Last week I found a dead chicken in the pen. Yes, it was a shock. It was a black chicken. Standing at the garage door, looking at the chicken lying on its side, my first thought was it could be young Andrew. Maybe Darrington or Thomas had picked a fight with him. I looked to the side and saw Andrew. Phew! It was not Darrington, he had been crowing and his size and form would be an instant giveaway. I swiftly did a black chicken roll call as I walked over. Andrew. Annie. Tiggywinkle. Paris. That left Rory. It was Rory. No! How could this happen? This is the most shocking chicken death I’ve had. I had absolutely no warning.
It took me a while to get over the shock of it. I had just cemented Rory’s place in the flock for the foreseeable future because of her broodiness, mothering skills and lovely personality. This was not supposed to happen. She hadn’t shown any signs of illness. She was laying, she looked healthy, she’d actually never had any significant health issues. What could have killed her so suddenly?
I found her lying on her side in the dustbathing area. After going off to dig a hole I determined to cut her open to see if I could figure anything out. I had to try and find an answer. She didn’t have any visible injuries or blood and didn’t have visible external parasites which could indicate an underlying illness. She was not egg bound and did not have egg peritonitis (internal laying). There were several developing yolks inside her. There was partially digested food matter in her crop and no sour crop or blockage. That’s about as far as my necropsy skills, or lack of, go. I couldn’t see anything that was wrong with her. The only causes of death I can think of are a heart attack, seizure or getting pecked in the head by Paris so hard that it knocked her out, although there was no blood so that’s not highly likely.
I hate not knowing and I hate that there was nothing I could do. I can butcher one of my chickens no sweat, in most cases, but having a chicken that I wanted to keep die on me without warning and without a chance to save her is hard to take. Rory will be missed. She was a good girl. She didn’t deserve to die, but sometimes these things just happen.
I am glad that she’d finished raising her chicks. They’re turning out so well; they’re friendly and confident and her own two genetic girls look just like miniature Rory’s. I was going to sell them but I might have to keep one now. I am still not keeping Paris. Paris’ broodiness and hatching abilities are not enough to look past her nutty behaviour towards others. I cannot put the flock through continued life with Paris. I think with a good managerial rooster, like Mr Bingley, she might be ok, but Darrington doesn’t know how to control her. He doesn’t manage behaviours half as well as Mr Bingley did. Well, I’m sure we’ll get another good broody at some point. Maybe one of Rory’s daughters. The little things are tugging on my heartstrings now.
Farewell, Rory, my snuggle chicken, dedicated mumma hen, good egg layer and second favourite of Darrington. You are missed.