While I was off in England, Steve had a crisis here at home. On Sunday night he noticed that Lulu’s breath sounded a tad raspy. On Monday morning she obviously had a respiratory ailment. He did exactly the right thing – isolated her in a crate, moved her indoors to keep her warm, and evaluated her condition. By late Monday morning, Lulu’s eyes were gunking up and swelling shut. It seemed like a clear case of mycoplasma. We’ve had it here before, so he knew what to do and we had the antibiotic, Tylan, on hand to treat her. But, it wasn’t enough. Lulu died Monday night. She was a beloved character and is already sorely missed.

Mycoplasma spreads fast. On Monday, Maizie showed symptoms. Steve started her immediately on the Tylan. She didn’t get better, so Steve hurried her to an avian vet on Tuesday. The vet confirmed that it looked like mycoplasma and put her on Doxycycline, an antibiotic known to be potent against the disease. Maizie will get half a 100mg pill once a day for ten days. The rest of the hens were put on Tylan, via the drinking water, as a preventative measure. England was dry, but here it’s been raining and drizzling non-stop, and there are puddles in the run. The hens have to drink their medicine, not rainwater, and so they’ve been closed up in the coop. No one has been happy.

I knew what was going on. Steve has been texting me. Fortunately, I was staying with hen keepers who understood how I could get so sad over the loss of a chicken. I came home from my trip late last night. First thing this morning I went to the coop and carefully inspected the hens. Siouxsie’s left eye was swollen shut. I fixed up a crate for her in the basement. Maizie is still down there. I fed them scrambled eggs (which otherwise would have to be thrown out because of the antibiotics in the water.) Maizie ate. Siouxie did not, but she did drink a lot. I got sand to spread in the run and rid it of puddles. The hens came out, but that meant that Candy had to stay in. I can’t risk her drinking the medicated water.

We have instituted strict biosecurity to keep the chicks as safe as we can. My new, clean pink boots from England will be worn in the big barn. My old red ones will be worn in the infected HenCam coop. I have a different jacket to wear for each barn. Hands will be washed before going to the chick’s enclosure. I won’t be handling the chicks at all. I’m hoping these steps will be enough. So far, the chicks show no sign of disease. I don’t know where the Mycoplasma originated. Maybe one of my old hens was a carrier and Lulu was susceptible. Maybe a wild bird brought it in. Few backyards are free of it. Mycoplasma is virulent when in a body, but dies quickly outside the bird in the sunshine. I’m hoping that things will dry up, but we’re not supposed to get blue skies until Sunday.

I’ve known people who, when Mycoplasma swept through their flocks, decided to cull all the hens, wait half a year and start again. I know others that keep a couple of chronically affected chickens. Sometimes Mycoplasma kills all the birds within the week, and sometimes antibiotics saves half your flock. Going to a veterinarian is not a necessity. The vet will only tell you what you already know – that you need to treat with Tylan. In the United States, you can get drugs on-line and in feed stores. Even if you have access to an avian vet, few of them have experience with chickens. The decision to go to a vet is difficult. It will be expensive. Although we hate to put a price on our animals, we have to. How much are you willing to spend on your chickens? Will spending that money make a difference? I think that it is realistic to have limits. Around here, an office visit is $65. The drugs this time came to another $30. However, going to the vet enabled Steve to get pills that are more potent than the widely available powders. Hopefully, that will save Maizie. Steve also decided to take the extra step and have a blood sample sent to a lab to confirm the mycoplasma diagnosis. Having peace of mind that we know what the disease is will cost us $137. (I’ll post as soon as the results come in.) I have a friend who lost a couple of birds to disease. Her other hens are fine. Finances are tight. She decided not to do a lab test. That was a good decision, too.

I don’t know how this will all settle out. Siouxsie is making sad chirrups sounds. Maizie is eating, but weak. We’ll do what we can.

Lulu has been buried in the meadow.


  1. I’m so sorry about Lulu. It’s amazing how these critters roost in our hearts. I’ll keep the good thoughts going for Maisie and Siouxsie.

  2. Terry,
    I’m so sorry for you loss. I had a feeling something was wrong when I saw the hens were shut in. Sad that it had to be this. Praying for

  3. I am so sorry to hear about your loss. I have been watching your hens for a bit now and I so enjoy them! I just got my own chicks last week and have thought about this very thing. I just took my dog to the vet for a broken tooth and it was a $500 bill!

    The animals I share my life with are priceless, but I have to balance my budget too. Its easier to treat hens (and parrots) as medicine is more readily available without a vet. Dogs not so much and of course, I wasn’t going to extract her tooth.

    I am hoping and thinking about your sick chickens.

  4. I’m so sorry Terry :( Hope this is as far as it spreads

  5. oh my goodness I am so upset to hear all that has been going on for you! Best wishes to your ladies from a fellow chicken keeper/lover/admirer.

  6. Terry, I am sad for you. Losing someone you love is tough, two legs, four legs, or beaked. She was a very pretty chicken.

  7. Oh, Terry, I’m so sorry! I had a chicken get attacked by a dog once. I gave the remaining chickens to a local farmer because I couldn’t bear to see the two living girls without their third partner in crime. It was a little over a year before I could talk myself into having a backyard flock again. It’s amazing how attached we get to these big brooding bossies; especially when we raise them up from chicks. I’m keeping your girls in my thoughts.

  8. My condolences! What a sad way to end your beautiful trip! Three cheers for Steve for holding down the fort and caring for the sick hens.

  9. This is certainly terrible for you. I’m so sorry for what you must be going through. I know this put quite a sad ending to what looked like a wonderful visit to England. I knew something was terribly wrong when the chickens were still in their coop. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Just remember any chicken of yours has had a very blessed life!

  10. I’m so sorry for all the illnesses but boy, do you have a great husband to step up to the plate like that! Atta boy Steve!

  11. I’m so sorry you had to arrive home to illness & death. I do so enjoy watching all your hens and bunny and the goats going about their daily routine. Blame it all on all this wet weather New England is having.
    Love your new boots….so cute!!


  12. Terry, so very sorry about your beautiful LuLu. Sounds like Steve did all the right things. Hoping the other girls come around for you.

  13. I am so sad Terry. I am thinking of you today. Last year I remember sending you a post about mycoplasma that affected all the birds in one of my coops. I did have a very knowledgable avian expert from the county necropsy 2 of my birds to find out what was going on. It did eventually clear on its own and I still have no idea where it came from. He did say wild birds can bring it in (on their feet!). It is a nasty malady and hits fast. He also taught me about changing shoes between the 2 coops and handwashing (I use hand sanitizer) if something is going on. My thoughts are with you. :) D.

  14. Lulu was my favorite,loved just watching her. I burn incense every night for my parents, tonight I will light one for Lulu.

  15. So saddened to hear of you loss. Your girls are in my heart and prayers. Lulu is now at the rainbow bridge free of all pain. You gave her a very good life. I’m sure you have a guardian chicken angel sitting on your shoulder when you are in the coop with the others. Thank you for sharing your feathered family with us.

  16. I’m so bummed that you lost Lulu and I hope everyone else will be ok. I always worry about disease as we have so many quail, sparrows and finches roaming our backyard as well. We just need to enjoy everyday that we have with our chickens and do the best that we can. Mother Nature will do the rest.

  17. My condolences as well. It’s awful for a such a wonderful trip to coincide with such misfortune. I hope everything turns out well.
    Are chickens more likely to get sick in springtime?
    Beautiful picture of Lulu.

  18. So sorry to hear about Lulu, it’s good that you have such a great partner you can trust to take care of the flock when you are away.

  19. I just recently starting viewing your hencam (which I love). I’m so sorry to hear about Lulu and I hope Maizie and Siouxie get better. So sad to come back from a wonderful trip to such events.

  20. So sorry to hear about LuLu and your flock. Best of luck!

  21. Sorry to hear of Lulu, she was a beautiful bird! But she was lucky to be loved by you! Hope you have other Sussex in those cute chicks of yours! Good luck with all your birds!!!

  22. So sorry to read the sad news of Lulu… what a character she was! She has a special place in many hearts, I’m sure. Hope things start to improve for the other girls. Thinking of you all.

  23. Terry
    I was so sorry to hear of Lulu’s passing. She was my student’s favorite here in the library.
    We will keep our fingers crossed for the rest of the flock.When we saw the Candy’s ramp was up we figured the something was amiss. High praise for Steve for being Johnnny on the spot and taking great care of the girls. Good Luck!

  24. I’m so sorry about your loss of Lulu. It’s so hard when you lose a pet – of any kind. I’m keeping good thoughts for Siouxie, Maizie and all the girls. Hopefully you’ve caught this nasty thing in time to keep them safe. My best wishes to all of you.

  25. So sorry to hear about Lulu. She was a bit of an internet star, which is a pretty good life for a chicken from what I can see at the farm.

  26. Oh, Terry, I’m so sorry for your loss. Lulu was a beautiful bird. So much of their busy little personalities come through on camera, it’s easy to feel as if we know them all personally. Last week I lost my greyhound with no warning. He was my best friend and a beloved kooky character of a different sort. I am feeling such sadness for you. Keeping Siouxie and Maizie in my thoughts. I hope they rally soon.

  27. My heart goes out to you as I know how hard it is to say goodbye to any animal… hen, cat, hamster… whatever, they all have a piece of our hearts. I also know the pain and aniexty that comes from seeing your animals sick, worrying what will happen next, and coping with vet bills.

    I will pray for lots of sunshine and warm weather to dry up those puddles and for those antibiotics to do their job. So sorry for your loss with Lulu.

  28. Lulu was a real humdinger of a chicken and I loved watching her. You and Steve certainly gave her a great life. So sorry she is gone. Hope things look up for Siouxsie and Maizie and the rest. I wondered when all the girls were inside the coop and Candy’s ramp was up, but thought it was more about rain than anything else. I lost my 18-year old cat (what the Brits would call a moggie) just before Easter. It’s tough. Take care.

  29. So sorry Terry. I know how much Lulu will be missed; a personality like hers is not easy to come by! She was a special girl. You and your flock will be in my thoughts.

  30. I’m so sorry Terry. I was checking in to tell you that I received a dozen colorful eggs from a student for teacher appreciation week. Her hens are good layers and the colors were beautiful. It was my best present! I hope you get the sunshine you need and that the hens will pull through.

  31. Aww, so sad for you and your flock…sending happy healing thoughts to everyone at Little Pond!

  32. Like everyone else, I can only add how sorry I am that your wonderfull trip had such a sad end. Sorry you lost lucy and we are all hopeing you have caught it in time to save the rest of the flock. Also like everyone else, I want to say well done to Steve for his quick actions. Good luck with the rest of the animals. We will all be waiting for news.

  33. Oh I am so sorry to hear about this. I haven’t been watching the cams as much as I usually do. We had a health scare with my mother but her test results came back negative. So I am just coming out of my own daze. Lulu was quite a character. Diseases can be such horrible things, striking even when you have the best preparation in the world. I hope the other hens will do okay. Life can be such a crapshoot and it seems the house almost always wins in these situations.

  34. So sorry about your loss! I hope the other girls make a full recovery!

  35. So sorry for your loss of Lulu. I hope your others recover and life can get back to some sort of normalacy with all of your precious babies, including Candy.

  36. I am so sorry to hear about Lulu. She and all the other girls will be in my prayers. I hope Maizie and Siouxsie are on the mend and get well soon…how is Tina Turner doing w/o Siouxsie? I wondered why Candy had been locked up all week. You and Little Pond Farm will be in my thoughts and prayers….so sorry you had to come home to such sad news, take solice in the fact that you gave Lulu a great life. Lulu was a beautiful lady and will be missed.

  37. Terry, I am so sorry. It’s always sad to lose one of our girls. I have a local vet who will treat chickens, but I’ve only used him once. As always, I learn a lot from you….I’m just sorry it has to be due to your loss.

  38. Know that you and your flock are in my thoughts. So sorry for the loss of Lulu. She will be missed.

  39. So sorry to hear about Lulu…what a bittersweet homecoming it must’ve been for you. I’ve had chickens over the last 20 something years and the loss never gets any easier- no matter how long their stay was. Just know that you gave them the best life possible and life just sucks sometimes.

    Hope the others make it and the sun does it’s job!

  40. I also wanted to say thanks for sharing your good times and bad times, your blog is very inspiring!

  41. you have spoken so often about Lulu. What a character. she will be missed as a member of your hen family. A sad home coming. And stressful. The waiting has to be the worse. When you have done all you can, nothing more but to wait. and that is just extremely hard to do. hope your girls come through this.

  42. Oh dear, no wonder you wanted to get back home, I’m so sorry to hear of your troubles. I’ve had my chickens a year and have had to deal with crop impaction via surgery for one of them and now pecking (have the peepers on them now!) I hope it all settles down for you soon.

  43. Terry, I am so sorry to hear about LuLu, please accept my heart felt condolences. Sending blessings from Dog Trot Farm, Julie.

  44. I’ll say some prayers for full recoveries and for sun. My condolences……

  45. I’m so sorry to hear about Lulu. She was such a lovely girl with lots of personality. I hope all the memories and stories of her bring some comfort to you and your family. May the rest of the flock pull through this!

  46. I am so sorry to hear about LuLu. I have many cockatiels and I know how frustrating it can be to knock out a bug in a flock. I pray your hens get well soon.

  47. Thank you everyone for your kind and supportive words. Lulu was a character, and it is different letting the girls out in the morning without her antics to keep me on my toes. It’s funny how one animal out of the lot can set the tone for all.