A Modern Homesteader

Sick Hens and Death

So, I’ve been pretty vocal on many boards about the fact that my hens are not pets. They’re not pets. They are productive animals that provide eggs and manure. In return, I give them food, shelter, water, access to free range and, yes, affection. I plan to stew them someday when they are no longer in the egg providing stage of life but in the scheme of things, they are not pets.

If your hens are pets, more power to you. I have no real issue with you keeping a hen around until she dies a natural death at the ripe old age of 15 or 20. Does not matter to me. If you give your hens a good life and butcher them at age 2, does not matter to me. I share Erica’s sentiments about people who should absolutely not get backyard chickens┬ábut as long as you either go all in for their full natural lives or do end of life planning for your hens, I’m good.

So, today I found myself in an odd position. My favorite hen, Blondie started acting a bit odd yesterday. She was a bit more standoffish with the other birds and started self isolating. This morning, she just avoided the other girls and wouldn’t leave the coop. I picked her up and she emptied her crop. I did some research and decided it seemed like sour crop and started treating for sour crop.

She seemed to improve for a bit and then… nope. I gave her some cooked corn to see if she could digest that better. She seemed to eat it but still didn’t improve.

I finally sucked it up and went inside to find a knife because she was not improving and I didn’t want her to suffer. I was in tears. I couldn’t find a knife. I went back outside, pet her again and then she quivered and died. I felt horrible. I was devastated. Not only was she my favorite hen, but I had let her suffer the entire day and then failed to have the equipment necessary to end her suffering. Bad, bad chicken owner.

She is now resting in a box in my freezer. I’m going to Puyallup in a few days and we have an avian health center down there. I’ve decided it is worth the $20 to have a clear cause of death, in case it is something in their diet or that she was exposed to in the yard. On top of that, I found a red pellet from a pellet gun in my chicken yard a couple weeks ago, so I’m not 100% sure there isn’t an outside cause.

RIP Blondie Girl… I will miss you following me around as I garden and your beautiful egg song in praise of your sisters’ hard work. Thanks for the eggs.

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