An amazing story of survival


Being a backyard chicken keeper is not for the faint hearted. During the last six years I’ve had all kinds of things to deal with, some of which have been extremely unpleasant, others which are just plain sad. However, I have one amazing story of survival which I would like to share. It involved a hen suffering from flystrike.

It is a horrid, horrid condition. The flies lay their eggs close to a healthy chickens anus, and within hours, they hatch. The maggots immediately get to work, wriggle inside of the hen and have a feast, eating everything and anything in sight. All the time, the bird is still alive!

Even though we found the girl early, the sight of the maggots and the hollow they had created was not something I wish to describe. I am not especially squeamish, but this was horrendous and I could not look for longer than a fraction of a second. It turned my stomach. Doug, being the kind of man he is, began his work.

One by one he plucked out the maggots, until he could reach no more. Unfortunately, there were still some inside of her, so he sat her in a bowl of strong salt water. Dead maggots floated out of her, every last one of them.

I swear, I could hear the hen’s relieved sigh!

We decided to name her Holly – a play on holey.

We still didn’t really believe she had a chance of making a full recovery as during all of this time she had been lifeless. In addition, we didn’t know the extent of her damage. However, to our amazement, within hours she was animated and demanding food.It was just the boost we needed; days earlier our dog, Bella, had lost a nine month fight with cancer.

The following day Holly was flapping her wings and squawking. She hated been kept in a small cage and wanted to return to the flock. We knew there was a risk of infection since she had a hole in her back-end almost the size of a tennis ball, but we still considered it the best place for her. So we took her home.

Guess what! She made a full recovery. Even the hole disappeared.

What a result! Sometimes, a little effort is worth it. You just never know what might happen.


About Honor A Dawson

I live in a rural location with my husband, dogs, cats and chickens. I love reading and writing, watching and playing tennis, swimming, and wildlife and nature.

Posted on May 7, 2014, in chicken tales and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. That’s an amazing survival story. I know from bitter experience how dreadful fly-strike can be, we lost one of our rabbits to the dreadful condition and still feel extremely saddened and guilty about the whole thing. It strikes so quickly, often totally overcoming the poor animal before you even realise its succombed, and even if you are quick enough to detect it and try to deal with it the toxins released by the maggots can still kill the animal. You did SO well to nurse your chicken back to good health again. She’s clearly a fighter!

  2. Wow! I never understood what kind of medical knowledge we would need as a chicken keepers. It seems every month or two, the learning curve steepens and we have to expand our gross-me-out levels.
    We haven’t had flystrike (yet) but you have prepared me for yet another rung on the ladder. I’m glad to hear Holly’s survival story! Thanks.

  3. Yikes! I, knock on wood, have never seen this! Great job nursing your chickie back to health 🙂

  4. What a story. Congratulations to you and your fine feathered friend’s success!

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