Thursday, November 1, 2012


Yes, Ta Ta For Now.  I've had the worst two weeks of my life with chickens and I'm going to go silent for a while while I ponder this.

For those who don't follow me regularly, some history.  Last December I picked up 4 baby BO chicks.  We lost one after a week.  But the other three grew up healthy and strong.  Or so I thought.  At 6 months, Sugar developed a respiratory issue that was so bad, she was simply gasping for air.  We put down but did not necropsy her.

Several days later, Spice showed the same symptoms but not as severe.  And she never seemed in pain so we just let her be.  She continued to eat, drink and lay eggs.  But she was not right.  And she became a bully.  I could tell she didn't feel well and was acting out from her condition.  I tried trimming her beak, I put a pinless peeper on her and even tried giving her Prozac to mellow her out.  Nothing worked.

A came home from work a few weeks back to a blood bath.  Spice had gone after Honey Bear and it was awful.  I still can't believe that one bird could lose that much blood and still be alive.  It took me three hours to clean up Honey Bear and blow her dry, wipe the blood off the other hens, scrub all the blood off their waterers, feeders and their hen houses.  The fence and ramps up into their houses are still covered and serve as a constant reminder of what happened that day.

I removed Spice to a dog crate for the evening and took her to the vet the following day to be euthanized.  This time, I sent her to UC Davis for a necropsy.  The results simply stunned me.  She was suffering from moderate to severe fatty liver disease and pneumoconiosis.  She was clearly bullying the other hens for the sunflower seeds and eating way too many of them.  And inhaled DE which damaged her lungs.  Why just Sugar and Spice and not the other birds?  I'll never know.  Was it a one time incident or did this happen over a long period of time.  Again, I just don't know.  I've reached out to some people for answer but they either don't know.  Or want a fee to tell me. 

What I'm left with is my sweet Honey Bear who cries.  She is terrified to go to bed and stands outside and cries at night.  It breaks my heart.  She knew she was in for a good pecking by Spice when she went to bed and she can't get over that.  It's been more than two weeks.

I've tried to put her to bed in with the babies but she just comes right back outside.  Not sure if she knows I'm still out there or if she wants nothing to do with them.  I suspect it's a little of both.

Before I got chickens and even once I had them, I read books and plowed through the web for information.  I follow other blogs and grasped at any information I could find.  I desperately wanted to be the best chicken mama I could possibly be.  And yet, I've experienced a number of issues that no one every said were even remote possibilities.

I've learned a ton over the past two years and would do it very different if I could go back and do it all over again.  And then I have moments like I'm having this week where I wish I had never got chickens to begin with.  I'm just not sure the overwhelming heart ache is worth the bits of joy.

So with that, I'm signing off for a while, maybe for good.  My heart is just not in the right place to continue.


  1. Oh my goodness, that is so awful. I feel so so sorry for you. I could hardly read through my tears. Please don't give up, you are a wonderful chicken mum, you could never have anticipated this.
    I didn't know D.E. could harm chickens lungs, everything I have read says how good it is for them. Mine peck at it from the doorway of the coop morning and bedtime. Now I am worried it may harm them.
    I have never read about this happening before either. I think you have been extremely unlucky.
    My heart goes out to you.
    I hope in time you will come back to your blog and let us know how things progress.
    If you want to e-mail me at any time, please please do.
    I wish I could give you a hug.

  2. Oh, I'm so sorry about the troubles you've had with your girls. It hurts to see them ill or hurt and not know exactly what is wrong. Being a chicken mom has both good times and bad. I hope Honey gets over her fears and is able to settle down again. Poor thing. Be gentle with yourself and take care of both you and your girls. Good luck and God bless.

  3. I'm so sorry and don't know what to say. I FEEL your pain, but please don't give up. I want you to come back to blogging, I enjoy your post so much. You have a beautiful set up and have been an outstanding chicken keeper. Somethings are out of our control and hopefully you are on the other side of it now I'm hoping that your girls will settle down into their new flock.
    Do something special for yourself to make YOU feel better.
    Here's wishing you the best!

  4. I am so very sorry for your loss. I do understand your anguish over this. There are so many variables. It seems like there is always some drama concerning chickens. I too felt I had researched the subject exhaustively and yet I kept running into issues that I was not prepared for and had not read about. Whenever I lose a bird, I feel like a failure. I know it isn't really my fault but that is how I feel. I wonder several times a week if they are worth the pain and stress. I always decide that they are but that could change. I feel that my experience with hens has made me a stronger more compassionate and adaptable person. I completely understand and sympathize if that is not your decision. You have to do what is right for you and for your birds. I just wanted to offer encouragement and let you know that there are other chicken people out here with the same conflicts and questions.

  5. Hi Flock Mistress! I would like to discuss this blog post with you. I'm in a large chicken group and I would love to go over some of your necropsy reports with you to help educate our new members about proper chicken help. I knew I had read this post a few years ago. Please email me thanks!