6/28 Update: Chicken Little was showing some of the same signs that Droopy had, and Kevin wanted to check if there was fluid in her lungs. He turned her upside down and, sure enough, a little fluid dripped out her beak. And then she just died. Because there was fluid in her lungs, we probably would have decided to kill her, but the fluid probably blocked her trachea and took the decision out of our hands. And then there were five.
Yesterday we sent the ducks to the Cone of Silence, and I’ll tell you all about that in the next couple of days. Today, we sent Droopy.
Droopy first got sick two months ago. She turned listless and slow. She slumped and dragged. Her tail turned down, and she looked impacted or constipated. Up until then, she had been a healthy, unremarkable, nameless chicken.
We gave her some warm baths, I did some … ahem … exploring of her innards. For a few days, there was no change, and we were ready to send her to the Cone when, one morning, she looked better. And even better the morning after that. She staged an almost complete recovery.
Sure enough. These last couple of days, she got worse and worse. This morning, I gave her a warm bath, and about a zillion little white things, which I assume were insect eggs (between a sixteenth and an eighth of an inch, oblong, in case there’s any entomological expertise out there) floated to the surface.
When Kevin came home, Droopy looked terrible and, when I told him about the bath, he decided that her time had come. I didn’t argue. She was clearly sick, and clearly suffering.
When we went to collect her, she was under a rhododendron with several of the other chickens. As we reached in to prod her out, one of the other birds attacked her. Went right for her neck, savagely. I’ve never seen one of our birds do that to another, and it clearly meant Droopy was sick enough for the other chickens to know it.
We got her, and Kevin put her in the Cone and slit her throat. As she bled out, some kind of liquid came up out of her lungs. We didn’t think it was sensible to eat her, under the circumstances, so Kevin buried her – hopefully below exhumation level, if scavengers happen to pass by.
Back in April, when I first posted about Droopy, several of you recommended dispatching her immediately. No good can come of sick chickens, you warned. Kevin agreed with you. And all of you were right. Because I wanted to give her every chance, she had to suffer through another bout of this. And, if it was something infectious that got her, I put our other chickens at risk.
It will not happen again.