Backyard Chickens: The Isolation Cage

September 27, 2013

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Here's an update for those of you who read my last post about Miss Olive Snook. Unfortunately, not only is her leg still sore, but it seems to have worsened. Instead of hobbling around with a limp as she was before, she can barely move now, and holds her foot in the air whenever she's standing. Luckily, she still seems her perky self, and continues to eat and drink, so I'm hopeful.

As expected, the other chickens peck at her even more than they did before due to her weakened state, so Matt and I have decided to isolate her from the other girls. To do this, we first thought about buying a large dog crate or something similar from the store, but we decided against it because something with a floor would be hard to clean and too expensive for the size we were after. Instead, we built a small enclosure inside the coop with scrap wood and leftover chicken wire. It took a few hours to build, and it needs a little fixing here and there, but it does the trick.

Although this makeshift isolation enclosure was initially meant as a temporary fix for Olive, I'm thinking about keeping it long after this ordeal has reached its conclusion. It will come in handy for future medical issues, and will also make the perfect space in which to safely introduce young birds to the rest of the flock if we ever decide to add more.

But the thing I like most about this is that Little Olive can be separate and safe from the other chickens (and herself) while still feeling like she's part of the group. Occasionally they'll wander off too far for her, and she'll put up a fuss, but they usually keep her company. In the meantime, we're hoping that her leg will have the time it needs to heal. At night, we carry her back to the hen house so she can sleep with the other girls and stay warm. We're also giving her a bit of crushed baby aspirin with some food to help with the pain. Aside from calling the vet, which I'd very much like to avoid, I'm not sure what else to do other than to just wait and see.

Anyway, here's to hoping I come back with better news next Monday.


  1. I just emailed your link to my sister and just got off of the phone with her about this..she will be commenting in a bit.

    So sorry that she has gotten worse, hopefully a little isolation will be just the ticket. Please keep us updated. xo

  2. Hi,
    I am Sherri's sister and she just sent me your link about your ailing chicken.

    I have a Wellsummer, Aspen, and she is one of my smaller hens and is also low on the pecking order in my flock of sixteen. I'm not sure if that is a trait of that breed or not.

    I would say that since you have examined her for signs of injury, foreign body, or Bumblefoot, that this is probably a sprain of some sort. You might try and wrap it with vet wrap to stabilize it and give her support. Make sure you wrap in between the toes and not all bunched up together. You might look for a video on Youtube to help show you how best to wrap a hens leg.

    Be cautious when you introduce her back into the flock after she has been isolated. Hens can get persnickety when being separated and can get aggressive with the injured bird upon return.

    I hope and pray your girl gets better.


  3. Thank you for the advice Michelle. I'll definitely look into wrapping the leg, and try to find some youtube tutorials to help me.

    The only thing I've heard about Welsummers is that they tend to be aloof, but friendly, and that their breed runs small. For the most part, she tends to go off on her own, and submits to the more aggressive chickens without a fuss. It's only since she started limping the the other girls have started to peck at her more aggressively, so I'll definitely watch her like a hawk when it comes to reintroducing her to the rest of the group.

    Thanks again. I really appreciate any and all advice I can get. :)

  4. Oh no! Hope she gets better. Can't wait for the day I have space to raise chickens! I'll have to backtrack and read a lot more of your older posts to pick up some info.

  5. I hope Miss Olive Snook gets better soon. You are wise to keep her close to the flock, but also safe. I'm dealing with vet bills for my little dog Buddy. I didn't know dogs could get COPD, and I suppose his remaining years will involve meds. He's still a happy little guy, just as you describe your little girl Olive. Hopefully, she'll be on the mend without the need for a Vet.

  6. Poor little Olive :( How is she getting on? Hope her foot heals soon!

    1. She's still limping, but less than before. I suspect it will be a lifetime problem for her now. =\