Friday, August 1, 2014

Hen: "Help I've Fallen Off My Roost and Can't Get Up"

The 'girls' free-ranging.  Tiny the Turd-Head is the Black Australorp near the center.

We Heard a Noise

Several nights ago, just after midnight we heard one of my chickens let out a squawk and heard a thump sound.  It wasn't exactly a 'loud' sound but it did startle us awake because they are so close to us.  You see, one wall of the chicken run is the side of the house that our bedroom is on.  Actually, if you opened the two bedside windows you are looking straight into the chicken run.  They are so close that even with the windows closed we can still hear them make coo sounds inside their coop each evening, we can hear them exiting the coop in the morning, and getting a drink of water from their Chicken Fountain.

So, when we heard this squawk and thump it really wasn't terribly loud but it startled both of us.  We both said, "Did you hear that?"  We listened for any additional sounds, knowing that if somehow a predator made its way into our 'Chicken Fort Knox' the girls would be freaking out loudly, but we didn't hear another sound.  After a few moments we assumed it was some sort of disagreement about prime roost position. So we went back to sleep.

The Next Morning

Early the next morning we heard the girls going about their morning routine of running to the water fountain, then we heard the treadle of the feeder being activated. We drifted back off to sleep for another hour.  That's about how long it takes the girls to get their fill of water, feed, and dead bugs under the bug light, before the daily bickering begins over who gets the prime nest boxes and who has to stand in line (next to the empty ones), bitching about how long she is taking to lay her egg.

All this hen bickering makes it impossible to sleep in so I get up and start my morning routine.  I scoop out the fermented feed that I make for the chickens in my kitchen, top it off with whatever leftover veggies and tidbits we might have, slip on my Croc's and let the dogs out into the back yard while I head to the chicken run.  They get very excited about me coming into the run with a bowl because the know its full of pure poultry goodness.

On this morning I walk in the door holding my bowl high so no one jumps up to try and sneak a bite before I can pour it into their dish.  

...but wait,

 No one is jumping up trying to sneak a bite.  I pour the contents of the bowl into their dish and no one pecks at my fingers as I dump it, and no one jumps in the middle of the dish to make sure she gets it first.  I almost didn't notice this because it was so pleasant not dealing with that routine preformed like an OCD ritual by 'Tiny the Turd-Head', my Black Australorp. Isn't it funny how you don't notice an unpleasant thing when it isn't there?

Then I Saw It

Suddenly I remember the squawk and thump sound from last night.  I looked up towards the coop and there was 'Tiny the Turd-Head' laying on the ground.  I rolled her over and she was still alive, but very limp, her head was hanging lazily, she had a strange blank look in her eyes.  I removed her from the run because chickens being chickens they would be pecking at her as soon as they finished their hurried morning routine.

I looked her over and saw no signs of predator attack, no signs of ill health, and just last night she was being her usual pushy turd-head self.  So the only thing we can figure is that she either fell off or was bumped off the highest roost and hit her head on another roost on her way down. She died a short time later.  The hubby took her body down the hill away from the house and coop.  Within a few hours we checked and sure enough her body was gone.  Hey, the buzzards, coyotes, and javelina's have to eat too.

Tiny's death is my first hen loss.  I've lost baby chicks but that is not unusual within the first few days. She has been with me for a year and a half.  I thought I might be more upset, but it was 'Tiny the Turd-Head''s actually kind of nice not having her pecking at my hands. I totally understand that raising animals means loss is inevitable, although I would have cried all day if it were my babies 'Sunshine' or 'Fritzy' who I hatched out of store bought eggs...Oh Wait, I haven't told you about that yet! (Coming Soon)

Tiny the Turd-Head when she was a tiny baby, with her coop mate Goldie.

So I'm curious, have you experienced a chicken loss?  How did you react?  Have you ever had a hen fall (or get pushed) off a roost and die from head injury?

Keeper of 1 husband, 2 grandkids, 3 dogs,
3 cats, and 17 Chickens!

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Did this post stir something inside of you? If so, Please leave me a comment, I would love to know what you're thinking!!!