A short while ago I had to say goodbye to one of my diminishing flock of chickens. Ivy Chicken had stopped laying, and I was already suspicious of another malfunctioning chicken when she took a turn for the worse. Do I hope for the best, find someone who will ‘do the deed’ for me, or give the vet a go? Ivy was always the least friendliest/most flighty of the flock, but I needed to know – am I losing chickens because I’m doing something wrong? I was fairly sure after hitting the chicken forums that the problem was something called egg yolk peritonitis, a genetic problem (due to overbreeding for egg production) with no cure. I needed to know (and there was still hope, after all) so off to the vets we went.
The vet agreed with me – egg yolk peritonitis. Some people do attempt treatment with antibiotics, but we both agreed this would merely delay the inevitable, and Ivy was not going to be a good patient, so that was that. Now I only had one chicken.
Poor Willow Chicken. There is no sadder sight than a lonely chicken. Do I buy her some friends or go the rescue route? I called the British Hen Welfare Trust, and they had very good news: there were still some hens left over from the last rehoming day. So that Saturday we went to pick up our new flock. As Willow has always been Top Hen, we asked for well-feathered birds. Apparently we are in a minority, as usually people ask for the ‘oven ready’ birds if they express a preference.
Well, I shouldn’t really be surprised that Willow Chicken went from The Loneliest Chicken In The World to the Meanest Monster Bully Ever. I popped the new birds in the coop for an hour to settle, but when the first bird ventured out feathers started flying – literally.
It took a week for Willow to calm down her bullying. Although the newbies all got out of her way when she pecked them, they were so used to being treated roughly that they just ignored her, and you cannot be Top Hen if you have no Fawning Minions to obey you.
I’ll write more about how the newbies are settling in later. For now, here are some pics…