Whiskey & Ginger sunbathing

It seems the fears we had that we would end up with a run full of elderly non egg-laying chickens aren’t going to materialise. In the last week or so the last two of our original four hens both flew up to chicken heaven. Ginger was the first to go last week, when she took a turn for the worse having been moping around the run for a few days. She was clearly not well so we (Simon) dispatched her one morning. This left Whiskey from the original four, who although always a skinny chicken seemed to be eating well. So whether just a coincidence or whether she was missing her chicken buddy, she stopped eating properly and spent most of the time with her eyes shut under the shelter. We brought her indoors yesterday to try to keep her a bit warmer and conserve her energy. However, in the morning she also became an ex-chicken.

We don’t think they died from the same thing, as their symptoms were different, but you do wonder whether you could have done more to help. As most chicken owners will say, vets often have little expertise in chickens and poultry, as most people would just dispatch a sickly chicken. So there seems little point in taking a chicken to the vet, only to be told there is nothing they can do. Although this is a bit of a vicious circle, but when you’re dealing with what is still seen as a farm animal, vets in rural parts are likely to look at you a bit oddly if you walked into their surgery with a chicken. This may be changing in suburban areas where the trend of back garden chicken-keeping is all the rage, and hens are kept as pets as much as for the eggs, but even then I think many vets are at a bit of a loss as to what to do.

We’ve learnt that chickens (particularly the hybrid ones bred for egg laying) are not the longest living creatures, and this is something you’ve got to expect. We’re hoping that Coffee and Cream, our cream legbar chickens, will last a bit longer than a couple of years, which tends to be the case with the pure breeds. As they aren’t bred for their egg-laying abilities, they don’t wear themselves out so quickly. Having said that, we’re still planning to get a few more hybrids in the new year. While they don’t last very long they sure can pump out the eggs! And we need something to go with all this lovely bacon we’ve got.

The original gang

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