We had to put Perrie down today. Knowing when you can’t fix things isn’t always obvious. For example, Buffy is a miracle; I  was sure she’d be dead by now. But, it was worth trying to see if TLC could help. Now, she’s standing and eating and a full member of the flock! I’m willing to feed hens that aren’t producing. Isolate them. Care for them. But sometimes, the right thing to do is to do them in. That was the case with Perrie.

Perrie hadn’t laid one of her beautiful blue eggs for about a month. I thought that she was molting, as hens stop laying when they molt. She lost some tail feathers, but nothing else. She was eating and acting normal. Then, two days ago, I noticed that Perrie had minor diarrhea. Yesterday I noticed that she was sitting on a roost instead of going out on the lawn with the other girls. Although Perrie didn’t show any respiratory distress, the runny poo and the quiet behavior was enough for me to isolate her in a dog crate. I wiped her butt with a paper towel, but didn’t see anything amiss. Decided I’d give her a bath today to clean her up.

Stop reading here if you are squeamish. Trust me. This gets nasty. But I’m going to write about it because it might happen to one of your girls. I’ve had chickens for more than a dozen years, and this is a first for me. Thank goodness for internet searches – I know this isn’t unheard of. But it’s not in the chicken books, either.

Okay, here goes – I picked Perrie up today to look at her vent and right below it was a big gaping hole that was swarming with maggots. Poor hen!

My best guess is that earlier in the month Perrie was egg bound and in the attempt to push it out, tore some of her duct work. Maggots found the dead flesh.  Today she literally burst from it.

What is amazing to me is how a chicken will go on as if she is okay. It’s deadly to a chicken to look weak. She’ll be pecked at or eaten by a predator. Perrie must have been feeling terrible for quite awhile but didn’t let on. Perrie was my most aloof hen. She wasn’t personable. She didn’t keep me company when I gardened. I’d like to think that if it was noisy, friendly Marge who was sick, that I would know sooner. Though I doubt the outcome would have been different.

This is my first experience with an egg bound hen and a first of one with maggots. I hope it’s another decade before I see it again.

I’m going to try to find a couple of Araucana hens to add to the flock. I already miss those gorgeous blue eggs.

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