While we were on holiday last week one of our chickens died.  My poor sister was house-sitting and it has been rather upsetting for all of us.


lthough the chook had been a little withdrawn before we went away, she was still eating well, scratching about and her comb, eyes and skin all looked healthy.  It wasn’t her I was worried about.

A few weeks ago I put up a post about Bianca.  I had taken her to the vet and she was given a course of antibiotics.  The chicken that died however was Amber – the same breed (Amber Star hybrid) as Bianca.  The day before she died she had been behaving normally but the following morning my sister found her huddled in the corner of the pen, looking sorry for herself and showing no desire to eat or drink.  She rang the vets and managed to make an appointment but Amber died an hour or so later.

I don’t know what was wrong with her.  I don’t think it was respiratory because she showed no symptoms of that sort.  I think she may have started to lay her eggs internally – that is the muscular mechanism that transports the egg along the oviduct (egg tubes) stopped working and the eggs stayed inside her.  The unlaid eggs become a rich source for bacteria and often the hens develop blood poisoning and die.  Even if it had been diagnosed and the infection treated, she would have continued to lay internally.  The kindest thing to have done in any case would have been to put her to sleep.

Amber was feisty and was at the top of the pecking order.  She laid the darkest eggs of our four chooks – hers were almost a chestnut brown with speckles.  I think Bianca misses her because she is now outnumbered by the Sussex Stars, Buffy and Blanche.

On a more positive note Bianca is much better since she had her antibiotics. She still lays the odd soft-shelled egg but she is perky and bright and her feathers are all starting to grow back.  I’d forgotten what a pretty cappuccino colour she was.  Hopefully Amber’s demise won’t upset the hierarchy too much and she won’t get picked on again.

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