Monday, August 28, 2006

Two Went This Time...

We lost two of our hens this week, two days apart.



It was sheer coincidence that they both fell ill at the same time, with two seperate problems. Usually we can dampen or even cure most chicken ailments with our arsenal of preparations, books and online help from friends. This time we knew it was time to take them to the vet, so we did.

It wasn't good news.

Helen had Proventriculitis. It's an inflammation or blockage of the proventriculus (stomach) of a bird. Sometimes you can nail down a cause such as an obvious blockage or a mycotoxin, but usually it's cause is a frustrating mystery; which was true in Helens' case. She got sick and died within two days, and the vet told us surgery was not an option, just to take her home and make her comfortable. He gave us meds to try just in case, he's a softie when it comes to chickens. Helen was the only daughter of Jack, our beloved Barred Rock rooster of many years. She was a very calm girl except at feeding time, when she would YELL. She has a brother, Phoenix, who is currently our Head Rooster.

The other hen was Cutie. Cutie was so named because she habitually would look up at you with a cute little tilt to her head, as in her picture. Cutie contracted a fungal condition known as Favus, which caused her face to start peeling. It was several days before we could nail down what was going on, but both Cutie and Helen were given antibiotics and an antifungal from the vet. Despite our dosing them and handfeeding them every 30 minutes, Helen died on Friday and Cutie died last night. The were hatchmates, we hatched them in 2003.

I love having the chickens, but it is so hard when they die. It's especially worrisome to have two seemingly healthy birds go so quickly, and have to now worry about the others.