then if you and Short Tony are ill you’ll know there was something wrong (rather than her just being too lazy to walk around on her delicious chicken legs…)

    Go on. You know you want to.

  27. clarissa says:

    Are you sure it’s not a rooster?

  28. Eddie 2-Sox says:

    mb….it may well be a protest against Iraq / Tibet / Whatever, but definitely not against Post Office closures. The poor thing hasn’t got a letterbox, so even an abundance of Post Offices in Jonny’s village would not make any difference.

    Has the toddler fed them anything “on the sly”?

  29. JonnyB says:


    It is still completely immobile. Sitting in a box. It looks like a perfectly healthy chicken in a box. But it can’t DO anything.

  30. sooz says:

    I’m very worried about said chicken.

    I don’t actually believe that eggs come from arses. Surely there are special ovipository err holes for them to come through?

    I would have to take chicken to the vet. Expensive yes but worth it before you get a whole err flock of chicken sitting. Without legs.
    (and I’d have bonded to that sick chicken in a freaky way… *sigh*)

  31. Pat says:

    Sooz: no actually. They just have the one. Damian says so. Not very hygienic is it?

  32. Jonners says:

    Jonny, you said chicken in a box, but are you absolutely sure you didn’t mean chicken in a basket. If the latter, then it is meant to be more or less motionless.

  33. NAGA says:

    Polite Notice – The Venting Machine Is Out Of Order.

    My Free Range Eggs frequently show signs of point of origin. It’s a sort of trademark I believe.

    Chicken soup is always good when you’re ill. Try giving her some with a straw.

  34. guyana gyal says:

    Well, I am not going to pretend I knew.

    Damian, you mean…the same place the egg comes out from, the same place the poo………..?


    And that’s where Short Tony………….?


    So that’s why eggs have chicken poo on them? Eggs with the shell on, I mean.

  35. Perakath says:

    Time to make chicken stew, I think.

  36. kermit says:

    well if the chicken was already given a bath, then i suppose it needs another one, except with hotter water

  37. Linda says:

    If it should, heaven forbid, die, there is an interesting pet cemetary on the outskirts of Paris and I actually saw a grave there for Coquette, “a chicken who was a good friend for 20 years”. I don’t know if you have had your chicken long enough to call it a friend however. Have you even named it?

  38. Dave says:

    I do hope it’s not a Sexually-Transmitted Disease.

    I know nothing about chickens.

    I shall pray for you both.

  39. JonnyB says:

    I think the first rule of something or other is ‘never criticise your audience’. So there is some very good and interesting stuff here – but NOTHING VERY BLOODY HELPFUL.

    It is clucking away happily. As I would be, if I just had to sit in a straw lined box and have food and drink brought to me all the time.

  40. AndyB says:

    Perhaps it’s just sat there defensively, in the hope that no-one else sticks their finger up it’s ……..

  41. Richard says:

    Have you been to the vet yet, Jonny?

  42. She knows if she sits there in her four-star, all-inclusive straw-lined box long enough some man will come along and stick another well-oiled digit up her… vent. And they say chickens are stupid.

  43. julesritter says:


    ….and have food and drink brought to me all the time…..and allowed out for the occasional foray behind the Vegetable Delivery Man’s Van with, as you revealed on my blog, Renee Zellweger….who actually, when you think of it looks very chicken-like.
    He doesn’t need the vet he needs the Doctor.

  44. Sarah P says:

    Maybe you could read it Chicken Soup for the Soul? I doubt it’s ever worked on humans but you never know it may have missed it’s calling as a chicken health guide book.

  45. Blazing says:

    I assume that Short Tony was using his ring finger?

  46. Daryl says:

    Some more “nothing helpful but you might be interested”. About chicken poop, if you look at your average chicken turd you will notice it is white with a darker center type of deal. The white part is the chicken equivelant of pee. The dark part is the actual poop. I just mention this incase you are at a coctail party and the conversation is slowing down and you need something to say.

  47. Jules Ritter says:

    Daryl,Cock-tail and if you want to clear the room, mention the vent.

    Sarah P. That Chicken Soup guy has made millions I saw him on THE SECRET DVD – it is ONLY being read to chickens (that is his secret!).

    Still perturbed about JonnyB’s animal lust. There is no photograph of JonnyB anywhere on this site is he in fact a Chicken!!The Cock of the North? I have a picture of a naked chicken on my site he might be interested in.

  48. Clunky says:

    Erm…silly question but there is nothing wrong with her legs or any sores on her feet things.

  49. Sarah P says:

    Jules Ritter – I always new there was something odd about that Chicken Soup book, now I know, thank you. Maybe Jamie Oliver and co can read it to all the battery farm chickens they free as a form of therapy!

  50. Lisa says:

    I can’t believe you are expecting any actually helpful information from your dear readers. We sit in front of computers reading not only blogs, but comments on blogs, for chrissakes!

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