For the love of chickens

The rough days

I write this on a dreary Thursday morning during lockdown. We have two sick hens, but one looks like she may be on the way out. It’s heartbreaking. We’ve had her since October 2018 and she was from our first flock. I didn’t sleep last night, and I got up at an ungodly hour this morning to separate one who can’t eat regular food right now and to give the rest formula so they aren’t hungry before laying. There’s a quarantine, but it’s complicated. It involves moving things around in the morning and relocating one of our hens, so the others can eat.

She can’t be quarantined at night because she gets too stressed out of the flock for too long and in the morning, it’s just long enough for the others to lay, then she is quarantined periodically throughout the day so the others can eat. She has a squishy belly if she’s given treats. Her name’s Zoe and we’ve only had her a month, she’s supposedly a retired “free range” lady and so prone to all the problems other alleged free rangers and ex-batts are too. In a day or so we can reintegrate her, but not yet. While Zoe has been sick on-and-off since we got her and has never laid, which is not a great sign, but who has feathered up the best out of our three new girls,

Our other (2018) girl, Red, has been quiet over the last couple of days. Her poos have been weird and we’ve had two telephone consultations with our vet. Yesterday she barely pooed at all, but when she did, it was that weird slimy horseradish looking poo and it’s the same again this morning. And then it started to rain. Red slowed down and has lost her appetite. It’s so sad to see. We only have 4 girls at any one time, but we love them dearly and sometimes it can just be frustrating and hopeless despite your best efforts.

You blame yourself, but there’s not a lot you can do. I’m so worried around what comes next – Red’s the last of our originals and in many ways we’ve connected with her most, despite loving them all equally for their wonderful character quirks. Sometimes hen keeping is really rough. 


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