Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The Hardest Cut of All - RIP Isla Chicken

Today didn't have a good start. My oldest hen Isla (a White Leghorn) who had been a brilliant layer in her younger days was slowing down. She had been in retirement for the past year but still retained her status as top hen. She had not come through her moult very easily this year but she managed it and she had the best feather condition of her life, she looked beautiful. The last couple of days had seen a marked change in her behaviour until finally, her comb was shriveled and pink, her face looked drained, her eyes looked tired, her body was hunched with a downward pointing tail rather than her usual jaunty looking tail. I had been monitoring her for a few days and although she was eating and drinking and occasionally telling the others off she was definitely ill. Her abdomen was distended and the skin was taut, it felt like a balloon. All the other things I had tried had not worked and she was looking unsteady on her feet now and had taken to sleeping on the floor of the coop instead of her usual top perch as befitted her top hen status. She had not laid for over a year and I strongly suspected egg yolk peritonitis. So it was with a heavy heart that I decided today that the kindest thing I could do for her was to put her out of her suffering.

In order to find out exactly what was causing her suffering I decided on a post-mortem. I discovered that her bloated abdomen was filled with about a litre of green watery liquid. Her bowel was also somewhat solidified too. She also had a large solid egg sized, yolk-like mass and various other marble sized yolk coloured solid masses floating loose within her abdominal cavity which confirmed my suspicions that it was indeed egg yolk peritonitis and that I had chosen the right path for her.

Tonight she will travel on curling wisps of smoke up to the sky as we sit and remember her until the embers die down. RIP Isla Chicken. The spirit of her lives on in some of my other girls who are lucky to share her genes.

Isla up to her usual mischief before she earned
the right to become head chicken

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