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Updated: Sep 22, 2019

Many animals come to us with particular needs. Sometimes we only find out about those needs as the animal grows and develops. Here’s the story of one chick with many challenges who didn’t look like she had a big future until she arrived at Head Over Hooves.

Jessie girl was impounded by the Gold Coast City Council at four weeks of age. She was tiny, did not have many feathers and did not want giant hands touching her. Time and lots of treats would win her affection. Being a young fowl, we did not know if Jessie was a rooster or hen - thus the unisex name of Jessie/Jesse was chosen. Once we were certain, ‘Jessie Girl’ was given her full name.

We were not prepared for a young chick and had to get our act together quickly to look after her. For her first meals, we soaked chicken pellets so they were easy for her to eat. She certainly didn’t complain and gobbled it up very excitedly. Chick starter was soon bought which was also a big hit. Next we had to set up a suitable boudoir. We filled a medium sized cat carrier with fresh straw, inserted a suitable size perch and found the perfect teddy for her to snuggle up to. She had to sleep in our bathroom (as we have two dogs and two cats in the house who were a little too curious for our liking!) Jessie Girl was very content with her new accommodation and she chirped happily to herself.

As we were still very much in the setting up stage on the property and no safe place to leave her during the day, Jessie Girl became a well-travelled chick.

Every morning at 5.30 am with a travel coffee in hand, Jessie and I would hop in the car and start our two-hour commute to work for the day. We would listen to Hamish and Andy’s Podcast and I started to worry that she thought they were her parents. She would chirp excitedly along to their voices - we had some great conversations on the trips. When we got to work, she had her very safe aviary set up and we would have lunch together. Other than that she would happily chase bugs around, dust bathe and sun bathe all day. Then at close of business we were back in the car to listen to Hamish and Andy and she would again chat away to them.

As she was so young, Jessie required access to fresh food, daily greens (silverbeet, kale and spinach) and fresh water to help her grow up big and strong. Jessie did not have all her feathers yet so, it was essential she was kept warm. Her bathroom/bedroom was heated, the car was warm and she would spend the cold mornings in the heated office and only go out in her aviary once the temperature had warmed up.

On her weekends we had supervised outdoor time for her to get used to the big world safely.

After a month or so, Jessie developed a bad limp on her left leg, she didn’t want to put it down and was very quiet. She was prescribed anti-inflammatories to start off with and was not allowed to run around. We set up “day crate” for her, it was larger than her bedroom crate but not big enough for her to build up any speed. We also had to remove her perch so she did not hurt herself flying up or down. After three days she was back to herself. It became obvious as she grew that her left leg was not growing as fast as her right, in fact it was quite a lot shorter.

At first, we contemplated trying to get something for her to wear on her left leg to extend it and try and avoid compensatory injuries but Jessie was not having a bar of that!! So it was decided that we would just monitor Jessie’s growth under the care of our Avian Veterinarian and only intervene if medically necessary.

Once Jessie was old enough, she graduated to being outside with our flock during the day and sleeping with them in their coops at night.

Now Jessie Girl spends her days running around with her friends, sun bathing and dust bathing. She is an absolute menace at dinner time, she flies up while everyone’s dinner is being prepared, throwing bowls and food everywhere and chuckling to herself in delight!

Throughout her life Jessie will require close monitoring by our avian vet, supplementation and most likely arthritis treatment as she ages and from compensating for her short leg, but she is a very happy little lady.

She’s Jessie Girl and is outrageously perfect in her own way.

Jessie being a big girl out in the big world.

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