Why did Another Chicken Die?
A neighbour said that rescue chickens are genetically modified to lay eggs. When they get older the eggs get bigger, and this can cause infections that are hard to cure. You have to prevent any suffering and end things quickly.
There are a few ways to deal with this situation.
Stumble across backyard chicken homesteading sites. Discover that a chicken farmer must know how to end a chicken’s life quickly and kindly. Found ‘how to kill a chicken’ within minutes. Decide not to do it myself.
Ask someone else in the house, who knows how to do it
Out of the question because it was their birthday. They said they don’t kill chickens on birthdays.
Go to the vet
This is the right option. But the chicken farmer websites were powerful and brainwash you. By now I believed I was a real chicken farmer who ‘deals with things’.
I also remembered the bill when the last dog was put down. She was a good dog.
It cost £130, plus £130 for accidentally ticking the box saying we wanted the ashes. The ashes are still here.
The vet would not have charged anything like that for a small chicken but I wasn’t thinking straight.
Find a neighbour who keeps chickens and ask them
The neighbour said yes, so the chicken died peacefully at home and that was fine, but wriggling out of a vet bill is not something to go on about.
There was one sad chicken left.
How do you replace a long time member of the household?
A local farm, which sells all sorts of chickens, was closed because all the staff have COVID, but luckily I spotted a sign by the road saying ‘POL chickens for sale.’
I rang in for a POL chicken, curious to know what breed this is. Turns out that POL stands for Point of Lay and means they are young.
I said ‘my chicken needs company.’ They asked ‘what kind of chicken have you got?’ ‘I don’t know.’ I said ‘It’s brown.’
‘How about a friendly cockerel?’ they asked.
We did have a cockerel once. It was noisy, laid no eggs and attacked children. You can’t get cockerels neutered to make them nicer, so I asked for anything that lays eggs and we made a deal.
I had two days to get ready for new chicks.
You have to clean the hutch, in case any diseases are lurking.
And find a cat box to collect the new chickens.
Things looked hopeful when the POL pair arrived. Old Chicken perked up immediately, looking excitedly into the box
She rushed across to watch them explore their pen.
But chickens can turn. It is a good idea to prepare for fights about Pecking Orders and introduce them gradually. For the first few days, they would live next door to each other, with no direct contact, just a few chats over the wall.
All it took was a simple partition in the hen house, built with quality cardboard.
Chickens were tucked in safely that night with no chance of getting at each other to cause trouble. Two on the left, one on the right.
They worked fast. By morning the partition was down
Flattened as they worked together to become one team.
Now they are a trio, moving around the garden as one, never more than a few feet apart. Young chickens are keen to socialise and by day 5 they have worked out that it is nice to gather at your feet, wait to be stroked, and jump up onto garden furniture.
Young chickens are also stupid enough to eat slugs. One will run triumphantly away from the other when it finds one. Sometimes there is a chase and a squabble. Whoever eats the slug has to do a lot of beak wiping. Old chickens don’t eat slugs because they know they are disgusting and sticky.
At night the slugs get their revenge